TREMAYNE, Sir John (1647-94), of Heligan, St. Ewe, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1690 - by 20 Feb. 1694

Family and Education

bap. 16 Sept. 1647, 1st s. of Col. Lewis Tremayne of Heligan by Mary, da. and coh. of John Carew of Penwarne, Mevagissey, Cornw.  educ. I. Temple 1666; M. Temple 1669, called 1673.  m. 13 Apr. 1680, Frances (d. 1683), da. of William Davis, barrister-at-law, of Creedy, Devon, 1s. d.v.psuc. fa. 1685; kntd. 31 Oct. 1689.1

Offices Held

King’s serjeant 1689–d.

Steward, hundred courts of West Powder, Trigg, Lesnewth, Ryder, Kirrier and Stratton, Cornw. 1693–d.2


Tremayne’s family, a junior branch of a long-established Cornish family which had first represented Cornwall in the Commons in the 14th century, had been settled at Heligen since the 1560s. During the Civil Wars his father commanded a Royalist regiment of foot and had been appointed lieutenant-governor of Pendennis Castle. Tremayne trained for the law. He had established a successful practice by the late 1670s, and following the Revolution was appointed a King’s serjeant. At the 1690 election he was returned for Tregony, the borough’s desire for a local candidate having led Hugh Boscawen I* to support Tremayne’s election. Analysing the returns, Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) classed Tremayne as a Whig. During April he was included on drafting committees for bills to vest forfeitures in the crown (17th), to impose an abjuration oath (24th), and to secure the government (29th). In the debate on the 30th on the regency bill Tremayne made his first recorded speech and expressed his concern that ‘great care must be taken that we have some security in the King’s absence’, before proceeding to identify ‘some objections’ in the bill:

I find the bill says ‘the royal government of England and dominions thereunto belonging shall be in the Queen’. [By this] it is a great doubt when the King comes into Ireland whether he has any power at all in Ireland. Ireland is but an appendage to England, and no other person can have it but the Queen: so that if the King comes into Ireland, that he may be in a capacity to do something, it will be your wisdom to put it out of all doubt. The bill says ‘the administration shall be in the Queen’, if she dies, what then shall become of the government? Here will be a failure and a stop.

Five days later Tremayne spoke again on the bill, querying ‘whether it is not a greater good, his [the King’s] going, than staying here’ and asking whether provision could be made for the King’s absence without the need for an Act of Parliament. On 3 May he was granted permission to attend the Lords to act as counsel in a case there, and was again given such permission in the following session, on 9 Dec. Robert Harley’s* analysis of the House, first marked in April 1691 and subsequently amended, classed Tremayne as ‘d’, presumably a reference to his death in 1694, the name of the Member who replaced Tremayne appearing beside this mark. In October 1691 the East India interlopers resolved to retain Tremayne as counsel. Later that month he was appointed to draft a bill for the regulation of electoral abuses (31st). During the 1691–2 session Tremayne was twice granted permission to attend a legal cause in the Lords (7 Dec., 4 Jan. 1692). His first recorded speech of the session was on 16 Jan., when he supported Hugh Boscawen I’s suggestion that the bill to suppress hawkers and pedlars should be left to lie on the table and a new bill introduced. Four days later he again spoke on the same side as Boscawen, supporting the proposal that the poll bill should levy a charge on those who owned coaches and who would otherwise be unrated. On 26 Jan. a motion that Tremayne be allowed to act as counsel in a case before the Lords was opposed, on the grounds that ‘it countenanced their [the Lords’] judicial power’. During 1692 he was included in two lists of placemen. In June he was reported to be a candidate for the recordership of London, but was unsuccessful in this pretension and little more is known of his public life. He was included in 1693 in Grascome’s list of placemen, and in May that year was granted the stewardship of six Cornish hundred courts. On 20 Feb. 1694 Narcissus Luttrell* reported Tremayne’s death, and he was buried on the 23rd. A newsletter claimed that Tremayne’s will, written on 10 Feb. and proved on 1 Mar., left only £5 each to his mother and brother, both of whom ‘wanted bread’, and bequeathed the remainder of his £14,000 estate to ‘two attorneys’. Placita Coronae, or Pleas of the Crown in Matters Criminal and Civil . . . Collected by the late Sir John Tremayne was first published in 1723.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison


  • 1. IGI, Cornw.; G. C. Boase and W. P. Courtney, Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, 777; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 734.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 192.
  • 3. DNB; Vivian, 730, 733; Boase and Courtney, 777; Polsue, Complete Paroch. Hist. Cornw. i. 377; HMC Portland, iii. 445; Grey, x. 99, 122; Bodl. Rawl. C.449, 21 Oct. 1691; Luttrell Diary, 63, 107, 133, 145, 155; Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 476; CSP Dom. 1693, p. 103; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 192; Bodl. Carte 130, ff. 347–8.