St. Aubyn, John (1758-1839) (DNB00)
ST. AUBYN, Sir JOHN (1758–1839), fifth baronet, lover of science and the arts, born at Golden Square, London, on 17 May 1758, was elder son of Sir John St. Aubyn, fourth baronet (d. 12 Oct. 1772), who married, in May 1756, Elizabeth, daughter of William Wingfield of Durham. He was admitted to Westminster School on 19 Jan. 1773, and in 1775, while there, and only seventeen years old, induced a schoolfellow named Baker to join him in a bond for moneys advanced to supply his extravagances. Afterwards he pleaded that he was not of age, and the case came before the lord chancellor on 2 July 1777, when it was ordered that the money actually lent should be repaid, with 4 per cent. interest (Bibl. Cornub. ii. 616; cf. Walpole, Journal of reign of George III, ii. 126).
St. Aubyn was sheriff of Cornwall in 1781, and in 1784 he entered upon political life. He sat for Truro from 25 March 1784 to the dissolution, for Penryn from May 1784 to June 1790, and for Helston from June 1807 to 1812. In the interests of the whigs, and with the support of his relative, Sir Francis Basset (afterwards Lord de Dunstanville), he contested the county of Cornwall in 1790, but was defeated after a very close and bitter contest. His election song on this occasion is printed in Worth's ‘West-country Garland’ (pp. 98–100). St. Aubyn was provincial grand-master of the Freemasons in Cornwall from 1785 to 1839. He was a fellow of the Linnean Society, and was elected F.S.A. in 1783 and F.R.S. 18 May 1797. In 1799 he bought the fossils and minerals of Richard Greene [q. v.] of Lichfield. His collection of minerals, previously the property of Earl Bute, was described in 1799 in the ‘New System of Mineralogy in the form of catalogue,’ by William Babington, M.D., which is dedicated to him. St. Aubyn joined with others in May 1804 in the proposition to raise 4,000l. for a mineralogical collection at the Royal Institution, and he subscribed to the fund for providing an annuity for Richard Porson [q. v.] His gifts to Devonport included a site for the town-hall, a cabinet of minerals, a corporation mace, Opie's picture of Mary, queen of James II, quitting England, and a painting of the Holy Family. He died at Lime Grove, Putney, 10 Aug. 1839. His body was conveyed to Cornwall, passing through Devonport on 23 Aug., when it was attended by the municipal authorities, and lying in state at St. Austell, Truro, and Clowance. On 29 Aug. he was buried, with great masonic ceremonial, in the family vault in Crowan parish church. He married, at St. Andrew's, Holborn, on 1 July 1822, Juilana Vinicombe, a native of Cornwall, who died at Lime Grove, Putney, on 14 June 1856, aged 87, and was also buried in the vault in Crowan church. The entailed estates, with the old family seat of Clowance, passed to a nephew, the Rev. John Molesworth of Crowan (d. 1844). St. Aubyn had in all fifteen natural children, and the property at Devonport was incumbered by 130,000l. in payment of the marriage portions of thirteen of them. He left his property at Devonport and elsewhere to James St. Aubyn, his eldest natural son, with reversion to Edward St. Aubyn, another natural son, and his descendants. Edward St. Aubyn (d. 1872) was created a baronet 31 July 1866, and was father of the present Baron St. Levan (cr. 1887).
St. Aubyn was an early and constant patron and friend of John Opie [q. v.], and was a pall-bearer at that artist's funeral in April 1807. His portrait was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in March 1786, and there are three pictures of him by Opie, one of which is in Devonport Guildhall. His wife was also painted by Opie, and there is another portrait of her by Adam Buck in 1807.[Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. i. 222, 250, 264, 414, ii. 509, 536, 613–16, iii. 1209, 1332; Boase's Collect. Cornub. pp. 854, 857; Rogers's Opie, pp. 153–4, 229; Opie's Lectures on Painting, pp. 48, 52, 68; Gent. Mag. 1807 i. 387, 1808 i. 172, 1839 ii. 542; West Briton, 16 Aug. 1839 p. 3, 6 Sept. p. 2; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iii. 311 (sale of St. Aubyn's engravings).]