Sir Jonathan Trelawny

Bishop of Winchester
Sir Jonathan Trelawny, 3rd Bt by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt.jpg
Portrait by Godfrey Kneller, 1720
ChurchChurch of England
In office1707–1721
PredecessorPeter Mews
SuccessorCharles Trimnell
Consecration8 November 1685
by William Sancroft
Personal details
Born(1650-03-24)24 March 1650
Died19 July 1721(1721-07-19) (aged 71)
Chelsea, Middlesex, England
Previous post(s)Bishop of Bristol (1685–1689)
Bishop of Exeter (1689–1707)
EducationWestminster School
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
Arms of Trelawny: Argent, a chevron sable
Arms of Trelawny: Argent, a chevron sable

Sir Jonathan Trelawny, 3rd Baronet (24 March 1650 – 19 July 1721) was an English Bishop of Bristol, Bishop of Exeter and Bishop of Winchester. Trelawny is best known for his role in the events leading up to the Glorious Revolution which are sometimes believed to be referenced in the Cornish anthem "The Song of the Western Men".


He was born at Trelawne in the parish of Pelynt, Cornwall, the eldest surviving son of Sir Jonathan Trelawny, 2nd Baronet, and Mary Seymour, daughter of Sir Edward Seymour, 2nd Baronet. He was educated at Westminster School and then went to Christ Church, Oxford at the start of the Michaelmas term of 1668 where he distinguished himself as a scholar.

A staunch royalist, he was ordained in 1673 and became a beneficed clergyman. He was appointed rector of South Hill on 4 October and of St. Ives on 12 December 1677, becoming Bishop of Bristol in 1685. He was one of the Seven Bishops tried for seditious libel under James II. Trelawny and the other bishops petitioned against James II's Declaration of Indulgence in 1687 and 1688, (granting religious tolerance to Catholics) and as a result, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London on charges of seditious libel. The bishops said that whilst they were loyal to King James II, their consciences would not agree to allowing freedom of worship to Catholics even if it were to be within the privacy of their own homes as the Declaration proposed; thus they could not sign. Trelawny was held for three weeks before trial, then tried and acquitted; this led to great celebrations, with bells being rung in his home parish of Pelynt.[1]

Trelawny was rewarded in 1689 by being appointed Bishop of Exeter (whilst still, until 1694, Archdeacon of Totnes) after the military defeat of James II and the accession of the Protestant William of Orange to the British throne. He was further rewarded by being appointed Bishop of Winchester in 1707, although his promotion was a matter of some controversy, as Queen Anne, who was determined to keep all important Church appointments within her own gift, overruled the advice of her ministers and of Thomas Tenison, the Archbishop of Canterbury in appointing him, thus provoking the so-called Bishoprics Crisis. He died in 1721, in Chelsea, Middlesex; his body was taken back to Pelynt for burial.


He married Rebecca Hele, by whom he had twelve children:[2][3][4]


Jonathan Trelawny features in the lyrics of "The Song of the Western Men".
Jonathan Trelawny features in the lyrics of "The Song of the Western Men".

It is sometimes suggested that Bishop Trelawny was immortalised in the Cornish Anthem, "The Song of the Western Men", better known simply as "Trelawny", written over a century later and composed by Parson Robert Stephen Hawker, vicar of Morwenstow.

And shall Trelawny live?
Or shall Trelawny die!
Here's twenty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why![1]

See also


  1. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  2. ^ Kimber, Edward; Johnson, Richard; Wotton, Thomas (1771). The Baronetage of England. G. Woodfall. p. 311. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
  3. ^ Vivian, John Lambrick (1887). The Visitation of Cornwall. pp. 477–478.
  4. ^ Debrett, John (1835). Debrett's Baronetage of England. p. 42.
  5. ^ James Herbert Cooke, The Shipwreck of Sir Cloudesley Shovell on the Scilly Islands in 1707, From Original and Contemporary Documents Hitherto Unpublished, Read at a Meeting of the Society of Antiquaries, London, 1 Feb. 1883


Church of England titles Preceded byJohn Lake Bishop of Bristol 1685–1689 Succeeded byGilbert Ironside Preceded byThomas Lamplugh Bishop of Exeter 1689–1707 Succeeded byOfspring Blackall Preceded byPeter Mews Bishop of Winchester 1707–1721 Succeeded byCharles Trimnell Honorary titles Preceded byJohn Trelawny Vice-Admiral of South Cornwall 1682–1693 Succeeded byHenry Trelawny Baronetage of England Preceded byJonathan Trelawny Baronet(of Trelawney) 1681–1721 Succeeded byJohn Trelawny