ST. AUBYN, John (c.1577-1639), of Clowance, Crowan, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1577, 1st s. of Thomas St. Aubyn of Clowance and Zenobia, da. of John Malet† of Woolleigh, Beaford, Devon; bro. of Thomas*.1 educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1594 aged 17; M. Temple 1597.2 m. 29 Jan. 1603,3 Katherine (bur. 17 Dec. 1629), da. of John Arundell† of Trerice, Cornw., 5s. (1 d.v.p.) 7da. suc. fa. 1626. d. 13 Sept. 1639.4 sig. John Seyntaubyn.

Offices Held

Commr. piracy, Cornw. 1613, 1624-6, 1637;5 recorder, Penzance, Cornw. by 1620;6 j.p. Cornw. 1621-c.1625,7 commr. subsidy 1624-5,8 sheriff 1635-6.9


The St. Aubyns proudly traced their ancestry back to the Norman Conquest, though they acquired the manor of Clowance, in western Cornwall, only in the late fourteenth century. St. Aubyn’s great-uncle, William, served in four of the Marian Parliaments. His father, Thomas, who owned over 1,000 acres stretching almost from Land’s End to the Devon border, was active in local government.10 Thomas lived well into his ninth decade, and St. Aubyn had not yet inherited his patrimony when he represented Cornwall in 1614. Both he and his fellow knight of the shire, Richard Carew, were close relatives of John Arundell of Trerice*, who may have encouraged them to stand then, and who certainly provided both men with their seats at Mitchell in 1621. On neither occasion did St. Aubyn leave any trace on the Commons’ records.11

St. Aubyn was removed from the Cornish bench in about 1625, after only four years of service. As he was currently assessed at £20 for the subsidy he was certainly wealthy enough to have remained a magistrate, but he was not restored even after his father’s death in the following year. Some failure in his performance must therefore be assumed, though malpractice should probably be discounted as he continued to serve in other local offices. He apparently remained neutral in the factional struggles which divided the Cornish gentry in the late 1620s, notwithstanding the alignment of his younger brother, Thomas, and his brother-in-law, John Arundell, with William Coryton* and (Sir) John Eliot*. St. Aubyn refused to compound for knighthood in 1630.12 He was also ineffectual in collecting Ship Money when he became sheriff of Cornwall in 1635. His predecessor had already paid in all but £704 14s. 1d. of that year’s writ for £6,500, but St. Aubyn took another 12 months to gather the arrears. By December he was trying to persuade the government either to write off the amount or relieve him of office, presumably on the grounds of local opposition, but his pleas were undermined by complaints from Cornwall that he had unnecessarily adjusted a local assessment when collection was already well underway. In June 1636 the Privy Council lost patience, accusing him of ‘supine neglect’ of his duties, and warning him of the consequences of further delay. He paid in £340 shortly afterwards, though the account was finally cleared only in November, when he claimed that the ‘extraordinary charge’ of this exercise had left him £50 or £60 out of pocket. How he proceeded with implementation of the August 1636 writ is not known, although the full £5,500 was eventually collected.13

St. Aubyn drew up his will on 1 Dec. 1638, ‘in some indifferent manner and measure of health’, but confident that in the life to come he would receive ‘an incorruptible, immortal, strong and perfect body’. He assigned to each of his five unmarried daughters a £500 dowry, and to his three younger sons £600 in total. A single charitable bequest of £10 to the local parish of Crowan was intended both for church repairs and poor relief. He died in September 1639, and was buried at Crowan. His eldest son, John, sat for Tregony in the Short Parliament, and for St. Ives and the county during the Protectorate.14

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Anne Duffin / Paul Hunneyball



  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 438.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.
  • 3. Cornw. RO, FP163/1/1, p. 258.
  • 4. Vis. Cornw. 438.
  • 5. C181/2, f. 186v; 181/3, ff. 113v, 196; 181/5, f. 83v.
  • 6. Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 283.
  • 7. C231/4, f. 121v; C66/2310.
  • 8. C212/22/23; E179/88/293.
  • 9. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 23.
  • 10. R. Carew, Survey of Cornw. ed. P. White, 183; J. Polsue, Complete Paroch. Hist. of Cornw. i. 263; HP Commons, 1509-58, iii. 252; C142/423/64; Add. 34,224, ff. 7-8, 15, 35, 38-9.
  • 11. Vis. Cornw. 12, 69, 438; A. Duffin, Faction and Faith, 73.
  • 12. E179/88/293; C219/41(B)/135; E178/7161.
  • 13. CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 149; 1636-7, pp. 208-9; PC2/46, pp. 259-60; M.D. Gordon, ‘Collection of Ship Money in the Reign of Chas. I’, TRHS (ser. 3), iv. 156.
  • 14. PROB 11/183, ff. 119v-21; Vis. Cornw. 438.