[trih-vel-yuhn, -vil-]
Trevelyan, Sir Charles Edward, 1807-86, British colonial administrator. After a period of service in India, he returned (1838) to England and was (1840-59) assistant secretary of the treasury. He was knighted (1848) for his administration of Irish famine relief. In 1853 he headed, with Sir Stafford Northcote (later earl of Iddesleigh), the important commission that recommended recruitment to the civil service by competitive examination. He was governor of Madras (1859-60) and finance minister in India (1862-65), promoting public works. Trevelyan was father of the historian George Otto Trevelyan and brother-in-law of Thomas Macaulay.
Trevelyan, George Macaulay, 1876-1962, English historian; son of Sir George Otto Trevelyan. Educated at Cambridge, he became professor of modern history there in 1927 and was master of Trinity College from 1940 to 1951. He was a master of the so-called literary school of historical writing, and his reaction against "scientific" history has had tremendous influence. He did not, however, ignore the scientific aspects of historical scholarship; rather he asserted that the historian must elucidate his subject through imaginative speculation, based on all possible evidence, and present it by means of highly developed literary craftsmanship. His most ambitious works are an extended study of Garibaldi (3 vol., 1907-11) and a history of England under Queen Anne (3 vol., 1930-34). He is perhaps better known for his one-volume History of England (1926), his British History in the Nineteenth Century (1922), and England under the Stuarts (1907). Other works include biographies of John Bright (1913), Lord Charles Grey (1920), his father, Sir George Otto Trevelyan (1932), and Lord Grey of Fallodon (1937); The English Revolution, 1688-1689 (1938); English Social History (1942; pub. in an illustrated version in 4 vol., 1949-52); and An Autobiography and Other Essays (1949).

See biography by D. Cannadine (1991); study by J. H. Plumb (1955, repr. 1969).

Trevelyan, Sir George Otto, 1838-1928, British historian and politician. He served as a Whig member of the House of Commons from 1865 to 1897. He held posts under W. E. Gladstone as civil lord of the admiralty (1868-70), secretary to the admiralty (1880-82), chief secretary for Ireland (1882-84), and chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster (1884-85). In 1876, Trevelyan produced a biography of his uncle, Lord Macaulay. His Early History of Charles James Fox (1880) firmly established his reputation as a historian. His study of the times of Fox was continued in the American Revolution (4 vol., 1899-1907) and completed with George the Third and Charles Fox (1912). Trevelyan's Whig sympathies led to his condemnation of George III and praise for the American Revolutionary leaders, an attitude that contributed to the great popularity of his work in the United States, but that detracted from its objectivity.

See biography by his son, G. M. Trevelyan (1932).

Trevelyan is a rare Cornish surname (and less commonly, a first name). There is a family of Trevelyans, and it lends its name to Trevelyan College of the University of Durham. The name is derived from a Cornish place meaning "Village of Elian".


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Schools & Colleges


  • A Very British Family: The Trevelyans and their World by Laura Trevelyan, published by I.B. Tauris, October 2006, ISBN 978-1-86064-946-2

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