The history of a Home and School

The Simeons

The first Simeon to come to the Isle of Wight was Edward, one of the sons of one Richard and Elizabeth Simeon (nee Hutton) of Reading. It was Edward who bought St, John's from William Pitt Amherst.


Born in 1758 he was a merchant and leading partner in the firm of Simeon & Co. whose head office was at Salvatore House, Bishopsgate Street in the City of London. The other partners were a Charles Ogleby and a Mr Meyer. It may be that the firm was of some importance and involved in some way in banking as Edward Simeon was also a director of the Bank of England.


As well as his London address, which was the same as his Company's head office, for some reason he also had rooms at Cattherine Hall at Cambridge University and he owned Fitzroy Farm at Highgate. At that time Highgate was to the north of London before it was swallowed up by the city as it expanded.


The Christian name of his wife is not known but she was the daughter of one Thomas Parry.


Edward had two brothers worthy of some note. One was John, born in 1756 who was a master of chancery from 1759 until his death in 1824, and a recorder of Reading from 1779 to 1807. (Chancery was originally a separate court to decide fairness in cases which had no remedy in common-law courts, but it is now a division of his High Court of Justice, and a recorder is a city or borough magistrate with authority for both criminal and civil cases). He was twice M.P. for Reading, from 1797 until 1802 and from 1806 until 1818, and was created a baronet in 1815.


The other brother of interest was the Rev. Charles Simeon, born in 1759, and a leading evangelical. For most of his life he was the incumbent of Holy Trinity, Cambridge (1793-1836) and was a founder of the Church Missionary Society. He was also friendly towards the British and Foreign Bible Society at a time when it was generally viewed with suspicion.


Edward died on the 14th December 1812 and was buried at St. Giles, Reading. Apparently his marriage produced no children for St. John's House went to his nephew Richard Godin, the eldest son of his brother Sir John, whose London address was 40 Jermyn Street.


An engraving by Brannon showing
St. John's House, dedicated to
Sir Richard Godin Simeon


On 8th April 1813 Richard married Louisa Edith Barrington (originally of Barrington Hall in the county of Devon), eldest daughter of Sir Fitzwilliam Barrington of Swainston near Calbourne, an estate which his wife was to inherit at her father's death on 26th September 1833. Richard Godin Simeon became the second baronet when his father died in 1824.


In 1832 he became the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Island constituency receiving 712 votes while the Conservative, A.G. Campbell, received 112, giving Sir Richard a majority of 600. He stood again in 1835, this time against George H. Ward, a Conservative and was again returned but this time with the greatly reduced majority of only 146, the voting being 483 to 337. In the next election of 1837 he did not stand and the Conservatives took the seat, their candidate W. A'Court Holmes, having a majority of just 68.


His wife died on the 12th April 1847 and when he died on the 4th January 1854, his Isle of Wight Estates passed to his son John, who also then became the 3rd baronet.


John had been born at St. John's on 5th February 1815, the first of five children. He was followed by two brothers, Charles and Cornwall, who was probably named after his grandmother, and then by two sisters, Louise Mary and Jane Elizabeth. As well as the family seat at St.John's he had an address in London at 72 Eaton Place.


In 1814 Sir John's aunt, Harriet Simeon, sister of his father Sir Richard, married Sir Frederick-Francis Baker, who died in 1830 following an accidental blow from the sails of a windmill. It was their only daughter, Jane Maria, John Simeon's cousin, who became his wife in 1840, the same year that he graduated M.A., having been educated at Christchurch, Oxford. It was her brother who put up some of the money when Richard Godin Simeon was raising the first of his mortgages.


John Simeon and Jane Maria Baker had two children, but the marriage was to last only twenty years because she died on 24th August 1860.


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