ST. JOHN, Henry (1652-1742), of Lydiard Tregoze, Wilts. and Battersea, Surr.
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Family and Education
bap. 17 Oct. 1652, 1st s of Sir Walter St. John, 3rd Bt., educ. Eton 1661-8; Caius, Camb. 1668-9. m. (1) 11 Dec. 1673, Lady Mary Rich (d. 30 Sept. 1678), da. and coh. of Robert, 3rd Earl of Warwick, 1s.; (2) 1 Jan. 1687, Angelica Magdalena (d. 5 Aug. 1736), da. of Claude Pellissary, treasurer-gen. of the galleys to Louis XIV, wid. of Philip Wharton of Edlington, Yorks., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. fa. 3 July 1708; cr. Visct. St. John 2 July 1716.1
Commr. for assessment, Wilts. 1677-80, 1689-90, Surr. 1690; dep. lt. Wilts. 1683 June 1688, Oct. 1688-at least 1701, j.p. 1685-June 1688, Oct. 1688-at least 1702.
St. John reacted against the eminent piety and morality of his parents by devoting himself to a life of pleasure. Returned for the family borough in the second and third Exclusion Parliaments, he was probably totally inactive like his father. He was not so notorious a Whig as to be debarred from the lieutenancy in 1683. In the following year he was the principal figure in a singularly disgraceful brawl, which followed the acquittal of Edward Nosworthy II. The jury repaired to the Globe in Fleet Street; an altercation broke out between St. John and Francis Stonehouse, which terminated in the death of the foreman, Sir William Estcourt. St. John and Edmund Webb were found guilty of murder, and condemned to death. St. John’s father washed his hands of his scapegrace son, but his mother obtained a pardon for him at the reported price of £16,000. ‘It was a rich family, and not well affected to the Court.’ St. John was expected to go abroad for some time, but unblushingly presented himself to the electors of Wootton Bassett a few weeks later, and was duly elected to James II’s Parliament. His only committee was on the bill for the encouragement of woollen manufactures. He was presumably one of the five or six Wiltshire j.p.s whom the lord lieutenant reported in 1688 as dwelling constantly in London. His replies on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Law do not survive, but he was removed from local office. Re-elected in 1689, he was probably still a Whig, though not listed as a supporter of the disabling clause in the corporations bill. No certain reference can be found to committee activity in this Parliament, but on 2 Dec. 1689 he obtained leave to waive privilege in his suit with Lady Wharton over his second wife’s jointure. He remained a member of the country party under William, but stood down in 1701 in favour of his brilliant son, subsequently famous as Lord Bolingbroke, statesman and philosopher. He was himself given a peerage when Bolingbroke was attainted, with a special remainder to his sons by his second wife. He died on 8 Apr. 1742 and was buried at Battersea.2