BOTELER, Sir William (d.1415), of Warrington, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
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Family and Education

s. and h. of Sir John Boteler*. m. (1) — Hoghton, div.; (2) c. June 1403, Elizabeth (d.1442), da. of Sir Robert Standish of Standish, Lancs. by his w. Iseult, wid. of John Wrottesley (1379-1402) of Wrottesley and Butterton, Staffs., 1s. John†, 1da. Kntd. 11 Oct. 1399.1

Offices Held

Commr. of array, Lancs. Mar. 1400,2 Aug. 1402; to prevent the spread of treasonous rumours May 1402; lead men against the northern rebels July 1403; make an arrest 1410.3

J.p. Lancs. Feb. 1404.4


William Boteler had evidently come of age by November 1393, when he joined with his father, Sir John, in taking on the lease of a small estate in and around Marton in Lancashire. Sir John may not have lived to see his eldest son’s inclusion among the 46 gentlemen who received the honour of knighthood on the eve of Henry IV’s coronation in October 1399, nor the reward to ‘nostre trescher bacheler’ by the King of an annuity of £40 payable for life from the revenues of Lancashire, although the precise date of his death is now unknown. By January 1400, however, Sir William had succeeded to an impressive estate comprising the barony of Warrington (which produced at least £195 p.a.) as well as the manors of Crophill in Nottinghamshire (alone worth an additional £20 a year) and Exhall in Warwickshire. An assignment of dower was made to his widowed mother in March, and by May he had obtained seisin of his inheritance from the Crown. Within a year or so of entering his patrimony, Sir William became involved in three separate lawsuits for the recovery of property to which he advanced a title. All of these reached the Lancaster assizes in August 1401, although only one, concerning holdings in Burtonwood and Great Sankey, was determined in his favour. Indeed, he twice protested about the tactics of his kinsman, Sir Gilbert Haydock, whose attempts as defendant to influence the composition of the jury threatened to undermine his case. Sir William himself performed jury service at this time on an important assize between Sir John Massey of Tatton and Robert Worsley* over the fate of the Worsley estates.5

In April 1403, Sir William received an additional fee of 40 marks, assigned to him by King Henry for ‘good and agreeable service’ from the lordship of Halton in Cheshire. He may already then have been contemplating a second marriage, for his first, contracted while he was still very young, had ended in divorce. Finding it impossible to tolerate his wife, who belonged to the influential Hoghton family, Sir William ‘avoydet the sayd gentillwoman from hym ... as hit was supposit with awten any lawfull particion hade be ywene thaym’. Anxiety lest Sir William might once again behave in such a cavalier fashion led his prospective father-in-law, Sir Robert Standish, to insist that his daughter, Elizabeth, should first receive as jointure one third of the barony of Warrington, thus guaranteeing her a more than competent means of support whatever the outcome of the marriage. Sir William duly conveyed several manors to a body of trustees, including Sir John Assheton II* and his wife’s cousin, Ralph Standish, who implemented all the arrangements. (Prominent among the witnesses to this transaction was Sir Thomas Gerard*, whose son and heir, John†, was by now Sir William’s brother-in-law.) As the widow of the Staffordshire landowner, John Wrottesley, Elizabeth already possessed a life interest in the manors of Wrottesley and Butterton, as well as certain other unspecified property in Cheshire. Sir William managed these estates for her, and thus became embroiled in a dispute at Wrottesley with neighbouring tenants of Richard, earl of Warwick. Never one to countenance any slight to his authority, Warwick first of all began litigation against Sir William and the Standishes; but later, in December 1406, he took the even harsher step of insisting that they should submit the matter (under heavy securities of £200) to his own arbitration. Sir William had, meanwhile, assumed a seat on the Lancashire bench and had also been returned by the county to Parliament, although he was none the less still in no position to risk offending the earl.6

In 1410 Sir William sat on a jury summoned to determine the ownership of land in Culcheth. Two years later he found himself in difficulties for making an unlicensed alienation of the three Cheshire manors of Coddington, Clutton and Beachin, possibly on behalf of his wife. The manors were seized by the government, although he had no trouble in obtaining permission from the recently crowned Henry V, in May 1413, to settle other property, in Warwickshire, upon the Augustinian house of Arbury. On this occasion he may well have been acting as a trustee of the future judge, (Sir) William Babington, who joined with him in the endowment. So far as we know, Sir William Boteler did not again enter the House of Commons, but he attended the elections for Lancashire to the Parliaments of May 1413 and November 1414. The new reign began auspiciously for him, since his second annuity (from Cheshire) was increased to 100 marks, and the prospect of warfare overseas soon offered itself. In May 1415, he indented to serve on Henry V’s first expedition to Normandy with a personal retinue of ten men-at-arms and 30 archers; and he subsequently contracted to provide the sheriff of Lancashire with an additional force of 50 archers. Wages and expenses for the former came to just over £140, although in the event it was his widow’s third husband, William, Lord Ferrers of Groby, who collected the money.7

Sir William died during the last stages of the siege of Harfleur, in late September 1415, his body being shipped back to England for burial in the friary church, Warrington. His widow, Elizabeth (who, with Sir John Byron* and a clerk named William Cowper, had been chosen to execute his will), married Lord Ferrers within the next year and was fined for failing to obtain the necessary royal licence. Sir William’s only son, John, was then aged 12, so custody of his inheritance was farmed out at 100 marks p.a. by the Crown to a group of local landowners, including Sir William’s former adversary, Sir Gilbert Haydock, who himself had designs on the Boteler estates. The findings of an inquisition post mortem held on Sir William’s property in Warwickshire may have encouraged the belief that John was born out of wedlock, since they denied the existence of any legitimate issue. Certainly, from 1417 onwards, attempts were made to prevent John from succeeding his father, although none prevailed. Sir William also left a daughter named Elizabeth, who later married the son and heir presumptive of Nicholas Boteler* of Rawcliffe, John’s colleague in the Leicester Parliament of 1426.8

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. Chetham Soc. lxxxvi. 227-8; xcv. 112-14; CP, v. 355; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. vi(2), 174, 184. Boteler’s first wife cannot, on chronological grounds, have been Sir Henry Hoghton’s* daughter (M.J. Bennett, ’Late Med. Soc. in N.W. Eng.’ (Lancaster Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 59, 62), but she may well have been his sister.
  • 2. DKR, xl. 528.
  • 3. Chetham Soc. n.s. xcvi. 113.
  • 4. DKR, xl. 532.
  • 5. DL28/27/3; DL29/738/12100; DL42/15, ff. 8, 80, 165; E179/159/48; DKR, xliii. 1; Chetham Soc. lxxxvi. 215, 226-7; n.s. lxxxvii. 8, 31, 53, 79-80, 103, 110.
  • 6. DL42/15, f. 167v; Chetham Soc. lxxxvi. 227-8; xcv. 112-14; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. vi(2), 174, 184; Bennett, 59, 62-63, 67; CCR, 1405-9, p. 279.
  • 7. C219/11/1A, 4; C143/464/14; DL42/17(1), f. 2v; E404/31/237; DKR, xxxvi(2), 46; xliv. 568; CPR, 1413-16, p. 29; Bennett, 68; Chetham Soc. lxxxvi. 232, 245-6.
  • 8. C138/12/25; DKR, xxxiii. 12-14, 25; CFR, xiv. 148-9; CP, v. 355; Chetham Soc. lxxxvi. 240-1, 247; xcv. 112-14.