Sir John Trenchard - Encyclopedia

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SIR JOHN TRENCHARD (1640-1695), English politician, belonged to an old Dorset family, his father being Thomas Trenchard (1615-1671), of Wolverton, and his grandfather Sir Thomas Trenchard (1582-1657), also of Wolverton, who was knighted by James I. in 1613. Born at Lytchett Matravers, near Poole, on the 30th of March 1640, and educated at New College, Oxford, John Trenchard entered parliament as member for Taunton in 1679, and associated himself with those who proposed to exclude the duke of York from the throne. He attended some of the meetings held by these malcontents and was possibly concerned in the Rye House plot; at all events he was arrested in July 1683, but no definite evidence was brought against him and he was released. When Monmouth landed in the west of England in June 1685 Trenchard fled from England, but was pardoned through the good offices of William Penn and returned home two years later. Again he entered parliament, but he took no active part in the Revolution of 1688, although he managed to secure the good will of William III. He was knighted by the king and made chief justice of Chester, and in 1692 he was appointed a secretary of state. He and the government incurred much ridicule through their failure to prove the existence of a great Jacobite plot in Lancashire and Cheshire in which they had been led to believe. Sir John died on the 27th of April 1695. His wife was Philippa (d. 1743), daughter of George Speke (d. 1690) of White Lackington, Somerset.

Another member of the Trenchard family was the writer, John Trenchard (1662-1723), erroneously referred to by Macaulay as a son of Sir John Trenchard. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Trenchard inherited considerable wealth and was thus able to devote the greater part of his life to writing on political subjects, his point of view being that of a Whig and an opponent of the High Church party. His chief works are A Short History of Standing Armies in England (1698 and 1731) and The Natural History of Superstition (1709). With Thomas Gordon (d. 1750) he produced a weekly periodical, The Independent Whig, and with the same colleague he wrote a number of letters to the London Journal and to the British Journal under the pseudonym of Cato. These letter's were published in four volumes in 1724 and the collection has often been reprinted. Trenchard died on the 7th of December 1723.

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