TRELAWNY, Jonathan (1568-1604), of Poole in Menheniot and Trelawne, Cornw.

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. 17 Dec. 1568, 2nd (posth.) s. of John Trelawny of Menheniot by Anne, da. of William Reskimer. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1585; M. Temple 1586, m. Elizabeth, da. of Henry Killigrew, 2s. 3da. suc. bro. 1569. Kntd. 1598.

Offices Held

Steward, Liskeard 1587; j.p.q. Cornw. from c.1592, sheriff 1594-5; steward, West Looe 1600; subsidy collector, Cornw.


Trelawny was born two months after the death of his father and within a year had succeeded his brother as head of the family. It was perhaps the Trelawnys’ narrow escape from extinction at this time which gave Jonathan that sense of family which caused him in 1600 to purchase the manor of Trelawne, with which, according to Lysons, the family had no previous connexion. The boy’s wardship was acquired by Henry Killigrew in 1572, and he may have received some of his education in Burghley’s household as well as with Killigrew’s own family, for in November 1582, when he was not yet 14, Killigrew’s wife wrote to Burghley, her brother-in-law, thanking him for ‘showing favour to young Jonathan’. That he received his university training at Emmanuel was probably due to Killigrew, who was a benefactor of the college, and who would desire to inculcate protestant principles in his ward. The close connexion between the two was cemented by Trelawny’s marriage to his guardian’s daughter, which probably took place while he was still in wardship.

The extent of Trelawny’s estates placed him among the foremost gentlemen of Cornwall. At his death he held land in the Cornish parishes of Altarnun, Southill, St. Ives, Pelynt, Duloe, Antony and St. Teath, as well as his capital manor of Menheniot. He also possessed property in East and West Looe, Launceston, Saltash and Bodmin. In Devon he held land in Plympton, Okehampton, Modbury, and Tiverton; and in Somerset he owned property at Crewkerne. Some of this was acquired by purchase during his lifetime, much was inherited.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Trelawny had assumed a place in local affairs before he was of age, and he was only 17 when first returned to Parliament for Liskeard, which his family had represented in several Parliaments since 1421. In 1597, when he achieved a county seat, his brother-in-law Henry Neville and his relative Edward Trelawny sat for Liskeard, and when in 1601 he wrote to Sir Robert Cecil, offering him two burgess-ships for this Parliament, at least one of them was at Liskeard. Trelawny is not mentioned by name in the journals of the House, but as a knight of the shire in 1597 he could have sat on committees concerned with enclosures (5 Nov.), the poor law (5, 22 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), the penal laws (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.), the subsidy (15 Nov.) and a cloth bill (8 Dec.).

In 1599 Trelawny travelled to France with Neville, the new English ambassador, and he remained there for about six months. During his absence his affairs were left in the hands of his wife, who in October wrote to her cousin Sir Robert Cecil successfully requesting that the sale of the manor of Trelawne might be postponed until her husband could return and buy it. He rebuilt the mansion house there, obviously agreeing with Richard Carew that his house at Poole in Menheniot ‘houseth Sir Jonathan Trelawny far beneath his worth and calling’.

Trelawny died ‘from a fit of coughing’ while serving as knight of the shire in James’s first Parliament, 21 June 1604. His will was proved 27 Aug. that year.

Lysons, Cornw. 257-8; Vivian, Vis. Cornw.476; Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 229; J. Allen, Hist. Liskeard, 58, 458; Hatfield ms 278; G. C. Boase and W. P. Courtney, Biblio. Cornub. 769; Carew’s Surv. Cornw. ed. Halliday, 135, 185; C. S. Gilbert, Hist. Surv. Cornw. ii. 566-7; C142/151/8; 155/97; SP12/155/97; A. C. Miller, Sir Henry Killigrew, 231-2; HMC Hatfield, ix. 371; xi. 405; D’Ewes, 552, 553, 555, 557, 561, 569; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 163; T. Bond, E. and W. Looe, 160; CJ, i. 244; PCC 100 Harte.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N.M.S.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.