Samuel Buttall

Plymouth, Devon

The story of Samuel Buttall and the Plymouth church is very interesting. Apparently a member of Henry Jessey's open membership church in London (though Ivimey asserts that he was from Petty France), he is mentioned in 1675 as associated with the Broadmead church. Recognized as a gifted brother, he carried on a ministry of preaching. The Plymouth church had been blessed by the spiritual ministry of Abraham Cheare, but after his death in 1668, the church went for 19 years under severe persecution without a pastor, and seriously declined. They called Robert Brown in 1687, but he died within three months of coming to Plymouth. Next, they called Robert Holdenby from Ireland, but he was almost immediately unhappy in his position, and stayed only until 1690. Buttall was in membership at this time, and attended the 1689 Assembly with Holdenby as representatives from Plymouth. After Holdenby departed, the church again faced the question of calling a new pastor. There was much indecision among the 52 members, but the sisters of the church met together and submitted a tender letter to the brothers, suggesting that they consider Samuel Buttall as pastor. (It must be remembered that in most, though not all of the churches, the women did not participate in business meetings). The letter was well received, and Buttall was called. This is especially remarkable when one realizes that of the 52 members, 42 were women! Along with James Hitt, Buttall represented Plymouth at the 1692 Assembly. He remained at Plymouth until 1707.