The Butler Society is a "one-name" society, as opposed to a "one family" society. There are about seven hundred members and the number is growing. Members come from all around the world. It is a truly international society.
How it all started
On 29 August 1965, the late Patrick (Butler), 28th Lord Dunboyne, gave an address on "Butler Family History" *, in Kilkenny Castle, to the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, at the invitation of the late Hubert Butler, the well-known man of letters of Co. Kilkenny, Ireland.
The lecture was extraordinarily well attended by many with the name of Butler. A society was proposed. The late George Butler, a retired Irish policeman, provided the necessary organisational talent. The hard work and enthusiasm of these three men was responsible for the creation of the society. Initially they planned to launch the society with a rally in the summer of 1966, but they learnt that the late Arthur Butler, 6th Marquess of Ormonde and 30th Chief Butler of Ireland, was planning to give Kilkenny Castle, his ancestral home since 1391, to the people of Kilkenny in 1967. The two occasions were combined. Butlers from many countries gathered at Kilkenny to witness the handing over of the Castle and The Butler Society was founded in August 1967. The society has grown ever since.
How it has evolved
The initial focus was upon the family of the Chief Butlers of Ireland, which is probably the largest single family group bearing the name Butler. However, over the years, members joined and subsequently traced their roots to different family groups in England, Ireland, Wales and elsewhere. The Butler Society evolved into the "one-name" society which it is today, as is reflected in the rules and the committee. Kilkenny continues to offer a most hospitable base for members from all the various Butler families around the world. A decision was made at the Society's General Meeting in 1994 that there were no longer to be any affiliated regional societies.
Sometimes it needs to be added that The Butler Society is not a professional research organisation. The society is run "on a shoestring", on a voluntary basis, by its members. The society tries to help individuals with their research by facilitating networking between members and maintaining a clearing system for information. Like any other networking activity, one tends to get out as much as one puts in.