Butler surname history

The surname Butler, found in both England and Ireland, is Norman in origin, and originally meant "wine steward", from the same root as modern French bouteille, "bottle". The name was then extended to denote the chief servant of a household and, in the households of royalty and the most powerful nobility, a high-ranking officer concerned only nominally with the supply of wine.

In Ireland the most prominent Butler family are descended from Theobald Fitzwalter, brother of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was created "Chief Butler" of Ireland by Henry II in 1177. The huge territories he was granted were mainly in counties Tipperary, Limerick and Wicklow. His descendants were prolific and fertile; in the words of one of their own family historians, they bred "like rabbits immune to myxomatosis"; today there are estimated to be more than 9,000 individuals of the name in Ireland alone.

They were also remarkably successful in collecting titles, acquiring no fewer than 25 separate patents of nobility, including such titles as Mountgarrett, Dunboyne, Ossory, Galmoy and Cahir. In 1328 they became the Earls of Ormond, their principal title,, and James the twelfth Earl was created Duke of Ormond after the restoration of Charles II in 1660.

Up to the end of the seventeenth century, the Butlers were one of the most powerful Anglo-Norman dynasties, sharing effective control of Ireland with their great rivals the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Desmond and Earls of Kildare; the first Duke of Ormond was Chancellor of the Universities of Oxford and Dublin, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland founder of the Royal College of Physicians and creator of Dublin?s Phoenix Park.

From the middle ages right up to the twentieth century, their seat was Kilkenny Castle.

.Eleanor Butler (1745-1829) was the sister of the 17th Earl of Ormond ran away with her neighbour Sarah Ponsonby, creating a huge scandal. The pair set up house together in Wales where they became notorious as the Ladies of Llangollen.

Edward Butler (1823-79) of Kilkenny edited the Galway Vindicator during the period of the Young Ireland uprising, and subsequently emigrated to Australia, where he became Attorney-General.

Hubert Butler (1900-90) was Ireland?s foremost political essayist, drawing sanity and intelligence from his wide experience of Europe in the 1930a and 40s

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