Trefusis family

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Arms of Trefusis: Argent, a chevron between three spindles sable
Trefusis heraldic achievement, detail from stained glass windows in Bicton House, Devon, seat of John Rolle, 1st Baron Rolle (d.1842), husband of Louisa Trefusis, youngest daughter of Robert Trefusis, 17th Baron Clinton. Blazon: Quarterly of 4: 1&4: Argent, a chevron between three spindles sable (Trefusis); 2: Azure, three boar's heads couped argent muzzled gules a cross crosslet argent for difference (Forbes of Pitsligo); 3: Or, a bend gules surmounted by a fess chequy azure and argent in chief a crescent azure a canton ermine for difference (Stuart)[1]
The manor house of Trefusis, now a farmhouse, with grazing Friesian cows

The Trefusis family of Cornwall (anciently de Trefusis) continue in 2015 as lords of the manor of Trefusis, near Flushing in the parish of Mylor, Cornwall, from which they took their surname at some time before the 13th century.[2]

In 1794 Robert George William Trefusis (1764-1797) of Trefusis, the senior representative of the family, successfully claimed the peerage title Baron Clinton following the death in 1791 without progeny of his grandfather's 3rd cousin George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford, 16th Baron Clinton (1730–1791), and thus became the 17th Baron Clinton.[3] Both Walpole and Trefusis were descended from the marriage of Robert Rolle (c.1622-1660) of Heanton Satchville, Petrockstowe, Devon, and Lady Arabella Clinton, the younger daughter of Theophilus Clinton, 4th Earl of Lincoln, 12th Baron Clinton (d.1667).[4]

The senior line of the Trefusis family died out in the male line in 1957 on the death of Charles John Robert Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis, 21st Baron Clinton (1863–1957), who left two daughters and co-heiresses to the barony, which went into abeyance, but being an ancient one created by writ, is able to descend via female lines.

The abeyancy was terminated in 1965 when the title Baron Clinton was claimed by Gerard Nevile Mark Fane-Trefusis (b.1934), a descendant in a junior line of Thomas Fane, 8th Earl of Westmorland (1701-1771), and the grandson of the 21st Baron's eldest daughter, who in 1958 had assumed by deed poll the additional surname of Trefusis, and thus became the 22nd Baron Clinton and is living in 2015.

As he inherited the vast Devonshire estates (mostly formerly belonging to the Rolle family) of the 21st Baron, who "held sway over the largest estate Devon had ever seen",[5] (now managed by his Clinton Devon Estates company), the Cornwall estates including Trefusis descended to Major Hon. Henry Walter Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis of the Scots Guards, the second son of Charles Henry Rolle Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis, 20th Baron Clinton (1834–1904), and in 2015 the occupant of the manor house of Trefusis is the Major's grandson Nicholas John Trefusis (born 1943), Lieutenant-Commander Royal Navy, a Justice of the Peace for Cornwall and a Deputy Lieutenant for that county.[6]


The arms of the Trefusis family are: Argent, a chevron between three spindles sable; the crest is: A griffin segreant or resting his dexter foot on a shield argent.[7]

Notable family members[edit]



  1. ^ Blazons per Debrett's Peerage, 2015, p.258, Baron Clinton (Fane-Trefusis), some minor differences in depiction
  2. ^ Vivian, J.L., The Visitations of Cornwall: comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1530, 1573 & 1620; with additions by J.L. Vivian, Exeter, 1887, pedigree of "Trefusis of Trefusis", pp.463-8 [1]; The first of the family to whom a date is assigned by Vivian, 1887, p.463 is "William Trefuses" who was living in 1291 (regnal date 22 Edward I), who was descended in the fourth generation from "Aceus de Trefuses", who is likely therefore to have been living in the 12th century
  3. ^ Lauder, Rosemary, Devon Families, Tiverton, 2002, p.67
  4. ^ Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.655, pedigree of Rolle
  5. ^ Lauder, p.73
  6. ^ Kidd, Charles, Debrett's peerage & Baronetage 2015 Edition, London, 2015, p.259, Baron Clinton, Collaterals
  7. ^ Pascoe, W. H. (1979) A Cornish Armory. Padstow: Lodenek Press; p. 104
  8. ^ Pevsner, N. (1969) Cornwall; 2nd ed. Harmondsworth: Penguin; p. 125
  9. ^ "In the chancel aisle kneels a young man born when Charles Stuart was about to die [1649]; he is Francis Trefusis, carved in stone."--Arthur Mee in his Cornwall; England's farthest south, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1937.
  10. ^ Polwhele, Richard (1806) The Civil and Military History of Cornwall. London: Cadell and Davies; vol. 1, pp. 106-09