BOTILLER, John, of Yelling, Hunts.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
J.p. Hunts. 1 Feb. 1406-Apr. 1416.
Escheator, Hunts. 2 Nov. 1407-9 Dec. 1408; 12 Nov. 1414-14 Dec. 1415.
Commr. of inquiry, Hunts. Jan. 1412 (persons liable to pay taxes).
As the son of Richard Botiller, coroner of Huntingdonshire and a member of the local bench, the subject of this biography was assured of a prominent place in county society, and he had already made a number of influential connexions by the time of his father’s death. As early as May 1398, if not before, he became a feoffee-to-uses of Alice, Lady Wake, who settled her estates in and around Blisworth in Northamptonshire upon him and one Thomas Botiller so that they might perform the terms of her will. One year later he agreed to stand bail of £40 in Chancery on behalf of a man charged with assault; and in 1402 he took part in the Huntingdonshire parliamentary elections for what appears to have been the first time. It was then that he offered sureties for the attendance at Westminster of Robert Scott, one of his closest friends, with whom he maintained a lifelong relationship. He may well have been the John Botiller who, in June 1404, obtained royal letters of protection to cover a period of three months’ service in the retinue of the King’s half-brother, Thomas Beaufort, admiral of the northern fleet, but we cannot be entirely certain about this.2 His father’s death, in the summer or early autumn of 1405, left him heir to land in Yelling which had belonged to his family for well over 200 years; and at some point before 1412 he consolidated his position as a landowner by buying the manor of Croxton, barely two miles to the south across the county border in Cambridgeshire. This purchase was evidently made on the insistence of his father-in-law, John Mepersale, who had demanded at the time of his marriage that an annuity of £20 should be settled by him upon his wife, Joan, for the term of her life. The revenues from Croxton, which came to about ten marks a year, completed the required sum, and were duly handed over to trustees holding to Joan’s use. Botiller chose Robert Scott and Roger Hunt* to assist him in this capacity, the three men being from then onwards continuously involved in each other’s affairs.3 In 1409, for example, Botiller was bound with Scott in joint recognizances totalling 80 marks to two Suffolk men, and in 1411 with Hunt in a bond of £20 payable to a clerk named Robert Claydoun. In the following year they all stood together as mainpernors for their neighbour, Thomas Waweton*, who, in turn, served with Botiller and Hunt as a trustee of the estates in London which Scott’s second wife held in dower. Another member of their circle was Sir John (later Lord) Tiptoft, Botiller’s colleague in the Parliament of 1406, whom the Commons then elected Speaker. Not long afterwards, our Member joined with Tiptoft, his father, Sir Payn*, and Roger Hunt in receiving an obligation worth 1,000 marks from Sir John’s uncle, Sir John Wroth*. Moreover, by an enfeoffment made in 1408, Tiptoft settled his wife’s extensive inheritance in six English counties upon Botiller and Hunt, who seem at times to have been virtually inseparable as witnesses or trustees. They both shared an interest in the manor of Northill in Bedfordshire; and in 1409, Joan, the widow of John Herlyngton*, conveyed her manor of Orton Waterville to them and Scott in trust. It may well have been through Hunt that Botiller became associated with Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, for whom the two men went surety, in December 1409 as farmer of the Bernak estates. If, however, he was related to the John Botiller of Bedfordshire (b.1338), who gave evidence in 1408 on Grey’s behalf during his dispute with Edmund, Lord Hastings, in the court of chivalry, there is a distinct possibility of a longstanding family connexion with the baronial house. At all events, Botiller witnessed deeds for Lord Grey, and was also a trustee for the latter’s kinsman, Richard, Lord Grey of Wilton.4
Meanwhile, within a few months of his father’s death, Botiller was returned to Parliament for Huntingdonshire. The Commons were still in session when he became a j.p., an appointment followed one year later by the escheatorship of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire. Although frequently associated with his rather more distinguished friends, Botiller was still a figure of some consequence in his own right, and thus we find him acting independently as a witness and feoffee for other local landowners, such as Sir William Papworth*, lord of the neighbouring manor of Papworth St. Agnes. In the year 1406 alone he regularly provided sureties for people with business in both the court of Chancery and the Exchequer; and he had other dealings as far afield as Oxfordshire and Suffolk. At some unspecified date, his father-in-law made him a trustee of property in the Bedfordshire village of Meppershall to the use of John Breton, who left the estate to the influential local lawyer, John Enderby*. The latter’s title was evidently discounted by Botiller and his associates, whose appointment of a new set of feoffees led Enderby to petition Chancery for redress. Botiller’s main sphere of influence was, however, confined to the two counties of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire; and only once, in February 1409, did the Crown see fit to offer him any particular mark of favour. He then obtained custody of the estates of Richard Hasilden, an idiot, at an annual rent of 20 marks, perhaps on the suggestion of the previous farmer, who had named him as one of his guarantors.5 So far as we know, Botiller attended only two more Huntingdonshire elections, one being to the Parliament of 1411 (when Robert Scott was returned), and the other to that of May 1413 (which saw Roger Hunt’s second appearance in the Commons). He sat again himself in the first Parliament of 1414, together with Hunt, whose growing reputation as a lawyer ensured his re-election on this as on other occasions. It was almost certainly the subject of this biography rather than anyone else of the same name who took part in the Bedfordshire parliamentary elections of 1421 (May), 1422 and 1423, albeit in direct contravention of the statute of 1413 which required that electors as well as elected should be resident in the county in question when the writ was issued. Hunt, Waweton and Scott were all three notorious offenders in this respect, although Botiller at least refrained from standing for one county while party to an election in the other.6
According to a deposition made in the court of Chancery by his widow, Botiller contracted a long and terminal illness, dying at the home of John Launcelyn, who, together with his other friends, had been present at his marriage many years before. Hunt and Scott were at his bedside when he made his last will, allegedly in favour of his widow, to whom he left the manor of Croxton. He must have died at some point before March 1426, by which date Joan had begun proceedings against Hunt and Scott for abusing their position as trustees and refusing to surrender the manor into her hands. It appears from her evidence that she and Botiller had children, but their names are not recorded. The John Botiller who witnessed a conveyance of land in Northill with Hunt in 1429 may perhaps have been their son.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. C1/6/280.
- 2. Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 104; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 102; CPR, 1401-5, p. 398; C219/10/1.
- 3. C1/6/280. Botiller’s estates in Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire were together valued at £16 13s.4d. in 1412 (Feudal Aids, vi. 408, 462), although they clearly produced far more.
- 4. CCR, 1405-9, pp. 264, 509; 1409-13, pp. 304, 398; 1413-19, pp. 194, 196, 276-7; CPR, 1408-13, pp. 153, 393; 1416-22, p. 218; Corporation of London RO, hr 141/88; Dorset Feet of Fines, ii. 240-1; Hunts. Feet of Fines (Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xxxvii), 99; Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xxii.), 171; Grey v. Hastings, 29.
- 5. CCR, 1405-9, pp. 95-96; 1409-13, p. 78; 1413-19, pp. 326, 330; CPR, 1405-8, p. 452; 1408-13, p. 52; CFR, xiii. 60-61; Add. Ch. 33355; C1/10/169.
- 6. C219/10/6, 11/1, 13/1-2, 5.
- 7. C1/6/280; CCR, 1429-35, p. 59.