BUTLER (BOTELER), Thomas I (1513/14-79), of Bewsey and Warrington, Lancs.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. 1513/14, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Butler by 1st w. Cecily, da. of Piers or Peter Legh of Lyme Cheshire. m. (1) by 1543, Eleanor, da. of John Huddleston of Sawston, Cambs., 1s. 3da.; (2) c.1560, Thomasin (d.1573), s.p.; (3) 1574, Anne, da. of Edward Norris of Speke, Lancs., s.p. suc. fa. 1549. Kntd. May 1577.1

Offices Held

?Page of chamber by 1541; ?gent. pens. by 1544-52/53 commr. eccles, causes, diocese of Chester 1562, musters, Lancs. 1573, 1578; j.p. Lancs. by 1568; sheriff 1569-70.2


The Butlers, barons of Warrington, were among the oldest and most powerful of Lancashire families. Thomas Butler’s father, the 16th Baron, was sheriff in 1534 and for his loyalty in 1536, when he joined the 3rd Earl of Derby with 368 men, received a letter of thanks from the King, to whom, however, he was heavily indebted, apparently through his ineptitude as receiver in Lancashire and Cheshire since 1523. In 1540 and again in 1542 he was under arrest for debt, being rescued on the second occasion by one Benedict Killigrew and others.3

Butler was involved in many lawsuits, at least once with his own son and namesake, who complained that his father had withheld money due to him under his marriage settlement. In 1522 Thomas the elder had arranged for his son to marry Alice, daughter of Edmund Trafford, but there is nothing to show that the marriage took place. The father’s own marriage to Cecily Legh was dissolved by 1534, by which year he had married Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Dudley aliasSutton, 2nd Lord Dudley, sister of the unfortunate ‘Lord Quondam’ and widow of John Huddleston, an ironic alliance in view of the subsequent fate of the Butlers. By 1543 the younger Thomas Butler had married her daughter Eleanor.4

It is by no means certain that Thomas the younger was about the court at this time, since there were others of the name, but it may be significant that the courtier appears on one list with a Benedict Killigrew, presumably Sir Thomas Butler’s benefactor in 1542. If the Member was the courtier, he accompanied the King to Boulogne in 1544, and he certainly continued his family’s martial tradition. He was present at the assault on Leith in 1560, being one of the captains appointed ‘to keep the field’ and appears in other military contexts: for example, when Derby mustered forces in favour of Mary in 1553, Butler was one of his commanders. He was one of the mourners at Derby’s funeral in 1572 and with Sir Peter Legh offered up the earl’s sword. He was described as meet to be a justice of the peace in 1564 and three years later (Sir) Edward Fitton informed the bishop of Chester that all the gentry of Lancashire from Warrington all along the sea coast were of the popish faction, except Butler.5

Like his father, Butler was an enthusiastic litigant and in the last years of his life was engaged in disputes with his son Edward over the disposition of the family lands. Despite these efforts, he died intestate on 22 Sept. 1579. His inquisition post mortem shows that the lands were still considerable and after Edward Butler had conveyed them to his distant kinsman Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, they bulked large in their new owner’s will and were regarded as a rough equivalent of his lordships of Denbigh and Chirk.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., DL7/9/22. Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. xcviii), 96-98; (lxxxi), 106; J. B. Watson, ‘Lancs. Gentry, 1529-58’ (London Univ. M. A. thesis, 1959), 255-60; Stow’s Survey of London (1720), iii, 224; VCH Lancs. i. 349.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xix, xx; CPR, 1560-3, p. 280; 1566-9, pp. 271-2; Watson, 260; Chetham Soc. xlix. 86; information from W. J. Tighe.
  • 3. Somerville, Duchy, i. 326, 495; VCH Lancs. i. 348; ii. 601-3; W. Beaumont, Lords of Warrington, ii. (Chetham Soc. lxxxvii), 427; LP Hen. VIII, iii, vi, xi, xiii-xv, xvii, xviii, xx; APC, i. 33-34; C. Haigh, Lancs. Monasteries (Chetham Soc. ser. 3, xvii), 136; CPR, 1553 4, p. 227.
  • 4. Ducatus Lanc. ii. 233; Beaumont, 428, 454; LP Hen. VIII, vii, xiv; Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 27.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xvii, xix; CSP Scot. 1547-63, p. 393; Chetham Soc. xlix. 2; Beaumont, 470, 477; J. Croston, County Fams. Lancs. and Cheshire, 59; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 77.
  • 6. Watson, 260; VCH Lancs. i. 349; Beaumont, 498 seq.; Cath. Rec. Soc. iv. 203; Ducatus Lanc. i. 50; iv. 75, 92, 95, 107, 253, 284, 389; APC, xvii. 349; Chetham Soc. li. 120 seq.; PCC 1 Leicester.