MORE to BROWSE - Pages that might be of Interest

Monday 20 November 2023

HISTORICAL STORIES of EXILE - with Elizabeth StJohn

graphic by Marian L Thorpe

(or order from any bookstore)

A collection of short stories by thirteen (non-superstitious) 
award-winning authors

in order of appearance

Annie Whitehead, J.G. Harlond, Helen Hollick, Anna Belfrage, Elizabeth Chadwick, Loretta Livingstone, Elizabeth St.John, Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, 
Marian L Thorpe, Amy Maroney, Cathie Dunn, Cryssa Bazos
 with an introduction by Deborah Swift

Exile: a risky defiance, a perilous journey, a family’s tragic choice – or an individual’s final gamble to live. Exile: voluntary or enforced, a falling in love, or a falling-out between friends, a prejudiced betrayal – or the only way to survive persecution?

Thirteen authors present an exclusive collection of historical short stories on the theme of exile. Some are true history. Others are speculative fictional possibilities. Some are hopeful, some sad, but all explore the indomitable spirit of resolute, unforgettable characters.


by Elizabeth St.John

The Rev. Samuel Whiting, D.D., and his wife, Elizabeth St.John were real people, ancestors of the author. 
In  England in 1636 tolerance of religious belief - if it was not of the accepted form -was at yet another  low ebb (and would go on to start a Civil War). Meanwhile what were preachers to do? Conform or determinedly stick to their Faith?

Read a snippet:


February’s thaw was in full flow, filling the brimming ditches of Lincolnshire’s fenlands. Water-laden clouds brooded over the land, spawning a marsh-tainted mist that sank into Boston’s alleys and swathed cottage gardens. Today was another grey day; yet as Elizabeth walked the mile from the rectory in Skirbeck to Boston’s market, she discovered beauty in the luminous surprise of snowdrops hidden in a tree root’s pocket, and the first thrush of the year warbled a piercingly exquisite song of hope. Spring was just around the corner.

Even in the bustling marketplace, the centre of Lincolnshire’s thriving wool and leather trade, she found joyful distraction at the herb and curatives stall. Enticed by the aromas, Elizabeth glimpsed fresh ginger and horseradish roots, pungent and tender. She bargained satisfactorily for two starts of each – one to plant and one to cook – until a pealing from St. Botolph’s steeple warned her she was late.

read the full story in HISTORICAL STORIES of  EXILE

The Rev. Samuel Whiting, D.D., and his wife, Elizabeth St.John, along with their two young children sailed to New England and arrived in Boston Harbor on 26 May 1636. After recovering from a terrible voyage, they settled in Saugus, Massachusetts, which was renamed Lynn in Sam’s honour as its first official minister. Elizabeth’s brother, Sir Oliver St.John, remained in England and led the ‘Ship Money’ case in parliament, which contributed to the outbreak of the English Civil War. He subsequently became Lord Chief Justice.

and you can read more about these and other ancestral characters on Elizabeth St.John’s website at:

Elizabeth St.John’s critically acclaimed historical fiction novels tell the stories of her ancestors: extraordinary women whose intriguing kinship with England's kings and queens brings an intimately unique perspective to Medieval, Tudor, and Stuart times.

Inspired by family archives and residences from Lydiard Park to the Tower of London, Elizabeth spends much of her time exploring ancestral portraits, diaries, and lost gardens. And encountering the occasional ghost. But that’s another story.

Living between California, England, and the past, Elizabeth is the International Ambassador for The Friends of Lydiard Park, an English charity dedicated to conserving and enhancing this beautiful centuries-old country house and park. As a curator for The Lydiard Archives, she is constantly looking for an undiscovered treasure to inspire her next novel.

Elizabeth's books include her trilogy, The Lydiard Chronicles, set in 17th Century England during the Civil War, and her medieval novel, The Godmother's Secret, which explores the mystery of the missing Princes in the Tower of London.

From Elizabeth:
“I was brought up in England and my research has taken me to family memoirs and letters at Nottingham Castle, the British Library, the Tower of London, Yale University and, of course, the family seat of Lydiard Park. From these fragments the St.Johns emerge, leaving a portrait, a sentence, a deed that seats them with us, telling of their hopes and dreams. As I researched, my voice became a conduit for their stories, recounting a passion for the England of my childhood where they once walked, where their portraits still hang, where they lived, loved, and found redemption. We do not know my family first hand, but the more we read their words, we feel their passions. Across the ages, we understand their fears and successes, losses and loves. We are not so very different from them.”

"Her world and characters are so real I wanted to remain there. The Lydiard Chronicles are now on my list of all-time favorite historical novels. A fantastic read." Editor’s Choice, Historical Novel Society

Buy Elizabeth’s books on Amazon: 

(Also available from other online stores or order from any bookshop.)

London, 1649. 
Horrified eyewitnesses to King Charles’s bloody execution, Royalists Nan Wilmot and Frances Apsley plot to return the king’s exiled son to England’s throne, while their radical cousin Luce, the wife of king-killer John Hutchinson, rejoices in the new republic’s triumph. Nan exploits her high-ranking position as Countess of Rochester to manipulate England’s great divide, flouting Cromwell and establishing a Royalist spy network; while Frances and her husband Allen join the destitute prince in Paris’s Louvre Palace to support his restoration. As the women work from the shadows to topple Cromwell’s regime, their husbands fight openly for the throne on England’s bloody battlefields.But will the return of the king be a victory, or destroy them all? Separated by loyalty and bound by love, Luce, Nan and Frances hold the fate of England—and their family—in their hands. A true story based on surviving memoirs of Elizabeth St.John's family.

(or order from any bookstore)

all graphics, unless otherwise stated 


  1. Oh, this was a fascinating supplement to your fab stories about the St.John family. Thank you so much, Elizabeth!

  2. Loretta LivingstoneNovember 20, 2023 11:58 am

    How fabulous to have found out so much if your family history and have the skill to turn that into such readable stories, Elizabeth.

  3. Love this story and can't wait to learn more about this intriguing couple in their new world!

  4. Thanks so much Helen and friends. This was a wonderful story to research and write. I was so inspired by Elizabeth's courage.


Thank you for leaving a comment - it should appear soon. If you are having problems, contact me on author AT helenhollick DOT net and I will post your comment for you. That said ...SPAMMERS or rudeness will be composted or turned into toads.