Trevelyen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Cornwall, one of the original six "Celtic nations" is the homeland to the surname Trevelyen. A revival of the Cornish language which began in the 9th century AD has begun. No doubt this was the language spoken by distant forebears of the Trevelyen family. Though surnames became common during medieval times, English people were formerly known only by a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames were adopted in medieval England is fascinating. Many Cornish surnames appear to be topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees, many are actually habitation surnames. The name Trevelyen is a local type of surname and the Trevelyen family lived in Cornwall, at the manor of Trevelyan, in the parish of St. Veep.

Treville St., Plymouth (mentioned in the Corporation books of 1494-5 as "Trevyllys-strete"), commemorates an old merchant family long resident there. [1]

Early Origins of the Trevelyen family

The surname Trevelyen was first found in Cornwall where this "Cornish family traced to Nicholas de Trevelyan living in the reign of Edward I, whose ancestors were of Trevelyan, in the parish of St. Velap, near Fowey, [in Cornwall] at a still earlier period." [2]

Another reference states "in 1273 Felicia, wife of William de Bodrugan, confirmed to Andrew, Trevelyan and Cumi and to Nicholas de Trevelyan her son." [3] Continuing, "Trevelien was [in] 1086 part of the great barony held by Offels from the Earl of Cornwall." [3]

Little Shelford in Cambridgeshire was home to another branch of the family. "In the chancel of the church is a monument to Sir John de Treville, a Knight Templar, and lord of the manor, with his figure in a recumbent position: a skeleton encased in lead was dug up near the altar in 1824, the hair of it being in a perfect state." [4]

"Basil, or Basill, [in the parish of St. Cleather] hath for many ages been the seat of the worshipful family of the Trevillians, or Trevelyans. Respecting this family a tradition uniformly prevailed, that in a very remote period, when that tract of land which once formed the country of Lyonesse near Penzance was inundated, either by the submersion of the ground, or the violent encroachment of the sea, an ancestor of the Trevillians who resided in these parts, mounted on a white horse, continued to buffet the waves until he safely-reached the continent of Cornwall. To commemorate this singular preservation, the event is said to have given the family arms, which are 'In a field gules, a demi-horse, argent, issuing out of the waves of the sea, azure.' " [5]

"The family of Trevillian or Trevelyan, resided for several ages in Cornwall, having a seat at Trevelyan, in St. Veep, and another at Basil. In the reign of Edward IV. they removed into Somersetshire, in consequence of a marriage with the heiress of Whalesborowe, who possessed Nettlecombe in Somersetshire." [5]

We did find this interesting entry about the Treville variant: "Edward I. granted lands at Helston 'by the tenure of grand sergeantry to William de Treville, on condition of his bringing a fish hook or iron crook and a boat and net, at his own proper costs and charges, for the King's fishing in the lake of Helston (Loo Pool), whenever the King should come to Helston, and as long as he should tarry there. From this I conclude that this William de Treville either had been or was Keeper of the royalty of this lake or pool by inheritance and held one Cornish acre of land, that is to say, one hundred and eighty English acres, in Eglesderry by the tenure of Serjeancy for that purpose." [5]

The Trevilles were seated at Ethy or Tethe in the parish of St. Winnow. They continued for about four hundred years longer. Richard de Trevill occurs in Bucks 1194-98 (Rotul. Curiae Regis). Saier de Trivilla witnesses Robert de Stuteville's grant to Wendling Abbey, Norfolk (Mon. Angl.). "The family of Treville possessed Rosemaund, Herefordshire. Of these, Alexander Treville (younger brother and heir of Baldwin, heir of Richard, heir of Baldwin), is stated to have had 'fayre lands in the counties of Hereford and Norfolk temp. Edward I."[1]

Alec Trevelyan (006), also known as Janus, was a fictional character and the main antagonist in the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye.

Early History of the Trevelyen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Trevelyen research. Another 145 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 148 and 1481 are included under the topic Early Trevelyen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Trevelyen Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Trevelyan, Trevelion, Trevelian, Trevillian and others.

Early Notables of the Trevelyen family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Trevelyen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Trevelyen family

Amongst the settlers in North America with this distinguished name Trevelyen were John Trevellion, who settled in Maryland in 1665; Mary Trevillian who settled in Maryland in 1733 and George Hamilton Trevelyan, who was naturalized in California in 1898..



The Trevelyen Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Tyme tryeth troth
Motto Translation: Time tests faith


  1. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  2. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  3. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print


Houseofnames.com on Facebook