TRENEWITH, Stephen (d.1437), of Earth in St. Stephens by Saltash, Cornw.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Coroner, Cornw. by Aug. 1420-d.2
The Trenewiths were an important Cornish family, closely related to the Bodrugans; and although Stephen himself seems to have come from a younger branch, he could rely on the support of his ‘myghty kynred’ when he needed it.3 By marriage to his first wife he acquired the manor of Earth (which he made his home) and lands in Saltash and Sheviock, an estate which had previously belonged to her kinsman, John Trengyer. His second wife brought him an interest in a moiety of the manor of Treglast and parcels of land in seven Cornish parishes. Either by purchase or inheritance he also held property in Trematon, Burraton, Liskeard, Penhal and Trethake.4
In 1381, when a young man, Trenewith gave evidence at a maritime court held at Padstow to investigate the seizure of a ship at Plymouth. Ten years later John Hawley I* of Dartmouth, who had purchased the forfeited estates of the former chief justice, Sir Robert Tresilian†, complained that Trenewith had unlawfully entered property worth £2 a year in ‘Little Trenewith’ near Padstow.5 Whether he succeeded in retaining it is not known, but he may well have done so. He was evidently a lawyer of ability, judging from his employment in the courts. In the Hilary term of 1397, while he was up at Westminster for the Parliament in which he represented Bodmin, he acted as an attorney in the King’s bench for another Cornishman. One of his earliest briefs involved him a suit at the assizes at Launceston brought against Richard II’s half-brother, John, earl of Huntingdon; and he was later to make appearances in the lawcourts on behalf of Sir John Herle* and (Sir) John Trelawny II (perhaps his father-in-law.) Besides, he assisted the Bodulgate family in transactions concerning their lands and the foundation of a chantry, and also appeared on behalf of Walter Reynell* in a suit against Sir John Arundell† of Trerice.6 Local affairs seem to have absorbed most of his time: he was only once elected to the Commons, and yet his name appears on indentures attesting the free election of knights of the shire, at courts held at Lostwithiel and Launceston, to as many as 13 Parliaments between 1416 and 1433. He served in only one office by royal appointment. But to that office, the coronership of Cornwall, he clung tenaciously for some 17 years. Even though in 1421 he was said to be insufficiently qualified, and in 1433 too sick and aged to perform his duties, he was still coroner at the time of his death, which occurred shortly before 8 Feb. 1437. Two years later his widow obtained an episcopal licence for her marriage to Michael Power, esquire, the constable of Launceston castle. One of Trenewith’s daughters married Adam Vivian*.7