John Butterworth
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John Butterworth

This is a history of John Butterworth, born in Gretton, Northamptonshire, England in 1742 and died in Thrapston, Northamptonshire, in 1781.
[The three John Butterworths are designated by the subscripted numbers 1,2,3.]

Our story about John3 Butterworth, who was christened on 19 November 1742, in the little parish of Gretton, Northamptonshire, England, must of necessity, as well as interest, begin with his parents.
     His father, John2 Butterworth, son of John1 Butterworth and Edith Vine, was christened in Gretton on 24 January 1718.  Edith Vine was the only daughter of John Vine and Amie, and inherited their lands at their death, which in turn, came to John2, then to our John3 at the death of his father.  
     John3's mother was Hannah Satchell, daughter of Richard Satchell and Hannah Rowlat, christened 16 September 1711 in Gretton.  John2 Butterworth and Hannah Satchell were married in Corby, a parish adjoining Gretton, on 1 September 1741.
     We must go back about six years prior to this, however, as Hannah Satchell had been married first to a man by the name of Henry Taylor.  Their marriage has not been found, but they had two children christened in Gretton, Mary in 1735, and John in 1737.  This little John Taylor was christened on 11 or 16 Oct 1737.  This October in 1737 proved to be time of sorrow for Hannah, however.  On 22 October her husband, Henry Taylor was buried.  The very next day, 23 October, her father and her brother, Richard, were buried.  And on the 25th, Robert Butterworth, grandfather of her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Butterworth, and great-grandfather of John3, was buried.  There must have been some kind of illness in the parish at this time, as there are an unusually high number of burials in October and early November 1737.  But there is no notation in the parish register to indicate what it may have been.
     With two young children on her own to raise, it must have been difficult for Hannah.  Her family was of a better than average income.  After her father’s death, the inventory of his property was valued at  £268/12-6 [286 pounds, 12 shillings, and sixpence].  He had written his will on 18 October 1737, five days before his burial, seeming to indicate an illness rather than an accident. His will was finally proved on 7 May 1739. For Hannah, it may have been easier to manage as a young widow  with brothers and sisters near, and her small legacy from her father’s estate.
     Then on 1 September 1741 in Corby, Hannah Satchell, then Taylor, married John2 Butterworth.  Their son, John3, the subject of this sketch, was christened in Gretton on 19 November 1742.  Just fourteen months later, Hannah again faced sorrow when her husband, John2, was buried on 25 January 1743/4, in Gretton.
     She married a third time on 22 October 1749 in Gretton to Henry Spencer.  By him she had one son, Henry, christened 5 March 1750.  When our John3 was 14 years old, and her youngest child, Henry was 6, Hannah was buried on 18 November 1756, at the age of 45.  Her short life had been filled with sorrow and we can only hope that she found joy and comfort in her children, who all appear to have lived past their infancy.
     We will go for a moment to the father of our John3, also John2 Butterworth.  His family was also moderately well off for the time period.  His father, a third John1 Butterworth, was buried on 6 January 1740/1. [All dates in this history are use the original old calendar dates before 1754, that is the year began 25 March. So January 1740/1 was before April 1740.] He had written his will 31 December 1740, less than a week before his burial, and it was proved in November 1742, with his estate valued at  £246/05-06.  He names his daughter, then Elizabeth Satchell, and his other sons, Robert, William, and Martin, and leaves them monetary legacies in the will. Elizabeth and Robert are given £10 each, and William and Martin £20.  John is to share the rest of the inheritance with his mother, Edith, “provided they can agree to join together but if my wife shoold marry or go away from him then my will is that my Son John Butterworth shall have all my Personal Estate afore mentioned here except half the houshould goods which I give to my Loving wife Edith Butterworth.”
     Inventory of the estate of John1 Butterworth included the following personal items: purs[e] and a parrott, 5 bras[s] panes, 2 bras[s] potes, 11 puter dishes, 20 puter plates, 1 warmin pan, 1 bras[s] ladell, 2 dressers, 5 mares, 2 colts, 2 foles, 7 cowes, 3 heffers, 6 calves, 5 sheep, 9 piggs, 2 hoggs, 15 young piggs, and 4 small piggs. Valued at £102-06-00. Additional property valued at £144 included: 3 waggons, 2 cartes, 2 plowes, 1 hay stack (£15), 13 “acckers of land redy to sow for barley.” The appraisal was by Robert Laxton, Will: Butterworth, and Tho: Wade.
     On 1 November 1742, John2, was admitted as a tenant to the land which had been his father’s.  It is described in the Court Roll as a place “called Persmore Corner,” in the south field of Gretton.  John2 is designated in the court record as the eldest son and heir, of full age, and admitted to his father’s lands. The land referred to was actually owned by the “Lord (or Lady) of the Manor” and those who were admitted tenants to the lands paid an annual rent.  They were called “copyholders,” as opposed to the “freeholders” who owned their own property.                                     
     The next reference to this family in the records of the parish of Gretton is in 1759 when the land which had been in the possession of Hannah (Satchell Taylor Butterworth) Spencer, who was now dead, was given to her eldest son, John Taylor.
     We can only speculate what John3 did from the time of his mother’s death in 1756 until 1762.  Two events happened in 1762 which are vital to our records.  First of all, on 9 January 1762 John3 signed, as a witness, the will of his stepfather, Henry Spencer.  This is significant, because it this signature, when compared to the signature on his marriage record, which was used to establish proof that this John in Gretton is definitely our John.  Without these two matching signatures, all of the Gretton Butterworth/wick genealogy would be simply assumed and not proved to be our lineage.
     The second event in 1762 was John’s apprenticeship, at the age of 20, as a baker to Mr. Robert Smart of King’s Cliffe, a parish some 9 miles from Gretton.  John’s 2gg father, Robert Butterworth/wick had been christened in King’s Cliffe in 1629, so there may still have been some connections between the two parishes even 140 years later, or it may have been just coincidence that he was sent to this parish as an apprentice.
     The next year, 1763, land which had belonged to John’s grandfather, John Vine, was given to him, as recorded in the Court Roll.  The record states that “John Butterworth2, deceased, was in his lifetime” a tenant on the land and that “John Butterworth3 is his only son and next heir according to the custom of the manor and that he is of full age, being present in court.”  At the same time, some of this land was given to Thomas Satchell, John3's uncle.
     In the same year, 1763, on 5 April, John3, a baker, received land in King’s Cliffe from John Henson, a farmer.  This land included a cottage, barn, and stable.
     [All references to John Butterworth for the remainder of this history are to John3.]
     On 8 January 1765 in the parish of Thrapston, John married Elizabeth Green, daughter of John Green and Elizabeth Wright, who had been christened in Thrapston on 9 November 1743. It is a little difficult to imagine how these two young people would have met, as these two parishes were about 17 miles apart, which in the 1760s, in England, was quite a distance.  But meet they did, and married, returning after their marriage to King’s Cliffe. The account book for Thrapston shows that John Butterworth paid 1 shilling and sixpence to be married. This was the standard rate for marriages in the parish at that time. [This would be the equivalent of 7½ cents on a dollar, the pound at that time being about $4-5, so this payment was about 30-35 cents.]
     On 1 May 1765, John surrendered “into the hands of the Lady of the Manor, by Robert Boon, gent., several pieces of land” in Gretton, to William Lenton, slater, and also some to Robert Lenton the younger, baker.  This appears to be the remainder of the land which he had been given which had originally been John Vine’s.
     John and Elizabeth had their first child while living in King’s Cliffe, a daughter, Elizabeth, christened 1 November 1765. In April 1767, at the Court at King’s Cliffe, John was fined 6 pence for “breaking the asize of bread.”  There were laws which governed the size and weight of a loaf of bread, and evidently John had made some bread that was too small! Later that year, on 2 November 1767, John turned over the land, including cottage, which he had received in 1763 to Thomas Gamble, a miller.  It must have been at this time that he and Elizabeth moved their little family to Islip, a small parish adjoining her home parish of Thrapston.
     It was here that their next six children were born:
    John4, chr 26 February 1768 [Our ancestor, married to Mary Bright.]
    William, chr 25 May 1770
    Hannah, chr 18 October 1771
    Mary, chr 7 May 1773
    Ann, chr 1 January 1775, and buried 2 April 1775
    David, chr 18 July 1776, and buried 17 October 1776

     He is listed in the 1777 Northamptonshire Militia List of able-bodied men as residing in Islip, occupation, baker. On 26 February 1780, John buried his wife, Elizabeth, only 36 years of age, leaving him with five children, aged 7-14. While lives were shorter in the 18th Century than they are now, John died only 17 months later, and was buried on 1 August 1781.  There may have been any number of causes for his early death, but his death left his five young children on their own to fend for themselves.  On 19 February 1782, an admon, a probate record used in lieu of a will, was filed for John Butterworth, of Islip, Baker, by William Osborn of Stanion, Miller; Thomas Norton of Stanion, stonecutter; and John Read of Islip, farmer.  The estate was valued at not over 75 pounds, with no mention of the children.
     Again, we can only imagine how difficult it must have been for these children.  The two boys, John and William, aged 13 and 10, at the time of their father’s death, may have been apprenticed out to various tradesmen.  We know about John as he is our ancestor, who in 1796, in the parish of Luddington, married Mary Bright, and lived there the rest of his life, as a cottager and publican.  However, of William nothing more has been found.
     The three daughters, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Mary, aged 15, 9, and 8, moved back to King’s Cliffe.  While their maternal grandparents were still living in Thrapston, and there were no known aunts or uncles or known relatives in King’s Cliffe, this is where the three sisters chose to spend the remainder of their lives.
     We must be careful not to judge these sisters, in light of what a hard time they must have had on their own at such tender ages, for they each bore two illegitimate children before their eventual marriages.  Elizabeth married 8 November 1792, Robert Bailey; Hannah married 21 October 1810, William Christopher; Mary married 30 July 1822, Robert Southwell.
     In the 1851 Census of King’s Cliffe, Mary is enumerated, listed as having been born in Islip, and as being deaf. Elizabeth had been buried on 19 February 1843, Hannah on 15 November 1824, and Mary was buried on 9 October 1853.
     So in the space of about 130 years, spanning three generations of the Butterworth family, we find lives full of joy and sorrow.  Could the facts of their lives be known; the toil of providing in those times, the difficulty of childbirth, and the struggles of so many at such young ages to make it on their own, a true epoch could be written of them. We must let this brief and imperfect record suffice and remember those who preceded us, and to whom we owe nothing less than our own lives.


Gretton Parish Register
Gretton Court Roll
Gretton Wills (Robert Butterworth, 1737; John Butterworth, 1740; Richard Satchell, 1737)
King’s Cliffe Parish Register
King’s Cliffe Court Roll
Peterborough Wills (Mary Rowlat, 1715)
Corby Parish Register
Islip Parish Register
Thrapston Parish Register
Luddington Parish Register