Sir Jonathan Trelawny - Anglican bishop

Bishop John Trelawny
Bishop John Trelawny

Jonathan Trelawny was born in Pelynt (between Looe and Polperro) in 1650. He was ordained in 1673. Along with his brother, Major General Charles Trelawny, he helped to put down the rebellion in the west led by the Duke of Monmouth. In gratitude for his services, King James II knighted him and appointed him Bishop of Bristol in 1685.

Although he was loyal to the crown, Trelawny was one of seven Bishops who petitioned against the king’s Declaration of Indulgence in 1667, granting religious tolerance to the Catholics. Along with the other bishops, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for three weeks, then tried and acquitted. He became Bishop of Exeter in 1688 and Bishop of Winchester in 1707. He died in 1721.

Trelawny was the hero of the 1825 “The Song of the Western Men” by R. S. Hawker, the well known Vicar of Morwenstow Better known as “And shall Trelawny die?” or just plain “Trelawny”, the song was derived from an old Cornish proverb which forms the chorus.

Trelawny

With a good sword and a trusty shield
A faithful heart and true
King James's men shall understand
What Cornish men can do
And have they fixed the where and when?
And shall Trelawny die?
Here's twenty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why.

Chorus
And shall Trelawny live?
Or shall Trelawny die?
Here's twenty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why.

Out spake the captain brave and bold
A merry wight was he
Though London Tower were Michael's hold
We'll set Trelawny free
We'll cross the Tamar, land to land
The Severn is no stay
Then one and all and hand in hand
And who shall bid us nay.

And when we came to London wall
A pleasant sight to view
Come forth, come forth, ye cowards all
Here are better men than you
Trelawny, he's in keep in hold
Trelawny he may die
But twenty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why.