Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A St Loe murderer

Bess of Hardwick

In January 1559 Bess of Hardwick married her third husband William St Loe, a widower with two grown daughters; Mary and Margaret.
William was the eldest son of his parents, Sir John St Loe and his wife Margaret, and therefore inherited the family fortune upon his father's death in 1559. When John St Loe died, he left his eldest William, as well as his youngest two sons, Clement and John, and his only daughter Elizabeth well provided for with money and properties, however to Edward he left nothing. This was probably due to him knowing of Edward's lack of responsibility when it came to money; in 1553 Margaret had encourage John to give Edward the lease of Whitchurch Manor in Somerset, however he had sold it three years later and had quickly spent all of the money. In 1559 William gave Edward the stewardship of Sutton Court with residential rights for life. After William's death, Edward claimed that on his deathbed he had given Edward a lifetime interest in Sutton Court.

Sutton Court
Edward's marital life was also a source of scandal. In 1558 Edward married Bridget Scutt (nee Malte). Bridget was the second wife of John Scutt, a former tailor to King Henry VIII, and they had a twelve year old son Anthony as well as eighteen year old Margaret who was John Scutt's daughter from his first marriage. John Scutt died suddenly in 1558 and only a month later Bridget married Edward. At the time of this marriage it was found that Bridget was three months pregnant by Edward. Only two weeks after John Scutt died, Edward had purchased from Bridget the property leases that Scutt had owned; the manors of Stanton Drew and East Cranmer. If the situation was not suspicious enough already, only a few months after the wedding Bridget herself mysteriously died. Six months after Bridget's death, Edward married again. The lucky bride was Margaret Scutt, Bridget's step daughter from her first marriage. Despite everything that had happened, Edward and Margaret had a long marriage, she outlived him by thirteen years, and they had two children together; John and Ann.

William St Loe

As William's first younger brother, Edward, was his heir as William only had daughters from his first marriage and his current marriage to Bess was yet to produce any children. However, Edward feared greatly that if Bess gave birth to a son, it would be this child that inherited and not him. 
In 1560 Bess was poisoned but luckily she recovered. This occurred during a visit from Edward to the newly married St Loe's in London, so that he could meet his new sister-in-law. For this, William and his mother Margaret both thought Edward to have been behind it. 
In December 1564 Edward went to visit William and was staying with him. It was during this visit that William suddenly died. William was only forty seven years old. It can be assumed that Edward thought he would then inherit William's fortune and properties, however William may have forseen this eventuality and in his Will he left everything to Bess. William had started to move his properties into the hands of Bess after the 1560 poisoning. 
The picture that we have of Edward St Loe is not a positive one, and the number of sudden and mysterious deaths that he is connected to, and profits from, is suspicious. It is entirely possible that Edward spent his life using poison to murder those around him whom he perceived as a threat, as it was only through their deaths that he would get what he wanted. 
This following letter was sent from Margaret St Loe to her daughter-in-law Bess on the 13th June 1560, after the event of Bess being poisoned in London, stating that she had been told of Edward's involvement in it from a lady, possibly a cousin or close friend of Edward's. 

To my good lady Sayntloo be thys delyueryd

good madam with my very harty commendacyns as sche that desyrys to here how yow & my son sayntloo doth & also to sertyfy yow wat I here of dyueres & I haue ben exed wat the maters ys be twexte my son sayntloo & hys brother edward I haue made anser I was suer my sone Sayntloo wolde not mysse leke with hym with owte a gret caues/ & many hath sayde to me thay here say Edward scholde go abowte to powson hys brether & yow & I haue tolde them I know hyt not so here hys a gret talke of hyt/ & apone amonth or more ther cam alady hether to me/ & was very ernest with me to know wher euer I harde eny sych thyng & sayde sche scholde here hyt at longeys moth who browte hor leter or token from besse sayntloo & sche wolde ahade me synde to long & I wolde not// but I tolde hur I was suer yow where powsonyd when I was at London & yeffe yow had not ade a present Remedy ye had dyed wych sche made hyt straynge sche neuer harde of hyt afor/ wych I am suer sche dyd/ sche hath byn more & senyte & yet is at Edward sayntloes besdon schall tell yow more of hur talke to me now I know suer sche cam hether to here wat I wolde say & wat sche code vnderstand by me/ sche tolde me how hur coson edward had send to hur often to cometo hym but sche wolde not but I tolde hur wat I thowght of hym wych I am suer sche myslekyd me for/ but sche sayde sche was sory ther scholde beeny varyances be twen vs for sche dyd know I haue vsed hym wery well but I thynk sche sayth the contrary now to hym/ I perceue ther heddes be foll of thys mater as thay haue letell grace so god send them letell powre to do my son sayntlo or yow eny horte thys was the good wyll he bare yow when he cam vp to London to se yow as he sayde was nonother caues hys comyng/ wych I know the contrary for he lekyd no thyng your maryege/ hys good frynchyppe to yow & to me ys all on/ the lyuyng god defende vs all from sych fryndes I pray yow madam send me worde how thys deuell deuysys be gan & how hyt can to lyte thankes be to god ye know hyt I wyll troboll yow no lenger but I pray god sende yow both long lyffe & good helth

with moch worchyppe wryton the xiij of Iune by yowres most assurydly as long as I haue lyffe

margret Sayntloo

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