About Francis Trevillian of Nettlecombe Court, 1642
Christened: 18 Feb 1642-43, Nettlecombe, Devonshire, England
Married: 18 Feb 1667-68, St. Clyst Hydon, Devonshire, England
Spouse: Anne BAMPFIELD, daughter of the prominent family of Poltimore Manor.
1. James TREVILLIAN+
2. Ann TREVILLIAN
3. John TREVILLIAN+
The Monmouth Rebellion
The Trevillian family had enjoyed many generations of well-being and prosperity at Nettlecombe that was severely threatened by the English Civil War, and in the same generation, the upheaval of the Rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth which took place locally in Somerset during the summer of 1685 after the death of King Charles II.
The Protestant Duke of Monmouth, albeit illegitimate, as the only son of King Charles II, upon his father's death, Monmouth sailed from France and arrived in Somerset where he proclaimed himself the rightful King of England at Taunton (not too far from Nettlecombe). However, after local fighting, Monmouth was captured by forces loyal to his rival heir to the throne, Catholic King James, and was beheaded at the Tower of London.
Colonel Lutterell, the parliamentary Sheriff of Devonshire, was shot dead with 20 of his men by the royalists. Colonel Lutterell was a close cousin of the Trevilian family of Nettlecombe, as their grandmother was a Lutterell. Later, a party of parliamentary forces from Taunton were defeated in a skirmish which took place in a field at Nettlecombe Court.
Since most of the local people of Somerset were Protestant and had supported the Duke of Monmouth, the new king exacted revenge upon the county. About 320 local people were hanged and over 800 local people were sentenced to slavery, and were transported to the West Indies where they were sold-off as slaves. In Somerset, “two hundred and thirty-three prisoners were in a few days hanged, drawn, and quartered ironed corpses clattering in the wind, or heads and quarters stuck on poles, poisoned the air, and made the traveller sick with horror”. In one small village alone, 13 men were hanged, their bodies dismembered, then boiled in pitch and publicly exhibited. In many villages, neighbour had fought neighbour, causing much resentment for years after.
As a local landowner, Parliament demanded that Nettlecombe pay an enormous sum as "recompense" for the rebellion.
The subsequent Bloody Assizes to punish the uprising, presided over by Judge Jeffreys, were among the most brutal and corrupt in English history. In previous uprisings, usually a few leaders were executed while the common people were regarded as their pawns. In Jeffrey’s hearings the reverse happened – a number of the landowners were able to avoid execution by buying themselves off with crippling bribes paid to Jeffrey, while the common people were brutally treated. Trials were largely used as a means of extracting the property of prominent Whigs and potential political opponents of the King who frequently had nothing to do with the Rebellion. These unfortunate noblemen only escaped with their lives by paying huge ransoms or surrendering all their property. This was done with the enthusiastic support of the King James II, the Queen and a number of the new Catholic courtiers enjoying their rise to prominence. It was effectively an act of revenge.
James II further took advantage of the suppression of the rebellion to consolidate his power. He asked Parliament to repeal the Test Act and the Habeas Corpus Act, used his dispensing power to appoint Catholics to senior posts, and raised the strength of the standing army. Parliament opposed many of these moves, and on 20 November 1685 James dismissed the Parliament. In 1688, when the birth of a Catholic heir heralded a Catholic succession, James II was overthrown in a coup d'état by Protestant William of Orange in the Glorious Revolution at the invitation of the dispossessed Protestant Establishment.
Historian G.M. Trevelyan, who was a direct descendant of the Trevillian family of Nettlecombe, wrote in his 1904 book, England Under the Stuarts, about the Rebellion, presenting a moderate Whig view below:
"The revenge taken by James upon his subjects went far beyond expectation and precedent. It was perhaps natural that 800 rebels should be sent to forced labour in the Barbadoes. The Cromwellians in 1648, and the House of Hanover in 1715, committed the like cruelty. Transportation into slavery in the colonies was the fate which the common rebel might customarily expect if taken in arms. But death had for fifty years past been regarded as the punishment proper for the leaders alone, when James II reverted to the more barbarous methods of Elizabeth and the medieval kings. Not content with the long tale of military executions by Kirke and Feversham in the days immediately following the battle, he allowed over 300 of the peasants to be hanged by Jeffreys in the Bloody Assize. He also allowed one women, Alice Lisle, to be beheaded for exercising common charity to fugitives who implored food and shelter; and another, Elizabeth Gaunt, to be burned alive for saving one of the conspirators of the Rye House plot. In the spirit of the hour, Cornish, one of the most influential and honourable of the Whig merchants of London so bitterly hated by the Court, was singled out and murdered on a false charge of treason. These horrors appealed the more forcibly to the imagination of all, because the highways and public places in town and country were elaborately desecrated with the corpses and hewn quarters of the well-loved dead; because Jeffreys on the bench of justice shouted, swore and laughed over his victims, and because the sufferers were religious men who went to the gallows and butchery glorifying God. The analogy of the Marian persecution was the first thing to strike a generation brought up on Foxe's Book of Martyrs. The horror excited among the Tories themselves is the best comment on the conduct of Jeffreys and his master. The Bloody Assize did not shake James's throne, but it lent to the opposition, provoked by his subsequent action, the character and the enthusiam of outraged humanity in revolt. When Jeffreys, in his last dreadful days on earth, was sheltered by the walls of the Tower from a nation of men seeking to kill him with their own hands, he was hiding not from the Whig mob but from the human race."
Nettlecombe Court is a fine old gabled manor house, its present Tudor structure dating from the time of Shakespeare during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, with 18th century updates with Georgian additions. Nettlecombe Court has a fine example of a Medieval hall and church. Its church is named St Mary and stands on the lawn of Nettlecombe Court.
Nettlecombe is first mentioned in the Domesday Book as a possession of William the Conqueror and came to be the seat of the Raleigh family, progenitors of Sir Walter Raleigh. Sir Francis Drake belongs to their family tree, as do many of the noble families of England through various propitious marriages. Through marriage, Nettlecombe became the home of the Trevelyan / Trevilian family until the mid 19th century.
Nettlecombe Court lies in a secluded valley at the eastern edge of Exmoor National Park. It is now run as a residential environmental studies centre. It is surrounded by acres of land untouched for 400 years. Sir Francis Drake used oaks from Nettlecombe to build the ships of Queen Elizabeth that defeated the Spanish Armada.
Ancestors of Sir Walter Raleigh once owned and lived at Nettlecombe Court and some are buried there. Sir Walter recalled being brought to Nettlecombe Court as a child to visit the tomb effigies of two Raleigh knights and their wives. It was said that the valley of Nettlecombe Court was once filled with aged oak trees that were cut for the building of the ships of the Elizabethan navy to defeat the Spanish Armada.
Nettlecombe oaks are well-known for being high quality.
"The timber from Nettlecombe oaks was used to make the ships which Sir Walter Raleigh sailed to beat the Spanish Armada," Bendon told the Western Morning News. "Raleigh was related to the Trevelyan family who owned the estate.
The sylvan park at Nettlecombe now boasts some of the most magnificent oaks in England, with some of the trees that supply the acorns having stood there for more than 800 years.
The estate is the home to the second oldest oak in the UK and each year the acorns from the tress are collected and sent around the world to nurseries. It is estimated that over 10 million acorn seeds have been collected at Nettlecombe and sold to nurseries.
But not all Trevelyans were so keen to help king and country, with one 19th century baronet accepting an offer of #30,000 pounds for the oaks – a sum worth millions today.
Francis Trevillian of Nettlecombe Court, 1642's Timeline
February 18, 1642