The St. John Genealogy & DNA Project
This Ancestry and DNA project was initiated by the descendants of Thomas St. John (1564-1625) of Highlight Abbey, Glamorgan, Wales beginning in 2001. Following King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, in the 16th century, Highlight Abbey had been shut down and the village gradually depopulated. Highlight Abbey had been a Knights Hospitaller Abbey of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Depopulation of Highlight can be seen in various records that have survived into today. As part of this depopulation event the St. Johns and their nearest kin moved to London to join Parliamentary affairs and ultimately following the Anglo-Spanish War where in June 1605 a peace treaty was signed, Colonial America. The financial gains, the British acquired from this war, financed the expeditions of the Virginia Company of London (Jamestown) and of Plymouth (Popham). The sons of Christopher St. John, Esquire of Highlight (1547-1616) provide the most information for how the St. Johns, descendants of Knights Hospitallers, founded and relocated to what has become America. Acreage acquired by these Adventurers were passed down to their descendants following the hereditary customs of being from an aristocratic and gentry social class of St. Johns in Normandy, England, Wales, and Ireland. These descendants, of Thomas St. John, who later helped found the Connecticut Colony were classified as freemen, who had citizenship and land ownership rights based on their birthright. Thomas was the Master on the Popham Colony's ship, The Richard, that was taken captive by the Spanish off the coast of Florida. He bribed a guard for his freedom and returned to London a year later. His brother, Sir William St. John, Knight was a founder of the Jamestown Colony, 1st English Governor of the African Colony, and a Vice Admiral in the English Royal Navy. Two other brothers, Captain Nicholas St. John and Lt. Alexander St. John were killed at St. Lucia Island while trying to colonize it for England. These brothers were direct male descendants of Sir John St. John, Knight and 1st Baron St. John of Lageham, who descended from the first St. John, Ralph, of St. John at the end of the sea in Normandy.
There are several spin-off St. John lineages that assumed the St. John surname after marriage into the St. John family. Examples include de Port-St. John, Mewes-St. John, Mildmay-St. John, Poynings-St. John and probably others.