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Butler Journal Vol. 1 , No. 1 (1968)


Under this caption it is proposed to publish readers' questions and answers in successive numbers of the Journal, and so to provide members with a useful and fruitful means of inter-changing information of mutual interest - on the lines of the good old nursery game of Happy Families. As many questions will be published as space permits. They will be numbered for ease of reference in the sequence of their publication. Such answers as can be given will often have to be condensed for print. While we shall make every effort to achieve accuracy, errors and misunderstandings are bound to occur in a venture of this sort and we cannot accept responsibility for their consequences. Questions should be confined to pincernalogy (a word derived from Pincerna, the Latin for Butler and employed here to mean Butleriana in its broadest sense).


What is the good of it?

ost questions worth asking, this needs more than one word for an answer. Pincernalogy will no doubt remain, as long as the family unit subsists, a source of interest to many connected with the various Butler families. It will also provide material of potential use to the genealogist, and perhaps even to the historian. But what of the scientist? If genealogy could ever be of service to the science of human heredity, the eight hundred years of documented history of a family such as the Butlers of Ireland might conceivably contain data of scientific value. But to indicate what particular type of information might be worth collecting for that purpose, we need the guidance of scientists themselves.


Who is their earliest known forefather?

He was named Hervey and must have lived in the first half of the 12th century. We need to know more about him. He is named as (a) grandfather of Theobald Walter (whose maternal grandfather was undoubtedly, not Hervey, but Theobald de Valognes) in a Final Accord of 1195 between Theobald Walter and William FitzHervey (Pipe Roll Soc., xvii, 20. This Final Accord was an innovation, see Prof. C. R. Cheney's 'Hubert Walter', 96) and (b) in the inquest of service taken for Lancashire in 1212 (Lancs. Inq., Rec. Soc. xlviii, 37) as father of Hervey Walter and as having enfeoffed Orm, son of Magnus, in marriage with his daughter, Alice, of lands from his fee of Weeton, or Witheton as it was formerly and more correctly written. Hervey is, and was then, a common name among the Bretons. Our Hervey may be the Hervey, son of Hubert, who with his father attested a charter of Baderon to the nunnery of St. Georges at Rennes c. 1080/90 (Genealogist, N.S. xviii, 1). Again, he or his ancestor may have been the 'Herveus pincerna' or 'Herveus botellarius' who, with other officers and tenants of the castle of Dol in Brittany, attested two charters to the abbey of St. Florent, one bearing the date 1086 (Calendar of Documents, France, 416). Furthermore in Germany there may survive some early archives of the Buttlar family which would help to discover our Hervey's ancestry, as indicated by Rudolf von Buttlar-Elberberg's massive Stammbuch der Aithessischen Ritterschaft, printed by Wilhelm Borner of Wolfhagen in 1888. The unpublished work of Blake Butler (MS. 12022 to 12036, Nat. Lib., Dublin; and 52802 and 52851, Brit. Museum) contains much scholarly, though as yet inconclusive, research on the same subject. Although it does contain one or two inaccuracies, the best starting-point in print of which we know is 'The Barony of Butler of Amounderness' by W. Farrer in Lancs., i, 350 of the Victoria County Histories, to which may be added Blake Butler's 'Origin of the Butlers of Ireland' in The Iirish Genealogist, i, 147.


Why are these words commemorated at Carrick-on-Suir in the 1573 mansion of Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond?

Vicomte Herve de Butler has drawn our attention to a poem, "Le Tourment Cache" , in which Charles d'Orleans with a depth of feeling repeats the phrase "Plus penser que dire"; and M. Richard Brun of Paris reminds us that this d'Orleans was captured at Agincourt in 1415 and sent to England where he stayed twenty-five years. It is no less intriguing to note that M. Brun finds the Dictionnafre des Devises by Chassant et Taussin mentions the Herve family in Brittany among those which adopted the motto, "Plus penser que dire pour parvenir".


Who were the parents of Thomas Butler (1720 - 89) of Pennsylvania?

It is odd that they have not been traced, as more is known of the origin of him than of most Irish emigrants and he was the progenitor of a family which has become firmly entrenched in American history. He is said to have been born in 1720 in the city of Wicklow and to have gone to Carlisle, Pa., in 1748. Some American sources give his birth more precisely as on 4 June 1720 in the parish of Coolkenny, Co. Wicklow; but Mr. George Butler of Dublin finds no trace of any such parish and suggests it may be an error for Coolkenna near Shillelagh, Co. Wicklow. Thomas married on 16, or 26, Oct. 1741 Eleanor, da. of Anthony Parker of Co. Wexford and had five sons, three of whom became Generals, and two, Colonels, in the American Army, and all of whom so distinguished themselves in the War of Independence that Lafayette (the only Honorary Citizen of the U.S.A. besides Sir Winston Churchill) is said to have remarked, whenever he wanted a thing well done he got a Butler to do it (P. Nolan, The Irish Dames of Ypres, 82). George Washington himself had occasion at his home to give his officers the toast 'The Butlers and their Five Sons' (Penn. Mag., VII). The county and borough of Butler in Pennsylvania is named after the eldest son, General Richard Butler (1743 - 91) who was killed and scalped in an engagement with the Indians at Miami. Blake Butler thought Thomas (1720 - 89) was probably descended from the Butlers of Ullard, Co. Carlow who held lands in Co. Wicklow in the 18th century and who are believed to have been a junior branch of the Butler baronets in Co. Carlow. In that connection this Thomas's grandson, Edward George Washington Butler, formerly of Dunboyne Plantation, Iberville, Louisiana, wrote to the 24th Lord Dunboyne in 1871 that Pierce Butler (1744 - 1822), who was 3rd son of the 5th baronet, 'claimed relationship to the Five Butler Brothers; tho' never traced'. Col. Sir Thomas Butler, the present baronet, adds the not unimportant footnote that it was this Pierce who signed the American Constitution and was one of the first Senators of the U.S.A.


Was the founder of Butler's Rangers descended from the Butlers of Ireland?

Butler's Rangers was the name of a corps of Royalists who were refugees from the American Revolution and, with their Indian allies, the Senecas, the Mohawks and Cayugas, achieved outstanding feats of guerilla warfare. Of them it has been written: 'Never before in history or since, have so few men held so large a territory against such overwhelming odds in men, materials of war, and transport' (Orlo Miller, Raiders of the Mohawk, 144) Butler's Rangers (1777 - 84) were raised by Col John Butler (1728 - 96), who was born in New London, Connecticut, according to a plaque, unveiled by his descendant, Mr. J. T. F. Butler in 1961 at Butler's Burying Ground, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Col. John was son of Walter Butler by his 2nd wife, Deborah, nee Ely, the relict of Ebenezer Dennis. 'Old Walter' as he was called, died in 1760, aged 90. His military appointments had taken him to the Mohawk Valley, New York, where he built Butlersbury; but he too was probably born in New London. He is believed to have been son of Thomas Butler of New London, who died 20 Dec. 1701, aged 59 and whose brother may have been John Butler of New London, who died 26 March 1773, aged 80 (F. M. Caulkin, History of New London, Conn., 342). Thomas probably came to New London, with his elder brother, John, between 1680 and 1690, but as yet we know not whence.


What was the ancestry of James Butler of Oxford, born 1720?

His descendant, Mr. J. V. Butler Harte of South Africa says there is a family tradition of descent from Sir Thomas Butler of Co. Carlow, 1st Bart., and this James left his native Ireland in 1755, settled in England at Oxford, married Jane Owen, a Welsh lady at King George's Court, and had James Butler (1750 - 1825) who married in 1776 Jane Slatter (1756 - 1820) of Oxford and had fourteen children.


Who were the parents of Richard Butler, the Quaker of Bristol in 1710?

His descendant, Mrs. Kirkpatrick of Surrey, England, says he joined the Quakers at Bristol on 16 March 1710 and had a son, Thomas, who married Mary Cash and whose descendants until 1924 remained in possession of certain lands in Co. Wexford which were once held by Richard Butler of Kilcash (1618 - 1701). It has been suggested that Richard the Quaker was none other than Richard of Westcourt (d. 1756/8), son of John of Westcourt (d. 1715), son of Richard Butler of Kilcash (1618 - 1701); but that is beyond belief. Richard of Westcourt seems unlikely to have been a converted Quaker and probably died without issue. Westcourt in those penal days was an oasis of refuge for his first cousin, Christopher Butler, Archbishop of Cashel, who died there in 1757; and neither Richard of Westcourt nor his wife, Helen, who was the Archbishop's niece and died at Danville, Co. Kilkenny, in 1782, mentioned any child of theirs in their respective Wills (Nos. 262 & 193 in W. Clare's Butler Testamentary Records which was printed privately by the Peterborough Press in 1932 and which we shall call for short 'B.T.R.' whenever we have occasion to refer to it again). The alleged devolution of the Wexford lands might suggest, on the other hand, that Richard the Quaker was the same person as Richard, son of Walter of Garryricken (d. 1700), son of Richard Butler of Kilcash (1618 - 1701). But Burke informed Lord Ormonde in 1879 that that Richard of the Garryricken line died without issue before 1766 If so, the identity of the father of Thomas Butler who married Mary Cash remains a puzzle. He might even be of the same family as the Samuel Butler who in 1610, as The Rev. A. M. Butler of Canada reminds us, was among the first immigrants to land in Newfoundland from Bristol.


Has the remarkable family of which Lord Butler of Saffron Walden is a prominent member the same paternal origin as the Butlers of Ireland?

Probably. For they descend from Richard Butler of Claynes, Worcs., who died in 1685; and a member of this family, Mr. B. R. R. Butler of Kuwait has shown us a pedigree, compiled by his grandfather from records in Worcester Cathedral, which gives this Richard as son of Christopher (1540 - 1617), son of William (d. 1583), son of Robert Butler of Claynes (d. 1546) who in turn is given as son of Robert Butler of the Rawcliffe branch. We have no reason to doubt these filiations. The Butlers of Rawcliffe, Lancs., were descended from Roger, who died before 1199 and was younger brother of the 1st Butler of Ireland (W. Farrer's Chartulary of Cockersand, XL, 471n., where the Butlers of Rawdiffe are distinguished from those of Warrington, Lancs.)