ST. AUBYN, Thomas (c.1578-1637), of the Middle Temple, London; later of Helston, 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.1578, 2nd s. of Thomas St. Aubyn (d.1626) of Clowance, Crowan, Cornw. and Zenobia, da. of John Malet† of Woolleigh, Beaford, Devon; bro. of John*.1 educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1594, aged 16;2 M. Temple 1597, called 1605.3 m. 13 Apr. 1615, Katherine, da. of John Bonython† of Carclew, Cornw., 2s. (d.v.p.) 1da.4 d. by 6 Mar. 1637.5 sig. Thomas Seyntaubyn.

Offices Held

Commr. piracy, Cornw. 1613, ?1624, 1626, 1637;6 recvr. to 2nd earl of Salisbury (William Cecil*), Cornw. 1618-30;7 freeman, Helston, Cornw. by 1620, mayor 1623-4.8


Although he stood to inherit some land from his father, St. Aubyn bolstered his prospects as a younger son by pursuing a legal career. His presence in London as a trainee lawyer probably explains his election to Parliament in 1601 for St. Ives, the borough nearest to his father’s house. Called to the bar in 1605, he remained at the Middle Temple for some years thereafter, associating particularly with fellow West Countrymen. In 1610, while Francis Courtney* was bound with him, he was admitted to chambers with William Hockmore*.9

In the Addled Parliament St. Aubyn’s elder brother John served as a Cornish knight of the shire, while he himself found a seat at Grampound. His father owned some property near the borough, but St. Aubyn may also have received support from John’s brother-in-law John Arundell* of Trerice, who lived a few miles to the north. No record survives of his role in the Commons’ proceedings.10

As St. Aubyn’s father, also named Thomas, remained a j.p. until his death in March 1626, distinguishing between the two men in local government prior to this date is problematic. They were both named as Cornish piracy commissioners in 1613 and, given his legal training, it was probably St. Aubyn who was reappointed to this role in 1624. By that time he had settled permanently at Helston, having surrendered his Middle Temple chambers in 1621. As mayor of Helston in 1624, he presided over the borough’s parliamentary election.11

In 1626 St. Aubyn was again returned to the Commons for Grampound, but his place was insecure, since indentures were also sent up for Edward Thomas and Sir Benjamin Rudyard. The case was referred to the committee for privileges on 9 Feb., despite the fact that Rudyard had opted to sit elsewhere. On 17 Feb. the committee recommended a fresh election to replace St. Aubyn; no reason for this decision was recorded, but his indenture appears to contain forged signatures. Whether he influenced the choice of Francis Courtney as his replacement is not known.12

Around 1627 St. Aubyn helped John Arundell to show Bulstrode Whitelocke* the sights of western Cornwall.13 In the factional disputes which split the Cornish gentry at this time, St. Aubyn, probably following Arundell’s lead, aligned himself with William Coryton* and (Sir) John Eliot*, both of whom refused to contribute to the Forced Loan. However, the claim that St. Aubyn was a Loan commissioner, and that he distanced himself from his duties, is unfounded; his actual response to the levy is unknown, although he did support the election of Coryton and Eliot as Cornish knights of the shire in 1628.14 Two years later he initially declined to compound for knighthood, on the grounds that his father had been alive at the Coronation.15

St. Aubyn’s will, drawn up on 4 Feb. 1637, testified to his staunchly Protestant beliefs. The preamble, affirming his assurance of salvation, visualized the scene in the next world, in which he expected to ‘enjoy the company of archangels and angels, the holy martyrs and prophets and the rest of the holy choir of heaven’. He requested a simple interment, left money for a funeral sermon, and made provision for any tithes he might have overlooked. By this date both his sons were dead, and his principal heir was his unmarried daughter, though he bequeathed certain entailed lands and his law-books to a nephew. St. Aubyn died shortly afterwards; an inventory of his goods, valued at £112 15s. 10d., was taken on 6 March.16

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 438.
  • 2. Al. Ox.
  • 3. M. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. Vivian, 438.
  • 5. Cornw. RO, S779/2.
  • 6. C181/2, f. 186v; 181/3, ff. 113v, 196; 181/5, f. 83v.
  • 7. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 79, 256-7.
  • 8. Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 282; C219/38/60.
  • 9. Cornw. RO, S779/1; MTR, 397; ii. 456, 517, 525.
  • 10. C142/423/64; Vivian, 438.
  • 11. MTR, 661-2; Cornw. RO, FP 84/1/1, p. 18; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 5; C219/38/60.
  • 12. Procs. 1626, ii. 8, 61; C219/40/248, 254.
  • 13. Add. 53726, ff. 36-7v.
  • 14. C219/41B/135; R. Cust, Forced Loan, 314.
  • 15. E178/7161.
  • 16. Cornw. RO, S779/1-2.