BUTLER, Richard (c.1510-68 or later), of Southampton.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. c.1510.1

Offices Held

Water bailiff’s sergeant and keeper for the wool-house, Southampton 1533-7, steward 1543-4, water bailiff 1545-6, ct. bailiff 1548-9, sheriff 1549-50, mayor 1551-2, 1563-5.2


Richard Butler started his career in the 1520s as apprentice to a merchant adventurer and alderman of Southampton. At the suit of his master he was made a burgess on payment of 20s. in 1538 or 1539, when he had already begun to trade on his own account in fruit and cloth. He was in charge of part of the defences of Southampton during 1547-8 and 1556-7. In 1554 he helped to endow the newly established grammar school, and four years later with John Caplyn he negotiated the renewal of the town’s charter. He was one of the townsmen to whom Elizabeth’s commissioners in 1559 sent instruction in the use of a form of recantation of papistical beliefs. In September 1560 he took a 50-year lease of a tenement on the east side of the High Street in Holyrood parish; later he disputed the right to a tenement in English Street with Thomas Chaffyn (son of Thomas Chaffyn II) of Salisbury. During his last year as mayor he erected two almshouses, for persons sick of the plague or other diseases, on a piece of ground to the north of St. Mary’s churchyard.3

Butler’s single spell in Parliament was a by-product of his municipal career. He had had financial dealings with the town from at least 1535, discharging some of his debts to it in sugar. In 1555 he claimed £11 2s. 8d. ‘for his being at the Parliament and his fee for weighing of wools’, and 30s. for horse hire to London and back ‘several times about the town’s business’. The last reference found to him is on 3 Dec. 1568, when he owed the town £17. In the absence of a will it is not known whether he married or had children.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from apprenticeship.
  • 2. Third Bk. of Remembrance, i (Soton Rec. ser. ii), 50n, 59, app. i; ii (ibid. iii), app. i.
  • 3. Third Bk. of Remembrance, i. 50n, 59; ii. 8, 56, 62; Soton RO, bk. of oaths and ordinances, f. 20; liber de finibus 30-31 Hen. VIII; SC4. 3(16) 17; Black Bk. of Southampton, iii (Soton Rec. Soc.), 94n, 121-25; HMC 11th Rep. III, 94; C3/42/38; C. Platt, Med. Southampton, 200, 223.
  • 4. Soton RO, bk. of debts 1525-1602, ff. 43v, 44, 70, 78.