TRENCHARD, Thomas (1672-1703), of Wolveton, Dorset

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



1689 - 1690
17 Dec. 1690 - 1695
1695 - 1700
Feb. - Nov. 1701
Dec. 1701 - 1702

Family and Education

bap. 14 Feb. 1672, o. s. (posth.) of Thomas Trenchard† of Wolveton by Anne, da. of Thomas Erle† of Charborough, Dorset.  educ. travelled abroad (Holland) 1686.  m. 13 June 1695, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Henry Henning*, 1da.  suc. fa. at birth.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Poole 1692.


A nephew of both Sir John Trenchard* and Thomas Erle*, Trenchard was head of the senior branch of an old and influential family. In his will, Trenchard’s father named (Sir) Andrew Henley† together with his brothers George, Henry† and (Sir) John as the yet unborn child’s guardians. The value and extent of the estate which Trenchard was to inherit was not specified, but as much as £1,800 was to be raised as a marriage portion should the child have been a girl. At his marriage he was granted the Dorset manors of Middle Kingstead and Poxwell as part of his wife’s dowry, although under the terms set by his father-in-law the security of these properties was dependent upon the birth of an heir.2

Trenchard’s prominent and influential guardians explain his election for Dorchester at such a young age. He lost at Dorchester in 1690, but was subsequently seated on petition, although the committee of elections was shown that he was still a minor. He had also been assisted by his uncle, Sir John Trenchard, who paid £6 4s. towards soliciting for Trenchard’s election. In April 1691 Robert Harley* classed him as a Court supporter, an assessment with which Grascome agreed, but other than his being granted leave of absence for three weeks (19 Dec. 1694) his activities in this Parliament are impossible to disentangle from those of his kinsman William Trenchard. In 1695 he transferred to Wareham, where he was returned with his uncle, Thomas Erle, whose nearby property gave him a natural interest in the borough. On 4 Jan. 1696 Trenchard was granted leave of absence for two weeks, and the same month was noted as doubtful in the forecast for the division over the proposed council of trade. He signed the Association in February and in March voted for the Court on fixing the price of guineas at 22s. He was sent for in custody for absenting himself from the service of the House without permission on 15 Dec. 1697, and on 28 Mar. 1698 was again granted two weeks’ absence. By 1698 he had been made a colonel of the Dorset militia and thereafter was usually referred to in the Journals by that rank. At the start of the new Parliament he was listed as a member of the Court party, although this assumption was questioned in a subsequent notation. In February and March 1699 he managed a private bill through the House. On 25 Mar. he acted as teller against a resolution to compel all female servants in England and the plantations earning under £5 a year to wear felt hats. He was again sent for into custody on 8 Jan. 1700 and, apart from one tellership in favour of adding a clause to the bill to apply forfeited Irish estates for public use on 1 Apr., he was largely inactive during the remainder of this Parliament. An analysis of the House at this time into ‘factions’ and ‘interests’ grouped him with Charles Montagu*.3

Returned for Dorchester in the first 1701 election, Trenchard was listed in February as likely to support the Court over the ‘Great Mortgage’, and was subsequently named to attend the House regarding an issue raised by the trustees for the sale of Irish forfeited estates (27 Mar. 1701). In November he was persuaded to stand for Dorset by his friend the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (Anthony, Lord Ashley*) and other leading Whigs, following the death of the Tory Member Thomas Freke I. His uncontested return was hailed as a gain for the Whigs by Lord Spencer (Charles*). He had also been returned for Dorchester but naturally chose to sit for the county. In December 1701 he was classed as a Whig by Harley. He acted as a teller twice in this session: on the Norwich election (5 Jan. 1702), and in favour of a voluntary abjuration oath. Trenchard withdrew from the 1702 election before the poll.

Trenchard made his will on 20 Oct. 1702, naming Anthony Henley*, Henry Trenchard* and Richard Southby† as his executors. He died on 16 Jan. following and was buried with his ancestors at Charminster, where a memorial was erected to commemorate him.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Henry Lancaster


  • 1. Hutchins, Dorset, i. 409; ii. 556; iii. 326–7; Dorset RO, Lane (Trenchard mss), Sir John to Henry Trenchard†, 26 Aug. N.S. 1686.
  • 2. Hutchins, ii. 507; PCC 132 Noel.
  • 3. Lane (Trenchard) mss, D60/F56, Sir John to Henry Trenchard†, 6 Mar. 1691; PCC 244 Dogg, 3 Bunce.
  • 4. PRO 30/24/20/62, 63; Hutchins, 555.