Paddy Butler, 28th Lord Dunboyne, (1917-2004), spent much of his spare time, from the age of ten, researching the genealogy of families with the name of Butler. He viewed his research as a work-in-progress, which it was till the day he died. He corresponded with innumerable genealogists around the globe and incorporated into his own work all their data that he regarded as reliable, scrupulously noting the source.
On the one hand, he identified about seventy “family groups” with different earliest origins; he was well aware that further research might identify new groups or prove that existing groups should be merged. On the other hand, he received innumerable enquiries from people who had yet to trace their ancestors, let alone the family group to which their ancestors belonged. In order to accommodate both lines of enquiry, top-down and bottom-up, he developed a slightly idiosyncratic system. The core of this system, constituting a summary if not an actual index, was handwritten files (of approximately A5 size) which he called “lots”, which filled a bookcase some eight feet tall and three feet wide.
Disconnected individuals (or a few generations of a single family) would initially be filed as “strays” by geographic location, till such time as he had managed to link them to an identifiable family group. These geographic locations were divided into handy-sized “lots” for filing. A single geographic lot might refer to a country, a state, a town or even a neighbourhood, depending on the number of Butlers on file for that location.
Family groups are also identified by geographic location, that of the earliest known ancestor, and allocated a short code (eg: LAN for “Lancashire”). The family tree of each “family group” is then divided into handy-sized “lots” of up to about half a dozen generations. Each lot within the family group is then identified by a number (occasionally followed by a letter).
Each numbered “lot” within a family group consists of:-
- A cover sheet with a “skeleton pedigree” or family tree, outlining the relationships of all the individuals contained within the lot and, where known, the dates of their birth, death and marriage. Each individual can thus be identified by Family Group Code, Lot Number, Generation Number, and an alphabetic letter indicating the sequence of their birth in that generation. The skeleton pedigree also includes the numbers of the preceding and succeeding “lots” (usually in red ink). The place names associated with a particular branch are often noted.
- Behind the Skeleton Pedigree, the Lot contains at least one separate sheet for each individual, listing all known facts, references, sources, etc. The legibility of these datasheets is not improved by the personal shorthand which he used (which was very loosely based on Pitman’s). There are sometimes also notes of matters of debate, alternative theories and significant conundrums. Occasionally there are photos of people and places.
- Many lots also include a summary sheet of spouse names and/or place names.
The largest single family group is the descendants of the Chief Butlers of Ireland, which are designated LAN1 as their earliest identifiable forebear hailed from Lancashire. This huge clan constitutes only about 15 per cent of all the lots. As a first step towards disseminating Paddy’s work, a schematic diagram of LAN1 has been prepared, showing the linkage between the lot numbers for this family group. Scanned images of the skeleton pedigrees are gradually being posted to the website. The clear intention has been to post only the details of the dead. Considerable care has been taken to safeguard personal details of the living by blanking out their entries, but it has often proved to be difficult to ascertain whether a recorded individual is still alive. Please contact the webmaster immediately if any further necessary deletions are identified.
To use this facility whilst it is still under construction:-
- Click below to view the LAN1 Schematic Diagram,
- Click on the chosen Lot Number
- The Skeleton Pedigree will appear only if that Lot has already been posted.
- Use the “BACK” button on your browser to return to the LAN1 Schematic Diagram.
Given time, this exercise may be repeated for the many other family groups. However, to be seriously useful as a research tool, all this scanned data needs to be input into a powerful searchable database, big enough to cope with all the “family groups” plus the innumerable “strays”, together with the datasheets (including sources) for each individual. Ideally the chosen format would also be capable of receiving fresh input and amendments from other researchers in the future - as Paddy liked to emphasise, genealogical research should always be viewed as a work-in-progress.
This material is copyright ©2007 Lord Dunboyne and is made available to members of the Butler Society solely for the purposes of their personal research on condition that it is accepted that the information is given in good faith but without any liability for errors or omissions.