John St. Leger (died 1596)

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Arms of St Leger 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 an English landowner who served in local and national government.


He was the son of Sir George St Leger (c.1475-1536), of Annery, by his wife, Anne Knyvett, daughter of Sir Edmund Knyvett of Buckenham[2] and his wife Eleanor Tyrrell. 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 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]

Public career[edit]

Knighted in 1544 and Sheriff of Devon in 1560, he 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.[4]


Under a royal grant dated 10 June 1543 "John St Leger, King's servant" acquired the following former monastic lands following the Dissolution of the Monasteries:[5]

The lands were exchanged with the king for other lands of St Leger, with an excess balance paid by him of £116 9s 9d.[8]

Marriage & progeny[edit]

He married Catherine Neville, daughter of George Neville, 5th Baron Bergavenny and his third wife Lady Mary Stafford, youngest daughter of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and his wife Lady Eleanor Percy. Their children included:

  • John St Leger, said to be a soldier in Ireland who died unmarried and in poverty
16th century mural monument of Richard Bellew of Ash[9] and his wife Margaret St Leger of Annery[10] in Braunton Church, Devon


Despite accumulating much land, he became encumbered with debts and parted with many of his estates. He died "a poor man"[4] and on the death of his son John without progeny the St Leger family of Annery was extinguished. However, another line descended from Ralph St Leger (d.1470), Sheriff of Kent and it was one of his great uncles, father of Sir Anthony St Leger (d.1559), KG, Lord Deputy of Ireland, whose descendants were created Viscount Doneraile, who 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. ^ Son of Sir William Knyvett
  3. ^ Hasted, Edward, History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5, 1798, pp. 385-396 [1]
  4. ^ a b "St Leger, Sir John (by 1516-93/96), of Annery in Monkleigh, Devon". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ Youings, p.25
  7. ^ Letters patent re licence to alienate enrolled 35 Henry VIII (1543) per Youings, p.27, note 1
  8. ^ Youings, p.27
  9. ^ Hoskins, W.G., A New Survey of England: Devon, London, 1959 (first published 1954), p.346; Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations 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
  10. ^ Vivian, p.69
  11. ^ a b Chope
  12. ^ 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.)
  13. ^ Risdon, Tristram, Survey of Devon, 1810 edition, p.276