ST. JOHN MILDMAY, Henry St. John Carew (1787-1848), of Dogmersfield Park, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. 15 Apr. 1787, 1st s. of Sir Henry Paulet St. John Mildmay, 3rd Bt.*, of Dogmersfield, and bro. of Paulet St. John Mildmay*. educ. Winchester 1798-1802; Christ Church, Oxf. 1805. m. (1) 7 Aug. 1809, Charlotte (d. 5 Aug. 1810), da. of Hon. Bartholomew Bouverie*, 1s.; (2) 1815, in Württemberg, Harriet, da. of Hon. Bartholomew Bouverie*, div. w. of Archibald John Primrose*, 4th Earl of Rosebery [S], 3s. suc. fa. as 4th Bt. 11 Nov. 1808.
Cornet, Dogmersfield vols. 1803, lt. 1803, 1806, capt. 1809; capt. Winchester vol. inf. 1806, N. Hants militia 1807-9; mayor, Winchester 1808.
Before he was of age, St. John Mildmay entered Parliament on his father’s interest for Winchester, the latter having realized his ambition to sit for the county. This was an honour he did not himself aspire to when his father died in November 1808, nor did the ministerial party wish to push him.1 He was expected to be under Canning’s influence, like his father, but his political divergence from him soon came into the open. After voting in the minorities against the Duke of York, 15-17 Mar. 1809, and for inquiry into ministerial corruption, 25 Apr., he joined Brooks’s Club, 26 Apr., sponsored by the veteran Hampshire Whig Sir Thomas Miller*. In August he married the radical Lord Folkestone’s cousin. He was in the minorities against the address and for the Scheldt inquiry, 23, 26 Jan. 1810. Canning reported a month later, ‘he votes with Folkestone but is very proper and well behaved towards me’.2 He was included by the Whigs in the ‘No Party’ group of five Members with Folkestone, Burdett, Wardle and Lord Cochrane in March and voted for censure of the Scheldt expedition on 30 Mar.; against Burdett’s imprisonment, 5 Apr.; and for the release of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr.; for parliamentary reform 21 May, and for scrutiny of the droits of Admiralty, 30 May. He was courted by the Friends of Constitutional Reform in 1811, but did not sanction an extra-parliamentary meeting in June. His only known vote that session was against the reappointment of the Duke of York, 6 June. Not surprisingly he was snubbed by the Prince Regent at the dandies’ ball—of which he was one of the four leading lights.3 In the session of 1812 he voted with opposition on Ireland, 4 Feb., for Catholic relief 24 Apr., for sinecure reform, 4 May (and 7 May on Brand’s amendment) and for a more comprehensive administration, 21 May.
Mildmay had reinforced his interest at Winchester and in 1812 secured a fellow dandy as his colleague in the representation, after a contest. He repeatedly toasted Lord Grey, it seems, at Western’s election for Essex.4 In his first known speech, 10 Dec. 1812, he supported Folkestone’s motion critical of the King’s German legion, refusing however to commit himself against the employment of foreign troops in general. He was in the minority on the paper currency bill a day later. He supported Catholic relief throughout in 1813 and voted against the Speaker’s conduct on it, 22 Apr. 1814. On 25 Apr. he secured a hearing for the case of the ‘free people of colour of Grenada’ against their late governor Ainslie, though he disclaimed personal knowledge of the matter alleged in their memorial, 28 Apr. He was in the minority against the expulsion of Lord Cochrane, 5 July 1814.
Mildmay’s wife had died in childbed in 1810 and despite confident reports in 1813 that he would be married again, probably to Lady Monson or, at ‘Beau’ Brummell’s insistence, to Miss Thayer ‘the Exhibition Hebe’, he had not done so. In October 1814 he eloped with his wife’s sister the Countess of Rosebery after their liaison had been detected. This he did, according to John William Ward, who encountered him at Rome soon afterwards, ‘wholly under the influence of vanity’, which ‘made him lose half of one of the finest estates in England at play, and impair one of the finest constitutions in England by drinking ... He is a very handsome man, and not without a certain quickness that may be mistaken for talent.’ Henry Brougham, Mildmay’s counsel, ‘beat down’ the damages against Mildmay to £15,000, after fearing they would be twice that amount. In 1815 the couple were married in Württemberg by royal licence and lived obscurely there.5 In February 1818 Mildmay was in England again, voting against the consequences of the suspension of habeas corpus, 10-17 Feb. He failed to hold the second seat at the Winchester by-election a month later, but substituted his brother Paulet for himself at the general election.
Mildmay’s demoralization was gradual. His dearly bought wife left him for a Canningite. Their three sons entered the Austrian service. In 1840 Lord Broughton was astonished when he met
the gay and handsome Lothario whose follies made so much noise in my younger days. He is now fat and overgrown, with no pretensions to good looks; but he is lively and talkative, and, having seen a good deal of the best society in Italy—Milan principally—has many agreeable stories to tell.
Overwhelmed by financial difficulties, he shot himself, 17 Jan. 1848. He had feared arrest and imprisonment, and a verdict of ‘temporary insanity’ was reached.6
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
Otherwise Henry Carew St. John Mildmay (1807 return).
- 1. Malmesbury mss, Portland to Malmesbury, 12 Nov. 1808.
- 2. Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 23 Feb. 1810.
- 3. Glenbervie Diaries, ii. 192; Creevey Pprs. ed. Maxwell, i. 152.
- 4. Grey mss, Goodwin to Grey, 1 Nov. 1812.
- 5. Creevey Pprs. i. 190; Leveson Gower, ii, 474; Dorset RO, Bond mss D367, Jekyll to Bond, 2 July 1813; Jerningham Letters, ii. 57; Ward, Letters to ‘Ivy’, 271; Brougham mss, Brougham to Grey, Mon. [12 Dec. 1814]; Surr. RO, Goulburn mss 3/6, Elizabeth Montagu to Goulburn, 25 Sept. 1815.
- 6. Parl. Affairs, xv. 287; Broughton, Recollections, v. 250; Gent. Mag. (1848), i. 433.