ST. JOHN, Oliver (c.1642-89), of Farley Chamberlayne, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
12 Jan. - 26 Aug. 1689

Family and Education

b. c.1642, 1st s. of Oliver St. John of Farley Chamberlayne by Constance, da. of Walter Dawley of Ibsley. educ. Exeter, Oxf. 1658. m. settlement 8 May 1663, Margery, da. and coh. of Francis Rivett of Kings Somborne, 1s. 3da. suc. fa. 1665.1

Offices Held

J.p. Hants 1668-?81, ?1689-d.; freeman, Winchester 1670; commr. for inquiry, New Forest 1676, 1679, assessment, Hants 1677-80, 1689; lt.-col. of militia ft. Hants by 1680, col. 1689; verderer, New Forest by 1686-d.; dep. lt. Hants 1689-d.; sub-commr. for prizes, Portsmouth 1689-d.2


St. John claimed, with some probability, direct descent in the male line from Hugh de Port, the largest lay tenant-in-chief in Hampshire in Domesday Book. He came from a cadet branch of the Wiltshire family, which acquired Farley Chamberlayne, seven miles from Stockbridge, by marriage in 1525, and represented the borough in three Elizabethan Parliaments. His father took no part in the Civil War. St. John strengthened his interest at Stockbridge by his marriage, and was elected at the first vacancy after he succeeded to the estate. Marked ‘honest’ by Shaftesbury in the first Exclusion Parliament, he voted for the bill, but as a committeeman he cannot be distinguished from his distant cousins, Francis and Paulet St. John. There was a contest for the second seat in August 1679, but St. John’s return was not opposed. In 1681 an attempt was made to discredit him with a charge of profaning the anniversary of Charles I’s execution by hunting in the company of his neighbour Oliver Cromwell (grandson of the great Protector and MP for Lymington after the Revolution). But the bishop of Winchester took two months to collect the depositions, by which time the Oxford Parliament had been not only elected, but dissolved. Soon afterwards he was removed from the commission of the peace. St. John stood again in 1685, but his petition against the Stockbridge return was never reported. He was approved as court candidate in 1688, having promised the King’s agents to comply,and was elected to the Convention. He probably served on five committees, of which the most important was to inquire into the delay in relieving Londonderry. By the interest of the Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett I), who acknowledged St. John as his kinsman, he was made sub-commissioner for prizes, but he died of smallpox on 26 Aug. 1689 during the summer recess. The family became extinct on his daughter’s death in 1700; but her husband, who was a St. John on his mother’s side, assumed the name by Act of Parliament, and his son by his second wife sat for Hampshire under George II.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Burke, Peerage (1959), 1550; H. R. Moulton, Cat. (1930), 222.
  • 2. Winchester Corp. assembly bk. 5, f. 64; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 410; vi. 199; viii. 758; CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 60; 1689-90, p. 172.
  • 3. VCH Hants, iv. 444; CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 217; 1689-90, pp. 172, 217; Wood’s Life and Times (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xxvi) 308.