Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Trevor, John (1626-1672)

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TREVOR, Sir JOHN (1626–1672), secretary of state, born in 1626, was the second but eldest surviving son of Sir John Trevor of Trevalyn, Denbighshire, by Margaret, daughter of Hugh Trevannion of Trevannion, Cornwall.

The father, Sir John Trevor (d. 1673), was son and heir of John Trevor of Trevalyn, Denbighshire (d. 1630) (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1663–4, p. 272), by Mary, daughter of Sir George Bruges of London. Sir Sackvill Trevor [q. v.] and Sir Thomas Trevor (1586–1656) were his younger brothers. He was knighted at Windsor on 7 June 1619, and was returned member for Denbighshire in 1620. He was elected for the county of Flint in the next parliament and the first parliament of Charles I, for Great Bedwin in that of 1628, and for Grampound in the Long parliament. Both he and his son were moderate parliamentarians, and took a leading part in the government under the Commonwealth. On 2 June 1648 the elder Trevor was requested to attend before the Derby House committee ‘concerning the affairs of North Wales’ (ib. 1648–9, p. 91), and henceforth became a regular member of it. He sat in Oliver Cromwell's first and second parliaments, and on 3 Feb. 1651 he was named a member of the council of state (ib. 1651, p. 44). On 12 Aug. he was added to the committee of safety (ib. p. 322), and on 1 March he was placed on the admiralty committee (ib. p. 66). He sat on various other committees, and on 23 Nov. 1652 was chosen for the new council of state and reappointed to the admiralty committee on 2 Dec. (ib. p. 505, 1652–3 p. 2). In the same month he was a commissioner to treat with Portugal, Spain, and the Tuscan ambassador, and was added to the committee for the mint (ib. pp. 9, &c.). In 1655 he was one of the treasurers appointed to receive sums for the relief of the Piedmont protestants (ib. 1655, pp. 182, 197). He was a member of Richard Cromwell's parliament and of the restored Rump (Masson, Milton, v. 454). He favoured the Restoration, but was deprived by that event of Richmond and Nonsuch parks. He died in 1673, the year after his son John.

Sir John Trevor the younger, who is described as of Channel Row, Middlesex, and Plas-têg, Flintshire, entered parliament in December 1646 as member for the county of Flint. On 12 July 1654 he was again returned for the same constituency, and on 1 Nov. 1655 was placed on the trade committee nominated by the council of state (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655–6, p. 1). He was made a commissioner for the survey of forests on 26 June 1657 (ib. 1657–8, p. 16), and gradually attained so influential a public position that on 23 Feb. 1659–60 he was admitted to Monck's council of state (Masson, Milton, v. 544; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. ii. 462). He was returned to the Convention parliament for Arundel, and in the Long parliament of the Restoration sat for Great Bedwin. In April 1663 he appears to have obtained some public employment in France (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1663–4, p. 126). Four years later Pepys bemoaned with his friend Carteret the ruinous condition of things, when the king was going ‘to put out of the council so many able men, such as Anglesey, Ashley, Holles, and Secretary Morrice, to bring in Mr. Trevor and the archbishop of Canterbury and my Lord Bridgewater’ (Diary, 30 Dec. 1667). This, however, was premature, for it was not till after prolonged negotiations that Trevor bought Morrice's secretaryship of state for 10,000l. or 8,000l. Meanwhile, in February 1668, he was despatched on a mission to Paris, where he remained till May. Trevor and the Dutch envoy, who were in constant communication with Sir W. Temple at the Hague, presented to Louis XIV on 4 March a joint memorial demanding a prolongation of the truce between France and Spain till the end of May, and offering their mediation to force Spain to agree to terms provided Louis did not attack Holland. Le Tellier, Colbert, and Lionne were appointed to treat with them, and on 15 April a treaty was signed between the two countries and France. On 2 May ratifications were exchanged and Trevor went to St. Germain (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1667–8, p. 354). On his return to England he was knighted, and on 22 Sept. appointed one of the secretaries of state. A patent appointing him at a salary of 100l. a year for life was enrolled on 4 Dec.; but on 6 July 1669 he had consented that it should be during pleasure (ib. 1668–9, pp. 89, 398). In reply to Temple's congratulations on his appointment, Trevor wrote (8 Oct. 1668) professing great friendship for him, and also claiming ‘some affinity’ to his principles. Like most of the other ministers, except Arlington and Clifford, he was kept completely in the dark as to the king's French policy (Masson, vi. 574). Kennet prints some ‘Queries’ of his disapproving the French intrigues of the English envoys who were sent to negotiate with the Dutch in 1672. They conclude with an expression of his opinion: ‘But the French king shall find no more security herein than the Dutch and Spaniards did in the king's joining in the Tripple League’ (Kennet, Hist. of Engl. iii. 289).

According to his colleague Sir Joseph Williamson [q. v.], Trevor had nonconformist leanings (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1671, p. 569). Yet he had to send instructions to inquire into, and if necessary suppress, sectarian meetings in the eastern counties and Northamptonshire (ib. 1668–9, p. 294). On 18 Jan. 1671 he was named a member of the committee to report upon the petition of Irish owners dispossessed by Cromwell and not restored; and on 2 July a commissioner to report upon the settlement of Ireland (ib. 1671, pp. 30, 358). In June he himself claimed a title to lands at Moira sold and mortgaged by his relative, the late Marcus Trevor, first viscount Dungannon [q. v.] (ib. pp. 313, 558). On 5 April he was associated with Ashley, Clifford, and Arlington in negotiations with the States-General ‘concerning a defensive unlimited alliance’ (ib. p. 172).

Trevor died of fever on 28 May 1672, and was buried at St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield.

He married Ruth, fourth daughter of John Hampden, by whom he had five sons and a daughter. The second son, Thomas, first baron Trevor of Bromham [q. v.], is separately noticed. The eldest, John Morley-Trevor, M.P. for Sussex and Lewes in several parliaments, died in April 1719. He married a sister of George Montagu, second earl of Halifax, and had a son, John Morley Trevor (d. 1743), who was M.P. for Lewes and a lord of the admiralty. The third, Richard (d. 1676), was a physician (cf. Wood, Fasti, ii. 251; Munk, Coll. of Phys. i. 308).

[In addition to authorities cited, see Le Neve's Pedigrees of Knights (Harl. Soc.); Noble's Memoirs of the House of Cromwell, ii. 111–20; Ret. Memb. Parl.; Sir W. Temple's Corresp. ed. Swift, passim; Mignet's Négociations relatives à la Success. d'Espagne, ii. 364, 608–11, 626–30; Foster's Alumni Oxon. The instructions for the embassy of 1668, signed by Charles II and countersigned by Arlington, as well as letters of Trevor to Lord Coventry (1671–2), are at Longleat (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 231).]

G. Le G. N.