TREVANION, Charles (c.1594-by 1660), of Caerhayes, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1594, 1st s. of Charles Trevanion† of Caerhayes by Joan, da. and h. of Robert Wichalse of Chudleigh, Devon.1 educ. Oriel, Oxf. 1611.2 m. by 1613, Amy, da. of Sir John Malet of Enmore, Som., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. fa. 1601;3 kntd. Aug. 1644.4 d. by 1660.5 sig. Charles Trevanion.

Offices Held

J.p. Cornw. 1617-at least 1640,6 commr. subsidy 1621-2, 1624, 1626,7 dep. lt. by 1625-?1626, ?1627-at least 1640,8 commr. Privy Seal loan 1625-6,9 piracy 1626, 1637, 1641,10 Forced Loan 1626-7,11 martial law, Devon and Cornw. 1627,12 swans, W. Country 1629,13 sheriff, Cornw. 1633-4,14 stannator, Blackmore stannary, Cornw. 1636,15 commr. hard soap, W. Country 1638,16 recorder, Lostwithiel, Cornw. 1641-7,17 commr. assessment, Cornw. 1641-2, collector 1642,18 array 1642,19 protestation 1643,20 v.-adm. (roy.), S. Cornw. 1643-at least 1645.21

Col. ft. (roy.) 1643-6.22


The Trevanions took their name from a property in the parish of St. Michael Caerhayes, which they owned from at least the fourteenth century. Richard Trevanion, a Cornish knight of the shire in 1407, established the manor of Caerhayes as his principal seat, and his descendants, by dint of loyal service to the Tudors and astute support for the Reformation, emerged by the late sixteenth century as one of the county’s leading families. Their social connections extended well beyond the Cornish gentry, however. Trevanion’s great-aunt married Queen Elizabeth’s cousin, the 1st Lord Hunsdon (Henry Carey†), while his aunt, who wed Hunsdon’s son Sir Robert Carey*, was a Lady of the privy chamber to Anne of Denmark.23 Trevanion’s father, Charles, sat for Grampound in 1584, and served as sheriff and vice-admiral of Cornwall. When he died in 1601, the infant Trevanion inherited some 8,000 acres, located principally in the districts around Caerhayes, which included 11 manors.24 His uncle (Sir) John Trevor I* had arranged in advance, through his patron the earl of Nottingham (Charles Howard†), to acquire his wardship, though the sale was not finalized until January 1603. Trevor was in fact acting on behalf of a group of trustees, including Sir Reginald Mohun*, who took control of the family estates around March 1602, when Trevanion’s mother forfeited her interest by re-marrying.25

Trevanion became a Cornish magistrate in 1617, and remained prominent in local government for nearly three decades. His estates afforded him a measure of electoral patronage over several local boroughs. In 1620 Tregony provided a seat for his wife’s kinsman Thomas Malet, and at Grampound he presumably backed the duchy of Cornwall’s nominee, his uncle Sir Robert Carey. Surprisingly he was unable to secure a burgess-ship at Grampound in 1624 for his cousin Thomas Carey, who had also been nominated by the duchy, but he seems to have enjoyed greater success elsewhere in placing his friends. This claim requires some explanation. By the late 1620s Trevanion was a member of the Cornish gentry faction which formed around William Coryton*, vice-warden of the Cornish stannaries, and local political agent of the 3rd earl of Pembroke. His role within this group is difficult to document before 1628, but it is striking that from the middle of the decade the boroughs where he possessed leverage frequently elected allies of Coryton and Pembroke. In 1624, Ambrose Manaton and John Arundell were returned at Tregony and St. Mawes respectively. In the following year Sir James Fullerton, a Pembroke client, secured a place at St. Mawes, while Trevanion’s cousin, Sir Henry Carey II, sat for Tregony. Trevanion himself served as a Cornish knight of the shire in 1625, and although the evidence is not conclusive, he apparently stood in conjunction with Arundell. He left no trace on the records of either parliamentary sitting.26

Trevanion’s electoral patronage continued along the same lines in 1626. He presented seats at St. Mawes and Tregony to his cousins Sir Henry and Thomas Carey, while Grampound took Sir Benjamin Rudyard and Francis Courtney, both of whom were probably members of the Pembroke-Coryton circle. William Carr, who secured the second burgess-ship at St. Mawes, was possibly also a Pembroke client. In the aftermath of this Parliament the duke of Buckingham forced the earl to strip Coryton of his local offices, and Trevanion may also have been displaced as a deputy lieutenant, as his signature disappears from militia-related documents from mid 1626.27 If he did suffer such a punishment, then he was quickly reinstated, perhaps on account of his conspicuous loyalty to the government. He supervised collection of the Forced Loan during 1627, and towards the end of that year he was appointed a martial law commissioner. It was only at the 1628 general election that he unambiguously revealed his political loyalties. At the poll for the knights of the shire, Trevanion, Arundell and Bevill Grenville* each arrived at the head of a large band of followers, successfully influencing the vote in favour of Coryton and (Sir) John Eliot. At Grampound and St. Mawes Trevanion’s Carey cousins, Henry and Thomas, once again benefited from his patronage.28

Trevanion refused to settle his knighthood composition fine of £200 until July 1633, and it is conceivable that the burden of the shrievalty was imposed on him later that year as a punishment. He also ignored the government’s request in 1639 for a contribution towards the costs of the First Bishops’ War. Nevertheless, his attitude had softened by the following year, when he helped to impress men and organize equipment for the second war.29 In the elections for the Short Parliament, he presented his eldest son, John, with a seat at Grampound. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he came down emphatically on the royalist side, selling his plate and mortgaging his estates to raise funds, and using his local influence to rally support for the king. Although he was rumoured in May 1643 to be wavering in his allegiance, the death of his son John at the siege of Bristol two months later apparently hardened his resolve, and he took on the role of Cornish vice-admiral in addition to his existing army command. Knighted by the king in 1644 shortly after the royalist triumph at Fowey, he surrendered to Sir Thomas Fairfax† in March 1646, and began composition proceedings in the following month, his fine being fixed at £655 10s. 8d.30 However, he remained a thorn in the side of the new regime. In 1648 he was implicated in an abortive rising in Cornwall, royalist agents were apprehended at his house the next year, and he was briefly imprisoned in 1650 on suspicion of conspiracy. In 1651 he was still regarded as ‘a man of great power among the people’, despite mounting debt problems.31 Trevanion was apparently still living in February 1654, when the sequestration of his estates was lifted, but he died before the Restoration. No will or administration has been found.32

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Anne Duffin / Paul Hunneyball



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  • 2. Al. Ox.
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  • 6. C231/4, f. 53v; C66/2859.
  • 7. C212/22/20-1, 23; E179/89/306.
  • 8. E401/2586, p. 82; SP16/32/61; Cornw. RO, FS3/47.10; CSP Dom. 1640, p. 203.
  • 9. E401/2586, p. 82.
  • 10. C181/3, f. 196; 181/5, ff. 83v, 187v.
  • 11. C193/12/2, f. 7v; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 440.
  • 13. C181/4, f. 2v.
  • 14. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 23.
  • 15. Bodl. Add. C.85, p. 19.
  • 16. C181/5, ff. 92, 102v.
  • 17. F.M. Hext, Memorials of Lostwithiel, 167.
  • 18. SR, v. 60, 82, 149; Cornw. RO, DD.CF 3491.
  • 19. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 20. G.C. Boase and W.P. Courtney, Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, iii. 941.
  • 21. M. Coate, Cornw. in Gt. Civil War, 117; CSP Clar. i. 278; HCA 30/845, no. 177.
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  • 24. List of Sheriffs, 23; R.G. Marsden, ‘Vice-Admirals of the Coast’, EHR, xxiii. 739; C142/268/141.
  • 25. PROB 11/115, ff. 112v-13v; WARD 9/159, f. 138v; Devon RO, Huntsham PR1 (mar. of (Sir) John Hannam* and Joan Trevanion, 4 Mar. 1602).
  • 26. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 501-4; DCO, ‘Letters and Patents 1620-1, f. 39v; ‘Prince Charles in Spain’, f. 33v; A. Duffin, Faction and Faith, 87; SP16/521/19.
  • 27. R. Cust, Forced Loan, 201.
  • 28. SP16/73/103; 16/96/36.
  • 29. E178/7161; E401/1929; PC2/51, p. 79; CSP Dom. 1640, pp. 203-4, 264.
  • 30. Edgar, 51, 83; Cornw. RO, T1610; Buller Pprs. ed. R.N. Worth, 57; Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.D. Macray, iii.104; Coate, 117, 155; Bodl. Tanner 60, f. 569; CCC, 1258.
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  • 32. SP23/24, f. 1156; Polsue, iii. 337.