Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Trussell, John

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TRUSSELL, JOHN (fl. 1620–1642), historical writer, was the elder of the two sons of Henry Trussell by his wife, Sarah, whose maiden name is given variously as Ketlewood and Restwoold (Berry, Hants Genealogies, p. 143; Visit. Warwickshire, Harl. Soc. p. 93). The family came originally from Northamptonshire (Bridges, ii. 51), but the branch to which Trussell belonged had long been settled at Billesley, Warwickshire (Dugdale, ii. 714–18; Harl. Soc. Publ. iv. 28, xii. 93, xiii. 359, xvii. 298, xviii. 225).

Henry Trussell's elder brother, Thomas (fl. 1610–1625) of Billesley, styled in the ‘Visitation’ the ‘souldier,’ was the last member of the family to own Billesley, which he sold before 1619 to Sir Robert Lee. In 1610 he wrote to Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury, requesting his acceptance of ‘a small labour composed by him and dedicated to his lordship, the object of which is to suggest means for supplying the king's private state’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1603–10, p. 612); he was afterwards employed as government messenger (ib. 1611–26 passim). He married Margaret, daughter of Edward Boughton of Causton. He was author of ‘The Souldier pleading his own Cause … with an Epitome of the qualities required in the … officers of a private company. The second impression much enlarged with Military Instructions,’ London, 1619, 8vo (Brit. Mus.); it contains some useful information on the military practices of the time.

John Trussell, is said by Wood to have been a scholar of Winchester (but cf. Kirby). He settled down to business in that city, and took an active part in municipal politics. He became steward to the bishop of Winchester and alderman of the city, and served as mayor in 1624 and again in 1633 (Hist. and Antiq. of Winchester, 1773, ii. 289, 290; cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1633–4, p. 377). But most of his time was devoted to historical research; in 1636 he published ‘A Continuation of the Collection of the History of England, beginning where S[amuel] Daniel [q. v.] … ended, with the raigne of Edward the Third, and ending where … Viscount Saint Albones began … being a compleat history of the beginning and end of the dissension betwixt the two houses of Yorke and Lancaster. With the Matches and issue of all the Kings, Princes, Dukes, Marquisses, Earles, and Viscounts of this Nation, deceased during those times,’ London, fol. Trussell's book is a very creditable production, and is much superior to many works subsequently written on the period. In fulness and accuracy of information it is, at any rate, comparable with Bacon's ‘Henry VII.’ He does not quote his authorities, but professes to have ‘examined, though not all, the most and best that have written of those times.’ Differing from the chroniclers, he eschews ‘matters of ceremony’ like coronations, pageants, and ‘superfluous exuberances’ such as ‘great inundations, strange monsters,’ and the like.

Trussell next devoted himself to the history of Winchester, and in 1642 he completed his ‘Touchstone of Tradition, whereby the certaintie of occurrences in this kingdom and elsewhere, before characters or letters were invented, is found out. …’ The work consists of five books, the second of which is dedicated to Walter Curll [q. v.], bishop of Winchester, and the fourth to Thomas Wriothesley, fourth earl of Southampton [q. v.]; it contains lists of the marquises, earls, bishops, mayors, and freemen of Winchester, besides accounts of local occurrences and antiquities. The manuscript, which passed through various hands, including those of Sir Thomas Phillipps (Wood, Athenæ, ii. 261, 270, iv. 222; Gough, Topography, i. 378, 387; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vii. 616, 2nd ser. xi. 204), is now among Lord Mostyn's manuscripts (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. App. p. 355). Bishop Nicolson guessed that it was too voluminous, and Kennett that it was too incomplete, to be published (Gough, Topography, i. 387); but it was largely used in ‘A Description of Winchester,’ 1750, 12mo, and in the ‘History and Antiquities of Winchester,’ 2 vols. 1773, 12mo (see vol. i. pp. vii, 219, ii. 154). Trussell also contributed, with Michael Drayton and others, to the ‘Annalia Dubrensia,’ 1636, 4to, edited by Captain Robert Dover [q. v.] He married Elizabeth Collis, widow of Gratian Patten, and left issue three daughters (Berry, Hants Genealogies, p. 143).

[Authorities cited; Works in Brit. Mus. Library.]

A. F. P.