RUTTER, William (by 1488-1541), of Southwark, Surr.

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



Family and Education

b. by 1488. m. Elizabeth (?Lowe), 1s. 2da.1

Offices Held

Yeoman of the chandry by 1509; churchwarden, St. Margaret’s, Southwark 1516-18, serjeant of the scullery by 1520.2


William Rutter’s origins and early life are obscure. He had entered the Household by the death of Henry VII, whose funeral he attended as a yeoman, as he did the subsequent coronation. He made his career in the Household for the next two decades; he accompanied Henry VIII to the Field of Cloth of Gold but appears not to have done so 12 years later to the meeting with Francis I, perhaps because he had by then given up his post. In 1534 he leased, from Bishop Capon of Bangor, the Tabard in Southwark, where he had been living for some time, and he passed the remainder of his life as an innkeeper: as well as the Tabard he had an interest in a property called the Horse’s Head. It is tempting to imagine that he accommodated some of his parliamentary colleagues at either or both of these establishments. His daughter Agnes was to marry William Harris II, a Member for Maldon in the Parliament of 1536.3

Rutter’s election to the Parliament of 1529 may have been the work of the King’s brother-in-law, the Duke of Suffolk, who had a house in Southwark. Although he was not a stranger to the Sussex borough that returned him, as he owned a house in East Grinstead and his brother Thomas lived there, such personal links would hardly have sufficed to procure his election in a borough belonging to the duchy of Lancaster: he may have been helped by George Payne, an influential local gentleman and servant to Sir John Gage, one of the knights for Sussex in 1529, who was apparently to be charged with Rutter’s wages. Presumably Rutter sat for East Grinstead again in 1536, in accordance with the King’s request for the re-election of the previous Members, and if so he doubtless supported the bill for the enlargement of St. Margaret’s churchyard, Southwark, enacted in that Parliament (28 Hen. VIII, c.31): earlier in the reign he had been a churchwarden of St. Margaret’s and more recently he had contributed towards the purchase of Lord Ferrer’s Place as an extension of the churchyard. Whether he reappeared in the Commons in 1539 is not known, as most of the names of the Members are again lost.4

Rutter made his will on 22 Oct. 1540, leaving his place of burial to the discretion of his wife. After several small bequests he left to his son William, who was to remain in her custody until he came of age, a sum of £50 and property in Oxfordshire and East Grinstead: he also made provision for his wife, two married daughters, sons-in-law, kinsmen and servants. His brother Thomas was to receive 20s. a horse and several small sums owing to Rutter, who added ‘Also I will that the executors of George Payne [who had died in 1538] do pay to my brother Thomas Rutter 10s. for my wages when I was burgess’. He appointed his wife executrix and his ‘brother’ Edward Lowe (or in his absence John Smith of the Vine) overseer of the will, which was proved on 8 Oct. 1541, seven days after Rutter’s burial at St. Saviour’s, Southwark. His son may have been the William Rutter committed to the Marshalsea for uttering seditious words against the future bishop of Bath and Wells, Gilbert Bourne, at a sermon preached by Bourne at Paul’s Cross in August 1553.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 34 Alenger.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, i, iii, iv; Surr. Arch. Colls. xiii. 28-35.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, i, iii, iv; Surr. Arch. Colls. xiii. 28-35; PCC 34 Alenger.
  • 4. Suss. Rec. Soc. lvi. 136; Surr. Arch. Colls. xiii. 28-35; PCC 34 Alenger.
  • 5. PCC 34 Alenger; Greater London RO, P 92/SAV/359; SP11/13, f. 119.