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Sir William Butts

after Hans Holbein the Younger
oil on panel, late 16th century, based on a work of circa 1540-1543
18 1/2 in. x 14 3/4 in. (470 mm x 375 mm)
Purchased, 1866
NPG 210

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Hugo Vickery Graham Butts

30 April 2017, 15:33

Sir William Butts is in the National Biography. One of his sons Edmund Butts was painted by John Betts, This picture is the oldest picture in the Tate called Man in a Black Hat, It was painted in 1545 the year of Sir William's death when Edmund Butts would have inherited a fortune, it is not directly attributed by The Tate but some scholars say it is Edmund Butts and his name is etched on the frame of the picture. Sir William's Wife was dame Butts who was lady in waiting to Ann Boleyn. There is a Holbein etching of her in the Queen's collection at Windsor. Sir William also wrote on religion and his papers are in the British Museum. His family had held the manor of Thornage in Norfolk which Henry VIII added to. The family are first mentioned as renting land from King John. The family coat of arms carries is adorned by the prince of Wales three feathers awarded by the Black Prince in the battle in which he obtained this emblem ( i think defeating a welsh chieftain. The sons of Sir William all married into the Bacon family, holder of the Privy Seal. One of his sons was Sherriff of Nottingham and was knighted in some battle. You have etchings of Lady Butts who must be a grandaughter or great grandaughter of Sir William. His ancestors incuded two Thomas Butts's one of whom was a student of William Blake and the other his patron. In the British Museum there are miniatures by Blake of the two Thomas's and an Elizabeth Butts. A direct descendant of Sir William is Mary Butts a famous writer friends of John Cocteau who sketched her, Ezra Pound, and other writers living in Paris in the l920"s.Her family home of Saltings in Devon was where many Blake pictures were kept and the Holbein of Sir William, now in Boston, which was sold by Mary Butts mother for 15,000 pounds in the early 20th century. There is a biography of Mary Butts, plus her novels. Sir William was buried in Fulham Church where there was originally a full size brass which was removed/destroyed at some point. There is still a skull and crossbones to Sir William on the wall of the church. Sir William briefly appears in Shakespeare's Henry VIII play defending Cranmer. Another distaff descendant was Bishop Butts of Ely, previously Norwich. There is a bust of him at Ely Cathedral, and reference at Norwich Cathedral.

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