BULLER, James (1678-1710), of Shillingham, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



25 Jan. 1699 - Nov. 1701
Dec. 1701 - 1705
1705 - 1708
1708 - 14 Sept. 1710

Family and Education

bap. 8 Jan. 1678, 2nd s. of Francis Buller of Shillingham and Isleham, Cambs.; bro. of Francis Buller*.  educ. New Coll. Oxf. 1695; M. Temple 1695. unm.  suc. bro. 1698.1

Offices Held

Stannator, Foymore 1703, 1710; speaker, convocation of Stannaries 1703, 1710.2


Barely a fortnight after attaining his majority in January 1699, Buller was returned at a by-election at Saltash, one elected Member conveniently opting to sit for the county. Buller was absent from a call of the House on 11 Dec. 1699 and was sent for into custody, being discharged two days later. He was re-elected for the borough in January 1701. As if to underline his family’s stature in the county, he transferred to the shire seat in December 1701. In the new House Robert Harley* listed him as a Tory, a classification borne out by his subsequent vote on 26 Feb. 1702 in favour of the motion vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachment of William’s Whig ministers. On 8 Apr. following he was granted leave of absence to recover his health.

At the general election of 1702 Buller and Hon. John Granville were chosen unopposed as knights of the shire. He was reported to be ‘very much indisposed’ at the end of January 1703, but voted on 13 Feb. against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. In September he attended the convocation of tinners, where he was chosen speaker and helped negotiate the pre-emption contract with the crown. In March 1704 he was listed among the supporters of Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) over the Scotch Plot. In October he was forecast as likely to support the Tack and duly did so on 28 Nov. 1704.3

Possibly Buller’s reputation as a ‘Tacker’ caused his defeat in the county election in 1705, but he was able to secure his return for Saltash instead. He was listed as ‘True Church’ and voted on 25 Oct. against the Court candidate for Speaker. In early 1708 he was listed as a Tory and in the general election of that year was chosen both for Saltash and the county, choosing to sit for the latter. In February 1709 Buller was arrested in a tavern in company with Lords Craven and Denbigh, Thomas Legh II* and Sir Cholmley Dering, 4th Bt.*, and committed to the Poultry Counter. Subsequently they brought actions against the offending constables who were forced to admit their fault publicly.4

In the summer of 1709 Buller was admitted as a member of the Board of Brothers (a Tory drinking club whose membership included Lords Craven and Denbigh). He attended the Board fairly regularly in the winter of 1709–10 and consequently was on hand to vote against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. Earlier on 8 Feb. 1710 a motion granting him leave of absence to attend the parliament of tinners turned into an attempt to address the Queen to ensure that it did not convene during the sitting of Parliament. Thus he was still in London after the prorogation on 5 Apr. and on hand a few days later to present a pro-Sacheverell address from Cornwall. He then left for the meeting of the Stannaries, being chosen its speaker on 20 Apr., and this time led the opposition to the terms proposed by the Whig lord warden, Hugh Boscawen II*, for a new pre-emption contract. As the parliament adjourned for the weekend, Buller rode to Truro and was thrown from his horse injuring his head. This necessitated the choice of a deputy-speaker on the 27th, but Buller was back in the chair on the 29th. Whether this fall had any long-term consequences is uncertain, but rumours of his death had reached London by 19 Sept., and it was later confirmed that he had died on the 14th. Coming as it did on the eve of a dissolution, Hon. James Brydges* believed that the Tories had ‘lost a considerable support and indeed the greatest of their interest in Cornwall by the death of Mr Buller’. In his will he vested his estates in trust to ‘such person or persons as shall be entitled to my capital mansion of Shillingham’, which turned out to be his great-uncle, John Buller I*.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 57–58; IGI, Cambs.
  • 2. Tregoning, Stannary Laws, 118.
  • 3. Post Boy, 26–28 Jan. 1703; Boyer, Anne Annals, ii. 160; Parlts. Estates and Rep. vi. 61.
  • 4. Add. 70420, newsletter 8 Feb. 1708–9.
  • 5. Add. 49360, ff. 3, 6, 9–20; Boyer, ix. 160; R. Inst. Cornw., Tonkin’s ms hist. vol. ii. 244; Parlts. Estates and Rep. 62–63; Add. 70421, newsletter 19, 28 Sept. 1710; Huntington Lib. Q. iii. 240; PCC 45 Young.