TREVOR, John (1624-72), of Plas Teg, Flints. and Channel Row, Westminster.

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



7 Dec. 1646
7 May 1660
18 Feb. 1663 - 28 May 1672

Family and Education

bap. 23 Aug. 1624, 1st s. of Sir John Trevor (d.1673) of Plas Teg and Trevalun, Denb. by Anne, da. of Edmund Hampden of Wendover, Bucks. educ. Leyden 1643. m. his cos. Ruth, da. of John Hampden of Great Hampden, Bucks., 5s. 3da. Kntd. by 6 Feb. 1668.2

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Denb. and Fints. 1647-8, Flints. 1657, Denb. and Flints. Aug. 1660-1, 1663-9, Mdx. and Westminster 1663-9, duchy of Lancaster 1663-4, North Wales assoc. 1648, militia, Denb. and Flints. 1648, Westminster and North Wales Mar. 1660.

Commr. for trade 1655-7, 1668-d., forest appeals 1657; keeper of briefs, common bench 1659-May 1660; Councillor of State 25 Feb.-1 May 1660; envoy extraordinary to France 1663, 1668; PC 29 Sept. 1668-d.; sec. of state (north) 1668-d.; commr. for inquiry into land settlement [I] 1671, prize appeals 1672.3


The Trevors of Trevalun were a cadet branch of the Brynkinallt family, founded about 1500. Trevor’s four immediate ancestors married Englishwomen, as he was to do himself, and the first of the family to enter Parliament did so as Member for Bletchingley in 1597 on the Howard interest, with which they continued to be associated. Trevor’s father was a lavishly rewarded courtier before the Civil War, but became a Presbyterian and, after a period of abstention, an active Rumper. Making the best of both worlds, he retained his farm of the coal tax while adding to his Flintshire estates at the expense of the royalist Earl of Derby; though he lived till 1673, he took no part in public life after the Restoration. Trevor, a degree less pliant than his father, did not sit after Pride’s Purge, but became a warm partisan of the Protectorate, voting in favour of offering the crown to Cromwell, to whom he was related through his wife. When the secluded Members returned, he was appointed to the Council of State, and prepared to contest Flintshire again at the general election. But even before the sheriff’s death suspended proceedings, it was clear from the opposition of many old friends that neither Trevor nor his father could be elected, and he took refuge in Arundel, as his father had done in 1656. He was returned, no doubt on the Howard interest, at one of the earliest by-elections for the Convention, and no member of the Trevalun family sat for a Welsh constituency again. Trevor was a moderately active Member, with 21 committees and 17 recorded speeches. Two days after his election he was named to the joint committee preparing instructions for the messengers to the King, and on 10 May he was one of eight Members ordered to prepare directions for the army, navy and revenue commissioners. He was appointed to the joint committee to organize the reception of the King and took part in the examination of Secretary Thurloe. He was prominent on the side of leniency in the indemnity debates. On 30 June he spoke against requiring the expensive formality of suing out a pardon under the great seal, such as his father had to obtain, and he urged that the regicides should be given another chance to surrender themselves. Catholic influence was strong in his constituency, and he spoke against enforcing the oaths on Papists under the bill. On 30 July he was appointed to the committee for the estate bill of Sir George Booth, and spoke in favour of giving him £10,000 as a reward. He was named to the committee on the bill for settling ecclesiastical livings, having asked the House

to mix prudence with justice, and restore those that are truly deserving, but yet to consider those that are in who are deserving; and moved against the patrons pro hac vice.

He spoke against the bill for an inquiry into embezzlement during the Interregnum, which might have affected his father, and acted as teller against the second reading. He told the House that he could not see how they could agree with the Lords to except Lambert, Vane, Hesilrige and Axtell from the indemnity bill, and was added to the committee to draw up reasons for a conference, from which he reported on 24 Aug. He proposed that

such of the King’s judges as were excepted against might be banished, never to return. If that was not yielded to, then to refer them to another Act for life, but spare them in this.

A week later he helped to manage a conference on the recess, but before Parliament adjourned he took the chair in the committee for draining the fens. On 21 Nov. he spoke in favour of excise, though nothing but the abolition of the court of wards would have moved him to it. He was appointed to the committee for restoring the dukedom of Norfolk to the Howard family, who had now recovered control of Arundel, and defended the bill in the House on 3 Dec., though the present head of the family was a hopeless lunatic, permanently resident abroad, and his heir a Papist. Four days later, he spoke against ‘too great a retrospect’ in the attainder bill, which would punish ‘innocent people, and not those who had offended’. But in the closing weeks of the Convention he was more concerned to improve his relations with the Royalists. He reversed his attitude on giving the corporation of London power to recover their expenses on the return of the King, and moved for a grant of £1,000 to Jane Lane, the heroine of Charles’s escape in 1651.4

Trevor put up a good fight to retain his seat at the general election, finishing only 15 votes behind Francis Aungier. His defeat encouraged Lord Derby to promote a private bill for the recovery of his Flintshire estates, which fell a victim to the royal veto. When Trevor returned to the House in 1663 it was again as Member for a constituency previously represented by his father, though as long ago as 1628. This family connexion with Great Bedwyn may have been less important than the friendship which Trevor had established at the outset of his parliamentary career with Sir Ralph Verney, who had contested the borough in 1660, and could command the Danvers interest through his friend Lady Rochester. Before taking his seat he was sent to France on a diplomatic mission arising out of the brawl between the French and Spanish ambassadors in the streets of London. He was described to the French secretary of state as brought up in the school of Cromwell, and had probably already attached himself to the rising star of Sir Henry Bennet, whose hostility to the Church he shared, though from a different angle. Trevor was moderately active during his eight sessions in the Cavalier Parliament, being appointed to 55 committees and making 30 recorded speeches. On 13 May 1664 he was added to the managers of the conference on the conventicles bill, and he felt sufficiently confident of his good standing at Court to re-open the question of Lord Derby’s estates, which had now been recovered by due process of law. Listed as a court dependant he took a leading part in the supply debate of 24 Nov. in supporting the grant of the whole £2,500,000 required by the Court, though with his Leyden education and his youngest brother a merchant at Dordrecht he can hardly have supported the Dutch war with much conviction. He was appointed to the committees for the preservation of prize goods in 1665 and for the impeachment of Lord Mordaunt in 1666.5

Trevor came into new prominence at the fall of Clarendon. He helped to draw up the address at the opening of Parliament on 10 Oct. 1667, and wished to thank the King for dismissing the lord chancellor. He was appointed to the committee for taking public accounts and considering restraints on juries. Impatient of legal niceties in prosecuting the impeachment of the fallen minister, he was appointed to the committee to draw up the heads of the charges, and acted as one of five managers of a conference on his letter. On 5 Dec. he advised the House to ‘consider whether the matter between you and the Lords is not well as it is. ... The world expects now what you will do, and that must be by concurring with the Lords’. He took part in another conference on the same subject, spoke in favour of inflicting the penalties of banishment and disablement from public life, acted as teller for the second reading of the bill to that effect, was appointed to the committee, and again acted as teller for the amendments on the third reading.6

During the next parliamentary session Trevor was again absent on a diplomatic mission to France, this time to conclude a peace. Known to be, like Sir William Temple, a partisan of the Triple Alliance, and described as of great reputation both in Parliament and at Court, he was coldly received. In the following year, he began to shift allegiance from Bennet (now Lord Arlington) to Buckingham, though when Parliament re-assembled he was included only in the list of officials, in which capacity he carried ten messages from the King to the Commons. Making no secret of his nonconformist sympathies, Trevor spoke against the bill for the continuance of the Conventicles Act on 10 Nov. 1669:

Thinks the business well already in the King’s hands, there being laws against it already. Moves to have it recommended to the King, who is engaged in his promise at Breda.

Nevertheless he was appointed to the committee. An unfriendly pen about this time described Trevor as ‘once the great instrument of Cromwell, [who] has got by rebellion £1,500 out of the Lord Derby’s estate’, while to the Duke of York he was simply one ‘of the republican or Cromwellian stamp’. On 28 Mar. 1670 he spoke in favour of the royal supremacy in ecclesiastical affairs:

The King has power in greater matters than this, as in felony, etc. Would not have you disarm him in this thing, less in the comparison, but very great in the consequence.

He was also in favour of the Roos divorce bill, and was named to the committee for union with Scotland. With regard to the enforcement of the Conventicles Act, he wrote to Arlington: ‘I consider the matter appears very melancholy on both parts, and am more confirmed in my opinion that it was very unhappily and unnecessarily brought in’. Although he had ceased to bear any effective responsibility for foreign policy, he was a regular speaker for supply in 1670-1, and resisted the proposal to give the Coventry bill priority. ‘This deferring will be thought a jealousy, where he hopes there is none.’ But he was not against the bill in principal: ‘As Parliament men are now liable to greater hardships than formerly, so would have distinction. When prorogation comes, we are as other men, and lie under hardships for what we say here.’ He again appealed for moderation in the debate on conventicles on 5 Apr. 1671. In the following month he secured the election of Buckingham as chancellor of Cambridge University. No doubt he welcomed the Declaration of Indulgence, but he had little opportunity to carry it into effect, dying on 28 May 1672 of an apoplexy ‘caused by drinking cold drink when he was very hot, and wine with ice’. He was buried at St. Bartholomew the Less. His father, who had retired from politics at the Restoration, survived him, and the next member of the family to enter Parliament was his younger son Thomas, subsequently created Baron Trevor of Bromham, who was returned for Plympton in 1692.7

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Did not sit after Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648, readmitted 21 Feb. 1660.
  • 2. Mems. St. Margaret’s Westminster, 116; Lipscomb, Bucks. ii. 297; SP29/80/59; Bulstrode Pprs. 22-24.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1655-6, p. 1; 1671-2, p. 419; G. E. Aylmer, State’s Servants, 98; Bulstrode Pprs. 43.
  • 4. DWB, 980-2; Keeler, Long Parl. 365; D. Underdown, Pride’s Purge, 64, 289; NLW, Rhual mss 98; BL M636/17; Bowman diary, ff. 38v, 39v, 52v, 104v, 108, 115, 145v; CJ, viii. 106, 108, 157, 194; Old Parl. Hist. xxii. 442-3; xxiii. 22, 37, 43, 46, 59.
  • 5. LJ, xi. 477; Verney Mems. i. 387; PRO 31/3, bdle. 110, f. 570; bdle. 118, f. 18; CSP Dom. 1663-4, pp. 126, 616; Add. 32094, f. 26v.
  • 6. Milward, 86, 124; Grey, i. 14, 19; Clarendon Impeachment, 20, 121, 125-6; CJ, ix. 40, 42.
  • 7. PRO 31/3, bdle. 118, ff. 49, 116v; HMC Finch, i. 493; Bulstrode Pprs. 61; HMC Buccleuch, i. 432, 487; Grey, i. 160, 249, 260, 338, 342, 419; Lansd. 805, f. 88; Clarke, Jas. II, i. 434; CSP Dom. 1670, p. 234; 1671, pp. 223, 569; K. H. D. Haley, Shaftesbury, 286; HMC Hastings, ii. 159.