BUTLER, Sir Henry (c.1651-98), of Handley, Dorset.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1651, o.s. of Henry Butler of Handley by Mary, da. of Sir William Parkhurst of East Lenham, Kent. educ. New Inn Hall, Oxf. matric. 18 Mar. 1669, aged 18. m. 1da. suc. fa. 1681; kntd. by 6 July 1681.1

Offices Held

J.p. and dep. lt. Dorset 1681-9; recorder, Shaftesbury 1684-7; commr. for rebels’ estates, Dorset 1686, assessment 1689-98.2


Butler’s ancestors had leased Handley rectory from the dean and chapter of Windsor since 1541, rising from the ranks of the yeomanry to register their pedigree at the heralds’ visitation of Dorset in 1623. His father served as captain of horse until the final surrender of Hopton’s army in 1646. He valued his estate at £500 p.a. and was allowed to compound for £568. He was the leader of the royalist conspirators in Dorset during the Interregnum, and was nominated to the order of the Royal Oak at the Restoration, with an estate of £600. But his services were unrewarded by the monarchy, and he was compelled to dispose of his lands in Wiltshire and to borrow from Thomas Bennett. Bennett’s uncle, on a dunning visit in January 1681, considered that his health was declining apace, and he probably died soon afterwards, for the Handley lease was renewed to Butler on 6 July.3

Butler inherited his father’s politics and was made recorder of Shaftesbury under the new charter. He was returned to James II’s Parliament for the borough, but was appointed only to the committee for the estate bill promoted by Edward Meller. After the third reading, on 10 June 1685, he applied for leave on health grounds, and took no further ascertainable part in parliamentary affairs. He lost his recordership in 1687, and returned negative answers on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, but was retained in local office until after the Revolution. The lease of Handley rectory had been surrendered by 18 May 1698, and Butler’s name disappears from the Dorset taxation commission in the same year. He was the only member of the family to sit in Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Mar. Lic. (Harl. Soc. xxiv), 36; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 229; J. N. Dalton, Mss of St. George’s Chapel, 387.
  • 2. Hutchins, iii. 14, 17; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 546.
  • 3. Dalton, 387; Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 25; SP23/196/636; Thurloe, iii. 246; Cal. Cl. SP, iv. 317; Hoare, Wilts. Chalk, 57, 62; Pythouse Pprs. ed. Day, 86.
  • 4. Dalton, 487.