BUTLER, Anthony (by 1522-70), of London; Rycote, Oxon. and Coates, nr. Stow, Lincs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1522, s. of Humphrey Butler by a da. of one Fitzwilliam of Mablethorpe, Lincs. m. by 1559, Margaret, da. of Morris Wogan of Bloxham, Oxon., 4s. 1da.1

Offices Held

Servant of Sir John Williams by 1549; commr. sewers, Lincs. 1570.2


Anthony Butler’s background and career are strangely obscure for a man of his fortune and connexions. His father’s name is the earliest in the pedigree of the Butlers of Coates, whereas his mother’s forbears had lived at Mablethorpe since at least 1443. In 1543 Butler bought a 21-year lease of two mills and lands in South Wales, and in June 1546 he joined with John Petyt to pay £513 for the Gloucestershire lordship of Frampton and a Berkshire advowson. In September Butler and John Slanning of the Inner Temple bought the manor of Walkhampton, Devon, and some ex-monastic property for £839. The rectory of Albrighton, Shropshire, which had been part of this last purchase, was alienated within a month, while Frampton and Walkhampton were sold in the following year. The purchase in 1550 of a number of rents may have been another short-term speculation, but three years later Butler bought the Hertfordshire manor of Barnet, which was to pass to his descendants.3

A shadowy but decisive part in building up Butler’s fortune was played by Sir John Williams, treasurer of the court of augmentations from 1544 until its dissolution ten years later. Butler does not appear to have held any official position in the augmentations but all his purchases were made through the court; it was as a servant of Williams that he was given the privilege of the House on 21 Jan. 1549, while the rents for which Butler paid £226 in 1550 were granted jointly to him and to Williams. One Butler, a clerk to Williams, was sent to the Fleet for ‘presumptuous behaviour’ on 30 Sept. 1551, but this may have been another of Williams’s servants, James Butler. Anthony Butler, designated ‘gentleman, of London’, sued out a pardon on 5 Nov. 1553. He appears to have followed his master to the country, for when he received a fresh pardon on 15 Jan. 1559 he was described as ‘alias of Rycote’, the Williams seat in Oxfordshire. After Williams’s death in October 1559, Butler was named as a trustee in a family settlement by the two daughters and coheirs.4

It was presumably Williams’s support which secured Butler’s election for Wallingford to the second Parliament of Mary’s reign, to which Williams was summoned to the Lords as a baron in his own right: Thomas Parry, a former Member for the town and woodward in the augmentations, was perhaps Williams’s intermediary. Butler may also have had a personal link with Parry’s fellow-Member in 1547, the townsman Ralph Pollington, through John Petyt; he also had property of his own in Berkshire. He should have been well able to pay his own parliamentary expenses, as Wallingford on occasion required its Members to do, for on the evening of 11 Nov. 1555 his London house in the parish of St. Alphage within Cripplegate was burgled and a chest containing £560 was taken away.5

Butler was to retire to property either bought or inherited in Lincolnshire, where in the last year of his life he made his one appearance on a local commission. He must have made a late marriage, for none of its five children was of age when he made his will on 18 Aug. 1570, and in it he set aside £200 in case his wife, Margaret, was again with child. All his lands at Coates, Fillingham and Stow were to descend to the eldest son Charles, the Queen to enjoy a third of them during his minority, but his widow was left a life interest in the manors of Barnet, Hertfordshire, and North Reston, Lincolnshire, and the residue was to be kept by guardians until Charles came of age. The widow was also left some jewels, plate and £100, while the younger sons, William, Anthony and John, received £300 apiece and the daughter, Catherine, other jewelry. Smaller sums went to kinsmen, to a sister and to one Thomas Butler, ‘remaining with my sister Christian at North Reston’. He named his wife Margaret, Christopher Wray and Edward Sapcote executors and ‘my very good lord and master my lord the Earl of Leicester’, supervisor. He left a horse to Sir William Cecil ‘for his favour towards the wardship of my son’, Leicester having already obtained the Queen’s promise of this wardship and then, as a favour, having bestowed it on the testator. Butler was therefore able to commit his heir to Wray and Sapcote, with ‘liberty to have his free choice in his marriage, not doubting but that he will take the good advice and counsel of my said executors’. A codicil of 23 Aug. 1570 deleted Margaret from the number of her husband’s executors, with threats of forfeiting all that had been left her if she should contest this. Butler died soon afterwards, for his will was proved on 31 Oct., and a monument was set up in the church of Coates, where he had asked to be laid. The widow then married Charles Dymoke of Howell, Lincolnshire and outlived her eldest son, who died in 1602 at the age of 42, after carrying on a line whose last male representative lived until 1673.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. 1), 219, 355; PCC 31 Lyon, 49 Wrastley.
  • 2. CJ, i. 6; CPR, 1569-72, p. 221.
  • 3. CPR, 1441-6, p. 174; LP Hen. VIII, xviii, xxi; Devon Monastic Lands (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. n.s. i), 92-93; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 426-7; VCH Herts. ii. 331.
  • 4. APC, iii. 371; CPR, 1553-4, p. 465; 1558-60, pp. 187, 262.
  • 5. J. K. Hedges, Wallingford, ii. 197, 240; CPR, 1557-8, p. 141.
  • 6. PCC 31 Lyon; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 283.