By no means all families called Butler are descended from the same origin. Completely different families share the same name.  There are a number of quite distinct family groups.  These can be classified according to whereabouts of the earliest known forefather of each group.  The late Lord Dunboyne (Paddy who used to be Genealogical Assistant of The Butler Society) devised this classification, publishing the resulting list of about sixty five groups, together with references, in The Journal of The Butler Society Vol.2 No.1 (1981) p.125.  Butler Family Groups provide an essential framework for research into families called Butler.  As research progresses, new groups will no doubt be identified or existing groups may merge but most Butler families can eventually be traced back to one of these groups.  Family mottoes sometimes offer a clue.

Few people, at the start of their research into a family named Butler, will know from which group their own particular family originates.  It is for this reason that The Butler Society deliberately sets out to be a "one-name" society as opposed to a "one-family" society.  There are members with an active interest in many different groups.

The Butler Society is not a commercial research organisation.  Collectively, the membership has a wealth of knowledge and most members are prepared to help others.  The Society can best help by facilitating this networking, but experience has shown that it is essential to have some sort of central clearing, through which information is channelled and disseminated.  Since 1967, the serial called "Happy Families",  (compiled by Paddy, Lord Dunboyne up to 1997, ) has been published in the Journal which has fulfilled this function admirably.  Sound ground rules for successful collaboration have evolved and continue to apply.  However, any process relying on the publication of an occasional  Journal is necessarily slow.  The internet is a powerful fast new tool for genealogical research.  The challenge now is to harness this power, building on the experience of the last thirty years.  For example, the Desperately Seeking page on this web-site is proving very effective.

The web is helping researchers in different countries to join forces and pool data. Some members are kindly submitting the product of their research for publication on the website, such as Butler Extracts from the Lists of Arrivals at New Orleans. Data for other US Ports and other extracts from around the world are posted on the "members-only" section of this website as and when they become available. That said, the Happy Families serial still remains the central resource. The Happy Families Datafile is now available for on-line interrogation by members of the Society. The 456 queries {to Vol.4 #1 (1997)}, together with their subsequent follow-ups, contain a huge amount of information on ancestors of many different Butler families in many different parts of the world (see the Happy Families Table of Contents Only).  All too often, people ask questions that have either already been tackled in Happy Families or which could, with a little extra research, be linked to one of its existing entries.  It cannot be emphasised too strongly that this datafile should be checked before posting an enquiry. 

Many of the other articles in the Journal also contain valuable information.  Various libraries subscribe to the Journal, including The Library of Congress (Washington DC), The New York Public Library and The Newberry Library in Chicago.



1) Check the obvious sources yourself before involving others.

2) Always write (or e-mail).  Genealogical research does not lend itself to the spoken word.  Enclose stamps, cash, or reply paid vouchers to cover the cost of replies.

3) Explain your problem clearly.  It is helpful if you trace the family tree back (? from yourself) till you reach the "brickwall" about which you are seeking help.

4) State your sources and references for each and every event in the family tree.  Ensure that place names are clearly listed with county & country. List all your sources and also list sources that have proved fruitless.

5) Include as many branches of the family tree as possible. They may suggest unsuspected avenues for investigation.

6) Only then, give family folklore, religious traditions, and any other clues and hints that may assist a search.