BUTTON, Ambrose (?c.1549-aft.1608), of Alton Priors, Wilts.; later of Buckland, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. prob. c.1549, 1st s. of William Button (d.1591) of Alton Priors by Mary, da. of Sir William Keilway of Rockbourne, Hants; bro. of Francis. educ. ?Hart Hall, Oxf. 1568; ?G. Inn 1561. ?unm. Kntd. 22 May 1605.1

Offices Held


Button presumably acquired his seat at Malmesbury through his father’s standing in the county, though his main estate of Alton Priors was not close to the borough. He also possessed property in Somerset and Hampshire, and it was as of Buckland, Hampshire that Ambrose Button described himself in his will. Shortly before William Button died in February 1591, he disinherited Ambrose in favour of the second son William, either because of a quarrel between the heir apparent and his father, or because of William’s unscrupulous behaviour. The Privy Council, to whom Ambrose appealed when an indenture was made disinheriting him on 20 Jan. 1591, evidently sensed sharp practice, for they wrote on 24 Jan. to the father that the Queen ‘much disliked’ the decision, since Ambrose was ‘known to some at court to be of very good behaviour and well affected in religion, perhaps better given’ than his brother. Fathers were of course within their legal rights in depriving their children of their expected inheritance, but if such a practice became common it might be ‘of great consequence’. The letter ended by ordering Button to come to London to explain matters. Whether or not he obeyed the summons, he died a month later without having reinstated Ambrose, and appointing ‘my son William’ executor and residuary legatee. In June the Council, still dissatisfied, sent for William, and commanded him to remain in London until Justice William Peryam and others had decided the matter. The brothers agreed to accept Peryam’s award, but by the end of August no decision had been reached, and it was William who died seised of the property in December 1599.2

Apart from the loss of his inheritance, little has been ascertained about Button, who was knighted at Greenwich in 1605. He may have held a minor court office: about 1603 one of his surname was appointed as joint assistant with Sir James Murray to Sir Lewis Lewknor, in attendance on ambassadors and other distinguished foreigners, at a salary of 5s. 8d. a day. He made his will in July 1608:

I, Ambrose Button, knight, eldest son of William Button, deceased, unjustly disinherited by the wicked practices of my deceased brother William Button.

He had already conveyed most of his landed property, such as it was, to his brother Henry, who by the will was to receive £400 and to make payments towards the education of three young nephews. There is no mention of a wife or children, the will making bequests to two other brothers, Francis (who died in 1610) and Edward, and to two married sisters. A new family quarrel developed over the will, but Henry Button exhibited the original in court, and sentence was granted 16 Feb. 1614 confirming it and requiring Sir William Button (son of Ambrose’s brother William) and other relatives to withdraw their objections.3


Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. C142/236/123; Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 33; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 212. The man of this name who entered Hart Hall in 1568 was aged 19.
  • 2. Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 528; C142/236/123; Wards 7/24/237; PCC 11 Sainberbe; APC, xx. 228-9; xxi. 175, 202, 216, 254, 424.
  • 3. CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, p. 435; PCC 114 Capell, 17 Lawe.