The first St Quintin to arrive in England was Herbert one of William the Conqueror‘s knights, who came from Picardy in northern France. Herbert St Quintin was granted lands in East Yorkshire towards the end of the 11th century. The family became extensive landowners in the region and in the 13th century they acquired land at Harpham, near Driffield. Harpham remained the family’s base in Yorkshire until late in the 17th century when the manor of Scampston was acquired.
Until the early seventeenth century the St Quintin's remained a middling gentry family but William St Quintin (1579- 1649) broke the mould by going into public office. He was created a baronet in 1642. His eldest son, Henry St Quintin (1605- 1695), succeeded as 2nd baronet, living to the age of 90. Henry’s eldest son William (c.1632 - 1695) predeceased his father by a matter of weeks, and so the third baronet was Henry’s grandson, child of William and his wife Elizabeth Strickland. During the lifetimes of Henry and his son William, the St Quintin family moved from Harpham to Scampston. Only earthworks remain of the original Harpham manor house, though the family continues to be transported back to the village for burial.
The 3rd baronet, another William (1662- 1723), had a career in public office that made a considerable difference to the family's wealth. Appointed M.P for Kingston upon Hull in 1695 he served in eleven parliaments. A capable official, he also held a series of extremely lucrative government posts until his death.
William’s title and estates passed to his nephew, also William (1699- 1770); who was the son of the 3rd baronet’s brother, Hugh St Quintin, and his wife Catherine Chitty. William, the 4th baronet, became MP for Thirsk in 1722. In 1724 he married Rebecca Thompson, daughter and heiress of Sir John Thompson; later Lord Mayor of London. Using his wife's money William carried on the expansion of the family estates in the East Riding. William and Rebecca had eight children but only two survived their father, William (1729- 1795) and Mary (b.1735). William St Quintin junior married the vastly wealthy Charlotte Fane in 1758. Charlotte died just four years later. William did not remarry and seems to have concentrated his energies on Scampston, employing Lancelot 'Capability' Brown to landscape the grounds. As William had no children and no surviving brothers the baronetcy expired upon his death in 1795.
The family estates now passed to his nephew, William Thomas Darby (1769- 1805), the son of Mary St Quintin and her husband, Admiral George Darby. William Thomas assumed the surname and arms of the St Quintin family in 1795. He married Arabella Calcraft with whom he had eight children. William appointed Thomas Leverton to alter and improve Scampston Hall in 1801; giving the house the appearance it retains today.
William’s eldest son, also William (1798- 1859), inherited upon his father’s death, when he was only seven years of age. The family lived mainly in London after William Thomas died, and rented out the Hall. William returned to Scampston in 1842 when he was appointed the High Sheriff of Yorkshire. Troubled with ill health for a number of years he died childless in 1859.
William was succeeded by his brother Matthew Chitty Downes St Quintin (1800- 1876). Matthew was a JP and Colonel of the 17th Lancers. He married Amy Elizabeth Cherry, who was 27 years his junior, in 1850. They had four children, three sons and a daughter.
Their eldest son was William Herbert St Quintin (1851- 1933), who married Violet Helen Duncombe in 1885. William Herbert had a long career in local politics. He was a JP from 1875 through to his death in 1933; and an alderman from the time of the formation of the County Council in 1889. He was High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1899 and Deputy Lieutenant of the East Riding. He was also a keen naturalist with interests in hunting, fishing, falconry, ornithology and entomology. He built aviaries at Scampston to house his collection of rare birds which included snowy owls from Norway and secretary birds from the Transvaal. He successfully bred great bustards from Spain which, ironically, had been hunted to extinction in the East Riding only a few decades before. William and Violet had one daughter, Margery Violet (1886- 1959); but no sons. Following William’s death the St Quintin name itself became extinct.
Violet St Quintin outlived her husband by ten years, when the estates passed into the L'Estrange Malone family through her daughter Margery’s marriage to Lt Col E G S L'Estrange Malone. In 1959 the estates passed to their daughter, Lady Mary Legard, wife of Sir Thomas Legard, 14th Bart, and grandmother of the present owner, Christopher Legard.
The Legard family originate from Anlaby near Hull (since 1100's) and more recently (since 1630) from Ganton which is just a few miles up the road from Scampston.