Subject St John’s – a local family history
James Collett-White
November 7, 2012


This talk continues our series exploring  the lives of the high ranking families of North Bedfordshire.

Roger’s Beauchamp’s great grand-daughter was Margaret Beauchamp, an heiress. In c 1425 she married as her first husband Sir Oliver St John of Penmark in Glamorgan and of Lydiard Tregoz in Wiltshire but a descendant of the St Johns of Basing in OliverHampshire and Staunton in Oxfordshire, who claimed to have come to England with William the Conqueror. He died in 1437 leaving at least seven children, including his eventual heir, John.  Margaret’s second husband was John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. Their daughter another Margaret (1443-1509) was probably brought up at Bletsoe.  She married Edmund Tudor and was the mother of Henry VII. She founded St John’s and Christ’s Colleges, Cambridge. The two Margarets lived in great state at Bletsoe until the Wars of the Roses. The second Margaret had to live a secluded life in Pembroke Castle until her son won the Battle of Bosworth with the help of Lord Stanley, her third husband.

The males in the  St John family have been key players in the legal structures of the county and have represented the hundred at Petty Session and Quarter Session levels. Oliver’s son John was the first in the family to be an MP and he then became Sheriff of Bedfordshire. Subsequent another Oliver became Lord Chief Justice in 1648.

The talk illustrated the ups and downs of the family’s status and fortune and its ties to the Orlebars and the Whitbreads . Also mentioned was the family investment in the estates at Bletsoe , Melchbourne and the Stoke Mills