36 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
The Buttons are descended from an old, Glamorganshire family, and there are several distinguished men of this name. Robert Button, who married Edith. Batt, was a near relative of Admiral Sir Thomas Button, probably first cousin or first cousin once removed, but the evidence is traditional and I have as yet no proper pedigree worked out. Sir Thomas Button, however, was clearly a stubborn old fighter, much of Robert Button's type. He was one of the earliest to seek for a North-west passage in 1612, and although he did not discover it, he for the first time, amid great hardships in the ship Resolution with the pinnace Discovery, explored the coasts of Hudson's Bay. Button's Bay and Isle, Resolution Island and Nelson River (called after the master of his ship who died there) still remind us of Button's voyage. Later he was Admiral of the Irish seas, busily engaged in repressing the numerous pirates of those days. As in the case of most strenuous men, he succeeded in quarrelling with officialdom, but the charges raised against him were absurd, were easily disproven, and probably only raised to avoid paying his salary, which remained unsettled at his death.
When Robert Button married on his release from gaol Edith Batt in 1672, he is described as of Taunton, Somersetshire, and by trade he was a grocer. They had eleven children, of whom no less than eight died in infancy. The youngest, Robert, born 1693, married twice, first (March 1716) Mary Ellis, and second Martha Vickris' (October 1719). Both died within ten years of their marriages. Ellis, the child of the first, married a cousin, another Mary Ellis, but does not appear to have had any children ; he died aged 40. His father, the second Robert, died aged 33 in 1726.
Those who survived were Elizabeth (1689-1754) and Sarah (1682-1754), who married John Galton of Yatton in 1703. Elizabeth married (1723) Joseph Gifford, of Wellington, who settled at Taunton. Three daughters died as infants, one son only, Joseph Gifford (b. 1724), survived, but did not marry and died in 1801, suspicious of all his relatives. His father died in 1730.
The mortality of the Buttons' is remarkable, and doubtless points
1 A well-known Quaker name.
2 Edith Button (nee Batt) was 42 years old at the death of her husband. In the following year she married Matthew Perin, the companion in Ilchester gaol of her father Jaspar Batt. Perin was then 60 years of age, and died three years after. His widow
married a third time a year later Edward Watts, fifteen years her junior. There was no issue of either of these marriages.