Saturday, April 21, 2012

John St John

Some writers have erroneously claimed that the estate at Lydiard passed seamlessly down the St John family, father to son.  With premature deaths, a murderer and an attainted politician in the family it was never going to be that neat and tidy.

Sir John St John 1st Baronet and his wife Anne Leighton produced 13 children and no doubt expected their inheritance was well protected.  However, of this large family only three survived their father's death in 1648.

Eldest son Oliver died in 1640/1 followed by his brothers William in 1642/3, John in 1643 and Edward, the Golden Cavalier, in 1644, all killed during the English Civil War.

When Sir John died his property at Lydiard Tregoze was inherited by his 12 year old grandson, John.

Young John St John was the eldest son of Oliver St John and his wife Catherine Vere.  The couple had married in Hackney on January 30, 1633/4.  With Sir John resident in the Manor House at Battersea, it is believed that Oliver and Catherine made their home at Lydiard Park where their three young children grew up.

Following Oliver's death in 1640/1, Catherine speedily remarried and took her two surviving children to the home of her new husband, John Baron Poulett in Hinton St George, Wiltshire.  Catherine died in 1653, her daughter Mary the following year, leaving John somewhat adrift.  Never particularly close to his St John relatives, John moved in with his grandmother, the wealthy Lady Vere who lived at Kirby Hall, Essex.

Twenty year old John made his will on April 7, 1656 and died six days later, leaving bequests to the doctors who attended him in his last illness.  He was buried at Lydiard Tregoze on May 8.

The Will of John St John, 2nd Baronet
Aprill the Seaventh day 1656

In the name of God Amen I Sr John St John of Lydyerd Traygouse in the County of Wiltshire Barronett beinge weake and Sicke in body but of good and perfect understandinge and memory (Thankes be to God) Doe make and ordaine this my last will and Testament in manner and forme followinge Imprimis I give and bequeathe my Soule into the hands of my deare Lord and Saviour Jes Christ fro whom alone I expect redemption and salvacon And my body to be buried in the Church of Ledyerd Traygouse Item I give to my verie good grandemother the Lady Mary Veare one thousand pounds Item I give to my Aunt the Lady Elizabeth Clayer, my Aunt the Lady Westmorland Mary, my Aunt the Lady Anne Fairefaxe, my Aunt Mrs Dorothy Worsham, my Aunt the Lady Wilmott and my Aunt the Lady Vilers Three Hundrd poundes apeece     Item I give to Mr Timothy Felton one hundred poundes Item I give to mr William Sparrowe one hundred poundes Item I give to my Servant Adrian Scrope one Hundred poundes Item I give to Richard Shropshire my Coachman one Hundred poundes Item I give to Mr Francis Bartlett one hundred poundes Item I give to Daines Lewes wife to Richard Lewes Twenty poundes Item I give unto Venus Scrope wife to Adrian Tenn poundes Item I give to Richard Lewes the elder Tenn poundes Item I give to Elizabeth Lewes tenn poundes And Richard Lewes Junior tenn poundes Item I give to Doctor Bates Twenty poundes Item I give to Doctor Wetherburn Twenty poundes Item I give to Samuel Shropshire my footeman Tenn Poundes Item I give to John Ferwell my footeman Tenn poundes Item I give to Little Jacke my footeboy five poundes Lastly I doe nominate ordaine and appoint my loveing uncle Walter St John esquire Sole and onely executor of this my last will and Testament which I desire hee will See fullfilled  In witnes whereof I have hereunto Sett my hand and Seale the day and yeare above written  John St John 

Signed Sealed and delivered in the presence of us

The marke of John Ferwell
The marke of Elizabeth Boulton

Despite his generous bequests, the beneficiaries of young John's estate were to be disappointed.  Like so many other St John's, the under-age heir had been living beyond his means and had racked up a few debts.  He died bankrupt.

Sir Walter, John's uncle, renounced the executorship of the will in favour of the two principal creditors Henry Street and Francis Rainsford.


  1. Hi, the picture above, of the st john crest in stone, where is this located?

    1. This coat of arms is on St Mary's Church, Lydiard Tregoze, next to Lydiard House.