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Trussell Of Interest

Elizabeth Trussell – St. Nicholas Church - Castle Hedingham – Essex.

I recently remembered seeing a photograph of a black marble tomb erected for Elizabeth Trussell and her husband John De Vere the 15th Earl of Oxford in St. Nicholas' Church Castle Hedingham in Essex and thought that I must visit it and take a few pictures for the website. The name Elizabeth dates back to ancient times in the family history and it is also now my daughter’s middle name because of the old family connection and also because it is just a beautiful name.

Elizabeth’s father Edward which is my sons middle name, died in 1499 aged twenty, he was from the ancient Trussell family from the Warwickshire and Staffordshire areas with the coat of arms “argent on a fret gules nine bezants “ and “ argent fretty gules on each joint a bezant”.

The great Trussell catastrophe that also happened in 1499 was that Edwards only son John died. When I say ‘died` that was what was found to be the case after an investigation into his young death, but I look at it as a very convenient outcome, because as he was the last male heir in the blood line, my belief is that he was killed because the Trussell’s had so much to lose with his apparent death, with the male heir gone a daughter could be married into another family and all the vast lands and wealth would be lawfully inherited. When Little John died he was two years old thus leaving Elizabeth as sole heir to the large Trussell lands. After Elizabeth’s father and brother deaths she became a royal ward. Her wardship and Marriage were purchased from King Henry VII by George Grey Earl of Kent gave 400 marks for the wardship and lands of Elizabeth, who was herself still a minor and by his will appointed that she should be married to his son Sir Henry but when the Earl died Richard his eldest son took Elizabeth by force from the Countess Catherine and gave her again freely to King Henry after he paid a heavy fine for his crime. Elizabeth’s lands were worth 1000 marks per year and the King sold her wardship again for 2000 marks to John de Vere the 15th Earl of Oxford, he then married her around the year 1508. Bearing in mind she was born in 1496 she was still a very young girl just about twelve or thirteen when she married and over the next few years had four sons and three daughters. Elizabeth died in 1527 and was laid to rest with her late husband in their fantastic black marble tomb, it is a great piece of work and still looks good today.

Thus again the Trussell lands and wealth were again lost from the Trussell’s and went over to the Vere’s who were also from an ancient line of Barons and knights. Still today at Castle Hedingham in Essex stands the beautiful De Vere Castle, but from this marriage to the 15TH Earl also comes another story or after the film Anonymous, it gives us another possible famous family connection I admit it is still not proven but the Grandson of Elizabeth Trussell and John de Vere is one Edward De Vere who has been said to be none other than the William Shakespeare the famous playwright.

The evidence can always be made to suit the person and changed in a way to appear to give the story credit, but I must say reading some of the evidence, truthful and the coincidences it does give Edward De Vere a very strong case for being the very man.  I think I will expand on this with a whole page of information. I do know that when I went to Billesley manor which stands 100 metres from the ancient Billesley Trussell Moat and Manor House which was the seat of the Trussells for five hundred odd years and located five miles outside Stratford-apon-avon there is a Shakespeare Room on the first floor, also its known that Thomas Trussell who owned Billesley was a writer himself so he must of Known this Shakespeare, whether he was a friend or maybe through Elizabeth a relation it does make another interesting story for the Trussell family History.

 Click here to see pictures of tomb



Westmister Abbey, Sir William Trussell 

During the last Parliament summoned by Edward II there is documentary evidence of a Parliamentary leader who achieved sufficient notoriety to be honoured at his death by burial in Westminster Abbey, a distinction by the way which has been conferred on but very few of his successors in the Chair. This was Sir William Trussell who acted as "Procurator totius Parliamenti" on the deposition of Edward II at Kenilworth and the same man whom Marlowe refers to in his play of Edward II which I have written about on the web-site. Apparently Sir William acted in a similar capacity in the reign of Edward the III for in 1340 he announced a naval victory to the House and was specially mentioned in the Rolls as undertaking to raise wools for the King's aid.


The Parliament which assembled at Westminster in 1339 whether it was presided over or not by Trussell was one of exceptional interest and importance although its proceedings have received very scant attention at the hands of constitutional writers. Dean Stanley says that he was buried in the Abbey in 1364 and Trussell's tomb was in St. Michael's Chapel under the image of St. George. A foliated cross remaining in the pavement may be his memorial for though the slab has long been supposed to mark the resting-place of one of the Abbots, a herald's roll of the reign of Edward III records that "Monsire William Trussell wearing a silver gules believe the ends of florets" which accords with the Coat of Arms on the stone at Westminster.


I visited Westminster Abbey and looked inside the Chapel of St. Michael and found the foliated cross carved into a grave size slab of stone and I have drawn what it looked like, sadly you are not aloud to take photographs. The fact that William was buried there at a time when the right of interment at Westminster was confined almost without exception to members of the Royal Family and to ecclesiastics of high degree is an additional proof, if any were needed of the bond of union which existed between Church and State in the days of the Plantagenet’s. Moreover Simon Langham though not yet an Abbot was a prominent member of the great Benedictine Monastery at least as early as 1346, in which year Trussell is believed to have died and it may have been owing to his intervention that a new precedent was set when a Parliamentary leader's bones were laid to rest at Westminster. The title of Procurator one still retained by Convocation was applied to Trussell who exercised many of the functions associated with the Speaker's office in the reign of Edward II. Though summoned to a Council in 1341-42, Trussell was never a Peer of Parliament, as has been supposed by Burke and other genealogical writers. The family owned property in the county of Stafford and other large estates in the neighbourhood of Windsor formerly belonging to Oliver of Bordeaux. Their armorial bearings are still to be seen in a south window of the beautiful decorated chancel of Warfield Church an old forest parish in Berkshire. I have spoken to the Vicar and plan to visit the church soon. Although styled “Monsieur” in the Rolls Trussell was made a Knight of the Bath on 22 May 1306.


Yesterday’s trip was well worth it, Westminster Abbeys Muniment Room & Library have confirmed to me that Sir William Trussell is buried in St. Michael’s Chapel, but the exact spot is unknown due to the movement of slabs and Monuments over the many hundreds of years that have past, if I remember correctly I was told that some three thousand people are buried there but only three hundred have grave markings. If he lies under that exact spot where the foliated cross is today we may never know but regardless the fact is he is there and we should all be very proud of his achievement of being laid to rest in the Great Abbey.



This picture is my interpretation of what I could see within St Michael's Chapel

Move your cursor over the picture to get a closer look.

Image courtesy of J.Trussell.



The Trussel Stone (Clach an Truisheal)

The Trussel Stone is located on the Isle of Lewis, Western Isles of Scotland.



 Trussel Stone









Image courtesy of Peter Logie, for further details about purchasing the picture please click here and search for trussel stone.

Please click here to access the website Stones Of Wonder for further information.


 Sir Theobold Trussel

Born about 1310 Died in 1368. Father was Sir William Trussel, Grandad was Sir Edmund Trussel

He had three children: Sir John Trussel, Anne and Sir Alvred Trussel

Flore All Saints Church

He was in possession of Flore in 1345 after his father Sir William died and when Sir Theobald died in 1368 an effigy of him was installed at the east end of the north aisle in All Saints church Flore and was removed around the 1830’s. In the drawing of the effigy it looks like a white marble monument raised off the ground with Sir Theobald wearing his suit of chain mail, helmet and at his feet what appears to be a lion couchant.

The drawing description reads:

This effigy when I drew it was in several pieces in Mr. Baker’s garden at Northampton and had been turned out of Flore church sometime. I drew it about 1838. None of the altar part of the tomb remaining.














Move your cursor over the picture to get a closer look.

Image courtesy of Northamptonshire Libraries and Information Service, for further details click here.

Note of interest: I recently spoke to the Flore Heritage Society and they confirmed that the Monument had been lost without trace and they entered the information I had collected into their archives which will be recorded for many years to come. As so much family history has been lost over the century’s I am glad to have helped in some way of recording this drawing and identifying Sir Theobald Trussel’s effigy for future generations.


 Great War Memorial - Burnham On Crouch, Essex 

Last year I visited the Great War Memorial located in Burnham-On-Crouch in Essex, two of my Great Grand Uncles are listed who served and gave their life for this country.

Alan Lionel Trussell & Wilfred Gordon Trussell.




 Burnham On Crouch Great War Mem 2


Close up of Plaque



Move your cursor over the plaque to get a closer look.


Edward II


I have just read the play Edward the Second by Christopher Marlow and found that it contains Sir William Trussel. Although he only appears towards the end and speaks a few lines I was still impressed he was mentioned, I guess he really did play a very important role in the goings on at that time and the murder of King Edward II to get a mention in the play. 

Although the likes of Mortimer Senior and Junior, the Earls of Lancaster, Warwick, Pembroke and the Lords Beaumont, Maltravers and Berkeley are heavily involved in the play, Sir William is down as a representative of Parliament so he was an important person at that time but his true involvement will never be known, I have read that he fled from England to France after the murder so he must have done wrong. 

As for his two lines in the play both in scene twenty, the first one to the king is, My Lord the parliament must have present news, And therefore say, will you resign or no? The second line again in conversation with King Edward he says ‘And thus, most humbly do we take our leave’.

Back in 2008 I visited Berkeley Castle and went into the Great Hall and the so called murder room where it is alleged that the murder of King Edward took place and I could really get into the play having actually been to the place where it all took place! I also spoke to Charles Berkeley in the Great Hall and thought after that it was quite possibly the first time a Trussell and Berkeley were together in there since the thirteenth century. I know that he was again at the castle in 1331 as Sir William was one of the jury of knights that exonerated Thomas Berkeley from culpability in the king’s death, so what’s that six hundred and seventy seven years I make it since that day! It was so good to walk around where they had all been changing the history of this country all those years ago.

The castle in Gloucestershire is well worth a visit and is truly unique and I am glad to say it is has a brief involvement in Trussell Family History and Sir William at the heart of it yet again, although the fact is a King of England was murdered and we cannot forget that but King Edwards son Edward III took over and became to me on of the best King’s ever and yet again with Trussell involvement once again there were good times ahead.



Sir John Trussell

Born 1349 Died in 1424.

Father was Sir Theobald Trussell

Granddad was Sir William Trussell

He had three children, Geoffrey, Philippa and John

Sir John Trussel seems to be a man who loved conflict and was very handy with his sword; he was on the battle field at Agincourt 1415 fighting under Captain Lord Thomas Camoys for Henry V. He also fought as Captain in 1399 for commander Edmund Duke of York in the standing force in England, his son John was under his command. He was a Lollard knight the name conventionally given to a close-knit group of influential courtiers, accused by contemporary chroniclers of promoting heretical Lollard doctrines during the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV. The Leicester chronicler Henry Knighton (writing during the 1380s) names Sir Reynald Hilton, Sir John Pecche, Sir John Trussell; Sir Richard Stury; Sir Lewis Clifford, and Sir Thomas Latimer as ‘the strongest promoters and most powerful protectors’ of Lollard preachers (Chronicon Henrici Knighton, 295). The St Albans chronicler Walsingham also independently cites Stury, Clifford, and Latimer, along with Sir William Neville; Sir John Clanvow, and (‘above all’) Sir John Montagu as Lollard partisans in 1387: the same source names Stury, Clifford, Latimer, and Montagu as promulgators of the radical Lollard ‘twelve conclusions’ allegedly presented to parliament in 1395. Walsingham later added Sir John Cheyne to the list as a leading anti-clerical, and made further accusations against Montagu and Clifford. John Trussell as well as Latimer owned lands near the chronicler's Leicester, so that rumours of their activities may well have reached him. Pecche, who died young, was Sir Richard Stury's ward, while Trussell, a violent and lawless man, was associated with Lollard suspects much later, in 1418. By the time of Oldcastle's revolt in 1414 all the original Lollard knights (except the marginal Trussell) were dead. The support this influential group gave to Lollardy had been crucial to its growth, but it had been given in the milder climate of Richard II's reign, when such opinions in high places could be tolerated or tacitly disregarded, despite the chroniclers' fulminations. The new generation of Lollard knights, younger men who supported Oldcastle (five knights and more than twenty esquires and gentlemen, including three of Cheyne's cousins, were implicated in his rising), lived in a different world, where government attitudes to heresy had hardened. By resorting to rebellion, these later and far less influential Lollard knights inextricably entangled Lollardy with treason, and so destroyed it as anything more than a persecuted lost cause.

Another fight I came across involving Sir John was on the Easter day in 1417, Lord Strange, with the Lady Elizabeth his wife, and a great train of servants attending them, came to St. Dunstan's Church to vespers, and meeting Sir John Trussell there, with whom he had an ancient quarrel, his servants drew their swords in the Church, wounded Sir John, his son, and some others of his family, and killed one Thomas Petwardy, a citizen of London, who to accommodate the matter between them had thrust himself into the scuffle. They both got in a lot of trouble but Lord Strange was found to be the guilty party and dealt with quite severely. But having a sword fight in a church who could believe this…..well in the Ancient Trussell history anything is possible!