TREVANION, John (1667-1740), of Carhayes, nr. Tregony, Cornw.

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



1705 - 1708
1708 - 1710
1710 - 1722

Family and Education

b. 1667, 1st s. of Charles Trevanion† of Carhayes by Jane, da. and coh. of Sir Maurice Drummond, gent. usher.  m. (1) bef. 1705, Anne (d. 1725), da. and coh. of Sir Francis Blake*, s.p.; (2) 29 Mar. 1726, Barbara (d. 1776), da. of William, 4th Baron Berkeley of Stratton, 1s. 2da.  suc. fa. 1703.1

Offices Held

Stannator, Blackmore 1703.2


The Trevanions were an ancient Cornish family who had held the manor of Carhayes since the 14th century and first represented the county in the Commons in the 15th century. Trevanion’s grandfather and great-grandfather, who had both taken up arms for the King during the Civil Wars, had represented Cornish boroughs in the Commons, and Trevanion’s father had done likewise after the Restoration. Though Trevanion’s father was reputed to loath popery, his wife appears to have been a crypto-Catholic, and Trevanion’s younger brother became a Catholic priest. In 1686 Trevanion was recommended for employment in James II’s guards, it being reported that he himself had converted to Catholicism and been disinherited by his father. He had, however, returned to the Anglican fold by the time of his father’s death in 1703, when he inherited the family estates, and in the election two years later was successful in obtaining a seat on the family interest at Tregony. An analysis of the 1705 Parliament classed Trevanion as a ‘Churchman’, and on 25 Oct. he voted against the Court candidate for Speaker. He was not an active Member, though early in 1708 Trevanion’s partisan sympathies were noted by an analyst of the Commons who classed Trevanion as a Tory. His only notable activity was his delivery of a report, on 16 Mar. 1708, on the petition of a Genoese merchant complaining of losses caused by the piracy of Captain Kidd. Rumours that Trevanion would stand for the county in 1708 proved ill-founded and he instead transferred to Bodmin. On 16 Dec. he was a teller against the motion to commit the high bailiff of Westminster to Newgate for his conduct at the 1708 election. He also took an interest in renewed attempts by the Genoese merchant to recover his losses, being appointed on 13 Dec. 1708 to consider a further petition and reporting from this committee on 10 Feb. 1709. On 6 Feb. 1710 Trevanion told against the resolution of the ways and means committee to impose a perennial duty on candles. He also voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, and at the county election later in 1710 was successful on the Church interest in alliance with George Granville*, a success achieved despite accusations that he was ‘a professed Roman Catholic’.3

Classed in the ‘Hanover list’ as a Tory, Trevanion told on 9 Jan. 1711 against referring the Tregony election case to committee. Though he made little further impression on the records of the House, Trevanion was included among the ‘worthy patriots’ who had detected the mismanagements of the previous administration. He was also a member of the October Club, and Abel Boyer regarded him as one of the club’s leading figures. During the summer of 1711 Trevanion reported to the Earl of Oxford (Robert Harley*) that in Cornwall ‘dark industry hath been very busy in creating discontents among the people’, but he promised the lord treasurer that he would endeavour ‘to convince the gentlemen that your illustrious perfection deserves and requires their faith and hope’. To enable him to do this successfully Trevanion claimed he needed a letter from Oxford so that ‘the gentlemen of the country may be put out of all doubt of their being neglected’, a request that in the following three years was to be followed by further, more specific appeals for government largesse. In January 1712, for example, he wrote to Oxford that the failure to provide a place for a ‘Mr Killigrew’ was indicative of his exclusion from government favour which if continued could lead his fellow Cornishmen to oblige him to ‘declare my circumstances and consult my own ease and safety’. The same month saw Trevanion included on Oxford’s lobbying list concerning the attack on the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), Lord Lansdown (as George Granville had become) being deputed to lobby Trevanion. He remained an inactive Member, though in April and May he managed an estate bill through the Commons. His concern to curry favour with Oxford may explain the analysis of electoral interests in Cornwall which Trevanion sent the lord treasurer in June 1712, but if so it had had little effect by October that year when Lansdown informed Oxford that Trevanion was ‘highly discontented that his expectations have not been answered’ and was travelling to London ‘full of resentment’. Lansdown’s warning appears to have had the desired effect as in March 1713 Trevanion thanked Oxford for the money that had been paid the previous year to one of his female relations, though he requested another such payment. This mark of favour appears to have reinforced Trevanion’s loyalty to the ministry, and on 18 June 1713 he voted for the French commerce bill.4

At the 1713 election Trevanion retained his county seat, and on 15 Apr. 1714 made his only recorded speech of the Parliament during the debate on the motion that the succession was in danger, though there is no indication of the substance of his contribution. From the end of April he managed the early stages of a bill to create a harbour at Whitesand Bay, near Land’s End. In June he received 131 votes in the ballot for commissioners of public accounts, despite being included on neither of the two slates submitted for this election, but he fell short of gaining a place. The Worsley list and two further comparisons of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments all classed Trevanion as a Tory, but having retained his seat at the 1715 election he transferred his loyalty to the Whigs. He died on 15 Aug. 1740, differing reports fixing his age at this time at 73 or 80, and was succeeded by his son William† in estates said to be worth £4,000 p.a.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. IGI, Cornw.; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 502–3.
  • 2. J. Tregoning, Stannary Laws, 118.
  • 3. Polsue, Complete Paroch. Hist. Cornw. iii. 337; iv. supp. 117; HMC Laing, i. 449; Add. 28057, f. 236; 70208, William Roches to Granville, 14 Nov. 1710; HMC Portland, iv. 607.
  • 4. Add. 70207, Trevanion to Oxford, 30 July 1711, 21 Jan., 19 Aug. 1712, 24 Mar. 1713; 70331, canvassing list, [Jan. 1712]; 70314–5, ‘an acct. of Cornwall’, c.June 1712; HMC Portland, v. 233.
  • 5. Douglas diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 15 Apr. 1714; HMC Portland, v. 460; Vivian, 503; Gent. Mag. 1740, p. 413.