ST. LOE (SEYNTLOWE), Sir William (c.1518-c.65), of Tormarton, Glos. and Chatsworth, Derbys.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1518, 1st s. of Sir John St. Loe, and bro. of Edward. m. (1) by 1538, Jane, da. of Sir Edward Baynton, 2da.; (2) 15 Oct. 1559, Elizabeth, da. of John Hardwick of Hardwick, Derbys., wid. of Robert Barley and of Sir William Cavendish, s.p. Kntd. 1549; suc. fa. 1559.

Offices Held

Lt. King’s forts in Leinster 1548; constable Waterford castle by 1551; keeper of the horse to Edward VI 1553; gent. attendant to Princess Elizabeth, temp. Mary; capt. of guard by 1558; chief butler, England and Wales 1559; j.p. Glos., Som. from 1559, Derbys. from 1561.2


As Princess Elizabeth’s servant St. Loe was charged with complicity in Wyatt’s rebellion and committed to the Tower 28 Feb. 1554. He was fined £2,200 and released in January 1555. When his mistress became Queen his loyalty to her was recognized by an annuity and the captainship of the guard. St. Loe was elected knight of the shire for Somerset in her first Parliament, and succeeded his father to the Somerset estates of the family during its course. With the income from his estates, his old and new annuities and the perquisites of his court office, he was a rich man. His marriage to Bess of Hardwick, his second, her third, took place when she owed the Crown £5,000 and had heavy family responsibilities, and his continued attendance at court precluded all but the briefest visits to Chatsworth or to his own estates. His position as her husband brought him election for Derbyshire in the second Parliament of the reign. No record has been found of any activity by him in either Parliament.3

St. Loe’s surviving correspondence to his wife shows the great affection that can have been his only reason for marrying her. ‘My own dear wife Chatsworth’ he calls her, lamenting that the Queen’s possessiveness precluded more frequent visits to her. While she was engaged upon one of her perennial building projects there he referred to her as chief overseer of works. Not surprisingly St. Loe’s second marriage was resented by his younger brother Edward, who was under heavy suspicion of poisoning St. Loe and his wife. St. Loe’s old mother wrote to Bess after an abortive attempt in 1561: ‘I was sure you were poisoned when I was at London, and if you had not had a present remedy you had died’. To discourage a further attempt St. Loe made an indenture to hold his lands jointly with his wife. It was in August 1561 that Bess of Hardwick was imprisoned for concealing from the Queen her knowledge of Lady Catherine Grey’s marriage to Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford. Though the conditions were good the term was long, and can probably be seen as part of the Queen’s possessiveness over St. Loe, for the circumstances of the offence did not warrant so harsh a punishment upon one whom the Queen had regarded and was to regard as a friend, in so far as this was possible between sovereign and subject. Perhaps if the Queen had a conscience at all in these matters she regretted the incident, for shortly after Bess’s release on 25 Mar. 1562 the Queen forgave her £4,000 of the £5,000 she still owed from the estate of her second husband, on condition that the remaining £1,000 was paid by her third, which it was. Soon afterwards St. Loe died, before he could receive the promotion to vice-chamberlain of the Household, which he might have expected. His death took place between November 1564 and March 1565, and he was buried beside his father in the church of Great St. Helen, Bishopsgate. All his property went to the sole executrix, his ‘most entirely beloved wife’, in consideration of the ‘natural affection, mature love and assured good will’ which he had always felt for her. The will was unsuccessfully contested.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Wilts. Vis. Ped. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 7; Genealogist, xi. 248; Collinson, Som. ii. 96; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 3, f. 27.
  • 3. D. N. Durant, Bess of Hardwick, 33-49.
  • 4. PCC 24 Morrison; Som. Wills (ser. 6), 24-5.