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

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679 - Mar. 1681
1690 - 1695
17 July - 1 Dec. 1702

Family and Education

b. c.1643, 1st s. of John Trenchard of Saltford, Som. by Anne, da. and coh. of Edward Nevile of Keymer, Suss., wid. of Richard Southwell of Singland, co. Limerick.  educ. Oriel, Oxf. 1660; I. Temple 1662.  m. lic. 4 May 1668, Ellen, da. of Sir George Norton of Abbots Leigh, Som., 2s. (1 d.v.p.). 4da. (1 d.v.p.); 4 other ch. d.v.psuc. fa. 1651.1

Offices Held


Trenchard was descended from a cadet branch of the Trenchards of Dorset. As a result of his uncle being certified a lunatic, Cutteridge was bequeathed to him in 1655. His extensive rebuilding of the house there was to make it one of the largest in the county and second only to Longleat. A Presbyterian justice, he had been given a commission on the bench within a few years of the Restoration, and he gained notoriety for protecting conventicles in his division, particularly those at Witch Pit Wood, a few hundred yards from his house, where up to 300 Baptists congregated. These Dissenting sympathies led to his loss of local office in the wake of Titus Oates’s conspiracy in 1678, but earned him a deputy-lieutenancy under James II ten years later.2

Trenchard took part in a deputation of Wiltshire gentry soon after the Revolution in support of King William. Returned for Heytesbury on the Ashe interest in 1690, he was classed as a Whig by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†), and was listed as a Court supporter by Grascome. His activity in the House is difficult to disentangle from that of his kinsman Thomas Trenchard, since the Journals do not generally distinguish between the two. Indeed, the only certain references to William Trenchard are grants of absence, on 6 Feb. 1694 and 21 Feb. 1695, although a ‘Mr Trenchard’ was named to several important committees. Trenchard did not stand again until 1702, but after succeeding at Westbury he was unseated on petition.3

Trenchard thereafter retired to his country seat. He made his will on 22 Jan. 1710, leaving £1,550 as a portion for his remaining unmarried daughter, a portait of himself ‘little set in gold’ to another daughter, £500 for the education and ‘setting up in the world’ of one George Hirley of Ireland, £40 to apprentices in North Bradley, and £200 to set up a marble memorial for himself and his family in North Bradley church. His manors of Cutteridge and Overcourt and other properties in Normanton, Durnford and North Bradley, together with unspecified lands in Ireland, were settled on two trustees, Samuel and Stephen Blatch, for the use of his surviving children. He died on 22 Aug. 1713 aged 70 and was succeeded by his only surviving son, John Trenchard†, a barrister, Whig pamphleteer and joint author of Cato’s Letters.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Henry Lancaster


  • 1. Burke, LG (1937); The Gen. vii. 241.
  • 2. PCC 46 Bower; VCH Wilts. v. 164; viii. 223; C 142/778/151; W. Döel, Twenty Golden Candlesticks! 6, 17–18; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 221, 225; HMC Lords, n.s. vi. 142; C 231/7, pp. 5, 38; C 231/8, p. 23.
  • 3. VCH Wilts. v. 168.
  • 4. PCC 537 Leeds.