John St. Leger

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Arms of St Ledger of Annery, Devon: Azure fretty argent, a chief or [1]

Sir John St. Leger (died 1596), of Annery in the parish of Monkleigh, Devon, was Sheriff of Devon in 1560 and was Member of Parliament for Dartmouth, Devon, in 1555-1558, Devon in 1559–1563, Arundel, Sussex, in 1563-1571, Devon again in 1571-1583 and Tregony, Cornwall in 1584-1585. [2] He was knighted in 1544.


He was the son of Sir George St. Leger (c.1475-1536), of Annery, by his wife, Anne Knyvett, daughter of Edmund Knyvett. His paternal grandparents were Sir James St. Leger, of Shipton, and Lady Anne Butler, heiress of Annery, daughter of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormonde[citation needed] and great-aunt of Queen Anne Boleyn. One of his great-uncles was Sir Thomas St Leger (c.1440-1483), the husband of Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter (1439-1476), sister of Kings Edward IV and Richard III. His great-grandfather was Sir John St Leger (c.1404-1442) lord of the manor of Ulcombe in Kent, whose three sons Randolf (or Ralph), Thomas and James, all made advantageous marriages. The manor of Ulcombe had been held by the family from the See of Canterbury from shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066, during which a St Leger knight is supposed by tradition to have supported William the Conqueror with his hand on disembarking from his ship at Pevensey.[3] The name was Latinised to de Sancto Leodegario.

Marriage & progeny[edit]

He married Catherine Neville, daughter of George Neville, 5th Baron Bergavenny and according Virgoe (1982) left two sons[4] (only one according to Chope (1917)[5]) and four daughters:


  • John St Ledger, eldest son, a soldier in Ireland, died unmarried and in poverty
  • Dudley St Ledger, possibly illegitimate[6]


16th century mural monument of Richard Bellew of Ash[7] and his wife Margaret St Ledger of Annery[8] in Braunton Church, Devon
  • Mary St Ledger, the eldest, who married Sir Richard Grenville (1542-1591) of Stowe, Kilkhampton, Cornwall and Bideford, Devon, the famous captain of Revenge.
  • Frances St Ledger, who married John Stucley (1551-1611), of Affeton, Devon[9] and was the mother of Sir Lewis Stucley[10]
  • Margaret St Ledger, who married Richard Bellew of Ash, Braunton and Alverdiscott, Devon. A heraldic mural monument to Richard Bellew and his wife Margaret St Ledger survives in Braunton parish Church.
  • Eulalia St Ledger, who married firstly Edmund Tremayne of Collacombe, Devon, and secondly Tristram Arscott (1544-1621) of Tetcott, Devon, the latter who bought Annery from his father-in-law John St Leger.[11][12]


Under a royal grant dated 10 June 1543 "John St Ledger, King's servant" acquired the following former monastic lands following the Dissolution of the Monasteries:[13]

The lands were exchanged with the king for other lands of St Ledger, with an excess balance paid by him of £116 9s 9d.[16]


Despite accumulating much land, he became encumbered with debts and parted with many of his estates. He died "a poor man"[2] and on the death of his son John without progeny the St Ledger family of Annery was extinguished. However, another line descended from Randolf St Ledger (d.1470), Sheriff of Kent and one of his great uncles, father of Sir Anthony St Leger (d.1559), KG, Lord Deputy of Ireland, whose descendants were created Viscount Doneraile, later inherited the manor of Eggesford in Devon.


Further reading[edit]

  • W. D. Pink, 'The Parliamentary History of Tregony', The Western Antiquary, Volume VI, Part V (1886), 117–121


  1. ^ Debrett's Peerage, 1968, Viscount Doneraile, p.365
  2. ^ a b "ST. LEGER, Sir John (by 1516-93/96), of Annery in Monkleigh, Devon.". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  3. ^ Hasted, Edward, History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5, 1798, pp. 385-396[1]
  4. ^ Virgoe, History of Parliament
  5. ^ Chope, Richard Pearse, New Light on Sir Richard Grenville, published in Report & Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 1917, volume XLIX, p.213: he had only one son, John, who died without issue
  6. ^ Fuidge
  7. ^ Hoskins, W.G., A New Survey of England: Devon, London, 1959 (first published 1954), p.346; Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitation of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, pp.68-9, pedigree of Bellew; Pole, Sir William (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, pp.467-510, heraldry of Devon
  8. ^ Vivian, p.69
  9. ^ Chope
  10. ^ Wolffe, Mary. "Stucley, Sir Lewis". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/26740.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. ^ Chope
  12. ^ Risdon, Tristram, Survey of Devon, 1810 edition, p.276
  13. ^ Youings, Joyce, Devon Monastic Lands: Calendar of Particulars for Grants 1536-1558, Devon & Cornwall Record Society, New Series, Vol.1, Torquay, 1955, pp.25-6, grant no.33
  14. ^ Youings, p.25
  15. ^ Letters patent re licence to alienate enrolled 35 Henry VIII (1543) per Youings, p.27, note 1
  16. ^ Youings, p.27