Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/St. Aubyn, John (1696-1744)

ST. AUBYN, Sir JOHN (1696–1744), third baronet, politician, born on 27 Sept. 1696, was son and heir of Sir John St. Aubyn, second baronet (d. 20 June 1714), who married, in 1695, Mary, daughter and coheiress of Peter de la Hay of Westminster. He was entered as gentleman-commoner at Exeter College, Oxford, on 10 June 1718, and created M.A. on 19 July 1721. In May 1722 he was returned to parliament for the county of Cornwall, and sat for it until his death. In the House of Commons St. Aubyn spoke ‘but seldom, and never but on points of consequence’ (Quarterly Review, October 1875, p. 376). Joining the opposition against Walpole, he was hostile to the Septennial Act and the employment of the Hanoverian troops, and on 9 March 1742 he seconded Lord Limerick's motion for a committee to inquire into the transactions of the previous twenty years, which was defeated by 244 votes to 242. A fortnight later he seconded a motion by the same member for a secret committee of twenty-one to examine into Walpole's official acts during the last ten years, and it was carried by 252 votes to 245. In the polling for the committee he obtained the first place with 518 votes, a result pronounced by Speaker Onslow to be without precedent, but he declined to preside over the proceedings. He is said to have also declined a seat at the board of admiralty. Walpole is believed in the west country to have remarked, when speaking of the House of Commons, ‘All these men have their price except the little Cornish baronet.’

He was on close terms of intimacy throughout life with Dr. William Borlase [q. v.], and was a friend and correspondent of Pope.

St. Aubyn died of fever at Pencarrow, Egloshayle, Cornwall, on 15 Aug. 1744, and was buried in a granite vault in Crowan church on 23 Aug. He married at St. James's, Westminster, on 3 Oct. 1725, Catherine, daughter and coheiress of Sir Nicholas Morice, who brought him 10,000l. in cash and the manor of Stoke-Damerel, within which the town of Devonport is situate. She died at Clowance in Crowan on 16 June 1740, and was buried in the same vault. They had issue five children.

[Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. ii. 585, 612, 614 (where his chief speeches are enumerated); Boase's Collect. Cornub. 854, 856; Gent. Mag. 1744, p. 452; Walpole's Letters, i. 142, 146, 150; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. ix. 371, 8th ser. viii. 368; Courtney's Parl. Rep. of Cornwall, pp. 403–4; Boase's Exeter Coll. Commoners, p. 284; Quarterly Review, October 1875.]

W. P. C.