Baron St John of Bletso

Baron St John of Bletso, in the County of Bedford, is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1582 for Oliver St John.

For a period, the title Baron St John was subsumed within the title Earl of Bolingbroke which was granted to the fourth Baron. The Earldom died out with the third Earl, but the Barony continued via another branch which had since become the baronet line. The eldest son of the 1st Earl was advanced to the barony by Writ of acceleration under King Charles I to become the 5th Baron. However he died in the civil war without becoming Earl, This resulted in the existence of an additional baron in the sequence but this was not taken into account by the family when the barony was continued.

Hence there is a discrepancy between the complete numbered series used by Burke and Debrett, and the numbering series in use by the family, particularly in the 18th and 19th century. Hence the numbers on family graves of this time are one less than the numbers used in the principal peerage registers that form the basis for this article.


The St. John family are descended from Sir Oliver St. John of Fonmon Castle in Glamorgan, Wales, one of the legendary Twelve Knights of Glamorgan, followers of Robert Fitzhamon (d.1107), the Norman conqueror of Glamorgan. Oliver St John, the 1st Baron was the great-great-grandson of Sir John St John (died c. 1482), eldest son of Sir John Oliver St John of Bletso (died 1437), the husband of Margaret, great-great-granddaughter of Roger de Beauchamp (died 1380), who was summoned to Parliament as Baron Beauchamp of Bletso from 1363 to 1379. Since then that title had not been assumed although Oliver St John was considered to be the line of heir. He was succeeded by his son, the second Baron. He was one of the peers who sat during the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots. He died without male heirs and the claim to the barony of Beauchamp of Bletshoe passed to his daughter Anne, the wife of William Howard, Lord Howard Effingham, eldest son and heir of Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham.

He was succeeded in the barony of St John of Bletsoe by his younger brother, the third Baron. The latter's son, the fourth Baron, was created Earl of Bolingbroke in 1624. His eldest son and heir apparent, Oliver St John, was in 1641 summoned to the House of Lords through a writ of acceleration in his father's junior title of Baron St John of Bletsoe. However, he predeceased his father (killed at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642) but due to the writ of acceleration issued he is known as the fifth Baron St John of Bletsoe. The Earl was succeeded by his grandson, the second Earl. He was the son of Sir Paulet St John, younger son of the first Earl. He died childless and was succeeded by his younger brother, the third Earl, who represented Bedford in the House of Commons. He never married and on his death in 1711 the earldom became extinct.

The barony was inherited by his second cousin once removed, Sir Paulet St Andrew St John, 5th Baronet, who became the eighth Baron. He was the great-great-grandson of the Hon. Sir Rowland St John, fourth son of the third Baron (see below for more information on the baronetcy). His cousin's son, the fourteenth Baron, sat as a Member of Parliament for Bedfordshire. His grandson, the seventeenth Baron, served as Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire from 1905 to 1912. As of 2010 the titles are held by the latter's great-grandson, the twenty-second Baron, who succeeded his father in 1978. He is one of the ninety elected hereditary peers that remain in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, and sits as a cross-bencher.

The St John Baronetcy, of Northwood in the County of Northampton, was created in the Baronetage of England in 1660 for Oliver St John. He was the son of the Hon. Sir Rowland St John, fourth son of the third Baron St John of Bletsoe. His son, the second Baronet, represented Northamptonshire in the House of Commons. The latter's grandson, the fifth Baronet, succeeded as eighth Baron St John of Bletsoe in 1711 (see above for later history of the titles).

Oliver St John (died c. 1497), younger brother of the aforementioned Sir John St John (died c. 1482), was the ancestor of the Viscounts Grandison and the Viscounts Bolingbroke and St John.

Barons St John of Bletso (1559)

Earls of Bolingbroke (1624)

Barons St John of Bletso (1559; Continued)

Note: some sources do not count the 5th baron above as of this creation, as Debrett's and the Complete Peerage do. He was summoned to Parliament in his father's lifetime in the lesser title, but did not survive to inherit from him. In such sources the barons are numbered one less.

The heir apparent is the present holder's son Hon. Oliver Beauchamp St John (born 1995).

St John Baronets, of Woodford (1660)

  • Sir Oliver St John, 1st Baronet (c. 1624–1662) (son of Rowland St John, fourth son of 3rd Baron above)
  • Sir St Andrew St John, 2nd Baronet (1658–1709)
  • Sir Oliver St John, 3rd Baronet (c. 1683–c. 1710)
  • Sir St Andrew St John, 4th Baronet (c. 1685–1711; brother)
  • Sir Paulet St Andrew St John, 5th Baronet (1711–1714) (posthumous son; succeeded at birth as Baronet and as Baron St John of Bletso)

see above for further holders

See also



    • Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,
    • Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages
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