TREVOR, Sir Sackville (1567-1635), of Plas Newydd, Llanidan, Anglesey; later of Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, London

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. 11 Aug. 1567,1 4th s. of John Trevor (d.1589) of Trevalyn, Gresford, Denb. and Mary, da. of George Brydges of London; bro. of Sir John I*, Sir Richard† and Thomas*.2 m. (1) 1602/3, Eleanor, (d.1625) da. of Sir John Savage† of Rock Savage, Clifton, Cheshire, wid. of Sir Henry Bagnall† (d.1598) of Plas Newydd,?s.p.;3 ?(2) Elizabeth, da. of Kenrick Eyton of Eyton, Denb.,4 ?s.p. kntd. 4 July 1604.5 bur. 12 Oct. 1635.6 sig. Sackvill Trevor.

Offices Held

Capt. RN 1595-1602;7 v.-adm. Spanish blockade 1602,8 narrow seas 1604;9 r.-adm. fleets sent to Spain 1605,10 1623;11 adm. Elbe blockade sqdn. 1627-8.12

J.p. Anglesey by c.1608-d.;13 commr. aid 1609, 1622, subsidy 1621-2, 1624, 1625, subsidy arrears 1626;14 dep. lt. 1621;15 commr. survey Beaumaris castle, Anglesey 1624;16 feoffee, Beaumaris free sch. 1624-d.17

Commr. Navy inquiry 1626-7.18

Gent. extraordinary, privy chamber 1629-d.19


Trevor was named after the Sackville family, whom his father had served for much of his life. His mother was a second cousin of Lord Buckhurst (Thomas Sackville†, later 1st earl of Dorset), and the Trevors’ London home lay in the former grounds of Dorset House.20 However, as a younger son, he was bequeathed little more than these family connections, which he became adept at exploiting for his own benefit. Left a mere 10s. in his father’s will, he was not even granted a reversionary right to the family’s Welsh estates, which suggests a disagreement, especially as the will his eldest brother Sir Richard† drafted in 1590 allowed him only a £5 annuity.21 However, he may have been expected to support himself through a naval career, though if this is so his service cannot be traced before he secured his first command in 1595.

Trevor’s meteoric rise through the ranks of the late Elizabethan Navy, which began at about the time his elder brother (Sir John Trevor I*) entered the service of lord admiral Howard (Charles Howard†), was a classic demonstration of the advantages of the well-connected ‘gentleman captain’. Within seven years of securing his first command, the Chatham Sun, a small pinnace of five guns, he rose to the command of the Mary Rose, one of the largest ships in the Navy, as vice-admiral of the squadron cruising off the Atlantic coast of Spain.22 On the return from this voyage he seized four vessels carrying contraband, for which the queen promised him £500, though he received nothing until 1605, when his uncle, lord treasurer Dorset, secured him a warrant for £300.23 Trevor’s connections ensured that he remained at sea after the peace with Spain, first as vice-admiral of the Channel fleet, and subsequently as rear-admiral of the fleet which took Howard (now earl of Nottingham) to Spain in 1605.24

Though Trevor’s official salary, even as a vice-admiral in 1604, was a comparatively modest 10s. a day, depositions to the naval inquiry of 1608-9 suggest that in the same year he may have virtually doubled his income by falsely inflating the numbers of his crew, entering his own servants on his ship’s books, and, on one occasion, selling off unused victuals under a licence procured from his brother, now surveyor of the Navy.25 He surrendered his naval command after his return from Spain, having recently married the widow of an Anglesey landowner, Sir Henry Bagnall†. The marriage was probably arranged by Sir Richard Trevor, who had taken charge of the Bagnalls’ convoluted finances after Sir Henry was killed on campaign in Ireland: he married one of his daughters to the Bagnall heir, who came to live in his own household at Trevalyn, while Sir Sackville’s wife apparently purchased a life interest in her late husband’s Anglesey estates (worth £400 a year) for £800.26

With the exception of some local administrative work and several minor lawsuits,27 Trevor left very little mark on Anglesey society until the death of his wife’s cousin Sir Richard Bulkeley* in 1621, when he was one of those designated to search for Bulkeley’s controversial will.28 Having presumably surveyed the provisions of this document, Trevor encouraged his brother Sir John I* to put in an early bid for a match with the heir, Richard Bulkeley*. Sir Richard’s widow was sympathetic to the idea, but the attempts of Sir Sackville and his neighbour Thomas Holland†, one of Bulkeley’s nephews, to persuade the rest of the family to agree to the Trevors’ terms were frustrated by Owen Wynn, who convinced them that his own brother-in-law, Sir John Bodvel, would be a much better prospect.29

Trevor briefly returned to naval service in 1623, when he was appointed rear-admiral of the fleet dispatched to Spain to fetch home Prince Charles and the duke of Buckingham. He almost certainly owed this position to the fleet’s commander, the 4th earl of Rutland, his wife’s nephew. 30 Trevor clashed with Wynn again at the general election of 1624, when, in the absence of a Bulkeley candidate, he began making soundings for the Anglesey seat. He swiftly abandoned these plans in the face of Owen Wynn’s vigorous canvassing for John Mostyn*, who received at least passive support from Richard Bulkeley.31 Though outmanoeuvred by the Wynns on this occasion, Trevor ‘resolved to stand for it [the county seat] against all men’ at the next election in 1625. He swiftly secured a written promise of support from the local magistrates, which outweighed the belated assistance given to Mostyn by Lord Keeper Williams. Trevor apparently obtained an uncontested victory after Lewis Bayly, bishop of Bangor (his stepdaughter’s husband), managed to persuade Sir Roger Mostyn* that his son’s chances of re-election were minimal.32 His only appearance in the parliamentary records was as one of a delegation appointed to take the petition against the suspension of the recusancy laws to the king on 8 July 1625.33

Trevor’s wife died during the latter half of 1625, causing the Plas Newydd estate to revert to her son, Arthur Bagnall.34 The apparent reluctance of Bagnall’s father-in-law, Sir Richard Trevor, to give Sir Sackville any compensation for relinquishing the estate must have left Trevor virtually destitute. Ignoring the counsels of his son-in-law Bayly and his brother (Sir) Thomas*, who both advised him to sue, Trevor’s preferred solution was for Bayly to lobby at court for a fresh naval appointment.35 Trevor could be confident of a sympathetic hearing, for in 1623, as rear-admiral, it had been his quick thinking that had saved the life of the then Prince Charles during a sudden squall in Santander harbour.36 The king remembered him as ‘a very honest and able man’, and both Charles and Lord Admiral Buckingham promised him their support.37

Trevor’s name was included on two lists of prospective captains in June 1626, but he was passed over for command. Apparently undaunted, he hoped to go to sea with the fleet which the government attempted to raise from the maritime counties during the summer.38 However, his first appointment, at the end of the year, was as a member of the commission to inquire into naval defects during the expeditions of 1625 and 1626.39 As one of the commissioners, he was appointed to discuss the important question of whether the Navy should switch to building smaller, faster vessels in order to protect merchant shipping against the Dunkirkers, and he also submitted a proposal on the disposition of defensive forces in home waters, which apparently had some influence on the deployment adopted during the following summer.40 Trevor’s plans included the interception of munitions which the Hanseatic merchants were known to be shipping to Spain, in open defiance of the modest English forces stationed off the German coast,41 and he presumably endorsed another proposal for a blockade of the Hanseatic ports, as he was commissioned as admiral of the squadron ordered to implement it.42

Stopping only briefly to land English reinforcements at Stade for Christian IV of Denmark, Trevor’s squadron arrived off Heligoland in the middle of May 1627, to find that a convoy of 60 Hanseatic ships had left for Spain a month earlier.43 The blockade clearly succeeded, as the merchants of Hamburg soon complained to Christian, who, keen to retain the support of his English allies, accepted the merchants’ undertaking that they would not ship any more contraband to Spain, and gave Trevor an ‘absolute command ... not to search the Hamburgers’ ships’.44 Trevor, who remained suspicious, disregarded this order when the next convoy set sail in August, driving off their escorts and spending two days on a thorough search of the merchantmen, though he was ultimately forced to admit that he had ‘found no prohibited goods at all in them’.45 After a brief diversion to check on the safety of the North Sea fishing fleets, he put in to Harwich to resupply in preparation for a return to the Elbe.46

While in harbour Trevor picked a quarrel with James Duppa, commander of the armed colliers raised by Sir John Savile* for the protection of the coastal trade, whom he refused permission to fly an admiral’s flag, a ruling which was vindicated when Duppa’s ships were put under his command.47 The newly combined squadron was diverted first to the Downs, and then to the Texel, where reports indicated that three Dutch-built French warships lay virtually undefended.48 Though Trevor lost contact with Duppa in a storm, and failed to meet with the Channel fleet under Sir Henry Mervyn*, he boldly took his squadron into the Texel on the evening of 27 Sept., sailing past the Dutch fleet in the gathering darkness to surprise the French warship St. Esprit, which surrendered after a brief engagement.49 Though he had originally intended to take another of the French ships at daylight, he abandoned the plan for fear that the Dutch, whose neutrality he had flouted, ‘might take away his prize if he should leave her slenderly guarded’. The attempt was eventually made when Duppa arrived, but the delay allowed the French to jettison their guns and cargo and retreat to safety under the guns of Enkhuizen. With the Dutch threatening to intervene following protests by the French ambassador, Trevor sailed away with his prize, leaving his vice-admiral, George Alleyne, to attempt to burn the other ship.50

James Howell*, who apparently received a ‘curious sea-chest of glasses’ from the prize, praised its capture as ‘one of the best exploits that was performed since these wars began’, and the government, gladdened by a rare military success, produced a pamphlet celebrating the victory.51 However, the operation had its critics: Mervyn’s warning that ‘too much haste may, in destroying one of the French ships, secure the rest by that alarm’ was borne out after Trevor’s departure, when Alleyne was detained by the Dutch while the breach of their neutrality was referred to the States-General; he was later released.52 Trevor’s subordinates also expressed reservations: Duppa, still resentful at his demotion, was keen to divert attention from his own failings by attacking Trevor’s; while Alleyne dismissed him as ‘only fit to command a ship as a captain’, for his failure to press home the attack with sufficient vigour.53 Alleyne’s accusation was apparently taken seriously by the Privy Council, obliging Trevor to procure a certificate to the contrary from his other captains.54

The controversy over the Texel raid had little effect on Trevor’s career, as he retained command of the Elbe squadron until the end of July 1628.55 He exploited his rights as captor of the St. Esprit to the full, seizing various assets as personal prizes, and appointing at least some of the new officers when the ship was taken into royal service.56 Nevertheless, his finances remained weak, as he had not yet been paid, and on his return from the Texel he petitioned the king for a land grant as a reward; he later acquired a sinecure at court, and never went to sea again.57 He was, however, one of the naval officers appointed to discuss the crewing of royal warships in 1632-3, when, perhaps predictably, he favoured the high levels of manning which had provided him with abundant opportunities for peculation.58

Trevor’s relatives supported him in his final years, when he apparently lived at Salisbury Court. His cousin Anthony Lewes bequeathed him a life interest in his estate near Trevalyn in 1634, and he later inherited Lewes’s ‘diamond hatband set in gold with 95 diamonds’.59 Buried at St. Bride’s, Fleet Street on 12 Oct. 1635, he was presumably in financial trouble at his death, as administration of his estate was granted to one of his creditors.60

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. E. Suss. RO, GLY/213-14.
  • 2. Dwnn, Vis. Wales ed. S.R. Meyrick ii. 354; J. Stow, Survey of London, i. 740.
  • 3. NLW, Brogyntyn 194; UCNW, Plas Newydd V/1439; NLW, Carreglwyd III/10; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. lix), 206; J.E. Griffith, Peds. Anglesey and Caern. Fams. 57.
  • 4. E.S. Jones, Trevors of Trevalyn, 54. No Elizabeth Eyton appears on the pedigrees recorded in either Dwnn, ii. 358 or Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 180.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 133.
  • 6. GL, ms 6538, unfol. (St. Bride’s burial reg.).
  • 7. The individual commands are listed in Naval Tracts of Sir William Monson ed. M. Oppenheim (Navy Rec. Soc. xxii, xxiii), vols. i and ii, passim.
  • 8. Monson Tracts, ii. 183.
  • 9. E351/2242.
  • 10. E351/2243.
  • 11. E351/2261; SP14/144/11.
  • 12. E351/2265-6.
  • 13. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, 6-11.
  • 14. SP14/43/107; C212/22/21-3; E179/219/20, 20A; 179/224/598.
  • 15. NLW, Carreglwyd I/147.
  • 16. NLW, duchy of Cornwall SC5-6.
  • 17. Anglesey RO, David Hughes Charity Mss, box 16 (8 [O]ct. 1624, 12 Aug. 1635).
  • 18. APC, 1626, p. 351; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 494. For his attendance, see SP16/45.
  • 19. LC5/132, p. 149. He still held the post in 1641, see LC3/1, unfol.
  • 20. PROB 11/74, ff. 105-7; 11/48, ff. 353-5; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 234; London Encyclopaedia ed. B. Weinreb and C. Hibbert, (Salisbury Court, Salisbury House).
  • 21. PROB 11/74, ff. 105-7; Glynde Place Archives ed. R.F. Dell, 72 (no. 739).
  • 22. From E351/2233-40, reprinted in Monson Tracts vols. i-ii.
  • 23. Monson Tracts, ii. 190; SP14/13/77; Add. 5752, f. 151.
  • 24. E351/2242-3; NLW, Carreglwyd I/699.
  • 25. Jacobean Commissions of Enquiry, 1608 and 1618 ed. A.P. McGowan (Navy Rec. Soc. cxvi), 128, 177, 210-1, 248.
  • 26. UCNW, Plas Newydd IV/8475; V/1438-9; NLW, Clenennau 194; NLW, Carreglwyd III/10; NLW, 9083E (pt. 3), pp. 99-102; NLW, Bodewryd 45.
  • 27. HMC Hatfield, xviii. 239; DCO, Letters and Patents 1620-21, f. 49; NLW, 465E/520; STAC 8/15/4, f. 15; STAC 8/15/5, ff. 5, 16; C2/Chas.I/B143/56.
  • 28. NLW, 9057E/963; PROB 11/138, f. 9.
  • 29. NLW, 9057E/980-3, 988.
  • 30. Vis. Cheshire, 206.
  • 31. NLW, 9059E/1172, 1186.
  • 32. NLW, 9060E/1324; DWB (Lewis Bayly); Griffith, 57.
  • 33. Procs. 1625, pp. 261-4, 349.
  • 34. NLW, Carreglwyd III/10; NLW, Peniarth 412D.
  • 35. Inferred from NLW, Carreglwyd III/10, which does not explicitly mention that Trevor sought a naval command.
  • 36. Lismore Pprs. ed. A.B. Grosart, (ser. 2), iii. 72-3; Autobiog. of Phineas Pett ed. W.C. Perrin (Navy Rec. Soc. li), 128.
  • 37. NLW, Carreglwyd III/10.
  • 38. SP16/30/64-5; NLW, 9061E/1424.
  • 39. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 494.
  • 40. SP16/45, ff. 73, 75v, 78-9; A.D. Thrush, ‘In Pursuit of the Frigate, 1603-40’, HR, lxiv. 29-45.
  • 41. E351/2263-4.
  • 42. Add. 37817, f. 39v; SP16/45, ff. 75, 82; E351/2265; SP16/54/12, 41; 16/62/15; Add. 37817, ff. 42, 78v, 82.
  • 43. SP16/63/47; 16/64/27.
  • 44. SP75/8, ff. 236, 240; SP16/66/21; 16/70/30; 16/74/49.
  • 45. SP16/77/22; Add. 14027, ff. 28-30; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 267.
  • 46. Add. 37817, f. 117v; SP16/77/22; SP14/215, p. 26; APC, 1627-8, p. 22.
  • 47. SP16/77/35; 16/78/10, 45, 62; 16/79/5; Add. 64893, f. 76.
  • 48. SP14/215, p. 42; Add. 64893, f. 76; SP16/78/62; Add. 29974, f. 114.
  • 49. SP16/79/48; 16/80/13, 26; Add. 64893, f. 98; Harl. Misc. v. 102-4.
  • 50. Birch, i. 275; Harl. Misc. v. 104; SP16/80/13, 22, 26.
  • 51. J. Howell, Epistolae Ho-Elianae, 150; The Taking ... of the St. Esprit (1627), reprinted in Harl. Misc. v. 102-4.
  • 52. Add. 64893, f. 98v; SP16/79/48; 16/80/2-3, 22; 16/81/51; 16/83/20.
  • 53. SP16/80/2, 13, 26.
  • 54. Add. 64894, f. 23; APC, 1627-8, p. 94.
  • 55. E351/2265-6.
  • 56. SP16/80/13; 16/86/64; APC, 1628-9, p. 9; CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 463; E351/2266.
  • 57. Univ. London, Goldsmiths’ ms 195, ii. f. 68; Add. 37817, f. 161; LC5/132, p. 149. Trevor does not appear in the naval accounts for 1629-35, E351/2268-74.
  • 58. CSP Dom. 1631-3, pp. 313, 328; Birch, ii. 187.
  • 59. SP16/86/64; PROB 11/167, ff. 180v-181; LPL, ms 1598, f. 12v.
  • 60. GL, ms 6538, unfol.; PROB 6/15, f. 150.