TREMAYNE, Edmund (c.1525-82), of Collacombe, Devon.

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. c.1525, 2nd s. of Thomas Tremayne of Collacombe by Philippa, da. of Roger Grenville of Stow. m. 1576, Eulalia, da. of Sir John St. Leger of Annery, 1s. 1da. suc. e. bro. 13 Mar. 1572.

Offices Held

Duchy of Lancaster receiver in nine counties (inc. Dorset, Som.) 1561-74; dep. (to Sir Nicholas Throckmorton) butler, Devon 1561; clerk of PC 1571; receiver of the revenues, Devon by 1574; j.p. and piracy commr. Devon from 1577; freeman, Plymouth 1580.


Having served Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, and been in the Tower during Mary’s reign after Wyatt’s rebellion, Tremayne (four of whose brothers were Marian exiles), went to Italy and at some time entered the service of the 2nd Earl of Bedford. With the accession of Elizabeth and Bedford’s appointment as lord lieutenant of Devon, he received a number of local offices, then went to court. Next, he was sent (1569) to report on the state of affairs in Ireland. Finally he was made a clerk of the Privy Council, though he made another visit to Ireland (1573) and, certainly from the time he came into the family estates, spent a good deal of his time in the west country. He ‘altered and enlarged’ Collacombe about 1574.

Bedford returned Tremayne to the first Parliament of the reign for Tavistock, and in 1572 he came in for Plymouth, with John Hawkins, who settled the choice of MPs there in consultation with Bedford. Tremayne and Hawkins were granted leave of absence from the House on 11 Dec. 1576 ‘for their necessary affairs’ but they either had not departed or had returned two days later when they were on a committee concerned with ports. This is Tremayne’s only known contribution to the business of the House.

The west-country puritans under Bedford (‘our western friends’ as (Sir) Amias Paulet referred to them to Tremayne), were a close-knit group, and none closer than Tremayne and Drake. When Drake returned from his circumnavigation in the autumn of 1580 he was in need of his friends, and, by a happy arrangement on someone’s part, probably Walsingham’s, it was Tremayne whom the Queen instructed to supervise the registration of the treasure removed that October from the Golden Hind, in itself a nice example of Tremayne’s mixing central with local affairs, an Elizabethan speciality. Tremayne was careful to take notice only‘of so much as he [Drake] has revealed, and the same I have seen to be weighed, registered and packed’. Entrusted also with the task of investigating charges of cruelty brought against Drake by the Spanish ambassador, Tremayne, to no one’s surprise, found these to be ‘inferred beyond the truth’.

Tremayne died in September 1582, described by Burghley as ‘a man worthy to be beloved for his honesty and virtues’. He appointed Bedford an overseer of his will. Tremayne’s only son, named Francis after the Earl, died six weeks later.

DNB; Trans. Dev. Assoc. xxxiii. 322; Roberts thesis; CJ, i. 105; A. E. W. Mason, Francis Drake, 192, 196-8; PCC 54 Tirwhite.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler