TRENCHARD, George I (c.1548-1630), of Wolveton; later of Lytchett Matravers, Dorset.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. c.1548, 1st s. of Thomas Trenchard of Wolveton by Eleanor, da. of Sir John Horsey of Clifton Maybank. educ. M. Temple 1570. m. (1) Anne (d.1588), da. of Sir George Speake of White Lackington, Som., 4s. inc. George Trenchard II 3da.; (2) Jane (d.1627), da. of Hugh Bampfield of Sturminster Newton, wid. of Thomas Chafin of Folke, 3da. suc. fa. 1568. Kntd. 1588.

Offices Held

J.p. Dorset from c.1573, q. 1583, sheriff 1580-1,1596-7, col. of musters, Dorchester division 1580-at least 1596, commr. piracy 1582, dep. lt. from c.1585; jt. (first with bro.-in-law William Bampfield, then with s. George Trenchard) keeper of Sandsfoot castle from 1591; recorder, Dorchester June 1610-Jan. 1611.1


Trenchard—whose grandfather had been an associate of the 1st Earl of Bedford as commissioner for church goods in Dorset—sat for Bridport while still in his twenties: both here and at Dorchester in the following year he was presumably brought into Parliament through the influence of the 2nd Earl of Bedford. Knight of the shire in 1584, Trenchard was named to the subsidy committee, 24 Feb. 1585. He was recommended for appointment as deputy lieutenant by the dying Earl in 1585, and was appointed that year.2 Discreet and tactful, ‘controlling neighbours with velvet-gloved hand’ the Privy Council relied upon him at the time of the Armada ‘as on no one else in the shire’. He often acted with his friend and relative (Sir) John Horsey in county affairs, searching for recusants in 1577, submitting recusancy returns in 1580, and three years later, collecting contributions subscribed for the upkeep of the protestant congregation at Geneva. At the time of the Babington plot Trenchard and Horsey submitted a report to the Privy Council on the state of the Dorset gaols ‘rented by persons of no credit that live only upon the gain thereof’. Compassion was an element in Trenchard’s character. His handling of the search of Chideock castle and his arrest there and subsequent treatment of the Catholic priest John Cornelius was civilized throughout. He and Sir William Paulet, 3rd Marquess of Winchester, were trustees of Dorchester grammar school and collaborated in other charitable enterprises.3

Trenchard concerned himself with several Dorset boroughs, arbitrating in 1577 in a dispute at Weymouth, where he was active at various times until 1590. He intervened in a dispute at Poole in 1586, and in the same year he and Horsey wrote from Wolveton to his ‘loving friends the mayor of Poole’ and other townsmen, directing them to secure the election to Parliament of the nominee of the Earl of Warwick, ‘in consideration of the young Earl of Bedford’ his ward. Letters written from Lyme Regis in 1590 were in connexion with his duties as a piracy commissioner.4During the Armada crisis Trenchard devoted himself tirelessly to the defence of Dorset, and his knighthood must have been granted in this connexion. He had been reporting on the condition of forts and castles since 1583 (sometimes paying for reparis out of his own pocket), training the junior officers (‘more willing than skilled’ he reported in 1584), surveying the coast in 1586, and, at the time the invasion was expected, commanding in the field one of the five Dorset defence divisions. Sometimes he slipped up, as over the security arrangements for the stores of the captured San Salvador. Writing to the Privy Council, 24 Aug., he apologised for losses of powder and ordnance, at the same time mentioning the ‘diseased, naked and chargeable’ crew, most of whom subsequently perished, ‘the people’s charity unto them [being] very cold’.

His friend Sir John Horsey died in 1589 and Trenchard, who was appointed an overseer to his will, received a ring inscribed vita brevis amicitia longa. Horsey had made his cousin Ralph his heir, and thenceforward he and Trenchard frequently acted together in local affairs. In 1593 Trenchard was host to Sir Walter Ralegh, Carew Ralegh and Horsey at the famous dinner party at Wolveton which led to a commission of inquiry into Sir Walter’s atheism. Trenchard bought Lytchett Matravers in about 1611, and thereupon resigned the recordership of Dorchester because of his distance from the town. His last years were marred by the extravagance and early death of his heir George and by an illness that confined him to the house. He died 24 Nov. 1630, appointing his second son, Thomas, executor.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler


R. Lloyd, Dorset Elizabethans, has been used throughout this biography.

  • 1. Roberts thesis; F. F. Trenchard, House of Trenchard, i(3), pp. 131-4, 137, 141, 142, 143; Som. and Dorset N. and Q. ii. 16; Dorchester Recs. ed. Mayo, 451.
  • 2. SP12/179/f. 117v; D’Ewes, 356; Bodl. Tanner 241, f. 44v, ex. inf. Dr. Harry Leonard.
  • 3. VCH Dorset, ii. 28 n; Weymouth Charters ed. Moule, 94; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 561; APC, xii. 241, 338; Lyme Regis fugitive pieces no. 34; Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 367; Harl. 286, f. 203.
  • 4. Weymouth Charters, 27, 32 et passim; APC, x. 249-50, 267; xiv. 230; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 644, 647; Sydenham, Hist. Poole, 102.