BUTTON, William II (1526-91), of Alton Priors, Wilts.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. Feb./Mar. 1526, o. s. of William Button I. m. Mary, da. of Sir William Keilway of Rockbourne, Hants. 6s. inc. Ambrose and Francis 2da. suc. fa. 27 Mar, 1547.2

Offices Held

Bailiff, Heytesbury by Oct. 1553; sheriff, Wilts. 1564-5, 1570-1; j.p. by 1573/74-d., q. 1583.3


William Button was licensed to enter on his inheritance on 28 May 1549, although he had come of age shortly before his father’s death two years earlier. His election for Marlborough within a further four years and before he had made any mark in the shire, although it answered to his ownership of property in the town and of nearby Alton Priors, probably required the intervention of a patron. The office of bailiff of Heytesbury, which Button was holding when the next Parliament was elected, bespeaks a connexion with the sheriff who returned him, (Sir) William Sharington, like Button’s father a follower of the Seymours. The elder Button had also shared a stewardship with (Sir) William Herbert I, Catherine Parr’s steward at Marlborough, from whom as Earl of Pembroke the younger Button held lands. Sir William Keilway, sheriff of neighbouring Hampshire, may also have been of assistance: it had been with Keilway that in November 1552 Button had stood security for the appearance in the Star Chamber of Edward Browne of Crandon, Somerset, and he was perhaps already Keilway’s son-in-law.4

Nothing is known of Button’s role in the Commons or in the succession crisis of the following summer: the pardon he sued out in November is unlikely to have had any more political significance than the one he was to receive at the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign. He was not to sit in Parliament again, and his two terms as sheriff under Elizabeth and his eventual appointment to the Wiltshire bench were probably less a consequence of any special enthusiasm for the Elizabethan settlement than a recognition of his seniority and affluence. He had begun adding to his inheritance as early as 1549 and ten years later he paid £2,254 for the reversion to property, either monastic or late of Charles, 8th Baron Stourton, including the manors of Chieveley, Berkshire, Purse Caundle, Dorset, and Lyneham and Tockenham, Wiltshire. Shortly before his death he settled all his lands on his second son and namesake by an indenture of 20 Jan. 1591 in which he placed the eldest son Ambrose last among the remaindermen. The reason for this disinheritance is unknown, although then and later Ambrose blamed ‘the wicked practices’ of his brother William. It puzzled and displeased the Queen and Privy Council, which remonstrated with Button on the eve of his death on 20 Feb. 1591, but the lands passed to William. The four younger sons had already received annuities, and in the will which Button made on the day of his death, as of Rood Ashton near Trowbridge, Wiltshire, he gave them each £26 6s.8d. for a year’s maintenance until the annuities commenced. Ambrose Button was left out of the will and William was named sole executor and residuary legatee. Button was buried, as he had asked to be, at Alton Priors, and brasses were set up to his memory there and at Bishopstoke, Hampshire.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. C219/282/8.
  • 2. Of age at father’s death and 64 at own, C142/87/68, 81; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 170, 528. Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 33.
  • 3. C219/21/173.
  • 4. CPR, 1547-8, p. 111; 1549-51, p. 64; Pembroke Survey (Roxburghe Club, cliv), 49, 248, 251; APC, iv. 172-3.
  • 5. CPR, 1549-51, p. 246; 1553-4, p. 412; 1558-60, pp. 192, 290-1, 300-1; Wilts. N. and Q. iii. 422, 558; iv. 26; VCH Wilts. ix. 56, 62, 94, 96, 99; C142/239/123; APC, xx. 228-9; xxi. 175, 202, 216-17, 254, 424-5; PCC 11 Sainberbe, 114 Capell; Pevsner and Cherry, Wilts. 88.