BUTLER, John II (d.1423), of London.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Warden of the Mercers’ Co. June 1415-16, 1420-1.1
Tax collector, London Nov. 1416.
Common councillor, London by 24 May 1417.2
Auditor, London 21 Sept. 1418-19, 1421-1422/3; alderman of Farringdon Ward Within 1 June-aft. 26 Dec. 1420; Cripplegate Ward by 20 July-bef. 5 Oct. 1423.3
Sheriff, London and Mdx. Mich. 1419-20.
John Butler was apprenticed to the wealthy mercer William Marchford* for a period of 12 years, ending in 1413. He assumed the livery of his company immediately afterwards, becoming its joint warden, on the nomination of Alan Everard*, for the first time in June 1415. His relationship with John Butler the elder, who had himself only been a full member of the Mercers’ Company since 1411, cannot now be established, although they were probably near kinsmen.4 In February 1417 one of the two men entered into joint recognizances in £250 payable to the chamberlain of London for some unspecified reason. It was also at this time that a Gloucestershire chapman was pardoned his outlawry for non-appearance in the court of common pleas when being sued by the subject of this biography for the recovery of a debt of £100. The £20 advanced towards the cost of Henry V’s second expedition to France by ‘John Butler, mercer’ in the following June almost certainly came from our Member, who took his seat in Parliament shortly afterwards. Twice, in February 1418 and December 1420, Butler acted as an arbitrator in disputes between various London citizens; and in February 1419 he stood surety before the chamberlain for John Woodward of Berkshire as the guardian of a city orphan.5 Shortly afterwards he and four others were confirmed in possession of Le New Taverne and adjoining premises in the parish of St. Peter, Wood Street, paying Avice, the widow of William Tong*, a rent of £10 a year for their tenancy. Between March 1419 and February 1423, Butler was a party to various conveyances of property in London and Hertfordshire: he seems in most cases to have been involved with John Shadworth* as a feoffee to the use of Everard Fleet†, all those concerned being prominent mercers. Meanwhile, in April 1421, Butler was appointed to supervise the regulation of brewers and poulterers in the City. His commercial interests were evidently diverse, for in August 1422 Robert Whittingham* sold seven casks of woad and a quantity of pepper worth £160 to him and his business partner. In the following spring, Butler petitioned the court of the mayor of the Staple of Westminster for help in enforcing a bond in 100 marks which one Richard Ordemer had failed to honour some time before.6
Butler appears to have died suddenly at the beginning of October 1423. He attended a meeting of the court of aldermen on the 2nd, but was replaced as alderman of Cripplegate Ward three days later. John Butler the elder probably predeceased him, since there are no subsequent references to any mercers of that name. A John Butler and his wife did, however, begin a collusive action in the husting court of London ten years later over the ownership of land in the parish of All Saints Barking: the MP had settled his joint title to property there upon a group of feoffees in the February of 1423, so it is possible that the suit was brought by his next heir.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
It is very easy to confuse this MP (described in the return for 1417 as ‘John Butler junior, mercer’) with John Butler the elder, a less influential and only slightly older member of the same livery company. The problem of identification is compounded by the existence of a John Butler, draper of London, who can first be identified in May 1395 and who died, a very rich man, in 1436 (E179/238/90; Corporation of London RO, hr 123/120, 195/49; PCC 23 Luffenham). He succeeded the subject of this biography as sheriff of London in 1420 (being then described as ‘commoner and draper’: Cal. Letter Bk. London, I, 245), and may well have been another of his kinsmen.