TRELAWNY, John III, of Woolston in St. Ive, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Dec. 1421
Feb. 1449

Family and Education

prob. yr. s. of John Trelawny I*. m. Joan, da. and h. of Nicholas Helligan of Tresarret in St. Mabyn, Cornw., 2s.

Offices Held

Mayor, Launceston 1457-8.1


By a settlement recorded in 1422 John Trelawny ‘junior’ received land in the parish of Linkinhorne, a few miles north of Liskeard. Other family properties at Menheniot and at Woolston (where John later lived) were also situated near the borough which he first represented in Parliament. It is likely that he was returned for Liskeard because of the reputation in the locality of his presumed brother (Sir) John II, who as a knight of the shire accompanied him to Henry V’s last Parliament. At the Launceston assizes of 1422 he acted as attorney on behalf of (Sir) John and other of their kinsmen in a suit over lands at Trelaske. But he soon became a man of standing in his own right: the subsidy assessment of 1428 found him in possession of premises in Helligan and other places to the north of Bodmin, so it is clear that he was by then already married to Joan, the grand daughter of a former MP for Liskeard, John Helligan*, and had acquired at least part of her substantial inheritance. In 1451 his landed holdings were said to be worth as much as £12 a year.2 Trelawny’s standing is reflected in the alliance formed with Sir Hugh Courtenay of Bocconnoc, whose daughter, Florence, married one of his sons, and also in his appearances at the shire elections of 1431, 1433 and 1442. After a long absence he was returned to Parliament again in 1449, this time for Lostwithiel. Trelawny was a figure of consequence, too, in Launceston, where his family held property: the townspeople gave him bread and ale in 1450 and named him as mayor seven years later.3

Trelawny’s elder brother, Richard*, died in 1449 leaving two daughters, for whom his landed possessions were placed in the hands of trustees; but in 1459 John, allegedly maintained by Thomas Courtenay, earl of Devon, and abetted by his own two sons (both of whom were also called John) entered the property by force and prevailed upon the trustees to transfer ownership to him. About the same time the Trelawnys were said to have taken part in other ‘unlawful congregations’ and riots in Cornwall, thus contributing to the general breakdown of order in the West Country. This John Trelawny was still living in 1465, when he was alleged to have abducted one of his nieces, whose marriage pertained to Sir Thomas Burgh. And it may have been he whom the burgesses of Liskeard entertained to a banquet in 1466-7.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Wedgwood (HP, 1439-1509, Biogs. 867) errs in stating that John’s father was constable of Launceston and that he himself was coroner of Cornw. and sheriff in 1461-2.

  • 1. R. and O.B. Peter, Hist. Launceston, 135, 401.
  • 2. Cornw. Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1950), 950; JUST 1/1531 m. 32; J. Maclean, Trigg Minor, ii. 518-19; Feudal Aids, i. 229-31, 241; E179/87/92.
  • 3. DKR, xxx. 188; C219/14/2, 4, 15/2; Peter, 131, 133, 140, 145.
  • 4. R. Inst. Cornw. Jnl. v. 274-5; C1/28/298; CPR, 1452-61, p. 518; J. Allen, Hist. Liskeard, 229.