ST. JOHN, Sir Beauchamp (1594-1667), of Tilbrook, Beds.
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Family and Education
b. 17 Mar. 1594,1 7th but 6th surv. s. of Oliver, 3rd Bar. St. John† of Bletsoe (d.1618) and Dorothy, da. of John Rede† of Boddington, Glos.;2 bro. of Sir Alexander*, Sir Anthony*, Sir Henry*, Sir Oliver I* and Sir Rowland*. educ. Queen’s, Camb. 1610, MA 1613; L. Inn 1613.3 m. 13 Oct. 1613, Rebecca (bur. 26 Mar. 1631), da. and h. of William Hawkins of Tilbrook, Beds. s.p.4 kntd. 22/24 July 1619.5 d. 8 July-23 Aug. 1667. sig. Beu[champ] St. John.
J.p. Beds. 1619-26, 1628-52, 1660-d., Hunts. 1624-6, 1628-c.59;6 dep. lt. Hunts. at least 1624-5;7 commr. Forced Loan, Beds. 1626;8 freeman, Bedford ?1626;9 commr. sewers, Gt. Fens 1631-at least 1636, Beds. 1636, oyer and terminer, Norf. circ. 1642;10 commissary musters, Beds. 1642;11 commr. E. Midlands Assoc. (Beds.) 1642, sequestration, Beds. 1643, levying of money 1643, assessment 1644-9, 1661-d., New Model Army 1645,12 charitable uses 1646,13 militia 1648, 1660, Poll Tax 1660.14
Cttee. Irish affairs 1641, examination of prisoners 1642.15
St. John was named after his ancestor Margaret Beauchamp, heiress of the Bletsoe estate. As the youngest of six surviving sons, he received only £50 in his father’s will, but the family’s local prestige secured a match which brought him an estate of 450 acres.16 He was knighted at Bletsoe in 1619 as a mark of favour to his eldest brother Oliver, 4th Baron St. John, whose influence clearly secured a county seat for him at the general election of December 1620. Named to a conference with the Lords on punishment of the monopolists investigated by the Commons (12 Mar. 1621), he was not otherwise mentioned in the records of the session, although as an MP for Bedfordshire he was entitled to attend the committee for a bill to facilitate the sale of Fletton manor, Huntingdonshire (4 May 1621).17
At the general election of 1624 St. John was supplanted as knight of the shire by his eldest brother’s heir, Oliver St. John II*. Despite his family’s extensive parliamentary patronage, St. John did not find another seat until 1626, when his brother Sir Alexander left a vacancy at Bedford by migrating to Barnstaple. In this Parliament St. John was included on committees for bills concerning clerical pluralism (14 Feb.), malting (9 Mar.) and the partition of the newly drained marshes of Canvey Island, Essex (28 March).18 He may also have been named to the committee for the bill to confirm Henry Skipwith’s title to the manor of Bagworth, Leicestershire on 6 Mar., when the clerk mistakenly recorded the nomination of a ‘Sir Francis St. John’ immediately before Sir Alexander St. John; he is not known to have had any personal interest in the bill.19 As a surety for Sir Charles Mordaunt’s debts, he would have been interested in the bill by which Mordaunt proposed to sell the manor of Oakley, Bedfordshire to pay off his creditors, but this never reached the House, as the threat of legislation persuaded all parties to agree to a private sale of the property to Richard Taylor*.20
St. John and his eldest brother, now earl of Bolingbroke, were among the magistrates who failed to persuade the Bedfordshire subsidymen to contribute to a Benevolence demanded by the king shortly after the acrimonious dissolution of the 1626 Parliament.21 St. John was nevertheless appointed a Forced Loan commissioner in the autumn of 1626, but followed Bolingbroke’s example in refusing to pay. He was summoned before the Privy Council in February 1627, removed from the commission of the peace, and then reappeared before the Council in July, when he was committed to the Gatehouse prison. Released under the general amnesty for Loan refusers in January 1628, he was elected for Bedford once again in the following month.22 He left little mark on the Parliament’s records, playing no recorded part in the formulation of the Petition of Right. However, he was named to committees for bills to regulate saltpetre production for the gunpowder industry (25 Apr. 1628) and prevent recusants leasing their own forfeited estates back from the Crown (23 Apr. 1628). He was also appointed to help draft a petition asking the king to punish a man who had taken a girl abroad to be raised as a Catholic (24 May 1628).23
St. John was restored to the commission of the peace in December 1628, and stayed aloof from the political controversies of the Personal Rule, even though his relative Oliver St. John† was John Hampden’s* counsel in the Ship Money case. This may have been partly due to his entanglement in the financial problems of his friend Sir Thomas Cheyney of Sundon, Bedfordshire and his nephew Lord St. John (Oliver St. John II), whose creditors were still pursuing him in the early 1650s.24 He sat for Bedford in both the Short and Long Parliaments, and, like most of his family, was an active parliamentarian in the Civil War. He absented himself from the Commons after Pride’s Purge in December 1648, but retained at least some of his local offices, serving as a justice of Huntingdonshire until the fall of the Protectorate in 1659.25
Reinstated to the Bedfordshire bench at the Restoration, St. John sold a reversion of his estates to his nephew Sir Oliver St. John of Woodford in 1661, and probably spent his last years living with Lord St. John’s widow at Welby, Leicestershire. In his will of March 1667 he left the latter two gold portingales, and bequeathed her family most of the £2,000 he raised from the sale of Tilbrook. He confirmed this will on 8 July 1667 and was dead by 23 Aug., when it was proved at Leicester.26 Tilbrook passed to Sir Oliver St. John of Woodford, and was subsumed into the main Bletsoe estates when the latter’s great-grandson inherited the St. John barony in 1711.27
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Simon Healy
- 1. Southill (Beds. Par. Reg. xii), 9.
- 2. Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 194.
- 3. Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.
- 4. C142/429/132/2; Genealogia Bedfordiensis ed. F.A. Blaydes, 291.
- 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 173.
- 6. C231/4, ff. 84, 172, 196, 228, 261; 231/5, p. 215; C193/12/3, 193/13/3-6; C220/9/4.
- 7. C231/4, f. 173; Add. ch. 33168B.
- 8. CSP Dom. 1626-7, p. 44.
- 9. Min. Bk. Bedford Corp. ed. G. Parsloe (Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. xxvi), 1.
- 10. C181/4, f. 93v; 181/5, ff. 37v, 218; Beds. RO, J.1053.
- 11. CJ, ii. 833a.
- 12. A. and O. i. 50, 110, 169, 543, 619, 635, 960, 1077; ii. 30; SR, v. 327, 527.
- 13. C93/19/19.
- 14. A. and O. i. 1234; ii. 1426; SR, v. 209.
- 15. CJ, ii. 302a, 825b.
- 16. PROB 11/142, f. 349v; C142/429/132/2.
- 17. CJ, i. 551a, 606b.
- 18. Ibid. 819b, 833b, 838b, 842b; Procs. 1626, ii. 26-7.
- 19. CJ, i. 830b; Procs. 1626, ii. 175.
- 20. C2/Chas.I/S108/42.
- 21. ‘Pprs. of Richard Taylor of Clapham’ ed. G.D. Clapham Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. xxv. 106-8; R. Cust, Forced Loan, 94-9, 161-2.
- 22. CSP Dom. 1626-7, p. 44; C231/4, f. 228; APC, 1627, pp. 74, 86, 404, 439; 1627-8, p. 217; Add. 4177, ff. 261-2; Fairfax Corresp. ed. G.W. Johnson, i. 68.
- 23. CJ, i. 887b, 888b, 904a.
- 24. C2/Chas.I/S37/30, W125/100; E112/158/51; Beds. RO, J.178; CCAM, 346-7; CCC, 580.
- 25. CSP Dom. 1655, pp. 93-4.
- 26. Leics. RO, Wills 1667/73; J. Nichols, Hist. and Antiqs. of Leics. ii. 285.
- 27. VCH Beds. iii. 172-3; CP (St. John of Bletsoe).