TRELAWNY, William (?1722-72), of Trelawne, nr. Looe, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



16 May 1757 - June 1767

Family and Education

b. ?1722, 1st s. of Capt. William Trelawny, R.N., by Mary, da. of William Bisset of Southampton.  educ. Westminster May 1733, aged 10.  m. in or bef. 1755, his cos. Laetitia, da. and h. of Sir Harry Trelawny, 5th Bt., 1s. 1da. His da. m. 1785 Paul Treby Ourry.  suc. uncle as 6th Bt. 7 Apr. 1762.

Offices Held

Lt. R.N. 1743; capt. 1756; gov. Jamaica June 1767- d.


William Trelawny, by order of his uncle Harry, applied to Henry Pelham ‘as a person who from the natural interest of my family and the goodwill that is borne to it at the two boroughs of East and West Looe, had very good pretensions to offer myelf as candidate for a seat in one of those boroughs at the ensuing election [1754]’. Pelham admitted his claim, but the candidates had already been settled with Governor Trelawny—if he now acceded to that arrangement, Pelham would support him on the next vacancy; and ‘in the mean time he said he would take care that I lost no ground in my profession by making him that concession’.1 Trelawny agreed, and received the command of the Peregrine sloop with the promise of a post ship.

Newcastle, on succeeding Pelham, was acquainted by Francis Gashry with the Trelawnys’ ‘generous concurrence in the plan agreed’, and Pelham’s engagements to them;2 and promised at the first opportunity to recommend making Trelawny a captain. In May 1755 Trelawny, having received fresh assurances through Gashry, wrote to warn Newcastle against a possible attempt by his cousin James Buller to capture the Looes: to guard against this at a critical time, he asked to be employed by the Admiralty ‘in a station that may not be too much out of reach when I am wanted to attend at either of the Looes’.3

As promised, Trelawny was returned on the first vacancy at the Looes; and was re-elected unopposed in 1761, ‘solely by Mr. Buller’s interest’.4 He adhered to the new court, and when a week before Newcastle’s leaving office a vacancy arose at East Looe, and John Buller accepted Newcastle’s candidate, Trelawny offered to support one of Bute’s—on 22 May 1762 he wrote to Sir Henry Erskine enclosing a list of voters:5

Many he thinks are to be influenced by Government ... and whatever may be said by any friends of Mr. Buller’s, Sir William does not at all doubt but that ... they are in general well inclined to the Trelawny family or perhaps more so if properly supported by Government than to any other, and Sir William is and always will be ready to obey any commands Sir Harry, may have for him.

And Grenville wrote to Bute, 21 May, that while ‘it may be difficult to give the assistance desired early enough, there seems to be no particular reason ... to dissuade Sir William Trelawny from trying his interest, if he thinks he can make anything of it’.6 In the end no opposition was attempted. But during the next few years Trelawny supported the opposition of the Puddicombes to the Bullers at West Looe, and in 1765 James Townsend against their candidate, John Sargent.

Trelawny appears in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries; and was marked by Jenkinson in the autumn of 1763 as ‘pro’, but voted against the Government over general warrants, 15 and 18 Feb. 1764. On 10 May he was classed by Newcastle as ‘doubtful’; by Rockingham as ‘pro’ in the summer of 1765, and as ‘doubtful’ in November 1766; and by Newcastle as ‘Administration’ on 2 Mar. 1767—there seems to have been some connexion between him and Shelburne.7 He did not vote on the land tax; and his seat was vacated by his being appointed governor of Jamaica. No speech by him in the House is known.

When he died in Jamaica, 11 Dec. 1772, the House of Assembly ‘immediately voted a magnificent funeral’ at the public expense to testify their grateful respect of his merit.8

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Trelawny to Newcastle, 26 May 1755, Add. 32855, ff. 227-8.
  • 2. Add. 32734, ff. 314-15.
  • 3. Add. 32857, ff. 292-3.
  • 4. Saml. Martin to Grenville, 21 May 1762, Grenville Pprs. i. 445-6.
  • 5. Bute mss.
  • 6. Grenville mss (JM).
  • 7. Dunning to Shelburne, 19 Jan. 1765, Lansdowne mss.
  • 8. Gent. Mag. 1773, pp. 224-6.