Butler Surname Genealogy
Butler as an occupational name originally denoted a servant in charge
wine cellar, from the Norman French word butuiller. It
came to be used to describe a servant of high responsibility in a noble
household, mostly leaving behind its association with the supply of
Boutler and in Germany with Buttlar.
Butler Resources on
- The Butler Society.
A one-name society.
- The Butler Dynasty.
The Butler family in Ireland.
- John Butler. John Butler of Butler’s
- The Butlers of Oak Brook
Butlers of Chicago.
- Laurence Butler Irish
rebel and Australian cabinet maker.
Butlers in England
were in many cases at first butlers.
early spelling here was Botiller or Boteler.
Thus Ralph who was the butler to the Count of Meulan in the
was the forebear of Baron Botiller of Wern in Shropshire.
From Robert de Pincerna, butler to the Earl
of Chester in 1086 came Sir William le Boteler, lord of Warrington and
of Lancashire in the 13th century. His family later became the
Warrington and Bewsey.
Botelers of Yatton in
Herefordshire in the early 1300’s who were the forebears of the Butlers
Shambrooke in Bedfordshire and subsequently of county Cavan in Ireland.
Boteler who appeared in a charter
dated 1313 in Biddenham in Bedfordshire. The
line included Sir William Boteler, Lord Mayor of London
1515. The Botelers were still in
Biddenham in the early 1700’s.
Boteler, descended from the Botillers of Wern, who took over Sudeley
Gloucestershire in the 1360’s. A
descendant Thomas Butler was made Baron Sudeley in 1441.
After he died, his young widow Eleanor, known
as the Holy Harlot, was alleged to have had an affair with King Edward
were three John Butlers who were recorded in London in the early
1400’s. Two were members of the Mercers’
Company, one becoming an MP in 1417. A
third was a draper who was Sheriff of London in 1420 and died a wealthy
man in 1436. Butlers
were cloth merchants in London in the
1530’s. A later cloth merchant of
London, John Butler, bought Amberley Castle in Sussex in the 1650’s.
were yeoman farmers at Claines near Worcester in the 17th
century. Descendants were to be found at
Rye in Sussex and Margate in Kent. The
Margate line extended to George Butler, Headmaster of Harrow school
to 1829, and his son Montagu, Headmaster of the same school from 1859
1885. Another line included a number of
Victorian colonial governors in India and the conservative politician
the late 19th century,
there appeared to be three main centers for Butlers:
the north, in Lancashire stretching into
- in the west midlands,
primarily in Staffordshire and Warwickshire
in the southeast around London.
dynasty in Ireland began with Theobald Walter from Lancashire, who was
the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in the 1170’s and was given at
that time the
title of Chief Butler of Ireland. They changed their name from
FitzWalter to Butler at that time.
Butlers were ennobled as the Earls of Ormond in 1328 and they
fortress at Kilkenny
castle in 1391. For
centuries they remained a great power in SE Ireland, often in dispute with
the FitzGeralds, that other great dynastic family in
extended through Kilkenny and Tipperary into parts of Carlow. While the Ormond Butlers remained the senior
branch, other Butler branches developed over time, those of Dunboyne,
Polestown and Roscrea, and Mountgarret. The Ormond Butlers left
castle and Ireland permanently in 1935.
Charles Butler, the 31st Chief Butler of Ireland and the last of
line, died in 1997.
arrived in Ireland from Bedfordshire in 1610, having received a land
Cavan. He laid the foundations of the
town of Belturbet and his family became prominent landowners in the
ennobled in 1756 as the Earls of Lanesborough.
Their title became extinct in 1998.
Butler from Tipperary in Ireland was
the first Butler to step ashore in America.
He was a page-boy on Raleigh’s expeditions to Roanoke in 1584
but refused to stay (and therefore did not perish as those who did).
Thomas and John Butler, brothers from Essex,
came to America in the 1630’s and they settled on Kent Island
colonies of Maryland and Virginia. This
was dangerous as Maryland was Catholic and they were Protestant and
they feared to come under Maryland’s jurisdiction.
In the end the Butlers made their home in Westmoreland county,
Three notable early New England Butler families
Butlers beginning with Nicholas
Butler who came to New England on the Hercules
from Kent in 1637 and stopped first in Dorchester, Massachusetts before
to Martha’s Vineyard. Benjamin Butler,
Union General and Governor of Massachusetts, was a descendant.
- William Butler who came around 1654 and made his
home in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He was
by repute an Irish Butler fleeing Cromwell. One
line from him migrated in the mid-1700’s to Connecticut
and to the
Wyoming valley in Pennsylvania. Another
line started making paper, initially in Connecticut and Vermont, and
the 1840’s in the Chicago area. Growing
rich they built their country estate in 1898 at Oak Brook near
the Butlers who were recorded in New
London, Connecticut in the 1680’s. Walter
Butler grew up there but moved in 1742 to the Mohawk
upstate New York. His son John Butler
notorious pro-British Butler’s Rangers during the Revolutionary War. John died in Canada, a war hero to the
Butler, the third son of
a well-born family in Ireland, had come to South Carolina with the
army, but resigned his position in 1773 to join the American cause. He prospered after the War.
With his rice and cotton plantations in South
Carolina and later on the Georgia Sea Islands, he and his two grandsons
inherited his estate were amongst the largest slaveholders of the
South. Their edifice began to crumble,
however, before the Civil War.
Butler name is old in Newfoundland. Samuel
Butler, possibly from Bristol, was
among the very first immigrants to land at Conception Bay with John Guy
1610. Thomas Butler and his three sons
were living at Port de Grave in 1675; and his line may well have
James Butler who was granted a moiety at Little Belle Island in
in 1757 (James reported property being in his family’s possession for
years). There is a Butler house, built
by Butlers at Cupids on Conception Bay in 1905, that is still with the
Butlers in Newfoundland came from both England and Ireland. James Butler arrived at Trinity Bay from
Hampshire in England around 1808. There
have now been five generations of Butlers living at Port Rexton. On one stormy winter’s day in 1892 Butlers of
were caught up in the tragic outcome of a seal hunt chase.
the events unfolding from land; his nephew James made it ashore in very
poor shape; but another relative Isaac perished in his seal boat.”
Australia and New Zealand. Laurence Butler from
Wexford was transported to Australia for his role in the 1798 Irish
Rebellion. He arrived there in 1802 at
the age of 52 on the Atlas 2. Nine
years later he started to advertise as a
cabinet maker in Sydney. By the time of
his death in 1820 he was recognized as Australia’s first cabinet maker
and a leading businessman of the new colony.
Born in the tiny
Dorset village of Okeford Fitzpaine in 1814 to a clergyman’s family,
Butler ran away to sea at the age of 14.
In 1838 he arrived in New Zealand, bought land at Mangonui on
Island, and set up a trading post to service whaling ships with
provisions. The Butler homestead at
Butler Point where he and his wife Eliza raised thirteen children has
been restored by descendants.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
Chief Butler of Ireland was the
title given to Theobald Walter in 1171.
James Butler was a prominent 17th
century Anglo-Irish soldier and statesman. He fought against the
Cromwellian conquest of Ireland but returned to English favor after the
Pierce Butler represented South
Carolina in the Constitutional Convention and was a large plantation
owner in South Carolina and Georgia.
Samuel Butler was the Victorian
writer of the Utopian satire Erewhon.
Rab Butler was a prominent
postwar Conservative politician who was expected to but didn’t become
Britain’s Prime Minister.
Select Butlers Today
- 63,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 72,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 58,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
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