ST. AUBYN, Sir John, 5th Bt. (1758-1839), of Clowance, Cornw.
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Family and Education
b. 17 May 1758, o.s. of Sir John St. Aubyn, 4th Bt. educ. Westminster 1773; Grand Tour. m. 1 July 1822, Juliana Vinicombe, by whom he had, previous to their marriage, 6s. 2da. suc. fat 12 Oct. 1772.
Sheriff, Cornw. 1781-2.
J. Kimber, steward of Philip Rashleigh, wrote to him 16 Mar. 1777: ‘Sir John St. Aubyn hath never given his friends any room to expect great things from him. I hope, however, what we see in the public papers may not prove true.’1 In fact it did. When still at Westminster and a minor, he procured a schoolfellow just come of age ‘to join him in a bond for monies advanced to supply his extravagancies’. A suit to void it was instituted on his behalf in 1777, during his absence abroad.2 Also his further life was far from exemplary. J. B. Lane, the painter, while speaking of him to Joseph Farington ‘with much respect’, lamented ‘the situation in which Sir John is placed as a family man’. By two Cornish women he had 15 illegitimate children. The second, ‘Mrs. Winnicombe’, Lane told Farington, 31 Mar. 1811, ‘continues to live with him, and sits at the head of his table. All the children he educates as he would have done legitimate sons and daughters.’ The marriage portions of 13 of these 15 children amounted to £130,000.3 Yet Kimber’s pessimistic forecast did not prove altogether correct: St. Aubyn is commemorated by W. P. Courtney in the Dictionary of National Biography as ‘a lover of science and the arts’, as ‘an early and constant patron and friend of John Opie’, a collector of fossils and minerals, and a generous subscriber to public causes.
Politically he was insignificant. He was returned for Truro, and next for Penryn, on the interest of his first cousin, Sir Francis Basset, whom he followed in joining the Opposition: he voted with them in every single division for which lists are extant 1784-90. There is no record of his having spoken in the House before 1790.
St. Aubyn died 10 Aug. 1839, s.p. legit., and the baronetcy became extinct.