Joseph Butler was Constable of Hungerford in 1688, the year in which the Commissioners of King James II met Prince William of Orange at The Bear Inn on 6-9 December that year. He is commemorated by a carved stone lying near the main south porch door to St Lawrence's parish church.
- Joseph Butler's memorial stone near the south entrance to St Lawrence's Church, Aug 2018.
- Joseph Butler's memorial stone, Aug 2018.
The Butler family:
This article on the Butler family was written after the gravestone of Joseph Butler had been cleaned and returned to the grave close to the entrance to St Lawrence Church.
Robert James states "It now stands on a Forest of Dean stone plinth so the inscription can now be easily read and the rain will run off.
The decorated stone shows both the importance of the man and the extra cost would certainly indicate that he and his family had some money.
Barry Humphries says that the stone monument was second hand but good quality York Stone. There is a square hole in the top which meant that previously it must have been hung by a square slate bolt. If it had been wood there would have been a round hole."
There are copious entries for the many Butlers in the Hungerford Virtual Museum (try putting Butler in the Search!).
The memorial tablet is dated 1693. Joseph Butler was a mercer, and was Constable in 1681 and at the time of William of Orange's visit in 1688. This was when he gave the Bailiff's Staff to the town (see Town Coffer). There are some interesting entries in the Constables' Accounts for his 1688 year.
The memorial stone to Joseph Butler is very decayed, but appears to be inscribed:
HERE LIETH THE BODY
OF IOSEPH BUTLER
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
THE 17th DAY OF
JUNE ANNO DOMINI
AGED 45 YEARS
The Butler family was, of course, one of the most frequent providers of Constables in the town:
William in 1572
John in 1652 and 1656
Thomas in 1668
Joseph in 1681 and 1688
Thomas in 1698 and 1704.
Joseph Butler lived at 12 Bridge Street in 1690.
There are several references to various Thomas Butlers. An early Thomas Butler lived at what is now 5 High Street in 1676.
Another Thomas Butler was presented by the churchwardens for teaching at the Grammar School in The Croft without a licence. By 1695 the Hocktide Court refers to him as "master of the Free School", and at his burial in 1705 he is recorded as "Schoolmaster".
John Toe III (died 1705) was married to Sarah (nee Butler). His father John Toe II died 1686. His inventory is interesting (see 111 High Street).
One could go on - but suffice to say that the Butlers were one of the really important and influential families in the town in the 17th and 18th century.