TREFUSIS, Hon. Charles Rodolph (1791-1866), of Trefusis, Cornw.

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



4 Mar. 1813 - 1818

Family and Education

b. 9 Nov. 1791, 2nd s. of Robert George William Trefusis, 17th Baron Clinton, by Albertina Marianna, da. of John Abraham Rodolph Gaulis, principal magistrate of Lausanne, Switzerland. educ. Eton 1808, Oriel, Oxf. 1810; L. Inn 1814; fellow of All Souls 1814-32. m. 25 Oct. 1831, Lady Elizabeth Georgiana Kerr, da. of William, 6th Mq. of Lothian [S], 5s. 7da. suc. bro. Robert Cotton St. John Trefusis as 19th Baron Clinton Oct. 1832.

Offices Held

Commr. of appeals in excise Dec. 1818-Oct. 1819; commr. of excise 1819-33.

Capt. N. Devon yeoman cav. 1822, lt.-col. 1834, lt.-col. commdt. 1842.


Trefusis and his elder brother, heir to the barony of Clinton, were orphaned by the death of their father in 1797 and their mother in 1798. He was left over £10,000. The family estate was managed by trustees, among them John Inglett Fortescue* and Ambrose St. John*, their kinsmen, while their guardians were John Clevland* and William Trefusis Reichenberg.1 As soon as Trefusis came of age a seat in Parliament, for the Clinton borough of Callington became his. He held it for one Parliament, supporting administration silently. He voted with them in key divisions of 31 May 1815, 6 and 18 Mar., 6 and 24 May 1816, 10, 11 Feb., 5 Mar. and 15 Apr. 1818. He also voted against an inquiry into the education of the poor, 3 June 1818. On 21 May 1816 he voted against Catholic relief: he had declined voting on it in 1813.

Trefusis had been in Italy during the session of 1817, fearing he was ‘acting very unadvisedly in absenting myself so long from Parliament’, but his mind was set at rest by his brother’s agent Francis Drake, to whom he wrote after his return home, 19 Aug.:

On my arrival I found Lord Bathurst unsolicited, had made me two proposals, one to go as consul to Tripoli with a salary of £1,000 a yr. with permission to retire after 10 years’ service with full salary, the other was a situation at Ceylon; you may suppose I did not admire the thoughts of either of these exiles.

Declining them therefore, he felt he must choose between the church and diplomacy. Princess Charlotte promised him preferment in the former, while ministers had been lobbied on his behalf in the latter case, though he himself was not very hopeful of a secretaryship of embassy.2 Before the dissolution in 1818 he applied to Lord Liverpool for a place for himself which was not immediately attainable, but the prime minister promised it ‘at an early opportunity’. It was doubtless the place at the board of excise he subsequently occupied. Meanwhile he was placed at the stamp office. On 8 Sept. 1819 he wrote to Liverpool thanking him for his appointment as a commissioner of excise: ‘it is the situation of all others I could have desired though after what you have already done for me I could not have ventured to have made an application for so desirable a situation.’3 He held it until he succeeded his brother to the title. He died 10 Apr. 1866.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. PCC 631 Exeter; A. G. C. Tucker, Observations (1817).
  • 2. Som. RO, Drake mss NE15/8, Trefusis to Drake, 19 Aug. 1817, 15 Sept. 1819; Add. 38272, ff. 63-64.
  • 3. Add. 38279, f. 238.