TREFUSIS, Nicholas (1592-1650), of Landew, Lezant, 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



14 Apr. 1628
1640 (Apr.)
21 Dec. 1646

Family and Education

b. c.Sept. 1592,2 1st s. of Thomas Trefusis of Landew and Mary, da. of Peter Coryton of Newton Ferrers, St. Mellion, Cornw.3 educ. L. Inn 1611.4 m. (1) 12 Dec. 1615, Catherine (bur. 24 July 1630), da. of John Lampen of Linkinhorne, Cornw., 1s. (d.v.p.) 2da.; (2) lic. 5 Apr. 1632, Philippa (bur. 7 June 1647), wid. of Nicholas Slanning of Tamerton Foliot, Devon and da. of John Copleston of Copplestone, Devon, s.p. suc. fa. 1610; uncle Richard Trefusis† 1612; bur. 20 Oct. 1650.5 sig. Nicholas Trefusis.

Offices Held

J.p. Cornw. 1620-4, 1626-7, 1628-at least 1637, 1647-d.,6 commr. Forced Loan 1627,7 piracy from 1641,8 assessment 1641-2, 1647-8,9 militia 1648;10 stannator, Foymore, Cornw. 1636.11


Representing a junior branch of the Trefusis family of Mylor which had settled at Landew by the 1580s, Trefusis inherited estates scattered across Cornwall while still a minor. He escaped wardship due to the precise tenure of those lands which he held from the Crown, a situation which the duchy of Cornwall unsuccessfully challenged in 1616-17, and his mother apparently acted as his guardian until he came of age. A further bequest of property from an uncle in 1612 boosted his eventual inheritance to more than 2,500 acres, including five whole manors and a share of eight others. However, nearly 800 acres, embracing two of these manors, were held until 1638 by his widowed aunt, who subsequently married Ambrose Manaton*, while Trefusis’ mother, who was still living in 1629, had as her jointure 750 acres and the mansion at Landew.12 Trefusis’ family ties, combined with puritan leanings, drew him into that circle of east Cornwall gentry, including his maternal uncle William Coryton*, Manaton and (Sir) John Eliot*, which opposed the Forced Loan of 1626-7. Trefusis’ own refusal to contribute was seen by the duke of Buckingham and (Sir) James Bagg II* as emulation of Coryton and his allies, rather than a display of personal conviction, but he was nevertheless summoned before the Privy Council in July 1627 and removed from the Cornish bench. He made a Loan payment a few weeks later, but was not restored as a j.p. for nearly 18 months.13

In March 1628 Trefusis was elected to Parliament for Newport. Although he owned land close to the borough, he owed his place to Eliot, who nominated him after declining the offer of a seat himself. Because the vote for the second burgess-ship was disputed, Trefusis was initially barred from the Commons, despite Eliot’s protests on 22 March. However, he was provisionally admitted eight days later, and the legitimacy of his return was confirmed by the House on 14 April.14 He featured only three more times by name in the records of this Parliament, being nominated to committees appointed to examine a petition by custom-house officials (20 June 1628), a bill on corrupt presentations to benefices, and complaints against the Duchy of Lancaster Court (20 and 23 Feb. 1629).15

Trefusis’ tendency to resist the Crown’s arbitrary financial demands persisted during the 1630s, as he refused either to pay a knighthood composition fine or to contribute to the king’s Scottish campaign in 1639.16 He represented Newport once more in the Short Parliament, and though not returned to Westminster in November 1640, his solid support for the parliamentarian cause at the outbreak of the Civil War made him a suitable candidate when replacement county Members were chosen for Cornwall in 1646. Despite his seclusion from the Commons two years later following Pride’s Purge, he remained a local magistrate.17 By the time Trefusis drew up his will on 13 Aug. 1647 his only son was dead, and he therefore divided his estates between his two daughters. The document contained only one charitable bequest, the residue of an earlier legacy by a kinsman of his second wife, and another relative was instructed to pay £25 in return for receiving a silver basin and ewer. Trefusis was interred at Lezant church on 20 Oct. 1650.18

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball



  • 1. Secluded from the Commons at Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648.
  • 2. C142/333/32.
  • 3. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 467.
  • 4. LI Admiss. Trefusis has been confused with a cousin and namesake who attended Oxford: G.C. Boase and W.P. Courtney, Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, ii. 746; C. Fitz-Geffrey, Affaniae (Oxf., 1601), unpag.; Al. Ox.
  • 5. Cornw. RO, FP124/1/1; Vivian, 467; PROB 11/215, f. 302v; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 687; C142/333/13.
  • 6. C231/4, ff. 98v, 204v, 262v; 231/6, p. 78; C66/2310; 66/2761; C193/13/3, f. 10; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 255.
  • 7. C193/12/2.
  • 8. C181/5, f. 188.
  • 9. SR, v. 60, 82, 149; A. and O. i. 962, 1079.
  • 10. A. and O. i. 1235.
  • 11. Add. 6713, f. 100.
  • 12. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 305, 464, 467; J. Polsue, Complete Paroch. Hist. of Cornw. iii. 122; C142/333/13, 32; PROB 11/118, f. 233; 11/121, 384; C2/Chas.I/T8/40; DCO, ‘Letters and Warrants 1615-19’, ff. 42, 59v.
  • 13. A. Duffin, Faction and Faith, 108; SP16/68/16; 16/75/43i; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 255; APC, 1627, p. 421; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 421.
  • 14. C142/333/13; CD 1628, ii. 54, 168, 446-7.
  • 15. CD 1628, iv. 389; CJ, i. 931b, 932a.
  • 16. E178/7161; PC2/51, p. 79.
  • 17. Buller Pprs. ed. R.N. Worth, 72; M. Coate, Cornw. in the Gt. Civil War, 54-5, 246.
  • 18. PROB 11/215, ff. 302-3; Cornw. RO, FP124/1/1.