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The 400th Anniversary of the death of Black Tom

From Helen Slade August 2014

2014 marks the 400 th anniversary of the death of Thomas Butler 10th Earl of Ormond. Three months ago I knew virtually nothing about him. I had done a lot of Tudor research before writing my poem about Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford , and saw only two brief references to Thomas. And yet he had survived through four Tudor monarchies , well regarded by two kings and two queens ; which proves how selective recorded history can be. He was particularly respected and rewarded by Queen Elizabeth. They had family ties and a close relationship. She depended on him as an English agent in Ireland. Based on the information I found I have written a poem about Thomas , and indulged in speculation about two children that he may have had with Elizabeth. I hope that this does not detract from the actual history of this man. The Butler Family motto says- Comme Je Trouve - As I Find - .

My poem can be found at Under the heading, A Variety of Visions . Sincerely, Helen Slade.


Dedicated To Sligo

Thirty four essays on Sligo's past, edited by Martin Timoney, is to be published in Spring 2013.  It might be of interest to members.  A flyer can be viewed here.


Thelma Gillot

Thelma Gillot has sadly died on 15 February 2013, aged 97.  Thelma enjoyed family history, being a VP of the society, and is fondly remembered by rally goers.

A funeral service will be held at the Methodist Church in Cuckfield Road, Hurstpierpoint, BN6 9RR at 1pm on Friday March 8.  The funeral will be followed by committal at the cemetery in South Avenue, Hurstpierpoint BN6 9QB.  (Wellies advised.)  Refreshments afterwards at Thurst (formerly the Vineyard), 42 High Street, Hurstpierpoint BN6 9RG.  Flowers will be welcome or you may prefer to make a donation to Sight Savers.



Melosina Lenox-Conyngham, died peacefully on Saturday 1st October 2011 after a long illness. Her funeral was on Tuesday 4th October in St Canice's Cathedral and she was buried in the beautiful churchyard at Ennisnag. We offer our deepest sympathy to her sister Eleanor, her brother Vere, and their offspring, four of whom bravely gave a touching address to the large congregation that attended the funeral service.

Several of her friends are in the process of preparing full obituaries which should be published soon in the Irish press.

We shall all miss her enormously. She had been the Honorary Secretary of the Butler Society for decades and she rapidly earned the respect, love and gratitude of members from around the world. In fact it is extremely hard to imagine the Butler Society without her. Her sense of fun and the delightfully deceptive light touch of her organisational talents set the tone, ensuring the success of so many Butler Rallies. The old cliché about being "a hard act to follow" has to be a complete understatement when applied to dear Melo: your committee is really going to have its work cut out to keep everything on track for the Rally in Kilkenny in 2012.


Book Launch of "When the States were young" by Lord Dunboyne" ISBN 978-1-4116-8674-8

22/8/06 This book was launched in Kilkenny at the 2006 Butler Rally by John Dunboyne, whose father Paddy (d.2004) was the author/editor. This remarkable collection of transatlantic correspondence dates from 1784 to 1799, - "when the States were young, France was in ferment and the British Empire was on the make". The main correspondents are Major Pierce Butler (1745-1822) slave owner and signatory of the American Constitution and the un-related Reverend Weeden Butler (1742-1823) of London, ancestor of the British politician "Rab" Butler (1902-1982). Their well-informed opinions offer intriguing insights into history in general, the American Constitution and slavery in particular. The letters, which are preserved in the British Library, are transcribed in full, annotated and presented with a scholarly Introduction and Sequel by Lord Dunboyne (1917-2004). A very human saga unfolds and the Sequel ends with an extraordinarily vivid eye-witness account by Mortimer Neal Thomson of the New York Daily Tribune, recording in harrowing detail the 1859 Auction of 429 slaves in Savannah, Georgia, held to satisfy the creditors of Pierce M. Butler, grandson of Major Pierce Butler and former husband of the celebrated actress, author and abolitionist Fanny Kemble. Copies can be ordered from (ID No. 262026)

Death of Paddy Dunboyne

19/5/04 Paddy, 28th Lord Dunboyne died peacefully at home in London. Together with the late Hubert Butler and the late George Butler, Paddy was a founder of the Butler Society. He will be greatly missed by the many people around the world who corresponded with him during his long service as "Genealogical Assistant" to the Society. Obituaries have been published in the Daily Telegraph (London 20/5/04), The Sunday Independent (Dublin 23/5/04), The Times (London 25/5/04) and The Irish Times (Dublin 29/5/04).

Book launch in New Zealand

12/6/03 A fascinating look at a century of New Zealand farming development and life on the land has been published for the late Thomas Joseph Butler, a prominent New Zealand farmer and a noted national sheep dog trialist.
Tom Butler died as "Grandad's Room" was being produced in May 2003 by Avlona Press."Grandad's Room" tells of the arrival of the Butler clan in New Zealand from Ireland in 1875 and onwards and their work opening up the national rail link, particularly on huge viaducts built from native woods to carry the permanent way across huge river ravines.
"It's a fascinating account of an immigrant Irish family's life on the land in New Zealand up until the Second World War," said book editor, Paul Campbell.
"Grandad's Room", by Tom Butler, a quality A4 book with illustrations is available at NZ$40 at the Avlonapress bookstore.
Avlona Press
509 Warren Street North
Hastings, New Zealand.
Phone/Fax 0064 06 878 0842

Newsletter No.20 March 2003

25/3/03 The Thirteenth Triennial International Butler Rally in Ireland is scheduled for Tuesday 9 September to Sunday 14 September 2003; details from the Hon. Sec. It promises to be a large gathering.
The 2003 Madrid Lunch will be on 24 May 2003; details from David Butler.
Sadly, the deaths of the following members were announced:- Nancy Butler (wife of George), Gilbert Butler (brother of the late Hubert, husband of Noreen and father of Jessica Rathdonnell) and Maura Toler-Aylward (sister of Nicky).

The Newsletter

8/5/2001 The April Newsletter (No.16) notified members of the new password for accessing the "members only" section of this website on or after 1st June 2001. Other news included:-
- The Butler Society now has 693 members. - David Butler MBE is organising a lunch in Madrid on Saturday 10 November 2001. - With great sadness, the deaths of the following members were recorded. Mrs Diana Wissick of South Africa, Roger Butler of England, Mrs Dolores Cheney of NC USA, and William O'Sullivan of Ireland.

Death of Toby Butler

31/10/99 Toby Butler of Windermere, Cumbria, died on 13 October 1999. He was a founder member and vice-president of the Butler Society and many will remember the 1986 Rally in Oxford which he and his wife Penny organised so successfully following his retirement from the Wellcome Foundation. He was a great scholar of heraldry and did much useful work on the manuscripts of his uncle the late Theobald Blake Butler. He was also an active amateur geologist, serving as secretary of the Westmoreland Geological Society. Obituaries: Westmoreland Gazette of 22 Oct 1999 and the forthcoming Journal.

The Newsletter

14/10/99 Autumn Newsletter sent to all members. Includes: Membership List, details of next Butler Rally in Kilkenny (Tuesday 5th September 2000 to Sunday 10th September 2000), and a lunch in Madrid for members in Spain on 13 November 1999.

The Newsletter

19/5/99 The Spring Newsletter is in the final stages of preparation in Kilkenny and will shortly be posted to all paid up members. It will include new passwords for access to the Members Only section of this website.

The first "historically documented" Irishman to set foot "in the present-day USA".

28/4/99 This startling claim is said to being made in the soon to be published "Encyclopedia of the Irish in America" (forthcoming University of Notre Dame Press) about RICHARD BUTLER born Clonmel, Co. Tipperary who sailed to America as a member of the expedition sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584. His ancestry is going to be a hot topic of debate (See DS53 and Happy Families Q321).

re: William Butler Yates

26/8/98 The correction concerning the ancestors of William Butler Yeats (see below 30/1/98) is fortified by R.F. Foster in Yeats, vol.1 (1997).
Lord Dunboyne now wishes to issue a correction to the booklet "Butler Family History" by Lord Dunboyne. On page 30 of the 7th Edition (1991), the paragraph headed "The Yeats' Branch from 1450" should be deleted and should be replaced by the following:-
(b) Two Ormond Branches from 1450
Then there were the 8th Earl of Ormond's two eldest brothers, Edmund and Theobald, both of whom were deemed illegitimate. From Theobald descended Butlers of Hussietown, Co. Tipperary, whilst from Edmund descended numerous Butlers of Newchome and elsewhere in Co. Kilkenny, including Theobald of Ballykeife (d.1702) from whom a multitude of Butlers of Spain and South America seem to derive.

Who is the next Earl of Ormond ?

7/3/98 Following the death of Charles (please see below 1/1/98) there has been considerable interest in who should inherit the Earldom of Ormond. It is by no means certain.
The earldom and the nature of that earldom's limitations have been described in detail by Lord Dunboyne in "Ormond Earldom; Its Origin and Nature" Butler Journal Vol.1 No.4 page 246.
As noted below, the Mountgarret branch are descended from Richard Butler, first Viscount Mountgarret (died 1571), younger son of the eighth Earl of Ormond. Thus the present (17th) Viscount Mountgarret has a claim to the title in the absence of any more senior heir male. However, there were two or three senior male lines which have been traced as far as possible, but which may or may not now be extinct. It is just possible that someone called Butler, somewhere in the world, may, without knowing it, have a better claim to this ancient title.
To assist research, - The next Earl of Ormond ? "The Key Relevant Pedigree" - is now available on this website. Numbered Notes on each individual can be accessed from each pedigree.

Hedges & Butler

23/2/98 Lord Dunboyne writes that he has recently discovered that William Butler (d.1816), the elusive forbear of the Butlers of Hedges & Butler Ltd of Regents Street, London, was the son of Samuel Butler, a wheelwright of Bedford, and became a Freeman of the Carpenters in 1772. This opens up a new line of enquiry in Bedford.

William Butler Yeats (The Poet)

30/1/98 There has been recent discussion about the Butler ancestry of the poet, W.B. Yeats.
Lord Dunboyne writes that he has "recently been drawn to the conclusion that the widely held assumption that the John Butler, who was a forbear of W.B.Yeats, was the son of Buckley Butler of Kilkenny City, was almost certainly wrong." He expects "further research to reveal that the father of Mary Yeats (nee Butler) 1751-1834 was the John who was son of Abraham (born 1701), son of Edmund Butler who married, 1697, at St. Werburgh's, Dublin."

Death of Charles Butler, Marquess of Ormonde


1/1/98 Charles Butler, 7th Marquess of Ormonde, 31st Chief Butler of Ireland, and President of The Butler Society died in Chicago on 25 October 1997, aged 98.
Full obituaries were printed in the English newspaper, The Times (3/11/97) The Daily Telegraph (5/11/97) and in Irish newspapers.
He inherited his titles in 1971, two days before his 72nd birthday, on the death of his cousin Arthur. Charles took seriously his responsibilities as head of the senior branch of a large Butler clan and for many years he presided over Butler Rallies in Kilkenny with quiet dignity and great good humour. He last travelled from his home in Chicago to Kilkenny at the age of 95.
Charles had no son, so it looks as though the Marquessate, created in 1825, is now extinct. However, it is by no means certain who should inherit the much older titles of Earl of Ormond (created 1328) and Chief Butler of Ireland (created c.1171) The latter is the most ancient hereditary dignity in the British Isles which continues to descend down the male line of any family.
The Mountgarret branch are descended from Richard Butler, first Viscount Mountgarret (died 1571), younger son of the eighth Earl of Ormond. Thus the present (17th) Viscount Mountgarret has a claim to the titles in the absence of any more senior heir male. There were two or three senior male lines which may or may not be extinct. It is just possible that someone called Butler, somewhere in the world, may, without knowing it, have a better claim to these ancient titles.
Speak now !