Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tredenham, John

TREDENHAM, JOHN (1668–1710), politician, was the elder surviving son of Sir Joseph Tredenham of Tregonan, St. Ewe, Cornwall (M.P. for St. Mawes in that county, and for Totnes), who died on 25 April 1707, and was buried in the south aisle of Westminster Abbey. Sir Joseph married, about 9 May 1666, Elizabeth (d. 1731, aged 96), only daughter of Sir Edward Seymour, third baronet, of Berry Pomeroy, near Totnes, and sister of Sir Edward Seymour [q. v.], the speaker of the House of Commons.

John was baptised on 28 March 1668, and admitted as student of the Inner Temple in 1682. He matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 6 May 1684, and in the following year contributed a set of verses to the university's collection of poems on the accession of James II, but he left Oxford without taking a degree. The family was attached to tory principles, controlled the Cornish borough of St. Mawes, and exercised great influence in the adjoining boroughs. John contested the constituency of Truro in 1689, and petitioned the House of Commons against the return of the two whig members, but did not succeed in obtaining the seat. When his relative, Henry Seymour, elected to sit for their family borough of Totnes, the vacancy at St. Mawes was filled by Tredenham (9 April 1690), and he represented it until the dissolution in 1705. He was then out of parliament for a time, but on 21 Nov. 1707 he succeeded his father at St. Mawes, and sat for it continuously until his death. The Cornish historian, Tonkin, describes him as an ornament to the lower house.

The father had been displaced by William III early in 1698 from the governorship of the castle of St. Mawes, and the son declined to sign the voluntary association of loyalty to William III (1695–6). A story is told in the life of John Mottley that the officers of the Earl of Nottingham were on one occasion upon the look-out for Colonel John Mottley, father of the play-writer and a well-known Jacobite spy; Mottley used frequently to dine with John Tredenham at the tavern of the Blue Posts, and when the officers made a raid upon that inn, Tredenham got arrested instead of his friend. He was brought before Nottingham, and his papers, which he asserted to be the groundwork of a play, were examined. In a short time Tredenham was set at liberty by the earl, with the remark that he had ‘perused the play and heard the statement,’ but could find no trace of a plot in either.

In 1701, after the death of James II and the recognition by Louis XIV of his son as the new king of England, orders were given that Poussin, the French agent, should be instructed to leave this country. He was not at home, but was found at supper (Tuesday, 23 Sept.) at the Blue Posts with Tredenham, Anthony Hammond (1668–1738) [q. v.], and Charles Davenant [q. v.] This incident formed the subject of much discussion, and cost the tory party dear. The Jacobites in parliament were called ‘French pensioners’ and ‘Poussineers,’ and the two other culprits tried to put the blame on Tredenham. It was reckoned that at the following general election this supper lost the tories thirty seats, and those of Hammond and Davenant among them (Macaulay, Hist. of England, v. 299, 303; Corresp. of Clarendon and Rochester, 1828 ed. ii. 398; Coke MSS., Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. ii. 428, 436).

Tredenham died ‘by a fall from his coach-box’ on 25 Dec. 1710. He married in 1689 Anne, daughter and sole heiress of Sir John Lloyd, bart., of the Forest, Carmarthenshire.

[Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. ii. 736–7; Parochial Hist. of Cornwall, i. 376–86; Le Neve's Knights (Harl. Soc. viii.), p. 99; Chester's Westminster Abbey Reg. p. 259; Chauncy's Hertfordshire, p. 208; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Vivian's Visit. of Cornwall, p. 456; Luttrell's Hist. Relation, vi. 670; Doran's Annals of the Stage, i. 269; Courtney's Parl. Rep. of Cornwall, pp. 86–9; Cole MS. 5831, ff. 209, 210, and Additional MS. (Brit. Mus.) 18448, p. 74.]

W. P. C.