BULLER, John (c.1632-1716), of the Middle Temple and Morval, nr. East Looe, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
24 Nov. 1692

Family and Education

b. c.1632, 2nd s. of Francis Buller of Shillingham, and bro. of Francis Buller. educ. M. Temple, entered 1646, called ?1652; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1647. m. (1) 1657, Anne, da. and h. of John Coode of Morval, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) by 1674, Jane, da. and h. of Walter Langdon of Keverell, nr. East Looe, 1s. d.v.p., 4da. suc. gt.-nephew James Buller Shillingham 1710.1

Offices Held

Commr. for militia, Cornw. Mar. 1660, j.p. Mar. 1660-2, by 1701-?d.; recorder, W. Looe c. Apr. 1660, Saltash by 1661-2, ?1710-d., commr. for assessment, Cornw. 1661-80, 1689-90; freeman, East Looe 1670, West Looe 1676, Liskeard Oct. 1688, commr. for recusants, Cornw. 1675, sheriff Nov. 1688-9.2


Although a younger son, Buller established an independent position for himself by marrying two local heiresses. He is unlikely to have practised the law, though he retained his chambers at the Temple until 1672. Nevertheless he became recorder of West Looe and was returned for the borough at the general election of 1660. He was marked by Lord Wharton as a friend, and probably voted with the Opposition in the Convention, though he cannot have been active. Sitting by Edmund Ludlow in the gallery, he ‘bewailed the temper of the House, wishing for Sir Henry Vane and some others to be amongst them for the moderating of them’. More experienced than his brother, he may have served on seven committees, of which the most important was to settle ecclesiastical livings, and acted as teller against restoring the Roman Catholic Lord Arundell of Wardour to his confiscated estate.3

At the Restoration the Trelawny interest reasserted itself at Looe, and for the general election of 1661 Buller transferred himself to the family borough of Saltash, of which he was likewise recorder. Probably a moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he may have delivered five speeches and served on 83 committees, few of which were of political import. Still Independent in sympathy, he resigned his recordership to avoid displacement by the commissioners for corporations, and was also removed from the county bench. On 3 July 1663 he reported an estate bill, his sole essay in chairmanship in the period, and on the following day he was teller against the additional corporations bill. He was appointed to the committee to receive information about the insolencies of Popish priests (20 Oct. 1666) and added to that to hear a petition from the merchants trading with France (29 Nov.1667). After defaulting on a call of the House on 13 Feb. 1668 he escaped a fine only by producing a medical certificate, and at the end of the session he moved to petition the King for a longer adjournment, but found no seconder. On 21 Mar. 1670, together with Jonathan Trelawny I and Arthur Spry, he was ordered to bring in a bill to facilitate the granting of duchy of Cornwall leases, and he spoke twice in the debate on the bill to enable Lord Roos (John Manners) to marry again. Though he urged, perhaps innocently, an inquiry into the ‘weighty considerations’ in the bill, he favoured its passage on general grounds. On 23 Jan. 1671 he spoke against the proposed tax on tin and other mines, and in a debate on 8 Nov. 1675 he complained that many Catholics were indicted but few convicted. He was probably reckoned by Sir Richard Wiseman among the Cornish Presbyterians, and Shaftesbury classed him as ‘doubly worthy’ in 1677. In 1678 he was among those ordered to inquire into the conviction of Quakers for recusancy and to consider two bills of local interest, those for reform of the stannary laws and the Fal navigation. On 18 Dec. however he was again found to be absent at a call of the House.4

During the Cavalier Parliament the Earl of Bath had established a strong court interest at Saltash, which Buller apparently preferred not to encounter, and in the Exclusion Parliaments he sat for Liskeard. Shaftesbury marked him ‘worthy’ in 1679, when he was moderately active. He was named to the committee of elections and privileges, and to those to inquire into the publication of a speech attributed to Sir Francis Winnington, to suppress profanity, to examine a minor Popish Plot informer, and to amend the bankruptcy law. He voted for exclusion. He was appointed to no committees in the second and third Exclusion Parliaments, but on 7 Jan. 1681 he acted as teller against excusing Thomas Street without payment for a default in attendance, and after the Oxford Parliament he joined the Cornish syndicate for victualling Tangier. He is unlikely to have stood in 1685, and in 1688 was listed among the Cornish dissenters ‘formerly out of commission’. He regained his seat in the Convention, apparently as a Tory, for according to Ailesbury’s list he voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. He was added to the elections committee and to that for a bill to prohibit the manufacture of cane chairs. He lost his seat again at the general election, but came in for Grampound at a by-election in 1692. A Tory and a zealous churchman under Queen Anne, he used his interest at Saltash for William Shippen in 1713, and founded five charity schools in Looe, Saltash, Liskeard, Grampound and Penzance with the stipulation that the instruction should be Anglican. He died in 1716. His eldest son, who predeceased him, represented Lostwithiel in 1701, and his grandson, who reunited the Buller estates, sat for Saltash as a moderate Tory from 1718 to 1722.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Paula Watson


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 57; C6/32/33; M. Temple Recs. 1128; Hasted, Kent, x. 307; PCC 45 Young, 131 Fox.
  • 2. A. L. Browne, Corp. Chrons. 187; J. Allen, Hist. Liskeard, 271-2.
  • 3. T. Bond, Sketches of Looe, 179-83; M. Temple Recs. 1265; Voyce from the Watch Tower, 121-2; CJ, viii. 212.
  • 4. D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 386-7; CJ, ix. 56; Milward, 68; Grey, i. 260, 262; iii. 423; Dering, 60.
  • 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 148-9; Allen, 178-9; Lysons, Cornw. 242.