Sir John Trevilian of Mottiscombe

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John Trevilian, KB

Also Known As: "Trevillian"
Birthplace: Yarnscombe,Devon,England
Death: September 08, 1522 (64-73)
Nettlecombe, Somerset, England (United Kingdom)
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir John Trevilian, of Nettlecombe, MP and Elizabeth Whalesborough, of Nettlecombe Court
Husband of Joan Trevilian
Father of Sir John Trevillian of Nettlecombe; Thomas Trevillian and Richard Trevilian
Brother of Nicholas Trevelian; Richard Trevelyan; Thomas Trevelian; Rev. George Trevalian, chaplain to King Henry VIII and Humphrey Trevillian, of Basill in St. Cleather

Occupation: High Sheriff of Somerset
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir John Trevilian of Mottiscombe

John Trevilian was High Sheriff of Somerset.

John Trevilian had his ceremony of investiture as Knight of the Bath in 1501 when Arthur, the Prince of Wales was married to Katherine of Aragon.

John Trevilian was promoted to "Squire of the Kynge's Body" to King Henry VIII at Windsor Castle.

John held two family estates in Cornwall: Trevillion and Nettlecombe Court.


Squire of the Kynge's Body was the personal attendant to the King, in his bedroom.

King Henry VIII and his Queen had separate suites or apartments wherever they stayed. If the King wanted to visit his wife, he was accompanied with at least one Esquire of the Body since the king did not dress and undress himself. It was a very prestigious job, given only to the most trusted and loyal of men. Being in such an intimate position with the King, it was seen to have great influence; and therefore an Esquire of the King's Body could wield influence.

The job of the Squire of the Kynge's Body was, "to array the King and unarray him, and no man else was was to set hand upon the King. The Yeomen of the Robes received from the Esquire of the Body all of the King's jewels, arms, and attire; and put them away, but only the Esquire was permitted to touch the king. The Esquire of the Body also took charge of the King's cupboard at night." The king's night-cupboard contained food, drink, medicine, prayer book, writing instrument; and any other thing the King might need after he had gone to bed. The squire dressed the king in the morning and the Squire of the Kynge's Body was present when the king required a doctor's attention, or was being fitted with new clothing. Sometimes more than one Esquire of the Body was in attendance, when needed.

The Esquire of the Body took precedence over all the other Esquires and Gentlemen at the Court and ranked above the Knights Bachelors.

The National Archives website has an account based on the Ordinances of 1526 where Cardinal Wolsey re-organised the court and in the document Wolsey delineated the job responsibilities of all those at court. Cardinal Wolsey detailed how Henry VIII was to be attended by his Esquire of the Body, when the king was to be made ready for bed, and when he got up in the morning.

An extract from the Ordinances of Eltham, manuscript dated 1526, reads:

"It is ordeyned that such persons as be appointed of the privy Chamber, shall be loving together, and of good Unity and accord keeping secrett all such things as shalbe done or said in the same, without disclosing any part thereof to any person Not being for the time present in the said chamber, and that the King being absent, without they be commanded to goe with his Grace, they shall not only give their continuall and diligent attendance in the said Chamber, but alfo leave hearkening and inquiring where the King is or goeth, be it early or late, without grudgeing, mumbling, or talking of the King's Pastime; late or early going to bedd."

The Privy chamber under the Tudors:

Originating in Henry VII's reign (1485–1509), the Privy chamber, by the time his son Henry VIII had ascended the throne, had become quite institutionalized, with a regular staff of its own, such as gentlemen, ushers, grooms, and pages. The Privy chamber developed further under the reign of Henry VIII, through a winding process of reform and reorganization, particularly from 1518 to 1536.

The Gentlemen who dominated the Privy chamber were servants of the Crown and usually "shared two characteristics: the King's religion and the King's personal favour".[3] Apart from playing an "increasingly important role in the handling of the crown's cash",[3] the Privy chamber also played a military role, providing an "army-within-an-army".[3] Often, the gentlemen in the Privy Chamber were peers of Henry or figures of importance in the government, who shared their duties with the Groom of the Stool and the Chief Gentleman of the Chamber, with overall responsibility for all staff. These people usually organized hunting expeditions, in King Henry’s case, or games, in the case of the boy King Edward VI who succeeded him, as a form of entertainment and as a way to create time for bonding

The duties of the gentlemen of the Privy chamber or "gentlemen weyters" (later these gentlemen waiters would belong to the chamber) were required to "dilligently attend upon... [the king's] person... doeing humble, reverent, secrett and lowly service".[3] In other words, this service consisted primarily in giving company to the sovereign and in dressing and undressing him, although they performed a variety of chores. It was believed that menial service increased loyalty to the king, rather than competitiveness. If courtier or nobleman was unable to personally serve the king, it was considered imprudent to promote or give such a man power in any political or military capacity. Thus, privy service was a way or vetting men for loyalty tot he crown. It was the loyal men who were given powers by the king.

The Privy Chamber was properly established under Henry VIII who, as a young man early in his reign, had a "desire to have friends around him"; friends who also enjoyed sports and jousting as Henry did.[4] From the men the king played with and shared his personal routine, the king would often give power in many other capacities in his realm. The Gentlemen of the Chamber usually became very distinguished individuals, sometimes having more influence over the King even than his wife. As Henry's rule progressed, the number of gentlemen in the Privy chamber increased, partly to accommodate outsiders who had recognized the advantages of holding a post so close to the King, and partly to provide enough cover to allow staff some release from duty. Occasionally, such as in the case of Thomas Wolsey, access to the Privy chamber could contribute to a downfall.

In the early years of Henry VIII's reign, the title was awarded to subordinates of the King and to court companions who spent time with him. These were the sons of noblemen or important members of the gentry. In time they came to act as personal secretaries to the King, carrying out a variety of administrative tasks within his private rooms. The position was an especially respected one, since it held the promise of regularly gaining the King's attention.


'Minions': privy chamber of Henry VIII (1509–1547)

This was a body of personal servants to the king, and was an institution whose importance has only recently been fully appreciated. Developments at the royal court from the mid-fifteenth century put in place new living arrangements for the king—a private suite known as ‘the privy chamber’. This led by the end of the first decade of the reign of Henry VIII to the appearance of a new category of gentle-born courtiers who alone attended the sovereign there and provided the social milieu in which he spent much of his time when away from the public eye. The prestige and benefits of belonging to the privy chamber circle meant that there was a constant pressure for growth in numbers; the ten of 1526 had more than doubled by the time of the king's death on 28 January 1547.

The complete index of Henry's privy chamber circle has yet to be established, but its importance is not only to be measured in the effect on individual careers where, as the income equivalent to that of an aristocrat was a possibility.

The privy chamber was of enormous importance politically. In the first place, not only might there be the opportunity to influence the king personally; court parties also operated with objectives both mercenary and political—something which explains the disasters that befell, among others, Brereton, Sir Nicholas Carew, and Norris.

Henry VIII, though, was not the prisoner of his top courtiers and employed them in a direct executive role to give him independence against his leading royal servants, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Sir Thomas Cromwell. Henry used his intimates of his chamber to carry out confidential missions. It was Russell and Norris who conducted the private communication that the king maintained with Wolsey after the cardinal's fall. The credence commanded by privy chamber status also made it possible for Henry to send many instructions by word of mouth. Privy chamber staff even possessed a surrogate royal authority. When Henry Percy, sixth earl of Northumberland, tried to arrest Wolsey the cardinal demanded to see his warrant. However, Wolsey surrendered as soon as he saw Walter Walsh [see below], a groom of the privy chamber, saying: Ye be oon of the kynges privye chamber your name I suppose is [Walsh] I ame content to yeld unto you but not to my lord of Northumberland without I se his commyssion And you are a sufficyent commyssion your self in that behalfe in as myche as ye be oon of the kynges privy chamber Ffor the worst person there is a sufficient warraunt to arrest the greattest peere of this realme. (G. Cavendish, The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey, ed. R. S. Sylvester, 1959, 156)

An identity as a royal proxy meant that privy chamber staff were prominent in military operations. From 1536 to 1547 the lord high admiral was always selected from a member of the privy chamber. The representative character of privy chamber service also meant that the gentlemen were heavily employed in diplomacy. Four or five ambassadors to France between 1520 and 1526 held the rank. It would, however, be wrong to assume that everyone in the privy chamber circle was high-profile. 


SOURCE: "The Trevelyan Papers",+like+Sir+Tristram,+from+Spenser's+submerged+land&source=bl&ots=uG2TnBrSFs&sig=uDOSsbI7FKUtaWK-IJp_ArkhczE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Ws_zULeEB4GeiQKYoYH4Dw&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Trevelyan%20&f=false===

Trevilian Motto: "Tyme Tryth Troth" (Time tests truth)

Spouse: Joan HALIWELL


1. John TREVILIAN+ of Nettlecombe 1479-1558 m. Avice Cokeworthie /Cockworthy


3. George TREVYLYAN Chaplain to King Henry VIII

4. Richard TREVYLYAN


Spellings: The family name was most often spelt as Trevilian, Trevilion, or very rarely Trevilyan during this era. The family name was changed definitively to Trevelyan much later in the 17th century. If the name is modernized as Trevelyan researchers are less likely to find original historical documents for these men.


Nettlecombe Court has a late medieval hall, with the entrance front, porch, great hall and parlour added in 1599. Around 1641 there were further additions to rear of great hall, and between 1703 and 1707 the South West front was extended. It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.[1]

As stated in "Nettlecombe Court" by R. J. E. Bush:

"Nettlecombe is first mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086, when it was stated to be held by William the Conquerer, and in the charge of his Sheriff for Somerset, William de Mohun." A family lineage published in Nettlecombe Court shows that the estate passed into the Trevelyan (Trevilian / Trevillian) family in 1452, upon the marriage of Elizabeth Whalesburgh to John Trevelyan.

It remained as a family estate in the Trevelyan family until the mid-nineteen hundreds.

Nettlecombe Court is a large country mansion in the English county of Somerset.

Nettlecombe Court was originally built as a manor house, becoming a girls' boarding school in the early 1960s. Since 1967 has been the Leonard Wills Field Centre run by the Field Studies Council. The house is surrounded by Nettlecombe Park, a 90.4 hectares (223 acres) Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Records suggest this site has been wood pasture or parkland for at least 400 years. There are some very old oak pollards which may be of this age or older. The oldest standard trees are over 200 years of age. The continuity of open woodland and parkland, with large mature and over-mature timber, has enabled characteristic species of epiphytic lichens and beetles to become established and persist. Many of these species are now nationally scarce because this type of habitat has been eliminated over large areas of Great Britain.

The house and park are set in a secluded valley on the northern fringes of the Brendon Hills, within the Exmoor National Park.


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Sir John Trevilian of Mottiscombe's Timeline

Yarnscombe, Devon, England
Yarnscombe, Devonshire, England, United Kingdom
Yarnscombe, Devonshire, England, United Kingdom
September 8, 1522
Age 69
Nettlecombe, Somerset, England (United Kingdom)