TREGENNA, John (fl.1573-at least 1610), of St. Ives, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

Offices Held

Capital burgess, St. Ives by 1573-at least 1604, ?portreeve 1597; bailiff, Penwith hundred, Cornw. 1581.1


The Tregenna family make intermittent appearances in subsidy assessments for the St. Ives area from the early sixteenth century. They apparently derived their name from the barton of Tregenna, which lay south-west of the town, but whether this was Tregenna’s own home has not been established. He had presumably achieved adulthood by 1573, when he was recorded as being a capital burgess of St. Ives. In 1585 he was placed second in the town’s subsidy list, being notionally rated as worth £4 in land, and he retained this position in 1599 even though his rating fell to 40s. Tregenna took a prominent part in local affairs, organizing the Twelfth Night revels in 1588 and lending money to the parish of St. Ives in 1592. He is thought to have served as portreeve or head warden of St. Ives in 1597.2

Around the turn of the century a dispute broke out between local fishermen, who used a system of land-based observers, or huers, to alert them to shoals near the coast, and two landowners in the St. Ives district who began prosecuting the huers for trespass. In January 1603, with the number of cases mounting, the town council decided to support the defendants financially. Tregenna was the first signatory to this resolution, and he also travelled to London on the town’s behalf, presumably to attend the Westminster courts, receiving £141 in expenses.3 In 1604 he was elected to Parliament for the borough, doubtless with a view to taking fresh action in the dispute. It was most probably Tregenna who introduced a bill on 21 May designed specifically to assert the old West Country practices and deter further lawsuits. Certainly this bill ‘for the better preservation of fishing’ was delivered to him at its committee stage, although he did not subsequently report the measure, which received the royal assent at the end of the first session.4

In November 1604 Tregenna and others approached Viscount Cranborne (Robert Cecil†) with a petition to the king, apparently requesting the incorporation of St. Ives. The town had the backing of its patron, the marquess of Winchester, but the initiative must have failed as a charter was not granted until 1639.5 In the second parliamentary session Tregenna was named to a single committee (3 Apr. 1606), whose subject was another bill dealing with the fishing industry.6 His name does not appear subsequently in the Commons’ records. Several payments were made to Tregenna by the parish of St. Ives during 1607, apparently as reimbursement of further loans rather than as parliamentary expenses. The final reference to him in the St. Ives accounts, an unexplained payment of £6 2s. 6d., occurred around 1610. Tregenna is presumed to have completed his parliamentary duties in that year, but the date of his death, which is said to have caused the extinction of his family in the male line, has not been discovered.7

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. J.H. Matthews, Hist. St. Ives, 146, 467-8.
  • 2. Matthews, 116-9, 133, 138, 146, 157, 467; E179/88/236, 259. Matthews erroneously assigns the 1599 assessment to 1597 and reads the figure as £10 (p. 141).
  • 3. Matthews, 468.
  • 4. CJ, i. 976a, 985b, 986b, 989b; LJ, ii. 354b; SR, iv. 1048-9.
  • 5. HMC Hatfield, xvi. 351; Matthews, 193.
  • 6. CJ, i. 292b.
  • 7. Matthews, 469; St. Ives Town Council, par. rec. bk. 1570-1639, f. 48.