Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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TREVOR family, of Brynkynallt, Denbs.

The numerous branches of the Denbighshire Trevor s all descend from Tudur Trevor ( fl. 940 ), son-in-law of Hywel Dda and reputed ‘king’ of the borderland from the Maelors down to Gloucester ; his second son (d. 1037 ) inherited lands round Chirk , now represented by the Brynkynallt estate , and the surname became fixed in the time of his descendant John Trevor ‘ hên ’ (d. 1453 ). The family was known for persistent feuds with its neighbours, the Kyffin s , and later the Myddeltons , the latter lasting till the early 18th cent. ( Wynn , Gwydir Family , 1927 ed., 41-5; Edwards , Star Chamber Proceedings , 68; Myddelton , Chirk Castle Accts., 1605-66 , 14 and n.; Cust , Chronicles of Erthig , i, 51, 57). The founder of the family fortunes was

SIR EDWARD TREVOR (d. 1642 ) ,

who went to Ireland (with Edward Blayney of Gregynog ) as a captain in the expedition sent to retrieve the Blackwater disaster (c. 11 Sept. 1598 ), stayed there on garrison duty , was wounded and commended for gallantry in 1600 , and m. Rose Ussher , the primate ' daughter, acquiring an estate in Co. Down (called by him Rostrevor ) and helping in the plantation of Ulster . He was pensioned (c. 1605 ), knighted in Ireland by the lord deputy ( 5 Nov. 1617 ), and put on the Irish privy council (c. 1623 ) by James I , and represented Newtown ( Co. Down ) in the Parliament of 1634 , but fell into the hands of the rebels in Nov. 1641 , dying soon after his release in the following May. In 1619 he had built (traditionally from designs by Inigo Jones ) the present mansion of Brynkynallt , later enlarged and ‘gothicized’ by the 2nd viscount Dungannon ( 1763 - 1837 ) (below). His heir,

John Trevor (d. c. 1643 ) ,

who m. Sir Edward 's step-daughter Margaret , daughter of John Jeffreys of Acton (grandfather of Judge Jeffreys ), and was educated at the Middle Temple ( 1620 ), had the satisfaction as commissioner of array to Charles I of helping to rally east Denbighshire against his hereditary foe, Sir Thomas Myddelton ( 1586 - 1666 ) .

ARTHUR TREVOR (d. c. 1666 ), judge ,

younger son of Sir Edward by his first wife, was trained to the law , entering Middle Temple on 3 Nov. 1624 , and being called to the Bar 10 Feb. 1633 . In 1641 he appeared on behalf of the thirteen bishops impeached by the Commons, in the following Feb. he petitioned Parliament to procure the release of his father in Ireland , and in April 1642 , advised Edward Herbert (d. 1657 ) on his defence when the Commons impeached him. On the outbreak of Civil War he joined the king in a civilian capacity at Oxford , whence he was sent on various missions, including that of settling disputes caused in South Wales ( Dec. 1642 ) by the independent command granted to lord Herbert , later earl of Glamorgan (see under Somerset ). In July 1643 he was one of the signatories of the declaration drawn up by a council of war at Shrewsbury , imposing an oath of loyalty on the North Wales counties in face of the impending invasion by Sir T. Myddelton . Later in the year he became paid agent at the court to Ormonde , lord-lieutenant of Ireland , and by Feb. 1644 was also attached to Rupert , whose appointment as president of Wales he urged on the court, and whom he followed to Chester in June, helping to keep him in touch with archbishop John Williams . He wrote eye-witness accounts of many of the campaigns , and eventually participated as lieutenant-colonel in that of 1645-6 in the south-west, where he was captured and imprisoned at Bristol ( April-Dec. 1646 ) till he compounded (at one-tenth) for forty pounds. After further imprisonment in Jan. 1648 , he was left at liberty, helped the government to recover scattered Irish records , and resumed practice in 1659 . At the Restoration he was named for the abortive order of the Royal Oak , and in July 1661 made a judge of the Brecknock circuit . He befriended his brother John 's younger son, afterwards Sir John Trevor ( 1637 - 1717 ; below), whom he made his heir, but was accused of illegally administering and misappropriating the revenues of the Brynkynallt estate (then valued at £400 in Denbighshire and £1,000 in Ireland ) during the minority of the ‘idiot’ heir, Edward Trevor .

MARCUS (or MARK ) TREVOR ( 1618 - 1670 ), 1st viscount Dungannon and baron Trevor of Rostrevor ,

son of Sir Edward by his second wife, was b. in Ireland , where he served as captain against the rebels in Co. Down , from Nov. 1641 , but soon after the Cessation of Sept. 1643 , went to England with a regiment seconded for service with the king , operating on the Welsh border ( Jan. 1644 ), commanding a regiment of horse under Rupert at Marston Moor and in defence of Bristol ( July-Aug. ), and again in Wales in Oct. as governor of Ruthin , where his cavalry was repulsed on 19 Oct. , but his deputy held the castle and forced its owner, Myddelton , to retreat. After further service in England till the king's final defeat, he returned to Ireland ( c. 1647 ) to fight under Monck , who made him governor of Carlingford ( Mar. 1648 ). He justified the mistrust of the Roundheads by deserting to Ormonde in June 1649 , but had changed sides once more by Jan. 1652 , when he was defended from detractors by John Jones the regicide ( 1597? - 1660 ) , who in the following Feb. offered Trevor (then at Brynkynallt ) to redeem a heavily-mortgaged holding there inherited from his uncle Sir Edward . He fitfully supported the Cromwell régime in Ireland till Nov. 1659 , when he secured Irish support for the Restoration and was rewarded with Irish land and office, a seat on the Irish privy council , and the title of viscount Dungannon and baron Trevor ( 22 Aug. 1662 ). He m., as his second wife, Ann , daughter of John Lewis of Presaddfed , Anglesey , and widow of Sir Hugh Owen of Orielton , and was succeeded in the peerage by her two sons, Lewis and Mark , after whose death without offspring, it lapsed ( 8 Nov. 1706 ).

Sir JOHN TREVOR ( 1638 - 1717 ), speaker and judge ,

was the second son of John Trevor (d. c. 1643 ) (above). His father dying in his early boyhood, he was befriended by his uncle Arthur Trevor (above) , who prepared him for entry to the Inner Temple ( Nov. 1654 ), whence he was called to the Bar in May 1661 . Six years later he accompanied his kinsman and namesake, Sir J. Trevor ‘ III ’ of Trevalun (see p. 982), on an embassy to France , was knighted on 29 Jan. 1671 , and in 1673 entered Parliament , sitting for English pocket boroughs till 1681 , and failing to secure election for Montgomery in 1679 . He combined a fulsome support of the royal prerogative and singlehanded defence of his unpopular cousin and patron Jeffreys with an aggressive Protestantism , resulting in his chairmanship of committees like those on the growth of popery ( 29 April 1678 ) — inspired by John Arnold , and issuing in the martyrdom of David Lewis and other South Wales catholics — and on the impeachment of Powis and the other popish lords ( May 1679 ). Living mainly in London , he acquired a country house at Pulford , lower down the Dee than the family seat, until the death of his elder brother made him heir to the latter, probably before the violent county election of March 1681 , when he revived the old family feud by capturing Denbighshire from the Whiggish but territorially far more powerful Myddeltons , who challenged him to a duel for calling the Roundhead Sir Thomas a traitor. He became mayor of Holt next year, and in 1684 was put on a commission of enquiry into concealed crown lands in Denbighshire . On James II 's accession, Beaufort (see under Somerset ), as President of Wales , intervened, at the prompting of the king and Jeffreys , to heal the feud, with the result that Myddelton was returned unopposed for the county and Trevor for the borough, of which he was promptly made a burgess . Trevor had his revenge when a quarter of a century later he helped to ruin the Edisbury s , clients of the Myddeltons , by foreclosing on their Erthig estat e, of which he was a principal mortgagee.

In 1685 he was elected Speaker of the House ( 19 May ), and appointed Master of the Rolls ( 20 Oct. ), and added to the privy council , with two Dissenters to offset his stiff Anglicanism , on 6 July 1688 ; he was also given the joint constableship of Flint castle ( 1687 ) and the office of ‘ custos rotulorum ’ of Flintshire ( Dec. 1688 ), remaining true to James even after his first flight. He therefore lost his offices at the Revolution , but was again returned to parliament for an English pocket borough and resumed his speakership ( May 1690 ). Winning the favour of William III by his success in ‘managing’ the Tories , he was restored to the privy council ( 1 Jan. 1691 ), made first commissioner of the Great Seal during the vacancy of 1690-93 , and re-appointed Master of the Rolls on 13 Jan. 1693 , but in 1695 he was deposed from the speakership ( 12 Mar. ) and expelled the House ( 16 Mar. ) for bribery, only a few weeks after he had been within sight of the woolsack ( Luttrell , Brief Relation , ii, 326, 350). His Welsh offices were restored in 1705 . He d. in London , 20 May 1717 , leaving a reputation for legal knowledge and judicial impartiality in sharp contrast with his political venality. He was a benefactor of many county charities , including Denbigh grammar school . His portrait is preserved at Brynkynallt . He m. Jane , daughter of Sir Roger Mostyn and widow of Roger Puleston of Emral . With the death, in 1762 , o his eldest son, who unsuccessfully contested Denbigh boroughs in the Tory interest in 1741 , the male line came to an end, the estates (and with them the surname) passing first to ARTHUR ( HILL -TREVOR ) (d. 1771 ), 1st viscount Dungannon of the second creation , second son of her daughter Ann , but inheriting through his father's half-brother, a maternal grandson of the 1st viscount (above); and on a second failure of male heirs ( 1862 ) to lord ARTHUR EDWIN ( HILL -TREVOR ) ( 1819 - 1894 ), 1st baron Trevor of Brynkynallt ( 1880 ), younger son of the 3rd marquess of Downshire and great-grandson of Ann Trevor 's elder son. The family has continued to use Brynkynallt (or Brynkinalt ) as a residence and to provide the county with magistrates and deputy-lieutenants .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , lvii, 217-8;
  • The Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion , 1937 (186-200), 1938 (184-93), 1946-7 (70, 80-1), 1948 (19-20, 60, 76-80), and sources therein cited;
  • Archaeologia Cambrensis , I, i, 38; III, xv, 102, 326-7;
  • Richard Symonds , Diary of the marches of the Royal Army during the great Civil War (London, 1859) , Camden Soc., 246;
  • Calendar of State Papers relating to Ireland , 1598-1660 ;
  • Calendar of Wynn (of Gwydir) Papers, 1515–1690, in the National Library of Wales and elsewhere (1926) , 1744, 2528, 2809;
  • Carte , A Collection of Original Letters and Papers concerning the Affairs of England, from the year 1641 to 1660 found among the Duke of Ormonde's Papers (London, 1739) , 1739 , ii, 242-3;
  • A collection of the state papers of John Thurloe, Esq. secretary first to the council of state and afterwards to the two protectors (1742) , ii, 550;
  • T. Pennant , A Tour (Tours) in [North] WalesPennant, Thomas ( 1883 ed.), i, 356-8;
  • M. Mahler , A History of Chirk Castle and Chirkland with a chapter on Offa's Dyke (London, 1912) , 164;
  • W. M. Myddelton , Chirk Castle Accounts, A.D. 1605-1666 (St. Albans, 1908) , 14, 108, 157, 161;
  • A. L. Cust , Chronicles of Erthig on the Dyke (London, 1914) , i, 50-1, 56-7, 74, 95, 97, 127, 132-3, 198;
  • W. R. Williams , The History of the Parliamentary Representation of Wales (1895) , 75, 81-2, 149;
  • Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire , n.s., i, 89;
  • NLW MS 11440D (389);
  • Chirk Castle Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth) C 1-3, E 51, 53, 558, 6145, 6349;
  • Sweeney Hall Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales 7;
  • Edward Owen deeds, 79;
  • Reports of the Historical Manuscripts Commission , 12th R., ix, 41;
  • W. A. Shaw , Knights of England (1906) , ii, 166, 245;
  • Students admitted to Inner Temple, 1547-1660 (London, 1877) .


Emeritus Professor Arthur Herbert Dodd, M.A., (1891-1975), Bangor

Published date: 1959