Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Trelawny, Edward (1699-1754)

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TRELAWNY, EDWARD (1699–1754), governor of Jamaica, fourth son of Sir Jonathan Trelawny [q. v.], bishop of Winchester, by his wife Rebecca, daughter of Thomas Hele of Bascombe, Devonshire, was born at Trelawne, Cornwall, in 1699, and educated at Westminster school from 1713 to 1717, when he proceeded to Christ Church, Oxford, matriculating on 27 June.

On 20 Jan. 1723–4 he was returned to parliament as member for West Looe, Cornwall. He became on 21 Oct. 1725 a commissioner for victualling the forces, and on 2 Jan. 1732–3 a commissioner of customs, continuing to sit for West Looe through two parliaments till 26 Jan. 1732–3. From 4 May 1734 to February 1735 he represented both East and West Looe. He was offered the government of Jamaica in August 1736, and assumed office in the colony on 30 April 1738.

Trelawny's sixteen years' administration of Jamaica was, with one exception (that of Lieutenant-general Edward Morrison from 1809 to 1828), the longest on record, and one of the most successful. The question of the maroon war demanded his attention on his arrival, and by 1 March 1739 peace had been established on a judicious basis which proved to be permanent: the maroons were located in their separate reserves, the chief capital of which is still known as Trelawnytown. This internal pacification was soon followed by war with Spain, and Trelawny raised a regiment in Jamaica to support Wentworth and Vernon in their campaign in the West Indies. In March 1741–2 he left Jamaica to join the unfortunate expedition against Cartagena, and returned about 15 April. During the expedition he had a bitter quarrel with Rear-admiral Ogle, which resulted in Ogle being tried for assault upon Trelawny before the chief justice of Jamaica [see Ogle, Sir Chaloner]. Trelawny was appointed on 25 Dec. 1743 to be a colonel, and captain of a company, of the 49th regiment of foot, which was augmented by the new companies in Jamaica. In 1745 he was called on to place the colony for a time under martial law owing to the attitude of the French. In 1746 he had to deal with a serious insurrection of slaves. In February 1747–8, with 350 men of his regiment, he sailed with Admiral Sir Charles Knowles [q. v.] and joined in the capture of Port Louis in San Domingo.

Trelawny seems to have acted at all times with rare tact, and the farewell address of the legislature stated that he left behind him ‘a monument of gratitude in the heart of every dispassionate man in this community.’ Under his administration there was at length a cessation of the constant squabbles which hitherto seemed inevitable between the governor and the assembly.

Owing to failure of health, Trelawny applied to be relieved of the government in 1751. In September 1752 Admiral Knowles, his successor, arrived, and on 25 Nov. Trelawny left the colony. He was wrecked on the Isle of Wight in the Assurance, and arrived in London on 28 April 1753. He died at Hungerford Park on 16 Jan. 1754.

He married, first, on 8 Nov. 1737, Amoretta, daughter of John Crawford, by whom he had one son who died in infancy, and was buried with his mother in St. Catherine's Church, Jamaica, in November 1741; secondly, on 2 Feb. 1752, Catherine Penny, probably the sister of Robert Penny, sometime attorney-general of Jamaica.

Sir William Trelawny (d. 1772), sixth baronet, a cousin of Edward, was grandson of Brigadier-general Henry Trelawny [see Trelawny, Charles], who served at Tangier and in Flanders, and died M.P. for Plymouth in 1702. Sir William sat for West Looe, Cornwall (1756–67); entered the navy, commanded the Lyon at the attack on Guadeloupe in 1759, was governor of Jamaica from 1768 to 1772, and died at Spanish Town on 12 Dec. 1772, receiving a public funeral (Boase and Courtney, p. 775). It is after him that the parish of Trelawny is named.

[Material supplied by Frank Cundall, esq., librarian of the Jamaica Institute; Wotton's English Baronetage, 1741, ii. 98, and edit. of 1761, i. 310; Betham's Baronetage of England, 1801, i. 330; Welch's List of the Queen's Scholars of Westminster, 1852, pp. 259, 269; Official Returns of Members of Parliament; Gent. Mag. 1754, p. 47; Bridge's Annals of Jamaica, pp. 30–1, 52, 68–2; Gardner's History of Jamaica, pp. 121–7.]

C. A. H.