BOTILLER, Richard (d.1405), of Yelling, Hunts.
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Family and Education
Collector of a tax, Hunts. Dec. 1380, Dec. 1384, Mar. 1404.
J.p. Hunts. 10 Nov. 1389-June 1390, 12 Nov. 1397-d.
Coroner, Hunts. by 3 Feb. 1391-d.2
Commr. of kiddles, Hunts. June 1398; inquiry Feb. 1401 (wastes on the lands of Thomas, late duke of Norfolk); to proclaim the King’s intention to govern justly May 1402.
Verderer of the royal forests of Sapley and Weybridge, Hunts. to d.
The subject of this biography came of a family which is known to have lived in Yelling from 1166 onwards, if not before, and for some years the name of this Huntingdonshire village was actually used by his ancestors as an alias. Although no evidence now survives of his parentage or immediate background, it seems likely that he was either the son or grandson of the John Botiller of Yelling who, in 1344, was removed from office as coroner of Huntingdonshire because he lacked the necessary qualifications. He himself is first mentioned in December 1380, the date of his appointment as a local collector of the unpopular poll tax. The task of surveying the tax was then allocated to one of his kinsmen, Richard Botiller of Papworth, a village barely one mile to the east of Yelling. Our Member went on to discharge various other administrative and quasi-judicial offices, of which the most important were those of j.p. and coroner of Huntingdonshire. Thus, although he represented the county only once, in the Merciless Parliament of February 1388, he was certainly a figure of some consequence in local society.3
Comparatively little evidence is now available to document the more personal aspects of Botiller’s life, but it appears that he was on fairly close terms with Robert Waryn, his parliamentary colleague. The two men together witnessed a deed for Sir John Dengaine* in February 1384, and just after their return to the Commons of 1388 they again both attested a property transaction, this time for various members of the influential Styuecle family. From this date onwards, Botiller became very much involved in the affairs of Sir Nicholas Styuecle and his younger brother, John*. He was, for example, a feoffee-to-uses of their manor of Woolley in Huntingdonshire; and, in March 1392, he and Sir Nicholas acted as trustees of the estates which John Styuecle bought from Richard II as a result of the conviction for treason and forfeiture of Sir Robert Bealknap, c.j.c.p., in the Merciless Parliament. As a Member of that very Parliament, Botiller had himself witnessed Bealknap’s impeachment, although there is nothing to suggest that he in any way shared the political sympathies of the Lords Appellant. On the contrary, his reappointment to the local bench in November 1397, by which date the King had triumphed over his former enemies, would place him among the supporters rather than the opponents of the court party. No doubt because of his part in the initial purchase of the Bealknap estates, Botiller meanwhile helped John Styuecle to raise the necessary capital by standing security for two major loans. In December 1392 he and Sir Nicholas undertook to guarantee the repayment of a total of £400 which John had borrowed from the prior of Ely, Sir James Roos and Sir Philip Tilney* in order to pay off the King. Relations between him and the Styuecles were still cordial in 1395, when he was a party to their transactions in Coppingford and Upton; and he also had dealings with John Styuecle over certain land in Suffolk which had been settled on them by Sir William Castleacre. Yet after this date he seems to have broken off the connexion, perhaps because of John Styuecle’s increasing inability to meet his financial commitments. We do not know if Botiller was ever called upon to honour the recognizances which he had offered on behalf of his friend, but it is clear that by 1399 the latter was almost ruined by his over-ambitious speculation in the property market.4
Botiller’s later years passed uneventfully enough, his career in local administration being in no way affected by the political upheavals of 1399. The newly crowned Henry IV made use of his services as a j.p., coroner and commissioner, just as Richard II had done before him, and he played a significant part in the government of Huntingdonshire until his death. At the turn of the century he again appears as a feoffee, acquiring an interest in property in the villages of Sawtry, Grafham, Perry and Buckden with the specific purpose of making an endowment of the same upon Sawtry abbey. He may, in part at least, have been acting on behalf of his neighbour, Sir William Papworth*, the former owner of most of these holdings. Once the appropriate inquiry had been held, Botiller obtained royal letters patent, dated February 1402, which authorized the endowment in return for a payment of ten marks; and the transaction was effected without more ado.5
One of Botiller’s last acts was to take seisin, in March 1405, of certain land in Sawtry, again as a trustee for a local landowner. He was dead by the following November, when the sheriff of Huntingdonshire received orders for the election of a new coroner. He left at least one son, named John, who also represented the county in Parliament, but no definite information about his wife or other offspring, if any, appears to have survived. It is, however, possible that the Joan, relict of Richard Botiller, who, in the summer of 1410, conveyed the reversion of her manor of Colesden in Bedfordshire to an impressive group of trustees, including Thomas Waweton*, was in fact his widow.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
This MP is to be distinguished from his two contemporaries and namesakes, Richard Botiller of St. Albans, an esquire of the body of Henry IV (CPR, 1399-1401, p. 92; CCR, 1405-9, p. 513), and Richard Botiller of Warws., a sometime guardian of the temporalities of the bishopric of Coventry and Lichfield (CFR, viii. 259; x. 89).