Sir William BUTTS of Futham

Born: ABT 1486, Fulham, Middlesex, England

Died: 22 Nov 1545

Buried: All Saints, Fultham, Middlesex, England

Married: Margaret BACON ABT 1505, Norfolk, England


1. William BUTTS of Thornage (Sir) (b. ABT 1506 - d. 1583) (m. Joan Bures)

2. Thomas BUTTS of Great Riburgh (m. Bridget Bures)

3. Edmund BUTTS of Barrow (m. Anne Bures)

Butts,William02.jpg (65800 bytes)

William Butts

by Hans Holbein
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

Born in Norfolk and educated at Cambridge, Butts took his M.A. in 1509 and his M.D. in 1518. He became court physician ABT 1524. Besides Henry VIII and his wives and children, including Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, Butts's patients included Cardinal Thomas Wolsey; Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk; and George Boleyn, Lord Rochford. Paid a salary of over 100 per year and knighted for his services, Butts stood high in the King's confidence. In 1528, Henry, who was deathly afraid of infection, sent Butts to Hever Castle to treat Anne Boleyn, who may have been suffering from the sweating sickness. AFT 1536, Butts treated Henry's chronically ulcerous leg, a difficult task, for the King was a notoriously ill-tempered patient. In 1540, Butts reassured Henry that his inability to consummate his marriage with Anne of Cleves was not a result of his impotence but of Anne's failure "to excite and provoke any lust in him".

Because of his frequent and intimate contact with a King who trusted him, Butts was ideally placed to help people in need of royal favor. In 1529, he tried to reconcile the King with Wolsey and in 1535 he impressed upon Princess Mary's unsympathetic governess, Anne, Lady Shelton, that she would be blamed should the Princess be poisoned while in her charge.

Butts's religious sympathies were reformist; he often used his influence with Henry to aid his friends and to further the cause of religious reform. He attempted to convert the monks of Syon Abbey who were imprisoned for denying the Royal Supremacy, and he prometed the ecclesiastical advancement of Hugh Latimer and the political advancement of Sir John Cheke. It was Sir William Butts who suggested to the King that Prince Edward's tutor Dr. Cox be replaced by Sir John Cheke, fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge university. He several times intervened on behalf of Archbishop Cranmer, obtaining for him the grant of a Nottinghamshire abbey, and helping to uncover the Prebendaries Plot launched against him in 1543. Later that year, when the conservatives on the Council believed themselves authorized to arrest the Archbishop, Butts raised Henry's ire on Cranmer's behalf by informing the King of how Cranmer was being forced to wait outside the council chamber in humiliation until his enemies were ready to seize him.

Butts also saved Richard Turner, the reformist curate of Chartham, from being whipped out of the country because his parishioners had angered Henry by celebrating Turner's acquittal for heresy. At an opportune moment, when the King was with his barber, Butts mentioned Turner's case and succeeded in having all action against him halted.

He married Margaret Bacon, of Cambridgeshire, and left three sons, Sir William; Thomas; and Edmund. They married respectively Joan, Bridget and Anne, daughters of Robert De Bures, Esq. of Aketon and Anne, sister of Sir William Waldegrave of Smallbridge. The latter alone had issue, one daughter, who married Sir Nicholas Bacon, the eldest son of Sir Nicholas, keeper of the great seal. One of their sons was Sir Nathaniel Bacon, the artist, who married Jane, Lady Cornwallis, of Brome Hall. Anne, daughter of Sir Nathaniel and Lady Jane, became the wife of Sir Thomas Meauty's, Francis Bacon's secretary and friend.

Much to the ailing King's grief, Butts died in Nov 1545. He was buried in All Saints, Fultham; his tomb has a Latin verse by Sir John Cheke.

Margaret Bacon

Butts,William(ygr).jpg (74788 bytes)

Sir William Butts, the younger



Wagner, John A: Bosworth Field to Bloody Mary: An Encyclopedia of the early Tudors - (Greenwood Publishing Group 2003 Connecticut)

Williams, Neville: Henry VIII and his Court - (Cardinal 1973 London 1 Ed. 1971)

to Bios Page to Home Page