Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Butler, Theobald

BUTLER, THEOBALD (d. 1205–6), first butler of Ireland, was son and heir of Hervey (Herveus) Walter of Amounderness in Lancashire and of Suffolk, by Maud (Matilda), daughter and coheir of Theobald de Valoines. Her sister Berthe (Berta), the other coheiress, married the celebrated Randulf de Glanville, justiciary of England [q. v.], who was thus uncle by marriage to Theobald. This much is certain from his own charters, as is also the fact that he was elder brother of Hubert Walter [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury, but beyond this all is obscure. The various theories of earlier writers, especially the belief that Theobald was nearly of kin to Becket (cf. Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 30), are exhaustively discussed by Carte in the introduction to his ‘Life of James, Duke of Ormonde,’ in which he has collected much useful information. Lord A. C. Hervey argues that he sprang from the family of Hervey, while Mr. Glanville-Richards claims his father as a younger brother of Randulf de Glanville. But this latter view is doubted by Mr. Yeatman, who discusses the point in his introduction to Mr. Glanville-Richards' work, and it must certainly be rejected. Theobald's surname appears in the various forms, Le Botiller, Walter, Walteri, and Fitzwalter.

Theobald first appears in the ‘Liber Niger’ (i.e. circa 1166) as holding Amounderness ‘per servicium 1 militis.’ The received statement that he accompanied Henry II to Ireland (1171–2), and was made by him butler of Ireland ‘soon after 1170,’ though accepted by Lynch (p. 79), and repeated by Mr. Gilbert (p. 31), rests upon no evidence, and must be dismissed as erroneous, as must also that of Carte that he appears previously (1170) with Henry in France. It was probably in 1182 (Eyton, p. 248; Glanville-Richards, p. 41) that he witnessed, with ‘John the king's son,’ Randulf de Glanville's charter to Leystone, and it was through the influence of Randulf that, in 1185, he accompanied John to Ireland. The freight of his ‘harnesium’ thither is charged for in that year (Rot. Pip. 31 H. II). Landing with John at Waterford on 25 April, he received a grant to Randulf and himself of 5½ cantreds in Limerick (see Carte for charter tested at Waterford); and the same year, with the men of Cork, fought and slew Dermot MacArthy (Expugnatio, v. 386). He further received from John (before 1189) the fief of Arklow afterwards confirmed to him by William Marshal on becoming jure uxoris lord of Leinster (see Carte for charters, though he explains them wrongly), where he fixed his chief residence, and in later days founded an abbey, as a cell to Furness (Mon. Angl. ii. 1025). It is in virtue of this nef that Lynch and others have attempted to claim a 'feudal barony' for Theobald and his descendants. Returning to England, he witnessed his brother Hubert's charter to West Derham (ib. ii. 624) in 1188, and then accompanied his uncle Randulf to France, witnessing with him a charter of Henry II at Chinon (ib. ii. 648) on the eve of his death, July 1189 (Eyton, p. 297).

He now was in constant attendance on John, witnessing his charters to St. Augustine's, Bristol (ib. ii. 234), and Jeriponte Abbey (ib. 1029), and receiving from him, as lord of Ireland, the office of his 'butler.' He first assumes this style ('Pincerna' when testing John's charter to Dublin, 15 May 1192, at London (Mun. Doc. p. 55; St. Mary's Chart, i. 266–70); and it was apparently about this time that he received a grant from the Archbishop of Dublin as 'pincerna domini comitis Moretonise in Hiberniâ' (Cotton. MS. fo. 266), a style proving that he was appointed by John. He now adopted a fresh seal, adding to his name (Theobald Walter) the style 'Pincerna Hiberniæ.' This has escaped notice. Hence he is occasionally, in his latter days, spoken of as 'Le Botiller,' or 'Butler,' which latter became the surname of his descendants. Carte states, on the authority of Roberts (who professed to have seen the patent), that he also had a grant of the prisage of wines, but this is clearly an error. Towards the end of 1192 he was with John at Nottingham (see charter in Cotton. MS. fo. 347), and received from him probably about this time a fresh grant of Amounderness (ib. fo. 352). John going abroad at the close of the year 1192, entrusted him with Lancaster Castle, but on his brother Hubert, then justiciar, summoning it, in Richard's name (February 1194), he surrendered it (Hoveden, ii. 237), and, making his peace through Hubert, had a re-grant from Richard of Amounderness, 22 April 1194 (Rot. Pat. 5 Ric. I. Printed by Baines, iv. 289), and was appointed by Hubert in August 1194 collector of the money for his tournament licenses (Hoveden, ii. 268). He was further made sheriff of Lancashire, and appears to have remained so till 1 John (Deputy Keeper's Reports, xxxi. 300). In 1197–8 (9 Ric I), he acted as a justice itinerant, assessing the tollage on Colchester (Madox, i. 733), and it was in the course of Richard's reign that he founded the abbey of Cokersand (Mom. Angl. ii. 631; Baines, iv. 290).

John, on his accession, soon took vengeance for Theobald's defection to Richard, He disseised him of Amounderness, deprived him of his shrievalty (1200), and on 12 Jan. 1201 sold his Limerick fief—not, as Hoveden states (iv. 152–3), all his Irish possessions—to his then favourite, William de Braose [q. v.] But Theobald, by the influence of his brother Hubert, effected a compromise in the matter, and within a year was restored to favour, Amounderness being re-granted to him on 2 Jan. 1202 as 'dilecto et fideli nostro' (Rot. de Lib. p. 25). While out of favour (1199–1201) numerous complaints were made against him of past oppressions (Rot. de Obi et Fin.) In 1203 or 1204 he withdrew to Ireland by license (Rot. Pip. 5 John m. 18 dors.), and busied himself with his religious foundations in Arklow, Nenagh in Tipperary (Mon. Angl. ii. 1044), and Wotheney in Limerick (ib. ii. 1034). He also gave a charter (printed by Carte) to his men of Gowran. He is said, on the authority of 'Rothe's Register' (compiled in 1616 from the Ormonde evidences), to have died in 1206, and to have been buried at Wotheney; but if so, it must have been very early in the year, as John informs the sheriff as early as 14 Feb. (1206) that he has committed his widow to her father (Claus. 7 John), and he is not mentioned as living on the Rolls later than 4 Aug. 1205 (ib.)

He had married late in life Maud (Matilda), daughter of Robert le Vavasor, by whom he left a son Theobald, born about 1200, whom his grandfather was ordered (2 March 1206) to deliver up to Gilbert FitzReinfrid (Pat. 7 John, m. 3), and a daughter Maud, also committed to Gilbert and his son till 1220 (Rot. Pat. 4 Henry III, m. 6), who is said by Lodge to have married Thomas de Hereford, but who seems from an inquisition of 1251 (Calendar) to have married Gerard de Prendergast. It is ingeniously suggested by Carte (pp. xii–xiv), on the strength of a plea-roll of 1295–6 (Plac. 24 Ed. I, m. 68), that Theobald had, by a previous marriage, a daughter Beatrice, who married, firstly, Thomas de Hereford, and secondly, in her father's lifetime, Hugh Purcell. This is not improbable. His widow Maud was given up, at first, to her father Robert, on payment of over 1200 marks (Rot. de Obl. et Fin.), but afterwards (by 1 Oct. 1206) to John's favourite, Fulke FitzWarine (Rot. Claus. John).

[Close Rolls, Patent Rolls, Fine Rolls, and Liberate Rolls (Record Commission); Pipe Rolls; Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Giraldus Cambrensis' Expugnatio, Roger de Hoveden, Municipal Documents of Ireland, and St. Mary's Chartulary (Rolls Ser.); Cottonian MSS. Titus B. xi, containing transcripts of Charters; 31st Report of Dep. Keeper of the Records; Madox's Exchequer; Dugdale's Monasticon Anglicanum, 1661; Carte's Life of James, Duke of Ormonde, 1736; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii; Lynch's Feudal Baronies in Ireland; Gilbert's Viceroys of Ireland; Baines's Lancashire, 1836; Lord A. C. Hervey's Family of Hervey; Glanville-Richards's Records of the Anglo-Norman House of Glanville; The Barony of Arklow (Foster's Collectanea Genealogica, No. iv.); The Barony of Arklow in Ireland (Antiquarian Magazine and Bibliographer, vol. i.); Abstract of Roberts's MS. History of the House of Ormonde, 1648, in Appendix to 8th Report Hist. MSS. i. 586–8.]

J. H. R.