ST. JOHN, Henry (c.1568-1621), of Farley Chamberlayne, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. c.1568, 1st s. of William St. John† of Farley Chamberlayne and Norton Walrey, Wonston, Hants, and Barbara, da. of Thomas Gore of Nether Wallop, Hants and wid. of Thomas Twyne of Wonston.1 educ. Magdalen, Oxf. 1585, aged 17; L. Inn 1588.2 m. (1) Anne, at least 2s. d.v.p.; (2) by 1600 (with £100),3 Ursula, da. of Hugh Stukeley of Marsh, Charhampton, Som., 3s., 4da.;4 (3) by 1614, Margaret, da. of Peter Fuller of St. Helens, I.o.W., 2da. (1 d.v.p.).5 suc. fa. 1609;6 d. 7 Apr. 1621.7
Descended from a junior branch of the St. John family of Lydiard Tregoze in Wiltshire, St. John’s ancestors had owned property in Hampshire since the thirteenth century.10 Farley Chamberlayne, sometimes referred to as Farley St. John in their honour, was acquired by marriage in the early sixteenth century.11 Like his father before him, St. John was elected on the strength of his local standing to Parliament for Stockbridge, only a few miles west of Farley Chamberlayne, serving in 1589 and 1593.12 Following the death of his father in 1609, St. John became head of his family, and in 1614 he again put himself up for a seat. However, Stockbridge was at that time owned by the duchy of Lancaster, whose chancellor, Sir Thomas Parry*, requested a seat there for his nominee, Sir Walter Cope*. Consequently St. John received a ‘minatory’ letter from Parry warning that ‘he should feel a greater power than he could resist, and that it would be ill taken of the state’ if he refused to stand aside.13 The townsmen were offended by the officious nature of duchy administration, and at the polls on 22 Mar. St. John beat Cope for the second seat by 21 votes to eight. It was later alleged that St. John resorted to ‘undirect means’ to secure this result, by threatening to sue the inhabitants of Stockbridge for non-payment of his parliamentary wages in 1593.14 The election was not yet complete, however, for Gifford delayed the sealing of the indenture, having decided to offer his seat to his brother-in-law Sir Henry Wallop*, who had been defeated in the county election. As a result of Gifford’s machinations, the duchy forced the bailiff to hold a second poll, at which Wallop and Cope were returned, though not without hard usage of some of the voters, 21 of whom submitted a petition to the Commons on 9 May. The House was outraged, and two days later declared the election void. Some thought that St. John, who had been summoned to give evidence, should now be allowed to take his seat, but because the original indenture had never been sealed it was decided to issue a new writ.15 At the ensuing election, held sometime in late May, all but two of the signatories of the earlier petition voted for St. John, but this support was insufficient, as Wallop and Cope received 28 and 26 votes respectively.16 There may have been foul play, as further petitions were submitted to the Commons, but the Parliament was dissolved before a verdict could be reached.17 However, St. John successfully sued the bailiff for not returning him in the first election, and was awarded £40 in compensation.18
Later in 1614, St. John leased the Farley Chamberlayne estate to his brother-in-law Sir Richard Worsley* and moved to Norton Walrey following the death of his mother, who had held a life interest in the property.19 He made his will on 10 Nov. 1614, asking to be buried at Farley Chamberlayne alongside his second wife, Ursula, and leaving detailed provisions for the education of his sons.20 St. John died on 7 Apr. 1621 and was buried at Farley Chamberlayne on the following day.21 The wardship of his 17 year-old heir, John, was bought by his uncle Sir Thomas Stukeley, but the boy died before attaining his majority and the estates passed to St. John’s second son, whose son, Oliver, sat for Stockbridge in 1678.22