St. John, John (DNB00)

ST. JOHN, JOHN (1746–1793), author, born in 1746, was third son of John, second viscount St. John, by Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Furness of Waldershare, Kent. He was nephew of the first viscount Bolingbroke and brother of the second. He matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, on 13 Dec. 1763, but did not graduate. Both John and his brothers Frederic, second viscount Bolingbroke, and Henry (afterwards a general, but in early life known as the ‘baptist’) were known as young men to George Selwyn. Selwyn spoke well of John's abilities in 1766, but described ‘the personal accomplishments of the most refined Macaroni’ as the limits of his ambition. In 1770 he was called to the bar from the Middle Temple. He represented Newport (Isle of Wight) in the House of Commons from 1773 to 1774, and again from 1780 to 1784, and in the intervening parliament sat for Eye. From 1775 to 1784 he held the office of surveyor-general of the land revenues of the crown. In 1787 he published ‘Observations on the Land Revenue of the Crown,’ 4to; octavo editions were issued in 1790 and 1792. In 1791 he assailed Paine's ‘Rights of Man’ in a vigorous pamphlet, addressed to a whig friend (‘Letter from a Magistrate to Mr. Will. Rose of Whitehall’). He was also the author of ‘Mary Queen of Scots,’ a tragedy in five acts, produced at Drury Lane on 20 March 1789, and acted nine times. Mrs. Siddons took the title rôle and Kemble the part of Norfolk. Genest thought some of Norfolk's speeches good, but the rest of the play dull. The published tragedy reached a third edition within the year, and was reprinted in Mrs. Inchbald's ‘Modern Theatre’ (vol. viii.). St. John's other piece, ‘The Island of St. Marguerite,’ an opera in two acts, produced at Drury Lane on 13 Nov. 1789, was successful largely owing to its allusions to current events, especially the taking of the Bastille; some excisions were made by the censor.

St. John died at his house in Park Street, Grosvenor Place, on 8 Oct. 1793. There is a monument to him, with inscription, erected by his brother, General Henry St. John (1738–1818), in the church of Lydiard-Tregoze, Wiltshire.

[Collins's Peerage; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Britton's Beauties of Wilts, iii. 31; Gent. Mag. 1793, ii. 962; Biogr. Dramatica, i. 623, ii. 335, iii. 24; Genest's Hist. of the Stage, vi. 535–6, 586; Allibone's Dict. Engl. Lit. ii. 1914; Haydn's Book of Dignities; Jesse's G. Selwyn and his Contemporaries, ii. 44, 384–8, &c.]

G. Le G. N.