ST. JOHN, Paulet (1634-1711), of Warden Street, Beds.
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Family and Education
bap. 23 Nov. 1634, 2nd s. of Sir Paulet St. John of Bletso by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir Rowland Vaughan of St. Mary Spital, Shoreditch, Mdx. educ. L. Inn 1651. unm. suc. bro. as 3rd Earl of Bolingbroke 18 Mar. 1688.
Freeman, Bedford 1663; commr. for assessment, Beds. and Bedford 1663-80, Mdx. 1665-79; j.p. and custos rot. Beds. 1689- d. recorder, Bedford 1689-d.1
St. John’s ancestors acquired Bletsoe by marriage in the 15th century, sitting regularly for the county and sometimes for the borough from 1542, and being raised to the peerage in 1559. They were Presbyterians and supporters of Parliament during the Civil War, but withdrew from public life during the Interregnum. St. John lived at Warden Street, seven miles from Bedford, and was returned for the borough at a by-election, probably unopposed, since his brother, the 2nd Earl of Bolinghroke, had just succeeded Samuel Browne as recorder. Both brothers took the oath against the Covenant, as the law required, when they became freemen of Bedford. St. John was an inactive Member of the Cavalier Parliament, with only 31 committee appointments. In 1666 he was one of the Members appointed to consider defects in the laws for regulating the press. Sir Thomas Osborne included him in 1669 among the Members who had for the most part voted for supply, but in 1676 Sir Richard Wiseman reported that he had voted ill of late, and Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly worthy’. In 1678 he was named to his only committee of outright political significance, that to consider the growth of Popery. In the first Exclusion Parliament, he was marked ‘worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list, appointed to the committee of elections and privileges, and voted for the bill. In the next two Parliaments he seems to have been totally inactive. Though St. John’s name heads the list of Bedfordshire gentry not in commission in 1687, he was not appointed to local office, probably owing to the hostility of Lord Ailesbury (Thomas Bruce). Succeeding to the peerage shortly before the Revolution, he became a country Whig under William III. He died on 5 Oct. 1711 and was buried at Bletsoe. His earldom became extinct on his death, but a cousin succeeded to the estates as 8th Baron St. John of Bletso, though it was not till 1780 that the parliamentary record of the family in Bedfordshire was resumed.2