BUTLER, Thomas (c.1513-79), of Bewsey and Warrington, Lancs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1513, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Butler by his 1st w. Cicely, da. of Piers or Peter Legh of Lyme, Cheshire. m. (1) by 1543, Eleanor, da. of John Huddleston of Sawston, Cambs., 1s. 3da.; (2) c.1560, Thomasina (d.1573), s.p.; (3) 1574, Anne, da. of Edward Norris of Speke, Lancs. s.p. suc. fa. 1549. Kntd. 1577.1
?Page of the chamber by 1541; ?gent. pens. by 1544; commr. eccles. causes, diocese of Chester 1562; j.p. Lancs. by 1568, sheriff 1569-70.2
Of an old Lancashire family, Butler was, at the age of about ten, contracted to Alice, daughter of Edmund Trafford. However, about 1543 he married Eleanor Huddleston, the daughter of his stepmother Elizabeth, daughter of Edward, 2nd Lord Dudley and widow of John Huddleston. A dissipated spendthrift, like his father, Butler’s life is a sorry tale of violence, lawsuits and quarrels. Father and son even disputed between themselves, the son claiming before the duchy of Lancaster court that he and his wife were being defrauded by the father of rents belonging to them under their marriage settlement. Details were given of a riot between the servants of the two men, while the elder Butler was ‘drinking and making merry’ in the house of a certain Isabel Clarke at Warrington. Butler next quarrelled with his own son Edward and daughter Elizabeth, who married Peter Warburton. Still, he had a long and useful career as a government servant under Henry VIII and Edward VI, though not under Mary. He was not even on the commission of the peace by 1564, when the bishop of Chester recommended him as a sound protestant. In 1567 Sir Edward Fittont told the bishop that Butler was the only non-papist among the Lancashire gentry from Warrington all along the coast. He was presumably a justice before 1569, when he was pricked as sheriff, his period of service coinciding with the Northern rebellion. He offered his military support to the Government, but there is no evidence that he was involved in the fighting. He was apparently on friendly terms with Edward, 3rd Earl of Derby, at whose funeral in December 1572 he was a mourner. Most of his local activities in Lancashire concerned musters and unlawful enclosure.3
The last years of his life were embittered by further disputes with his son, who about 1575 signed an agreement handing over his rights in the family inheritance to a relative, William Booth. The motive was probably financial, though it may have been connected with Edward Butler’s desire to set aside the arrangements for his marriage to Jane, daughter of Sir Richard Brooke of Norton, Cheshire. The contract had been made by the parents in 1563, but the prospective bridegroom now repudiated it, rudely and without prior notice, so angering the influential Brooke family and his father. When the latter discovered that Edward had signed away most of the Butler lands in Bewsey, Warrington, Burtonwood, Sankey and elsewhere in Lancashire, he made lengthy and finally successful efforts to get the conveyance annulled, and himself made a lease to his daughter Elizabeth of all his estates, should Edward die childless. The family lands were in any case by now much diminished, a long-standing dispute with Sir Peter Legh having been settled some years earlier in Legh’s favour.4
Butler died intestate 22 Sept. 1579. William Booth dying soon afterwards, Butler’s son had to find another party to whom to give away the lands, and settled on his distant kinsman the Earl of Leicester. Edward Butler died young and was the last male heir.5
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. DL7/9/22; Flower’s Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxi), 106; Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 27; W. Beamont, Annals of Lords of Warrington (Chetham Soc. lxxxvii), 454, 482; Stow, Survey of London (1598), 407; Rylands Eng. ms 298, f. 699.
- 2. LP Hen. VIII , xvi. 722; xix(1), pp. 161-2; CPR, 1566-9; pp. 271-2; 1560-3, pp. 280-1.
- 3. Beamont, passim; DL7/9/22; 1/23/B5; 25/B13; 32/P5; LP Hen. VII, xiv(2), p. 118; xvi. 722; xvii. 477, 482; xix(1), pp. 161-2; xix(2), p. 310; xx(2), p. 550; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 77; Chetham Soc. xlix. 20-37; CSP Scot. 1547-63, p. 393; APC, ix. 118; xi. 89.
- 4. Beamont, 474-5, 482-5; DL7/14/2.
- 5. DL7/14/2; Chetham Soc. li. 120-6.