Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tremayne, Edmund

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TREMAYNE, EDMUND (d. 1582), clerk of the privy council, was second son of Thomas Tremayne of Collacombe, Lamerton, Devonshire, where the Devonshire branch of this old Cornish family had been established since 1366. His mother was Philippa, eldest daughter of Roger Grenville of Stow. Of this marriage were born sixteen children, of whom four—Edmund, Richard (see below), and the twins Nicholas and Andrew—acquired some reputation. The twins Andrew and Nicholas were strikingly alike, physically and mentally. The elder, Andrew, fled with Sir Peter Carew [q. v.] on 25 Jan. 1553–4, and both were imprisoned on suspicion of piracy on 24 Feb. 1554–5, but escaped to France, where they were pensioned by the French king. They were also implicated in Sir Anthony Kingston's plot in 1556. After Elizabeth's accession they entered her service. Andrew led a brilliant cavalry charge against the French at Leith in April 1560, and was killed at Newhaven (Havre) on 18 July 1562. Nicholas, who seems to have been a special favourite of Elizabeth, was frequently employed in carrying important despatches between France and England, and distinguished himself at the siege of Newhaven, where he was killed on 26 May 1562.

Edmund entered the service of Edward Courtenay, earl of Devonshire [q. v.], in the autumn of 1553, but was committed to the Tower in February or March following, on suspicion of being concerned in Wyatt's rebellion. He was racked during the time Elizabeth was a prisoner in the Tower (Fox), but would not implicate her or Courtenay, his master. On Friday, 18 Jan. 1554–5, he was released with Sir Gawen Carew, the three sons of the late Duke of Northumberland, and others. His fine (40l.) was the lowest enforced. Tremayne seems to have joined Courtenay in Italy. Courtenay wrote from Venice on 2 May 1556: ‘I am sorry for Tremayne's foolish departure, albeit satisfied and content therewith as he shall well perceive, but I trust the cause thereof will prove as you have written.’ This probably means that the earl thought it foolish of Tremayne to leave England and lay himself open to a charge of treason. Courtenay died at Padua on 18 Sept. 1556, and it is possible that Tremayne afterwards entered the service of Francis, earl of Bedford, who was in Venice in 1557. The appointment he received in 1561 of deputy butler for Devonshire must have been through the influence of the Earl of Bedford, then lord-lieutenant of Devonshire. Tremayne spent some time at Elizabeth's court, and Burghley thought so highly of him that in July 1569 he sent him on a special mission to Ireland, ‘to examine into the truth and let him know quietly the real condition of the country.’ Tremayne remained in Ireland until the close of 1569, writing frequently to Cecil on Irish affairs. On 3 May 1571 he was sworn clerk of the privy council at Westminster (Acts of the Privy Council). He wrote in June a paper entitled ‘Causes why Ireland is not Reformed,’ which was endorsed by Burghley with the words ‘a good advice.’ Tremayne was returned M.P. for Plymouth (1572) with John Hawkyns. In June he drew up, with Lord Burghley, an important document, ‘Matters wherewith the Queen of Scots may be Charged,’ from which Burghley's signature was afterwards erased.

Tremayne succeeded to the family estates on his elder brother's death on 13 March 1571–2. He still maintained a special interest in Irish affairs, and revisited the country late in 1573 (cf. ‘Instructions given to Mr. E. Tremayne upon his being sent to the Lord Deputy of Ireland by the Lord Treasurer,’ 1573, in Lambeth MSS.) The city of Exeter granted Tremayne in 1574 a reversion to Sir Gawen Carew's pension of 40l. ‘in reward of their good services done this city’ (Isaacke). Carew outlived Tremayne, so the latter never benefited by the grant. The family mansion of Collacombe was altered and enlarged by him; the date 1574 still appears with the family arms and those of his royal mistress in the great hall. Tremayne was in 1578 senior of the four clerks to the privy council, but he chiefly resided in Devonshire, where he acted as commissioner for the restraint of grain and held other local offices. On 24 Oct. 1580 the queen wrote from Richmond commanding him to assist Francis Drake in sending to London bullion brought into the realm by Drake, but to leave ten thousand pounds' worth in Drake's hands. This last instruction ‘to be kept most secret to himself alone.’

Tremayne made his will, 17 Sept. 1582. The Earl of Bedford wrote to announce his death to Burghley a few days later. Burghley, in reply, described Tremayne as ‘a man worthy to be beloved for his honesty and virtues.’ In September 1576 he married Eulalia, daughter of Sir John St. Leger of Annery. A son Francis, named after Tremayne's ‘good lord’ Bedford, lived for only six weeks after his father, and at his death the estates passed to Degory, Edmund's third brother. Degory erected in 1588 a fine monument to his five brothers, Roger, Edmund, Richard, and the twins, with their effigies well modelled and lifelike. Edmund appears as an elderly man with a refined and thoughtful face.

Tremayne's ‘Discourses on Irish Affairs’ remain unprinted among the Cottonian manuscripts at the British Museum.

Richard Tremayne (d. 1584), younger brother of Edmund, was fourth son (the younger of twins) of Thomas Tremayne. He was sent to Exeter College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1547–8. He was elected a fellow on 28 March 1553, and proceeded M.A. on 17 July. He vacated his fellowship by flying to Germany in the first year of Mary's reign (Ex. Coll. Reg. ed. Boase). On his epitaph he is stated to have ‘fled for the gospel's sake.’ He was at Louvain on 16 Nov. 1555, acting as tutor to Sir Nicholas Arnold's son. He was reckoned among the conspirators against the queen, and on 4 April 1556 was declared a traitor with his brother Nicholas and others who were concerned in Sir Anthony Kingston's plot. Tremayne returned to England very soon after Elizabeth's accession, and was favourably regarded at court. He was made archdeacon of Chichester by Elizabeth on 7 April 1559. Cecil had some correspondence (17 July) with Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, ambassador in France, regarding Tremayne's employment in the diplomatic service, ‘he having the high Dutch tongue very well.’ But he stayed at home, and was ordained deacon by Grindal, bishop of London, on 25 Jan. 1559–60 (Strype). He had been re-elected fellow of his college on 17 Oct. 1559, but vacated his fellowship by absence the ensuing May. He was also presented by the college to the vicarage of Menheniot (Carew), and was installed treasurer of Exeter Cathedral on 10 Feb. 1559–60. For reasons not stated in the ‘Bishops' Register’ he was deprived of his treasurership, but reinstalled on 27 Oct. 1561, and held the office until his death. He became rector of Doddiscombleigh on 15 Jan. 1560–61, holding the living until 1564, when he resigned.

Tremayne was something of a puritan. He sat in convocation as proctor for the clergy of Exeter, and signed the canons establishing the Thirty-nine Articles. On 13 Feb. he spoke, and gave his two votes in favour of sweeping alterations in the Book of Common Prayer. He was elected fellow of Broadgates Hall (afterwards Pembroke College), Oxford, on 20 Feb. 1564–5. On 15 Feb. 1565–6 he took the degree of B.D., proceeding D.D. on 26 April. He became rector of Combe-Martin in 1569, and the Earl of Bedford vainly recommended him on 23 July 1570 to Cecil for the vacant bishopric of Exeter.

Tremayne was buried on 30 Nov. 1584 at Lamerton, and his will was proved on 15 Dec. at Exeter. On 19 Sept. 1569 he married Joanna, daughter of Sir Piers Courtenay of Ugbrooke. His only child, Mary, married Thomas Henslowe. He gave to Exeter College a copy of the polyglot bible in eight volumes, printed by Christopher Plantin at Antwerp, 1569–72, at the command of Philip II.

[State Papers, Dom., For., and Irish; Carew manuscripts; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, ed. Pocock; Strype's Life of Archbishop Grindal, Annals of the Reformation, and Ecclesiastical Memorials; Foxe's Acts and Monuments, 1849; Reg. Univ. Oxon.; Boase's Reg. Coll. Exon.; Froude's Hist.; Prince's Worthies of Devon; Carew's Survey of Cornwall; Risdon's Devon; Bibl. Cornub. ed. Boase and Courtney; Life of Sir Peter Carew, by Sir John Maclean; Antiquities of the City of Exeter, 1731, ed. R. Isaacke; Visitations of Devon, edited by Vivian; Burghley Papers, Hist. MSS. Comm. Report.]

E. L. R.