BOTELER, Sir John, 1st Bt. (c.1566-1637), of Bramfield Place, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1566, 1st s. of Sir Henry Boteler of Woodhall Lodge, Hatfield, Herts. and his 1st w. Katharine, da. of Robert Waller of Monken Hadley, Mdx.; half-bro. of George*.1 educ. Pembroke Coll., Camb. 1576.2 m. by 1609, Elizabeth, da. of Sir George Villiers* of Brokesby, Leics., 6s. (5 d.v.p.) 6da.3 kntd. July 1607;4 suc. fa. 1609, aged 43;5 cr. bt. 12 Apr. 1620;6 Bar. Boteler of Brantfield 30 July 1628.7 d. 27 May 1637.8

Offices Held

Servant to George Clifford, 3rd earl of Cumberland to 1605.9

Commr. subsidy, Beds. and Herts. 1608, 1621-2, 1624,10 sewers, Lea valley 1609, St Albans river, Herts. 1617, Wittersham level, Kent and Suss. 1625, Beds. 1636,11 swans, Northants. and Oxon. 1610, Herts. 1612, Mdx., Herts. and Essex 1619, Herts. and elsewhere c.1629, Herts. 1634;12 j.p. Beds. and Herts. by 1614-d., St. Albans liberty 1620-d.;13 chief overseer of fustian industry, Hatfield, Herts. 1618;14 commr. oyer and terminer, St. Albans, Herts. 1619-31, Hertford, Herts. 1620, Home circ. 1631-d.,15 highways, Herts. 1622,16 Forced Loan 1626.17

Commr. for trade 1625.18


Boteler’s father, the younger son of an old Hertfordshire family, bought a small manor adjoining what was then the royal estate at Hatfield, adding to it Bramfield Place and Queenhoo Hall about the turn of the seventeenth century.19 Boteler himself lost his mother in early childhood, and after leaving Cambridge without a degree, entered the household of the seafaring earl of Cumberland. When the latter died in 1605, Boteler, aged almost 40, offered to serve Robert Cecil†, 1st earl of Salisbury ‘either about his person, or at the table, or in other employments’.20 However, the offer was not accepted. Knighted in 1607, Boteler had married into the Villiers family by the time his father died in 1609 leaving him an estate constrained only by provisions for his large number of siblings.21 His position as brother-in-law to the royal favourite between 1616 and 1628 enabled him to marry all his six daughters well, though his eldest received only £500 on her first marriage, and another son-in-law, the 1st earl of Newport, complained that half of the £2,000 he had been promised as portion was never paid.22 The 2nd earl of Salisbury (William Cecil*) appointed Boteler chief overseer of the struggling fustian industry at Hatfield in 1618.23

Boteler aspired to a position at Court, but neither Salisbury, nor his wife’s half-brother, who was in due course created duke of Buckingham, seems to have assisted his cause. In 1623 Boteler proposed that money might be raised for the Crown by demanding 40s. on every knight’s fee in the form of escuage, as medieval law allowed, or composition in lieu thereof.24 Though it appealed to the king, this idea was ignored, and a year later his reported offer of £5,000 for the comptrollership of the Household, which had cost the incumbent (Sir) John Suckling* £7,000 to purchase from Sir Henry Carey I*, was also rejected.25 In 1625 Boteler was elected for Hertfordshire on Salisbury’s nomination with his cousin John Boteler*, but he left no trace on the records of the first Caroline Parliament, and does not appear to have stood again.26 Although he had ‘to be sent for’ to make his contribution to the Forced Loan, he complied sufficiently to be rewarded with a peerage in July 1628, just one day before his son-in-law, Sir Francis Leigh, bt.*, became Lord Dunsmore.27 The following September ‘some unkindnesses lately fallen out’ between him and Dunsmore became so scandalous that both were ordered to attend the Privy Council.28

In 1637 Boteler contracted a fatal infection ‘occasioned by his own pulling out of a loose tooth with a rusty pair of pincers ... and neglecting the ordinary means of preserving it from cankering’.29 On his deathbed, he was reportedly converted to Catholicism by one of his daughters, the wife of Endymion Porter†.30 He made his will on 19 May 1637, eight days before he died, naming Dunsmore and Porter as executors. Porter was instructed to live at Woodhall Lodge as guardian for Boteler’s only surviving son, an idiot from birth.31 Boteler was buried with his father at Higham Gobion in Bedfordshire.32 On the death of the second lord, the estate passed under entail to his cousin Sir Francis, who was elected for Hertford in 1685.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. R. Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 46.
  • 2. Al. Cant.
  • 3. Clutterbuck, ii. 47.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 143.
  • 5. C142/308/113.
  • 6. CB, i. 142.
  • 7. CP, ii. 229.
  • 8. C142/536/14; Clutterbuck, ii. 46.
  • 9. HMC Hatfield, xviii. 7.
  • 10. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20-3.
  • 11. C181/2, ff. 94, 297v; 181/3, f. 166; 181/5, f. 37v.
  • 12. C181/2, ff. 118, 173, 340v; 181/3, f. 268; 181/4, f. 178v.
  • 13. C66/1988; C193/13/2; C181/3, f. 16v; 181/5, f. 55v.
  • 14. HMC Hatfield, xxiv. 236.
  • 15. C181/2, f. 331; 181/3, ff. 3, 14v, 16, 264v; 181/4, ff. 72, 90, 198; 181/5, ff. 8v, 64v.
  • 16. C181/3, f. 69v.
  • 17. SP16/32/8.
  • 18. T. Rymer, Foedera viii. pt. 1, p. 59.
  • 19. VCH Herts. ii. 344; iii. 107, 483; HMC Hatfield, xx. 123.
  • 20. HMC Hatfield, xviii. 7.
  • 21. PROB 11/114, ff. 11-13.
  • 22. Clutterbuck, ii. 47; C2/Jas.I/S35/33; CSP Dom. 1637, p. 556.
  • 23. HMC Hatfield, xxiv. 236.
  • 24. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 483.
  • 25. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 599-600.
  • 26. Ibid. 614; HMC Hatfield, xxii. 205.
  • 27. SP16/44/37.
  • 28. APC, 1628-9, p. 169.
  • 29. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, vi. 110.
  • 30. S.R. Gardiner, Hist. of Eng. from Accession of Jas. I, viii. 238.
  • 31. PROB 11/175, f. 187; C142/546/150.
  • 32. Clutterbuck, ii. 46; VCH Herts. iii. 107.