TREVELYAN, Sir John, 4th Bt. (1735-1828), of Nettlecombe, Som. and Wallington, Northumb.
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Family and Education
b. 6 Feb. 1735, 1st s. of Sir George Trevelyan, 3rd Bt. by Julia, da. of Sir Walter Calverley, 1st Bt., sis. and h. of Sir Walter (Calverley) Blackett, 2nd Bt. educ. New Coll. Oxf. 1753. m. 20 Apr. 1757, Louisa Marianne, da. and coh. of Peter Simond, a Huguenot London merchant, 4s. 2da. suc. fa. 11 Sept. 1768, and to estates of his uncle, Sir Walter Blackett, 14 Feb. 1777.
Sheriff, Som. 1777-8.
In 1768 Trevelyan intended to stand for Somerset, which his grandfather had represented temp. William and Mary. His opposition was directed against Sir Charles Kemys Tynte; he had the support of Lord Egmont, the town of Bridgwater, and the Dissenters; but his attempts to detach Richard Hippisley Coxe from Tynte failed; on preliminary calculations his opponents had a majority of three to one; and on 18 Mar. Trevelyan declined the poll.1
On Sir Walter Blackett’s death Trevelyan, heir to his Northumbrian estates, contested his seat at Newcastle, and after a severe struggle defeated Andrew Robinson Bowes. During Trevelyan’s first two years in Parliament the four extant division lists give only the names of Members who voted with the Opposition, and he appears in none. Over the contractors bill, 12 Feb. 1779, he was listed by Robinson as ‘contra, present, friend’, which suggests that so far he had as a rule been a Government supporter, and explains his being described as such by the Public Ledger in 1779. But on Keppel, 3 Mar. 1779, he voted with the Opposition. He was absent from the division on a motion for an account of pensions, 21 Feb. 1780—‘I have never been so long confined with the gout in my life’, he wrote on the 19th from Nettlecombe to his friend and Northumbrian agent, John Erasmus Blackett.2 And further:
I wish the county meetings may not end in sedition; I approve of economy, but do not approve of the means of obtaining it: I was lucky enough to be ill when we had one called, and I sent no excuse for non attendance; but had I appeared, think I should have expressed myself as above.
In the further four division lists, March-April 1780, he appears on the Opposition side, and in Robinson’s electoral survey of July 1780 was classed as an opponent.
From Trevelyan’s letters to J. E. Blackett it appears that long before the presumed date of the general election he decided not to stand again for Newcastle.3 ‘I own I have enough of the House of Commons’, he wrote on 17 Apr.; and on 24 July:
I think Newcastle the likeliest place in England to give disturbance ... you may put my advertisement [declining re-election] into the papers when you please, as I am quite easy about it, and perfectly happy that I have nothing to do there.
The advertisement appeared in August; and next, on 23 Sept., Trevelyan informed Blackett that on the 20th he was ‘returned as a proper and discreet Knight’ to represent Somerset in Parliament, at a total expense of £25 8s. 6d. ‘This I think is full as well as making a fourth at Newcastle; I had not half the fun the other day as I had in 1777.’
In the new Parliament he voted with Opposition in each of the five recorded divisions, February-March 1782; was absent from the division on Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and was consequently listed by Robinson in March as ‘doubtful’. He voted for Pitt’s parliamentary reform proposals, 7 May 1783; and was absent from the divisions on Fox’s East India bill in November-December 1783. John Sinclair, about the end of December, included him in a list of Members about whom least was known,4 and wrote against his name: ‘He did not vote [on Fox’s bill]. Mr. Sinclair ... can talk to him upon the subject.’ In January 1784 he belonged to the St. Alban’s Tavern group which aimed at a junction between Fox and Pitt; but when this failed, both Robinson, in January, and Stockdale, 19 Mar., listed him as a Pittite—which he certainly was: on 9 Mar. he wrote to Blackett about Fox: ‘Should this desperado carry this point, the King would become a cipher, and the constitution annihilated.’
When on 6 Apr. 1784 Trevelyan was nominated for re-election at the county meeting at Bridgwater, he was thanked nem. con. for his ‘upright and disinterested conduct in Parliament’; and on the 12th was returned with great enthusiasm and at trifling expense. In his letters to Blackett he is seen as a steady supporter of Pitt. Thus on 25 May 1784: ‘You will see by the papers a pretty strong division in the House of Commons yesterday in favour of the constitution.’ On 1 Mar. 1787 he wrote to Blackett [letter badly torn]:
I hear that the Presbyterians [intend] to propose in the House of Co[mmons the] repeal of the Test Act, with [the object] of distressing Ministry: the [Opposition] will adopt it to a man, as [a party] question; and many Members are returned by a majority of such interest, who will not dare to oppose it, so that I fear it may be carried in the House against Ministry, should they oppose it; and should they acquiesce for fear of being beat, it would turn out an hollow thing; we have a great many in Somersetshire who espouse me to a man, as does the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and all the clergy of the established Church in the county, so that I do not approve of the question as an individual.
In the division lists during the Regency crisis, 1788-9, Trevelyan is marked as ‘absent, ill’; which is confirmed by Matthew White Ridley’s letter to Blackett of 20 Jan. 1789: ‘Sir John Trevelyan has not appeared yet in Parliament. It is said he is laid up with the gout.’ Trevelyan seems not to have spoken in the House before 1790.
He died 18 Apr. 1828.