The Wills of Edmund and Sir William Buttes



After spending a not inconsiderable time in the transcription of the wills of Thomas, William and Edmund Buttes, I came across a privately printed book of 100 copies published in 1926 entitled:

Bures of Suffolk


and Burr of Massachusetts Bay Colony

New England

by Chauncey Rea Burr

PH.B.(Yale), M.D. (Harvard)

It contains a comprehensive account of the Bures family and their connection to the Buttes family and includes in the "Evidences" section, full or edited transcriptions of all these wills and rather more besides! It makes for a very useful cross check for the work I have done and shows that we are broadly in agreement in our readings of the contents, although the Thomas Buttes' will is somewhat abreviated and Dr Burr does say on page 20 that "His will dated 22 May 1592 is unusual and will well repay careful study" and I very much share his opionion!




In searching the Internet for information on Edmund Buttes I came across a reference to a contemporary portrait thought to be Edmund Buttes of Barrow and with a provenance that traced the picture back to Suffolk and the 2nd Earl Cornwallis of Brome Hall in Suffolk in the late C18th.  (Sir Thomas Cornwallis was one of the beneficiaries of Thomas Buttes' will) Though catalogued as a portrait of Edmund when it was first acquired by the National Gallery in 1897 , it has since been re-named and moved to the Tate Gallery. 


An Unknown Man in a Black Cap 1545 Oil on panel 470 x 410 mm Inscribed ‘[…]I. 1545.’ on the left; ‘ÆTATIS. SV […]’ on the right; on the back of the panel ‘faict par Johan Bettes / Anglois’ then repeated above ‘faict par Johan Bettes Anglois’ (‘made by John Bettes, Englishman’) Purchased 1897 


You can see the portrait here and read all things technical about it here




A copy of Edmund Buttes' will is found on folio 9 of British Library Add. Mss. 39227 and is transcribed in full below.

The hand writing of the signature looks to be  different from the text and so perhaps that of Edmund himself ?


© British Library Board Add Mss 39227 fo 9


In the name of god amen /the xxiij th day of Apryll in the
xlix th yere of our lorde god I Edmonde Buttes of Barrow
in the Cou[n]t[y] of Suff[olk] Esquier
do Ordayne & make this
my last wyll & testamentt in man[ner] & forme folowyng
Fyrst gyve & bequethe my soll to Almyghty god my body
to be beryd by the dyscressyon of my frendes/ And as
cons[er]nyng my goodes moveables & un moveables I fully
& holy gyve the same & evry p[ar[tt therof & my best horses
Except whyche I have gevyn unto my unccle Robt Bures
I do gyve & bequethe unto Anne my wyfe duryng hyr
lyfe and after hyr decease the sayde goodes & the remaynes
gyve & bequethe unto Anne the dowghttre of
us bothe/ Furdre I gyve unto my brother Thomas
Buttes my pycture/ It[em] I gyve unto my Cosyn Edmod
Buttes ij payres of whytt hose / It[em] I gyve to the vycure
of Gasle my frysado nyght gones /It[em]  I wyll that
my sayd wyfe do pay my dettes unto my  Detors
whose wannt I have money owed in a byll or the
somes due to other of them so nerely & truly as in
my consyence I can devyse thus I ende my last
wyll & testamentt wherof I make & ordayne my sayde wyfe
my sole executrix thes p[er]sones folowyng baryng
therof wytnes

Edmund Buttes

Edmund married Anne Bures the daughter of Henry Bures and Anne Waldegrave in 1547. Edmund never lived long enough to see his daughter Anne Buttes grow up as he died just 2 years into the marriage  in 1549. As seen in the above will, Edmund did have his portrait painted and gave it to his brother Thomas

His wife's sister, Mary Bures (the 4th of Dr Sir William Buttes wards) married Thomas Barrow of Barningham in Suffolk.

Their daughter Anne Barrow,  (Edmund Buttes' niece) married Sir Rafe Shelton as his second wife and with whom she had two sons, William and Henry Shelton who were the godsons of her Uncles, William and Thomas Buttes.

After Sir Rafe's death Anne Barrow/Shelton married Sir Charles Cornwallis (the son of Sir Thomas Cornwallis who as written in Thomas Buttes' will gave him "the stafe ..which was sometime the prince of Oranges staffe' ) and this is very possibly the way the  painting refered to above, and reported to be of Edmund Buttes, came to be with the 2nd Earl Cornwallis of Brome Hall in Suffolk in the late C18th.




I was aware that there was a portrait of Sir William Buttesc.1545 in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and in searching the Internet I found that this is also attributed to  John Bettes and again I found a blog where you can see the image and which has more to say about it from the point of view of fashion here.

The Probate copy of the will is found in the archive of the Public Record Office and is transcribed below:


In the name of God Amen

One thousande fyve hundred eightie one, The Tenthe of October. I  William Buttes of
Thornage in the Countie of Norffolk Knighte, beinge (god be thanked) of whole and perfecte
mynde, doe ordaine and make this my last will and testamente in manner and fourme followinge.
Viz, First I bequeathe my soule to allmightie God, furmelie and surelie trustinge that by the
deathe and passionn of our Savioure Jesus Christe all my synnes and offences shallbe uterlye forgiven
mee , and utterlye forgotten: My body I will to be buried in the parrishe Church of Thornage
neere the place for that purpose allready prepared and provided for in decente and comelie sorte, but
utterlye witout pompe or greate solempnitie. Item I will and bequeathe for Tenne of the pooreste
howshoulders in Thornage Tenne shillinges, that is to saye, Twelve pence to everie of the saide howse=
houlders, to be distributed and givenn by the discressionn and appointemente of the personne or Curate of

the saide Towne: And to five of the poorest howshoulders in the Towne of Brintoun five shillings in like
sorte , as before , to be distributed by the person or Curate there: And to Tenne of the poorest houshoulders
in the Towne of Bristone Tenne shillings by twelve pence to everie howshoulde to be distributed by the
personn of Thornage: To three of the poorest howshoulders in the towne of Brinham three shillings.
To sixe of the poorest howsehoulders in Meltonn sixe shillinges:And to right of the poorest howshoulders
in Edgefeild eight shillings: And to three of the poorest houshoulders in Letheringsett three shillings
Thrise laste appointementes to be distributed by the personne of Thornage, and the persons of the saide
Townes. Item I will that the twoe woodes or groves lyinge in the Towne of Whested or  elsewh[e]re
in Suffolk the one of them called Squire Wood, and Containythe by estimationn sixteene acres, the other

called Lonnte Wood contayninge bt estimacion nyne acres, whiche I latelye bought of Maister Grice
as by a deede and conveyennce withe me remayninge under the hande and seale of the saide M. Grice
it doeth appeare , shall remaine and bee to the use and behooffe of the Ladye Jane my wiffe duringe her
naturall lyfe and after her deceasse, theie shalbe to the use of suche the heires of my saide wife as shall
inherite and possesse the Mannor of Whested in Suffolk and to theire heires for ever.And I will
that the saide Groves and wooddes after the deathe of my saide wife doe remayne to the Mannor of
Whested as parcell of the saide Mannor for ever after to be reputed and takenn. Item I will that
William Shelton my godson shall have ymmediatelye after my deathe one Cuppe of silver double guilte
with a cov[er] wherein is graven W.S. ffor a remembrannce of mee, whiche Cuppe of the saide shalbee
delyvered to the Lady Anne Shelton his mother to the use of the saide William my Godsonne
Item I will and doe appoint by this my last will that the Ladye Jane Buttes my wiffe shalbee
my sole and onelye Executrix, righte earnestlie requiringe her evenn in the bowells of Jesus Christe to
see my debtes paide, which debtes, although theie be neither greate nor manye, yett to make her more
able to performe this my requeste, I will>and doe bequeathe< to her as followeth: First all my monnye and Jewells &
Plate viz, twoe Basons and ewers of silver percell guilte waighinge eighte >score< and tenne onnces, two lyvrey
pottes of silver percell  guilte waighinge fowrescore onnces, three guilte Bolles withe a cover Waighinge
threescore onnces, three newe bolles double guilte wayinge thirtie onnces, one greate silver bolle unguilte
waighinge twentie sixe onnces, twoe Saultes double guilte with a cov[er] wayinge one and thirtye
onnces, one Trencher Salte guilte wayghinge sixe onnces, one lytle standinge Cuppe with a cover
wayghinge fyftene onnces, one Mawdlyn cuppe p[ar]cell guilte wayghinge seaventeene onnces , two dossen
spoones of silver wayinge eight and twentye onnces, sixe silver plates or trenchers parcell guilte wayinge
eightene onnces, one castinge bottell of glase with a foote, cover, and chaine of silver and guilte, one
oulde glasse with a foote and cov[er] of silver and guilte./ Item I also gyve to my saide wife all my
howshoulde stuffe whatsoever Viz, hangings, beddes, bedstedes, coverlettes, lynnen, Naperye, pewter,
brasse, and all other ymplementes of howshoulde whatsoever. Item I gyve to my saide wyffe all
my sheepe cattell of what kynde soever, and also all my Neate cattell aswell Northns boughte for the
howse, as darye Neate, all draughte steeres, and all other whatsoever, and also all my horses geldinges
End of Folio 2

Folio 2v

mares, aswell for  Rode as husbandrye. Item I will that my howshoulde shalbe mayntayned & kepte suche
in suche state as nowe it is by the space of three monnthes nexte after my deathe, to the intente
that my Servanntes havinge meate and drincke and Lodgeinge there maie in that tyme provide for
them selves. Item I will that William Sparcole my servannte in consideracion of his longe S[er]vice
and uallenes to gett his livinge shall have meate and drincke and clothes duringe his liffe if he will
tarrye, and if he will not tarrye, then I will he shall have twentie shillinges and one Calve by the
discressionn of my executoures:  The residue of my servanntes I leave to be rewarded and remembred by
the discressionn of  myne executoure, accordinge to theire qualities and longe abode. Item I will that my
yerelie pention of Thirtie three shillinges fowre pence payable by the Parson of Edgefeild whiche
I late purchased of her highnes Patentes as by the Indentures it doothe appear, shall remayne to the Ladye

Jane my wiffe for terme of her naturall lyfe, and after her deathe to Sir Nicholas Bacon
and to his heires for ever./ William Buttes




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