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HENRY ST. JOHN, VISCOUNT BOLINGBROKE, was the only son of Sir Henry St. John, of Lydiard Tregoze, Wiltshire, by Mary Rich, third daughter of the Earl of Warwick.
Henry was born at Battersea, the Surrey suburb of London, Oct. 1, 1678, and was brought up by his grandmother, under care of Daniel Burgess, a celebrated Puritan preacher.
At Eton, he became acquainted with Sir Robert Walpole, and the rivalry, began at school, continued through life. From Eton he removed to Christ Church, Oxford, where he soon became known for his personal beauty, fascination of manners, brilliancy of conversation and literary talent. He was a fast youth, and to reclaim him his friends brought about a match between him and the daughter and co-heiress of Sir Henry Winchescomb. The rake was not reformed-an early separation and a final one soon ensued. On the death of this lady, and during his exile in France, Bolingbroke married the widowed Marchioness de Villette, a niece of Madame Maintenon. vived her about one year.
In 1700, Henry St. John became M.P. for Wootton Basset; in 1704, secretary for war, resigning his office in 1707, on the dismissal of Harley; and in 1710, when Harley regained power, St. John became secretary of state. In 1712 he became Viscount Bolingbroke, but was chagrined at being refused an earldom.
On the accession of George I., Bolingbroke lost his chances of promotion. Addison was made foreign secretary, and St. John was threatened by the whigs with impeachment for high treason.
He fled in disgrace to Calais, March 25, 1715; visited the Pretender at Lorraine, and became secretary of state to the Stuart family, which caused his impeachment and attainder.