Jonathon Trelawny, hero of the Cornwall National Anthem

Jonathan Trelawny The hero of the Cornwall's National Anthem - Song of the Western Men.

Sir Jonathan Trelawny (March 24th 1650, Pelynt, Cornwall - July 19th 1721, Chelsea, Middlesex) was Bishop of Bristol, Exeter and Winchester. He was one of the Seven Bishops tried under James II and the hero of the Cornish ballad, The Song of the Western Men, known by the refrain, And shall Trelawny die:

And shall Trelawny die!
And shall Trelawny die!
There's twenty thousand Cornish lads
Will know the reason why.

Born at Pelynt into an old Cornish family, his father, the 2nd Baronet of Trelawne, was a Royalist supporter during the English Civil War. Jonathan Trelawny was ordained a priest in 1676, and in 1685 was appointed Bishop of Bristol.

In 1687, James II, a Roman Catholic, challenged the authority of the Church of England by setting out a Declaration of Indulgence towards Catholics; the following year, he instituted a second Declaration, insisting that it to be read in every church in the land. Seven bishops, including Trelawny, refused to read it. James in retaliation imprisoned the bishops in the Tower.

Fearing a popular demonstration, James had the bishops transported by river to Traitors' Gate in the Tower of London. On 30th June, 1688, the seven bishops were brought before the King's Bench in Westminster Hall and charged with seditious libel. To popular acclaim they were acquitted.When the news reached Cornwall, the church bells of Pelynt rang and the mayor fired the two town cannons.

Soon afterwards, William of Orange, a Protestant, took the throne, and James II fled the country. Trelawny went on to become Bishop of Exeter, and then Bishop of Winchester in 1707 until his death. He was also appointed Prelate of the Order of the Garter

When he died on 21 June 1721 his body was brought back to Pelynt for burial.

In the nineteenth century, R.S. Hawker, vicar of Morwenstow, published The Song of the Western Men, based on the imprisonment of Trelawny and the reaction in Cornwall. The poem was set to music, and is the Cornish Anthem.

Jonathan Trelawny Biography


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