BUTLER, John I, of Graveney, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



May 1413

Family and Education

m. bef. June 1398, Joan (1376-1408), 3rd da. and event. sole h. of Richard Faversham of Graveney, 1da.

Offices Held

Commr. of inquiry, Kent Oct. 1398 (smuggling); array May 1415.

Sheriff, Kent 17 Nov. 1398-22 Aug. 1399.

J.p. Kent 12 June-Nov. 1399.

Tax controller, Kent Mar. 1404.


Butler’s background is obscure.1He acquired landed property in Kent through marriage to the sole surviving daughter of Richard Faversham (d.c.1389), a tenant by knight service of the archbishop of Canterbury, not long after the deaths of her two sisters in 1390. His wife’s inheritance included the manors of Graveney and Ewell Court in Faversham, together with other property in the same region of the county. In addition, a transaction of 1406 reveals that they also had an interest in two-thirds of the manor of Seasalter, the whole manor of Upless, and substantial holdings nearby. In 1412 the assessors of the subsidy put the value of Butler’s lands at £41 a year.2

Butler may well have come by his opportune marriage through the good offices of Archbishop Courtenay (d.1396), in whose household he served as an esquire. The archbishop, on his deathbed at his house at Maidstone, told his executors that he wished to be buried in the graveyard of the local collegiate church in a place he had shown to Butler; and he made his esquire bequests of his fourth best robe and the sum of £20.3 Butler’s involvement in local administration for the Crown began two years after Courtenay’s death, with his appointment first as a commissioner and then as sheriff. He was possibly suspect as an adherent of Richard II, as he was removed from the shrievalty in August 1399, when the King was a captive in the hands of his cousin, Henry, duke of Lancaster, and he was dropped from the local bench after Henry’s accession to the throne. Furthermore, a few years elapsed before he was employed by the new regime.

Butler is recorded as a witness to the sale of a manor at Ospringe in 1404, and in February 1413 he was chosen by two men from Sandwich to arbitrate in a local dispute. He was returned to Henry V’s first Parliament three months later. The last record of him, in July 1415, notes his activity, on behalf of the then sheriff of Kent, in summoning certain defendants to the central courts.4 The date of his death is not known. He was buried next to his wife in Graveney church, where once there was a brass to his memory. It is uncertain whether he was still alive when his only daughter Anne (d.1458) married her first husband, John Martin, j.c.p. (d.1436).5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. E. Hasted believed there were two John Butlers — John, the sheriff of 1398, who married Joan Faversham, and his son John who married Joan, da. of William Frogenhall — Kent ed. Drake, vi. 403; vii. 31-33. But all the evidence points to there being just one man whose career spanned from before 1396 to later than 1415.
  • 2. CCR, 1389-92, pp. 98, 381-2; CIPM, xvi. 993; CP25(1)111/251/1092, 112/266/316; Hasted, vi. 337; Feudal Aids, vi. 476.
  • 3. Arch. Cant. xxiii. 63, 67.
  • 4. CCR, 1402-5, p. 305; 1409-13, p. 416; CPR, 1413-16, p. 368.
  • 5. Mon. Brasses ed. Mill Stephenson, 232.