Saturday, January 30, 2016

Portrait of the Week - Holles St John

The Behind Closed Doors event at Lydiard House continues this week with an afternoon talk.

Wed 3rd February 2.30 pm
Wigs, Ruffs and Robes - Discover hidden stories behind the portraits of sumptuously dressed aristocrats with Lydiard House educationalist Nancy Heath.

All the tours and talks in this series of events are free (donations are welcomed) but places are limited and you do need to book a place. Telephone Charlotte Thwaites on 01793 465277 or email cthwaites@swindon.gov.uk.

For details about forthcoming events visit the Lydiard Park or the Friends of Lydiard Park websites.


by Maria Verelst


This little dimpled darling is Holles St John, youngest son of Henry 1st Viscount St John and his second wife Angelica Pellisary.

Angelica had 12 children, but only four survived to adulthood, George (1693-1716); Henrietta (1699-1756); John (1702-49) and Holles (1710-38).

Little is know about Holles excepting that he was an equerry to Queen Caroline, according to his memorial in Battersea church.  He was very close to his sister and would appear to be the only member of her family who continued to see her following her expulsion by husband Robert Knight, Lord Luxborough.

Holles was also very fond of the theatre, although whether as an enthusiastic member of the audience or as an actor is unknown. On his death he left his sister shares in Covent Garden Theatre, naming her as executrix of his Will.

In the name of God Amen I the Honoble Holles St John Esq youngest son of the Right Honble Henry Lord Viscount St John being of sound and perfect mind and memory thanks be given to God for the same do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and fform following ffirst I give and devise all that my ffreehold Estate whereof I stand seized pofsefsed of or Interested in called ffreien Court with the Mefsuage Outhouses Lands and premifses thereunto belonging and appertaining now in the occupation of Richard Perry or his undertenants Situate lying and being at Peckham Rye in the Parish of Camberwell in the County of Surry unto my sister Henrietta Knight Wife of Robert Knight Esq for and during the term of her Natural Life and from and immediately after the decease of the said Henrietta Knight then I give and devise the same to my Niece Henrietta Knight daughter of my said Sister Henrietta Knight for and during the term of her Natural Life and from and immediately after the decease of the said Henrietta Knight the daughter then to the heirs Males of her Body lawfully to be begotten And for want of such Issue Remainder to my own right heirs for ever Item I give and bequeath unto Sir Peter Soame Baronet two hundred pounds and to his Sister Msrs Jane Sarah Soame five hundred pounds of lawfull money of Great Britain I give to my Servant Jeremiah Trean (?) ffifty pounds and all my apparel both woollen and Linen I desire my Executrix herein after named to lay out ffifty pounds on a Monument to be Erected in the Church where I happen to be buryed I give to my Brother the late Lord Viscount Bolingbroke my Diamond ring which was given me by me ffather and after my Debts ffuneral Charges and the Legacies hereby given are paid and Satisfyed I do hereby give and bequeath all the rest and residue to my personal estate Goods and Chattells whatsoever and wheresoever unto my said Sister Henrietta Knight and her Afsigns whom I hereby constitute and appoint Sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testament In Witness and whereof I the said Holles St John have hereunto sett my hand and Seal the first day of November in the tenth year of the Reign of Our Sovereign Lord George the Second over Great Britain King Defender of the ffaith And in the year of Our Lord One thousand Seven hundred and thirty Six Holles St John Signed Sealed Published and Declared by the Testator Holles St John as his last Will and Testament in the Presence of us who set our hands as witnesses in the presence and at the Desire of the said Testator – Morris Jacob Wale Tho: Osbourne
This Will was proved at London before the Right Worshipfull John Bettesworth Doctor of Laws Master Keeper or Commifsary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted the Seventeenth day of October in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven hundred and thirty Eight by the Oath of the Honble Henrietta Knight (Wife of Robert Knight Esq) the Sister of the deceased and Executrix in the Said Will named to whom administration was granted of All and Singular the Goods Chattells and Creditts of the said deceased being first Sworn by Commifsion duly to Administer

An obituary published in the Gentleman's Magazine descibes Holles as being 'of a lively Genius and a sparkling wit,' but not every publication was so complimentary. The author of Bolingbroke and His Times - The Sequel, published in 1901/2 calls him 'fat, unwieldy, and, like them all, turbulent.'

Holles died on October 6, 1738 aged 27. He was buried in the family vault at St. Mary's, Battersea where Henrietta erected a monument to his memory, according to wishes expressed in his will.


Art print is by Daniel Lysons.

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