Nathaniel St Andre (1680-1776) is famous in Southampton as the creator of Bellevue House, the large mansion which stood in grounds between modern-day London Road, Bellevue Road and Brunswick Place. His fame, however, stretched beyond the borders of his adopted town. He was born in Switzerland and came to England as a boy servant with a rich family. Being proficient in languages, fencing, music and dancing, he initially made his living as a teacher. He later trained as a surgeon and anatomist, eventually becoming anatomist to the royal household of George I in 1723. He numbered amongst his other clients Alexander Pope and Samuel Molyneux, MP. His medical reputation, however, received a near fatal blow in 1726 when he was duped by the infamous Mary Toft of Godalming, who claimed to have given birth to rabbits. St Andre was sent by the court to investigate these incredible claims and was somehow completely deceived by her. He was subsequently ridiculed (by Hogarth amongst others), discredited and lost his position at court.
He nevertheless continued to prosper and in 1730 he married Lady Elizabeth Capel, the eldest daughter of the Earl of Essex, who possessed a large fortune in her own right. She had previously been married to Samuel Molyneux, who had died suddenly on the floor of the House of Commons in 1728. Lady Elizabeth and St Andre eloped together on the night of her husband’s death, and as Molyneux was a patient of St Andre’s there were even suggestions that he had hastened his death.
From around 1742 St Andre was living in a town house, adjoining the Dolphin Hotel on the High Street. He later bought the house and the hotel, both of which he considerably improved and enlarged. He was in his eighties when he designed and created Bellevue House which was completed by 1768. It is not clear that he ever lived at Bellevue, having still the High Street house and a London residence in Hanover Square. He purchased Banister Court just before his death in 1776. He was buried in St Mary’s churchyard and some of his properties were sold at auction in the July of the same year.
He had two illegitimate sons - George Frederick and William Henry - by his maid servant Mary Pitt, to who he left the bulk of his estate, including his library which later became the core of Southampton's first public library.

Nathaniel St Andre

Image Unavailable

A painting of an unknown man, almost certainly Nathaniel St Andre in his later years.

See also

Further reading:
More Stories of Southampton Streets, by A. G. K. Leonard, p39-43. (HS/h)
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, Volume 48.
‘Nathaniel St. Andre – The Royal Anatomist who came to Southampton on a Tide of Scandal’, by E. A. Clough, in Hampshire, vol. 32, no. 4, p43-44. (H/y)


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