TRENCHARD, William (c.1643-1713), of Cutteridge, North Bradley, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679
26 Nov. 1680
17 July - 1 Dec. 1702

Family and Education

b. c.1643, 1st s. of John Trenchard of Mount Trenchard and Saltford, Som. by Anne, da. and coh. of Edward Neville of Keymer, Suss., wid. of Sir Richard Southwell of Singland, co. Limerick. educ. Oriel, Oxf. 1660; I. Temple 1662. m. Ellen, da. of Sir George Norton of Abbots Leigh, Som., 1s. 4da. 3 other ch. suc. fa. 1651.1

Offices Held

J.p. Wilts. 1672-8, Aug. 1688-?d., commr. for assessment 1673-80, 1689-90, dep. lt. June 1688-?d.2


Trenchard’s family was a cadet branch of the Dorset Trenchards. Cutteridge, about ten miles from Westbury, and other estates in Wiltshire were acquired in the mid-6th century. Trenchard’s father, like his Dorset cousins, supported Parliament in the Civil Wars and served on several commissions during the Interregnum. Trenchard himself first stood unsuccessfully for Westbury at a by-election in February 1678 against the courtier Henry Bertie. His petition was dismissed by the House on a partisan vote, and he was struck off the commission of the peace in August. He defeated Bertie at the first general election of 1679, but no committee work can be positively ascribed to him in the first Exclusion Parliament. A member of the Green Ribbon Club, he was listed as ‘honest’ by Shaftesbury, and voted for the first exclusion bill. In the autumn election Trenchard and his brother-in-law Edward Norton were defeated by Bertie and Richard Lewis, but they were seated on petition in the second Exclusion Parliament, in which he was probably totally inactive. Re-elected to the Oxford Parliament, he was named only to the committee of elections and privileges.3

It is unlikely that Trenchard sought election in 1685, but in 1688 the King’s electoral agents reported that he was ‘undoubtedly right, and hath so declared himself’. He was one of the dissenters approved for county office, and recommended as court candidate. Nevertheless he supported the Revolution, attending William of Orange at Salisbury with a loan of £250 from two Wiltshire clothiers. At the general election of 1689 he stood not at Westbury, but at Devizes, where he was elected on the wide franchise with Sir John Eyles. The House, however, seated Sir William Pynsent and Walter Grubbe on the merits of the return. He sat for Heytesbury in the next Parliament as a Court Whig.4

Trenchard died on 22 Aug. 1713, aged 70, and was buried at North Bradley. His son John, the author of Cato’s Letters, The Independent Whig and other political pamphlets, was returned for Taunton in 1722.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Burke, Gentry (1937); The Gen. vii. 241.
  • 2. HMC Finch , ii. 46; Kent AO, A/1/1/1; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 210; 1700-2, p. 253; HMC Lords, n.s. vi. 421.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1677-8, pp. 675-7; HMC 13th Rep. VI, 13.
  • 4. VCH Wilts. iv. 168.
  • 5. PCC 203 Leeds; DNB.