ST. QUINTIN, Sir John (c.1347-1398), of Harpham and Brandesburton, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1382

Family and Education

b.c.1347, s. and h. of Sir William St. Quintin (d.1349) of Harpham by Elizabeth or Joan (d.1384), da. of Sir Marmaduke Thweng. m. (1) Laura (c.1342-1369), yr. da. and coh. of Sir Herbert St. Quintin (d. May 1347) of Brandesburton and Stanton St. Quintin, Wilts. by his w. Margery, and wid. of Robert Grey (d. by Nov. 1367) of Wilcote, Oxon., 1s.; (2) Agnes Herbert (d.1405), wid. of John Wassand of Wassand, Yorks., 2s. 1da. Kntd. by Dec. 1372.1

Offices Held

Collector of taxes, Yorks. (E. Riding) Dec. 1372, Dec. 1384; assessor May 1379.

Commr. of array, Yorks. (E. Riding) Apr., July 1377, Feb. 1379, Mar. 1380, Nov. 1386; inquiry Oct., Nov. 1377 (illegal shipments to Kingston-upon-Hull), Mar. 1380 (bribery of a jury at Beverley), Nov. 1384 (disorder at Hedon), June 1387 (obstruction of watercourses at Holderness), Yorks., Northumb., Cumb., Westmld. Dec. 1390 (extortions by the King’s attorney), Yorks. Dec. 1395 (shipwreck at Bridlington); sewers May 1379, May, Oct. 1387; oyer and terminer July 1379 (disorder at Beverley), July 1384 (poaching on the abp. of York’s estates at Ripon and Beverley); to hold a special assize at Hedon Aug. 1384.2

Keeper of Scarborough castle, Yorks. 26 Oct. 1382-5 Feb. 1392.

J.p. Yorks. (E. Riding) 16 Feb. 1386-July 1389.


John belonged to a cadet branch of the St. Quintin family which produced a number of prominent figures in late medieval Yorkshire society. His great-grandfather, Sir Geoffrey, for example, had represented the county in the Parliaments of 1306 and 1307, and was also summoned to attend a great council in 1324. His father died when he was still young, leaving at least six children, of whom three were destined for the Church. Two of John’s sisters entered Benedictine houses in Lincolnshire, one becoming a nun at Stixwould priory, while the other was eventually elected prioress of Stainfield. His younger brother, Anthony, also took holy orders, and ended his days as a prebendary of Lincoln cathedral. Another sister, Joan, married into the influential Engaine family and occupied the manor of Eaton Socon in Bedfordshire until her death in 1390. John himself was well placed to find a wealthy bride, and at some point in the late 1360s he took as his wife Laura, the younger daughter and coheir of a distant relative, Sir Herbert St. Quintin. The latter had died in May 1347, leaving estates in Wiltshire, Dorset, Berkshire and Yorkshire to be divided between Laura and her sister, Elizabeth, when they came of age. John, Lord Grey of Rotherfield, had at that time been anxious to make provision for his two younger sons, and seized the opportunity to gain control of this rich inheritance by negotiating a double marriage contract. Elizabeth was promptly betrothed to Sir John Grey, who died without issue many years later in 1387, while Laura married his short-lived brother, Robert. A formal partition of their patrimony left Laura in possession of the manor of Brandesburton with its extensive appurtenances in the East Riding and the manor of Stanton St. Quintin in Wiltshire, as well as other property in the Berkshire village of Cookham and Ibberton (Dorset). Altogether, these various holdings produced revenues of at least £132 a year, which she naturally continued to enjoy after Robert’s early death in the autumn of 1367. The couple had one child, Elizabeth, the eventual heir to her paternal great-uncle, Robert, Lord Marmion, but in other respects Lord Grey’s dynastic ambitions were thwarted, since his descendants lost their hold of the St. Quintin estates. Laura remarried almost immediately, choosing her kinsman, Sir John, as her second husband. But she too died young, in 1369, leaving him with a life interest in her scattered inheritance, which he exploited to the full. Certain administrative problems did, however, arise as a result of the distance between the northern and southern properties. In the summer of 1375, for instance, he was obliged to sue a former keeper of the park at Stanton St. Quintin for poaching and other misdemeanours, although he eventually won his case and received unusually high damages of £24.3

Throughout this period Sir John spent a good deal of time away from home campaigning against the Scots and the French. On his own evidence, he first bore arms in Scotland in the retinue of Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland. We know, too, that he took part in John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster’s celebrated chevauchée across France in 1373, as well as serving under the duke and other commanders in Normandy and Brittany. Military duties did not, however, prevent him from playing his part in the business of local government, notably as a royal commissioner and tax collector in the East Riding, so by the date of his first election to Parliament, in the autumn of 1382, he already possessed a wide range of valuable experience. Two days after the end of the session, on 26 Oct., his abilities were further put to the test, with his appointment as keeper of Scarborough castle, at a high annual fee of 40 marks. The castle played a vital part in protecting the Yorkshire coast, and it appears from the terms of a royal commission of inquiry set up in the following year that the defences had not hitherto been properly maintained. Sir John did not, of course, devote all his attention to the new post, for he accompanied Gaunt to Scotland in 1383 and again crossed the border two years later as a member of Richard II’s ill-fated expedition against the enemy. He entered the House of Commons again for a second time in 1386, giving evidence during the session on behalf of Richard, Lord Scrope, in his dispute with Sir Robert Grosvenor over the right to bear the same coat of arms. Over the next few years Sir John discharged various royal commissions, sat on the East Riding bench and generally appears to have performed all that was required of him. But by February 1392 the keepership of Scarborough castle was declared ‘forfeit’, and he was removed for some irregularity on his part. The specific reasons for his dismissal are not known, although it is worth noting that, save for one further appearance in Parliament and a brief period of service on a routine commission of inquiry at Bridlington, his public career then came to a halt. His last years were marked by a bitter dispute with his kinsman and former ward, Thomas St. Quintin, who brought an action of waste against him in the court of common pleas, alleging that he had devastated his estates at Harpham while they were in his care. No verdict was reached during Sir John’s lifetime, nor did it prove possible for Thomas to obtain any accounts from his guardian. The latter found himself in far more serious trouble as a result of his blatant infringement of the truce between England and Scotland. His recklessness in capturing two Scottish prisoners and ransoming them for 80 marks threatened to break the already fragile peace; and in November 1398 he was summoned to appear before Ralph, earl of Westmorland, the warden of the east march. But Sir John was then already dead, and his offence went unpunished.4

Sir John drew up his will at Wassand on 4 Dec. 1397, and died on 17 Jan. following. He had acquired this Yorkshire manor from his second wife, Agnes Herbert, who held it as dower after the death of John Wassand, her former husband. Sir John left instructions for his burial beside his first wife, Laura, at Brandesburton church, but specified that their tomb should eventually bear three monumental brasses, the third being of Agnes, whom he hoped would one day be buried beside him. He proved generous to the religious houses with which his sisters were connected, setting aside £18 for the priories of Stixwould, Stainfield and Swine. His brother Anthony, whom he had recently helped to secure the rectory of Hornsea, received a silver cup, while other gifts of plate were distributed among the family. Sir John’s executors included his neighbour and distant kinsman, Sir John Routh*, and three local clerics. Herbert, the only child of Sir John’s first marriage, is said to have taken Sir Robert Hilton’s* daughter and coheir, Elizabeth, as his wife, although he died without issue. The St. Quintin estates thus passed to Sir John’s second son, Anthony, who married into the influential Gascoigne family. The widowed Agnes St. Quintin died early in 1405 and was buried next to John Wassand at Sigglesthorne church in Yorkshire, so Sir John’s wishes with regard to her brass were never fulfilled. A woman of some affluence, she left bequests in excess of £50 in cash, most of which were intended for works of piety.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Sancto Quinto, Seintquintyn.

  • 1. Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 167; ii. 382; CIPM, ix. no. 45; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xii. 203-5; Test. Ebor. i. 215-16, 332; CP, viii. 522; xi. 368; CFR, viii. 192; Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. iii. 184-6.
  • 2. C66/318 m. 28v.
  • 3. CP, viii. 522; xi. 368; Clay, iii. 184-6; CIPM, ix. no. 45; xvi. no. 984; Yr. Bk. 1378-9, ed. Arnold, pp. 38-48; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. lxxvi. 10; CCR, 1374-7, pp. 499-50; 1377-81, p. 15.
  • 4. Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 167; ii. 382; CPR, 1381-5, pp. 212, 257; 1391-6, p. 193; CCR, 1392-6, p. 159; 1396-9, p. 347; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xii. 212-13 ; JUST 1/1507 rot. 4.
  • 5. Test. Ebor. i. 215-16, 332; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. ii. 203-5; CCR, 1392-6, pp. 148-9; M.G.A. Vale, Piety among Yorks. Gentry (Borthwick pprs. l), 9.