GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2003-09 > 1062823268
From: (John Brandon)
Subject: Re: Possible correction to St. John-Whiting ancestry
Date: 5 Sep 2003 21:41:08 -0700
Being lazy, I didn't read all of Craig Muldrew's article on Lord Chief
Justice Oliver St. John until a couple days ago ...
I was quite excited to notice, far down in the article, Muldrew's
quote from Lord Clarendon concerning St. John, that "being a gentleman
of an honourable extraction *(if he had been legitimate)* he would
have been very useful in the present exigence ..." The evidence
seemed to be getting quite plausible for Oliver St. John as an
illegimate descendant of the Earls of Bedford.
Unfortunately, Edward Foss's _Judges of England_ (London, 1857),
6:475-76, takes some of the wind out of Muldrew's sails:
"ST. JOHN, OLIVER. From the noble family of St. John of Stanton in
Oxfordshire, a baron of which has been mentioned as a
justice-itinerant in the reign of Henry III., a direct descendant was
created by Queen Elizabeth, Lord St. John of Bletsoe. His grandson
was advanced in the peerage by James I., with the title of Earl of
Bolingbroke, and was a commissioner of the Great Seal in the last
reign. Oliver, settled at Cayshoe in Bedfordshire, another grandson
through Thomas, a younger son of the first Lord, was the father of the
chief justice, by his wife Sarah, daughter of Edward Buckley, Esq., of
Odell in the same county. Clarendon calls him 'a natural son of the
house of Bullingbroke,' and the writer of 'The Mystery of the Good Old
Cause' says, that his father 'was supposed to be a bye-blow of one of
the Earls of Bedford.' The unpopularity of the man, and the
circumstances of the times, will sufficiently account for these
reports; but the above is the pedigree given by an unprejudiced
genealogist, and confirmed by the description in his admission as a
member of Lincoln's Inn."
In other words, Lord Clarendon thought that the Chief Justice was from
an illegitimate branch of not the Earl of Bedford's family, but rather
the family of the Earl of Bolingbroke (the 4th Lord St. John of
Bletsoe had been created Earl of Bolingbroke in 1624).
Checking the abstract of the 1625 will of the Lord Chief Justice's
father, Oliver St. John, senior, in NEHGR, 52:255-56, I notice that he
1. "my sister Frances Weales, to make her a ring, thirteen shillings
2. "I do humbly desire the Right Hon., my Honorable Lord the Earl of
Bollingbrook, together with my kind and loving friends Mr. Thomas
Alleyn of Gouldington my wife's father in law, Mr. Peter Bulkley, Mr.
William Hasenden and my nephew Mr. Samuel Browne to be my overseers."
Basil D. Henning, ed., _The History of Parliament: The House of
Commons, 1660-1690_, sketch of Samuel Browne, M.P., says:
"BROWNE, SAMUEL I (1598-1668), of Arlesey, Beds. ...
b. before 6 Jan. 1598, 1st s. of Nicholas Browne, BD, vicar of
Polebrooke, Northants. and preb. of Peterborough, by Frances, da. of
Thomas St. John of Toddington, Beds. _educ._ Queens', Camb. 1614; L.
Inn 1616, ...
Browne's father obtained ecclesiastical preferment after a
distinguished academic career at Cambridge, and acquired property in
several counties. Browne became a lawyer, purchasing Arlesey in 1646.
Until Pride's Purge he followed closely in the footsteps of his
**cousin Oliver St. John**, taking an effective part in the
prosecution of Archbishop Laud and acting as chairman of the committee
to investigate allegations of treachery against the leaders of the
peace party at Westminster. He was made a judge in 1648, but refused
to act after Pride's Purge and held no office under the Commonwealth.
Although he had been a Presbyterian elder, he came under the influence
of Archbishop Ussher during the Interregnum."
Now, if only we can find out more about Thomas St. John of Toddington,
Bedfordshire, ... and prove that Frances (St. John) Browne had
remarried to a Mr. Weales before March 1625...
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