BULLER, Francis (1630-82), of Shillingham, nr. Saltash, Cornw.; the Middle Temple and Isleham, Cambs.
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Family and Education
b. 10 Jan. 1630, 1st s. of Francis Buller† of Shillingham and Ospringe, Kent by Thomasine, da. of Sir Thomas Honeywood of Elmstead, Kent; bro. of John Buller. educ. Leyden 1643; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1646; M. Temple 1646, called 1652. m. (1) 22 Oct. 1652, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Ezekiel Grosse, attorney, of Golden, Probus, Cornw., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da.; (2) lic. 26 Sept. 1666, Catherine, da. of John Rushout, merchant, of London, wid. of Sir John Maynard of Tooting Graveney, Surr., s.p. suc. fa. 1677.1
J.p. Cornw. 1657-?66, Mont. 1662-?66, Cambs. ?by 1670-6; commr. for militia, Cornw. 1659, Mar. 1660, assessment, Cornw. Aug. 1660-80, Surr. and Mont. 1677-80, Cambs. 1679-80; col of militia ft. Cornw. Apr. 1660; recorder, Saltash 1662-77; commr. for recusants, Cornw. 1675.2
Buller’s family was of Somerset origin, and one of them sat for Weymouth in 1555. They acquired Shillingham by marriage soon afterwards, and took a leading part in the Cornish opposition to Charles I. Buller’s father sat for East Looe in the Long Parliament and commanded a regiment in the Plymouth garrison, but appears to have withdrawn from politics after Pride’s Purge and settled in Kent. He was proposed for the order of the Royal Oak with an estate of £4,000 p.a. As ‘Francis Buller, jun.’ Buller was returned for the county in 1659 and for the family borough of Saltash in 1660 and 1661. He was inactive in the Convention, when his committee record cannot be distinguished from his brother’s, though on 15 Nov. a guileless debtor who had been arrested despite letters of protection to which Buller’s signature had been forged, came to Westminster to inquire for him. He was only a little more active in the Cavalier Parliament. Twelve committees can be definitely ascribed to him, on most of which he sat with his brother. The most important was the committee for the corporations bill, but he was later named to the committee of elections and privileges in five sessions. Although regarded by Bishop Ward as one of the three most powerful Presbyterians in the county, he must have been an occasional conformist, for in 1662 he succeeded his brother as recorder of Saltash. He took the lead in opposing the crown’s right of preemption of tin, in which, he was assured, ‘you have the prayers and wishes of the poor tinners’, though some were ‘troubled at bringing the business to be discussed in Parliament’. Unfortunately the meagre records of the 1663 session contain no allusion to this debate, but the upshot cannot have been satisfactory to Buller, for in October he and his associates, including John Tanner I and Hugh Boscawen, arrested a tin agent to enforce a trial at law.3
Shortly afterwards Buller’s interest was shaken by an indiscretion which gave his disreputable chaplain, once president-designate of Harvard, occasion to inform against him for treasonable words. Buller hoped to be tried in Parliament, where ‘he doubted not that he would find friends enough to take his part, and that it might cost the King as much as the Five Members did his father’. But the Privy Council resolved on 17 Jan. 1666 to prosecute him in the King’s bench under the Security Act. Found guilty of misprision of treason, he was fined £30,000, and his estate, valued at £4,000 p.a., had to be sold, except for what he had conveyed to his son. The whole of his first wife’s inheritance was alienated, including Fentongollan, which Boscawen bought for £7,000 Buller obtained loans from Edward Nosworthy I and (Sir) Walter Moyle, but was compelled to retire to his second wife’s Cambridgeshire estate on an annuity of £180 p.a. He did not even dare to claim compensation for a messuage in Plymouth which had been levelled for the construction of the citadel, though ‘he was a Member of Parliament and the House sitting’. In 1676 he was struck off the Cambridgeshire commission of the peace at the request of (Sir) Thomas Chicheley, and Sir Richard Wiseman expected ‘little good’ of him in the House; but in the following year Shaftesbury classed him ‘doubly worthy’. As a defaulter on a call of the House, he was sent for in custody on 17 Dec. 1678. He received only a handful of votes at the first general election of 1679, and never stood again, dying ‘in a frenzy’ in 1682. His grandsons Francis and James sat for Saltash after the Revolution.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 56-57; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 213; PCC 137 Hale, 78 King, 210 Box.
- 2. HMC Finch, ii. 43; Parl. Intell. 9 Apr. 166o; CSP Dom. 1677-8, p. 183.
- 3. Gilbert, Paroch. Hist. Cornw. iv. 170; M. Coate, Cornw. in Gt. Civil War, 103, 242; Keeler, Long Parl. 120; CJ, viii. 184; D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 386; Buller Pprs. ed. Worth, 122-4; SP29/81/8; Buller (Antony) mss, BO21/18.
- 4. Gilbert, iv. 170-1; Hist. Cornw. iii. 215; H. F. Whitfeld, Plymouth and Devonport, 121; CSP Dom. 1665-6, p. 93; 1670, p. 213; Buller mss BC26/15; Cal. Treas. Bks. vi. 569; PCC 210 Box.