BETTESWORTH TREVANION, John Trevanion Purnell (1780-1840), of Caerhayes Castle, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



4 Feb. 1807 - 1807

Family and Education

b. 1780, 1st. s. of John Bettesworth of Caerhayes by Frances Elinor, da. of Francis Tomkins. educ. Winchester 1788; Eton 1796. m. (1) 21 Dec. 1801, Charlotte (d. 20 Feb. 1810), da. and coh. of William Hosea, officer in Indian navy, of Portland Place, Mdx., 4s.; (2) 29 Nov. 1830, Susannah, da. of (Sir) Francis Burdett, 5th Bt.*, 2da. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1789 and took additional name of Trevanion by royal lic. 18 Dec. 1801.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Cornw. 1804-5.

Cornet 2 Drag. Gds. 1798, capt.-lt. and capt. 1801-3; lt.-col. R. Cornw. militia 1821-d.


Bettesworth Trevanion’s grandmother Frances Trevanion was the daughter of John Trevanion of Caerhayes, a knight of the shire, and sister and eventual heir of William Trevanion, Member for Tregony, a borough which this Member’s father contested unsuccessfully in 1784, at the instigation of Sir Francis Basset*. The same patron put up the son at Penryn in 1806. Narrowly defeated by Sir Christopher Hawkins, he unseated the latter on petition and replaced him for the remainder of the session. His only significant parliamentary action was to support Brand’s motion following the dismissal of the Grenville ministry, 9 Apr. 1807, indicating that he had supported them.

Trevanion’s patron chose another Cornish gentleman to put up at Penryn in 1807, probably because of Trevanion’s uncompromising support of the Whigs. In August 1807 Trevanion’s brother married Viscount Howick’s sister. In March 1808 he offered himself, too late, at Grampound on a vacancy, encouraged by the electors’ ‘recent independent conduct’ to hope they would look to a local ‘assertor’ of their independence.1 He remained a Whig and was active in the county reform movement. On 10 June 1811 he was the first speaker at the meeting of Friends of Parliamentary Reform in London.2 He joined Brooks’s Club on 19 June 1812

He died at Brussels 8 Mar. 1840, aged 60,3 having rebuilt Caerhayes as a Gothic castle on the design of Nash and been obliged to live abroad on account of his extravagance. He was described by a friend as ‘A complete man of fashion in the best sense of the word, and without the slightest approach to anything frivolous and effeminate ... the very arbiter elegantiarum’.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Cornw. RO, Johnstone mss, DDJ 2019/2, 2021, election addresses.
  • 2. Morning Chron. 11 June 1811.
  • 3. Gent. Mag. (1840), i. 544.
  • 4. Cornw. RO, T/S Mem of John Colman Rashleigh, ii. 18.