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Updated:  13 May 2012 

The Trelawny family who resided at Ham House, in Weston Peverel, or Pennycross, was descended from John Trelawny, of Saint German's, in Cornwall.   He was the second son of Sir John Trelawny of Coldrumech.

However, it took two more generations before the family even arrived on the Devon side of the River Tamar.   Both John's son, Walter, and his son, Robert, both lived at Tudyford (the modern Tideford), in Cornwall.

Robert Trelawny (senior)

Robert's second son, also Robert, was the first to have a local connection and he was elected Mayor of Plymouth for three terms.  Robert married twice, the first time to Miss Elizabeth Mayne, of Exeter, by whom he had two sons and two daughters.  She died in 1602 but he re-married and had another daughter.

Robert Trelawny (junior)

The eldest son, and heir, was Robert Trelawny.  He was born in 1598 and married a Miss Ann Voga.  In 1631 he was granted a patent by the New England Company and with another Plymouth merchant founded a settlement in Maine that is now the city of Portland.  This Robert was elected Mayor of Plymouth in 1633-34 and Member of Parliament for Plymouth in 1640.

Robert moved his family from Looe Street, right in the centre of the Town, out to Pennycross in 1639 and erected Ham House on the site of an older residence.  He was a staunch Royalist and gave jewels to the value of 2,000 to support King Charles.  He died in a Roundhead gaol in 1644, during the Civil War, having seen Ham House partly burnt to the ground by Parliamentarian troops.

Walter and Samuel Trelawny

Ann gave Robert junior four sons and three daughters: Walter, Samuel, Ann, Elizabeth, Judith, John and Robert.  It is not clear whether Walter or Samuel gave rise to the next generation at Ham but it is known that it was Samuel Pollexfen Trelawny.

Samuel Pollexfen Trelawny

Samuel Pollexfen Trelawny married Miss Catharine Luce at Saint Budeaux Parish Church on June 30th 1761.  They only had the one child, Mary Trelawny, and when in 1784 she married 22-years-old Mr George Collins of Kenilworth, in Warwickshire, she took with her the inheritance of the estate at Ham, where they took up residence.  George was a Captain in the Royal Marines.

George and Mary had many children, of which the three sons are of importance to the story of the descent of the Ham Estate.  The first son, naturally, was Mr George Trelawny Collins.  He was born on December 28th 1787 and baptised at Harpford, Devon, on June 5th 1788.  The second son was Mr Arthur Luce Trelawny Collins, who was baptised at Harpford on July 23rd 1789.

Both these sons died at an early age.  Lieutenant George Trelawny Collins died on April 6th 1812 during the storming of Badajoz in the Peninsula Campaign.  Lieutenant Arthur Luce Trelawny Collins, Royal Artillery, died at the end of 1820 and was buried at Saint Pancras' Church on January 5th 1821.

Charles Trelawny Collins

The third son was Charles Trelawny Collins, born at Ham House on April 10th 1792.  He began his education in 1803 at Peter Blundell's School, at Tiverton, Devon, from which, in 1810, he obtained a Blundell Scholarship and a silver medal for superiority in elocution.  He then attended Balliol College, Oxford, from where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1816 followed by a Master of Arts in 1821.  In that year he was admitted in to holy orders by the Bishop of Oxford and immediately became curate at Saint Pancras Church, Weston Peverel.

In addition to his pastoral duties he is thought to have been responsible for the erection of the Camel's Head Inn for the benefit of men working on the new turnpike road between Plymouth and Saltash Passage.

However, he did not stay long in Pennycross and in 1823 was transferred back to Balliol College.  Two years later the Rectory of Timsbury, near Bath, became vacant and it was presented to him by the Master and fellows of Balliol College.  It was at Timsbury that in 1831 he married Miss Elizabeth Ayliffe Boodle, the youngest daughter of Mr Edward Boodle, of London.

In the meantime his father had died at the age of 64 years.   He was buried at Saint Pancras Church on July 28th 1826.  Charles inherited Ham House upon the death of his mother, Mrs Mary Collins.  She was buried at Saint Pancras Church on September 11th 1837.  She had been responsible for the erection of the Camel's Head Inn in 1827.  In accordance with directions contained in her will, he obtained a Royal licence (dated November 26th 1838) permitting him to take her maiden name of Trelawny as his surname and thus became known as the Reverend Charles Trelawny Collins Trelawny.  In 1841 he returned to the family home at Ham and once again became curate of Saint Pancras Church, a position that had been kept open for him.

The household at Ham was very female orientated, it seems, to judge from the 1851 census.  Apart from the Curate, there were only two other males in the entire house, Thomas Underhill, the coachman, and John Dodd, the footman.

In 1868 the Reverend Charles Trelawny Collins Trelawny retired from the ministry due to ill health.  He died at Ham on Good Friday, April 19th 1878.

Mrs Elizabeth Ayliffe Collins Trelawny

It would appear that the Ham estate then passed to The Reverend Charles’s widow, Mrs Elizabeth Ayliffe Collins Trelawny.  She was in her seventies at the time and was sharing Ham House with her niece, Miss Arthurine Trelawny Collins, three domestic servants, a coachman and a footman.  She held the Estate for only a short while, passing away in May 1886 at the age of 77.  She was buried at Saint Pancras' Church on May 5th 1886. 

The Estate then passed to the three daughters of Mr Arthur Luce Trelawny Collins: Sohpia Mary Fitgerald Trelawny Collins; Caroline Matilda Trelawny Collins; and Arthurine Trelawny Collins.  Sophia died in 1883 and Caroline in 1889.

Miss Arthurine Trelawny Collins continued to live at Ham until she, too, died, on Tuesday February 21st 1905.  She was 83 years of age.  She had laid the foundation stone of the Camel's Head Inn back in 1827.

It was then that the Ham Estate passed in to the Ross family by virtue of the marriage, at Saint Andrew’s Church on November 18th 1851, of Miss Caroline Matilda Trelawny Collins to the Reverend William Ross, of Derry, Ireland.  The Reverend William Ross was born in Derry on May 14th 1814 and died at Limavady on January 14th 1891.

John Trelawny Ross

The Estate passed to their eldest son, the Reverend John Trelawny Ross.   He changed his surname from Ross to Trelawny-Ross and did much to maintain the house and estate.  As the last of old fashioned "squires", he gave an annual dinner for his tenants.  The Reverend John Trelawny Trelawny-Ross died in 1935 at the age of 82 years.  His wife, Mrs Mary Frederica Cecilia Trelawny-Ross had passed away just a few weeks previous.

The last Trelawny at Ham

He was succeeded by the Reverend William Edwin Trelawny Trelawny-Ross.  He had been born at Neyland in Glamorganshire on September 20th 1883 and was certainly at Ham in 1939.  He died at Fulford Grange, Kingston Saint Mary, in Somerset in 1962.

Ham House was given to the City in 1947 and became a branch library.  In the 1970s it was divided into apartments and painted a garish pink, according to Mr Keith Perry, who lived nearby.



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  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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