Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Trimnell, Charles
TRIMNELL, CHARLES (1663–1723), successively bishop of Norwich and of Winchester, baptised on 1 May 1663 at Abbots Ripton in Huntingdonshire, was the eldest surviving son of Charles Trimnell, by his wife Mary.
The elder Charles Trimnell (1630–1702), born in 1630, was the fourth son of Edmund Trimnell of Hanger in Bremhill, Wiltshire, a descendant of Sir Nicholas Trimnell, founder of the Worcestershire family of Ockley Hall. He entered Winchester College in 1642, aged 12, and was a scholar of New College, Oxford, in 1647, but was expelled in the following year by the parliamentary commissioners. He proceeded to Queens' College, Cambridge, whence he graduated B.A. in 1651–2 and M.A. in 1655. In 1656 he became rector of Abbots Ripton in Huntingdonshire, where he remained until his death in 1702. He left four sons—Charles; William, dean of Winchester (d. 1729); Hugh, apothecary to the king's household; and David, archdeacon of Leicester (d. 1756).
His son Charles entered Winchester College in 1674, and proceeded to New College, Oxford, matriculating thence on 26 July 1681, graduating B.A. in 1685 and M.A. in 1688, being incorporated at Cambridge in 1695, and proceeding B.D. and D.D. at Oxford on 4 July 1699. In 1688 he was appointed preacher at the Rolls chapel by Sir John Trevor (1637–1717) [q. v.], master of the rolls. In August 1689 he attended the Earl of Sunderland and his lady in their journey to Holland, and after their return home continued with them at Althorp as their domestic chaplain. On 4 Dec. 1691 he was installed in a prebend of Norwich, and in 1694 he was presented by Sunderland to the rectory of Bodington in Northamptonshire, which he exchanged two years later for Brington, the parish in which Althorp stands. On 20 July 1698 he was collated archdeacon of Norfolk and resigned Brington in favour of Henry Downes, afterwards bishop of Derry, who had married his sister Elizabeth.
In 1701 and 1702 he made himself prominent in the disputes which agitated the lower house of convocation by penning several pamphlets in favour of the rights of the crown. Among these may be mentioned: 1. ‘A Vindication of the Proceedings of some Members of the Lower House of Convocation,’ 1701, 4to. 2. ‘The late Pretence of a constant Practice to enter the Parliament as well as Provincial Writ in the front of the Acts of every synod, consider'd and disproved,’ 1701, 4to. 3. ‘An Answer to a third Letter to a Clergyman in defence of the entry of the Parliament-Writ,’ 1702, 4to. 4. ‘An Account of the Proceedings between the two Houses of Convocation, which met on 20 Oct. 1702,’ London, 1704, 4to.
In 1701 he was made chaplain in ordinary to Queen Anne. In 1703 he was defeated by a narrow majority by Thomas Brathwaite in his candidature for the office of warden of New College. In 1704 he was presented by the queen to the rectory of Southmere in Norfolk, and in 1705 he undertook the charge of St. Giles's parish in the city of Norwich. On 3 Oct. 1706 he was appointed rector of St. James's, Westminster, and on 8 Feb. 1707–8 he was consecrated bishop of Norwich, in succession to John Moore (1646–1714) [q. v.], being permitted to keep the rectory of St. James's one year with his bishopric (Hennessy, Novum Repert. Eccles. 1898, p. 250). As bishop he distinguished himself by the emphasis with which he urged the doctrine of the subordination of the church to the state, maintaining especially that such was the traditional position of the English church. In concurrence with these views he showed himself strongly opposed to the high-church opinions and practices then becoming prominent. In 1709 he published a charge to his clergy in which, after objecting to the ‘independence of the church upon the state,’ he proceeded to condemn the belief in ‘the power of offering sacrifice’ and ‘the power of forgiving sins’ (Abbey and Overton, English Church, i. 153). From that time he defended his opinions vehemently both in preaching and writing, and became prominent as a controversialist. In the House of Lords on 17 March 1709–10 he supported the second article of Sacheverell's impeachment by a speech which he afterwards published (London, 1710, 8vo). On 30 Jan. 1711 he preached a sermon before the upper house, in which, though more moderate than usual, he gave so much offence by his sentiments that no motion was made in the house for the usual compliment of thanks. Whiston even accused him of scepticism (Hunt, Religious Thought, iii. 14, 57).
Soon after the accession of George I he was made clerk of the closet to his majesty, in which office he continued until his death. On 21 July 1721 he was translated to the see of Winchester as successor of Sir Jonathan Trelawny [q. v.], and in the same year was elected president of the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy. He died without surviving issue on 15 Aug. 1723 at Farnham Castle in Surrey, and was buried in Winchester Cathedral. By his wife Henrietta Maria, daughter of William Talbot (1659?–1730) [q. v.], bishop of Durham, he had two sons who died in infancy. She died in 1716, and in 1719 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edmund Wynne of Nostel, Yorkshire, second baronet, and widow of Joseph Taylor of the Temple.
Though Trimnell's political and ecclesiastical opinions without doubt contributed to his advancement, he was by nature disinterested, and based his views on sincere conviction. He was a man of culture and considerable learning. Several letters from him are preserved among the Egerton manuscripts in the British Museum (2717 ff. 79, 86, 157, 2721 ff. 377–96; cf. Rye, Calendar of Corresp. relating to the Family of Oliver Le Neve). His portrait was engraved by the elder Faber from a painting attributed to Sir Godfrey Kneller, now in the possession of Mr. F. Jackson, 79 St. Giles Street, Norwich.[Chalmers's Biogr. Dict. 1816; Funeral Sermon by Lewis Stephens; Cassan's Bishops of Winchester; Kirby's Winchester Scholars, 180, 199; Burnet's History of his own Time, 1823, v. 330, 434; Wyon's Hist. of the Reign of Anne, ii. 8; Noble's Continuation of Granger's Biogr. Hist. iii. 74; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Luttrell's Brief Hist. Relation, vol. vi. passim; Wilford's Eminent and Worthy Persons, 1741, Appendix, pp. 20–1; Chaloner Smith's Mezzotinto Portraits, p. 297; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. x. 155, 9th ser. iii. 204; Blomefield's Norfolk, iii. 592, x. 369; Brit. Mus. Addit. MSS. 19166 f. 98, 32556 f. 97.]