Sir. Spencer Buckingham St.John GCMG—
Father: James Augustus St.John
Mother: Eliza Caroline Agar Hansard
Profession: Author, Prominent diplomat
Spenser Buckingham St.John has 1 child listed here: • Sulong St.John
Biography and Genealogy (1)Source
- Sir Spenser Buckingham St John is said to have been born in St John’s Wood on December 22nd 1826. He was baptised Sep 20, 1827, at St Pancras Old Church. In 1848, through the patronage of Lord Palmerston, and the friendship of his father with Sir James Brooke, he was appointed Private Secretary to Sir James Brooke. He was later made Consul-General in Borneo. He is said, whilst there, to have been the first European to climb Mount Kinabalu: one of the summits is still named St John’s Peak. In 1861 he became Consul-General in Hayti and was promoted to Minister in 1862. A brief spell as Chargé d’Affaires to the Dominican Republic was followed by appointments in Lima, Bolivia and Mexico, where he negotiated the resumption of diplomatic relations in 1883, being appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Mexico in 1884. It is at this time that there is an interesting glimpse of his private life, in a personal letter to a Mrs Priestley, an active campaigner for improvements in sanitation ,and preventative medicine, including vaccination. They were obviously close friends and he confides in her about the extravagance of his cook, who is ruining him. He says that he is spending over £3000 a year and has, as yet, not given a party nor a big dinner.
- Sir Spenser St J.was an author of note, writing authoritative books about Borneo and Hayti. His best-known work ”Life in the Forests of the Far East” ran to several editions, including a recent reprint , by OUP. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. In 1881, he was made a KCMG, and promoted to GCMG in 1894, shortly after he took up his final post in Stockholm. He retired on a pension on February 1st 1896 and, in 1899, at the age of 73, married Mary Augusta Armstrong, 31, in the British Consul’s Office in Paris. They settled in Camberley and he died on January 3rd 1910, without issue, being buried at Brookwood cemetery. Curiously, the funeral director at Brookwood states that the inscription on his vault is spelt Spencer, but his handwritten letter is signed correctly. His wife married again soon after and settled in India. He and his wife are buried in Brookwood Cemetery. Recently, Oct 2001, evidence has emerged that he formed a relationship with a Malay lady, Dayang Kamariah, who he supported until her death. There were three children, of whom only one, a son, Sulong, survived. He was baptised as Charles, when 10 years old, trained as a civil engineer in England, and found a government post in Perak. He appears in London in the 1871 census, age 14, born Rorneo,with his father and aunt.
- Sir Spenser was buried on the 25th June 1910, in a vault, No.16644, in plot No.3 0 at Brookwood Cemetery. The inscription is as follows: "Sir Spencer (sic) St John G.C.M.G." - "Mary Augusta Armstrong, beloved wife of Henry Francis Manisty, and widow of Sir Spencer St John. Born March , 1868, died August 1942." There are also inscriptions to her mother and brother. This was sent me by Dennis St John, who went to Brookwood, and copied the inscription.
Newspaper Images: Source
On Saturday, February 5, 1848, The ‘Hampshire and Sussex Chronicle’ reported the departure of James Brooke and his Secretary, Spencer St .John to Borneo on the ship ‘The ‘Meander” Spencer was 23 years old.
Saturday, February 5, 1848
His excellency, James Brooke, Esq, the Governor of Borneo, arrived here at the George Hotel, on Tuesday evening, and dined with Sir Charles Ogle Bart, at the Admiralty House.On Wednesday afternoon, at two o’clock, his Excellency, with Mr Spencer St John, his Secretary, the suite and attendance, embarked from the Victoria Pier, and were conveyed on board the Meander, 42, Captain the Hon. Henry Keppel. and in the evening that frigate put to sea. The Meander is to call at Madeira to land dispatches for the Queen Dowager, then proceed to the Cape of Good Hope and Borneo. a number of navel and military officers and other persons, came to the port to see Governor Brooke before his departure. Among them were Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane, the late commander -in-chief in India, Capt. Rodney Munday, late of Her Majesty’s ship Iris, and the Hon, Mr Digby.