Trumbull, William

, an estimable and upright statesman, was born at Easthampsted in Berkshire in August 1638. He was the eldest son of William Trumbull, esq. a justice of peace in Berkshire, and grandson of another William Trumbull, who was agent and envoy from James I. to the archduke Albert at Brussels, from 1609 to the end of 1625. This great man, for such he appears to have been, made a large collection of letters, memoirs, minutes, and negociations, of all the men of note in iiis time, with whom he entertained a constant and familiar correspondence. These documents, which are, or were lately, in the gallery at Easthampsted park, sufficiently show his care, industry, vigilance, and sufficiency, in the employment he served; and he appears to have been the family pattern and model which sir William Trumbull, the subject of our memoir, had in his eye, and spurred him on to an imitation of those virtues which, if they appeared so bright in the grandfather, shone forth in much greater lustre and perfection in the grandson.

Mr. Trumbull was educated partly at home and partly at Oafcingham school, to which he was sent in 1649. Jn 1654 he was admitted a gentleman commoner, under Mr. T. Wyat, in St. John’s college, Oxford, but removed three years after to Ah Souls, on being chosen a fellow. In 1659, he went out bachelor of laws. In 1664- he began his travels through France and Italy, and lived there with the lords Sunderland, Godolphin, and the bishop of London, Dr. Compton. In 1666 he returned to college, and the following year practised as a civilian in the vice-chancellor’s court. From some ms memorandums of his life written by himself, it appears that about this time he conducted an appeal to the lord chancellor Clarendon, and carried a point respecting the non-payment ojf fees for his doctor’s degree, | by which he gained great credit, and all the business of the vice-chancellor’s court. In July of this year, 1667, he took the degree of LL. D. and in Michaelmas term, 1668, was admitted of Doctors’ Commons, after which he says he attended diligently the courts, and took notes.

In 1670 he married a daughter, of sir Charles Cotterell, and the same year his father settled upon him the yearly sum of 350l. which, he adds, sharpened his industry in his profession. In 1672, some deaths and promotions contributed to increase his practice, now worth 500l. per ann.; and about the same time he got the reversion of the place of clerk of the signet on sir Philip Warwick’s death, which happened in 1682. In the following year, began his career of public employment, by his accompanying lord Dartmouth to Tangiers. In this expedition he was appointed judge advocate of the fleet, and commissioner for settling the properties of the leases of houses, &c. at Tan* giers, between the king and the inhabitants. For this service we should suppose he was not very amply remunerated, as he makes here a remark on “the great difference between the value of assistance when wanted, and after it is given and done with.” In November he returned, and resumed his profession in Doctors Commons; and about the same time, refused the place of secretary of war in Ireland.

In 1684, he was presented to the king by lord Rochester, and received the honour of knighthood; and was also made clerk of the deliveries of the ordnance stores, a place worth 300l. a year. In 1685, he was appointed envoy extraordinary at the court of France, against his inclination; but the king (James II.) insisted upon it, and gave him a pension of 200l. a year, in lieu of his place of clerk of the deliveries, which he could not hold with his appointment as envoy. His conduct in this office does him much credit. Being in France when the Protestants were persecuted in consequence of the revocation of the edict of Nantz, he remonstrated against it, and spoke his opinion with a freedom which was not very acceptable, either at the court where he was, or that from which he came; and when he found his remonstrances in vain, he took every method he could, by his privilege, to harbour many of the persecuted Protestants, and assisted them in recovering their effects, and conveying them to England. It was probably on this account that he was | recalled in 1636, and, as his services were too valuable to be laid aside, the king appointed him ambassador extraordinary to the Ottoman Porte; and before he embarked, the Turkey-company presented him with a gold cup, value sixty pounds. He was continued in this embassy by William III. and remained there until 1691. He then returned from Constantinople, principally by land. In 1694 and 1695 he was advanced to be one of the lords of the treasury, a member of the privy-council, and principal secretary of state. He was also governor of the Turkeycompany: and had been several times member of parliament, and once represented the university of Oxford. His opportunities to acquire diplomatic knowledge, and to understand the intrigues of negotiation, induced him once to say to king William, “Do not, Sir, send embassies to Italy, but a fleet into the Mediterranean.

In 1697, he resigned all his employments, and retired to East Hampsted, where he died December 14, 1716, and was buried in East Hampsted church. It was in this retirement that, in 1705, he became acquainted with Pope ,*


Pope’s epitaph on sir William Trumbull may be seen in his Works; but was never placed on his monument, as some have asserted.

who then lived at Binfield. Pope informed Mr. Spence, that he “loved very much to read and talk of the classics in his retirement. We used to take a ride out together three or four days in the week, and at last almost every day.” His letters to Pope breathe’an air of uncommon good temper, good sense, candour, and tranquillity of mind. They evince the scholar, the man of taste, and the gentleman, mixed with the clearest sense of propriety. It appears that sir William was the very first person that urged Pope to undertake a translation of the Iliad. Besides these letters in Pope’s Works, several written by him while he was ambassador in France, are preserved in the paperoffice, and extracts from others have been printed by sir John Dalrymple. His well-written character of air William Dolben, archbishop of York, we have already given in our account of that prelate. We ought not to omit, that he had been a friend and patron to Dryden, who, in the postscript to his Virgil, pays him a very elegant compliment: "If the last Æneid shine among its fellows, it is. owing to the commands of sir William Trumbull, one of the principal secretaries of state, who recommended it as | his favourite to my care; and for his sake particularly I have made it mine. For who would confess weariness when he. enjoined a fresh labour? I could not but invoke the assistance of a muse for this last office:

Extremum hunc, Arethusa, ­ neget quis carmina Gallo?

Sir William Trumbull’s first wife dying in 1704, he married Judith, daughter of Henry Alexander, fourth earl of Sterling, by whom he had a son of his own names who died in 1760, and whose daughter and sole heir married the hon. colonel Martin Sandys. Sir William had a brother, the rev. Dr. Charles Trumbull, who died Jan. 8, 1724. He was rector of Stystead in Essex, and Hadley in Suffolk, and chaplain to archbishop Sancroft, but quitted these livings at the Revolution. 1


Gent. Mag. vol. LX. Bowles’s edition of Pope. See Index. Burnet’s Own Times. -Ma!ne’s Dryden, vol. IV. p. 560. Ruffhead’s Life of Pope. Coote’s Catalogue of Civilians.