Theresa Villiers MP for Chipping Barnet

Category: women’s history

Theresa Villiers was returned as MP for Chipping Barnet for the 5th time in the December 12, 2019 General Election. A former barrister, Theresa first served as MEP for London 1999-2005 and was Deputy Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament 2001-2002. Since then she has served as Minister for Transport 2010-2012, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 2012-2016 and at the time of writing she is Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Theresa was born in Hunstanton, Norfolk in 1968 and grew up in St John’s Wood. She is the daughter of George and Anne Villiers.

Now, I know it’s been some 300 years, but with a name like Villiers, well you just have to wonder if there is a St John connection. You may recall that Barbara St John married Sir Edward Villiers, half brother of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, favourite of James I & VI. By this connection the Villiers came in line for numerous royal favours.

But was it a bit of a long shot that Theresa Villiers MP is descended from the 17th century St John/Villiers marriage? But, I decided it was worth a punt and a delve into the St John family archives.

I don’t know why I even questioned the fact. Trawling back through eleven generations of politicians and military leaders, through the earldoms of Clarendon and Jersey, I arrived at Sir Edward Villiers and his wife Lady Frances Howard. Lady Frances had been governess to the princesses Mary and Anne, daughters of James Duke of York (later James II) while Sir Edward had fought in the first of the English Civil Wars. And of course Sir Edward was the son of Sir Edward Villiers and his wife Barbara St John, Theresa’s 9x great grandparents.

I can see a bit of a St John resemblance, can’t you?


Theresa Villiers MP for Chipping Barnet

Copyright Lydiard House / Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Barbara St John – Theresa Villiers’s 9x great grandmother


(c) Lydiard House; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Sir Edward Villiers – Barbara St John’s husband and Theresa Villiers’s 9x great grandfather