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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: German, Irish

Where did the Irish Butler family come from? What is the Irish Butler family crest and coat of arms? When did the Butler family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Butler family history?

The Butler surname came to Ireland with the Anglo- Norman invasion of the 12th century, led by the forces of Strongbow. The surname came from a common occupational name for a wine steward or the chief servant of a medieval household. In royal households, the title denoted a high-ranking officer whose duties as a wine steward were merely nominal. Occupational surnames, such as Butler were much quite common to the Anglo-Norman culture, and virtually unknown in Gaelic Irish. The prefix le, meaning the, in French was often used by the early Strongbownians to link a person's first and name and surname. Eventually these prefixes were dropped or became fused onto the beginning of the surname. The surname Butler is derived from Anglo-French "butuiller," which comes from the Old French word "bouteillier." These words are ultimately derived from the Latin words "buticularius," and "buticula," which mean "bottle." The Gaelic form of the surname Butler is de Buitléir.


A single person's name was often spelt simply as it sounded by medieval scribes and church officials. An investigation into the specific origins the name Butler has revealed that such a practice has resulted in many spelling variations over the years. A few of its variants include: Butler, Buttler, McRichard and others.

First found in the ancient territory of Ormond (now parts of County Kilkenny, Wexford and north Tipperary). The first on record was Theobald FitzWalter, a distinguished Norman noble who accompanied Strongbow and was created the Chief Butler of Ireland in 1177. His descendents began to use the surname around the year 1220. His direct descendant became Earl of Ormond in 1328 and their stronghold was Kilkenny castle. The family were rivals of the powerful Fitzgeralds and their kin, and the effective government of Ireland was held by one or the other of these two great Norman houses until the death of the Great Duke of Ormond in 1688. Many members of the family were ardent Jacobites, including the Abbé James Butler of Nantes, who was chaplain to "Bonnie Prince Charlie" during the last Jacobite uprising of 1745.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Butler research. Another 261 words(19 lines of text) covering the years 1250, 1359, 1405, 1382, 1391, 1386, 1384, 1392, 1401, 1388, 1389, 1397, 1390, 1467, 1539, 1496, 1546, 1531, 1614, 1601, 1653, 1650, 1627, 1667, 1652, 1740, 1704 and 1745 are included under the topic Early Butler History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 535 words(38 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Butler Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Ireland went through one of the most devastating periods in its history with the arrival of the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. Many also lost their lives from typhus, fever and dysentery. And poverty was the general rule as tenant farmers were often evicted because they could not pay the high rents. Emigration to North America gave hundreds of families a chance at a life where work, freedom, and land ownership were all possible. For those who made the long journey, it meant hope and survival. The Irish emigration to British North America and the United States opened up the gates of industry, commerce, education and the arts. Early immigration and passenger lists have shown many Irish people bearing the name Butler:

Butler Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Samuel Butler, who landed in America in 1620
  • Francis Butler, who arrived in Virginia in 1624-1625
  • Geo Butler, aged 27, arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • Gyles Butler, who landed in America in 1635
  • Jo Butler, aged 13, arrived in Virginia in 1635

Butler Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Richd Butler, who landed in Virginia in 1701
  • Alice Butler, who landed in Virginia in 1702
  • Bridgett Butler, who arrived in Virginia in 1704
  • Edwd Butler, who arrived in Virginia in 1706
  • Simon Butler, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1710

Butler Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Anthony Butler, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1803
  • Daniel Butler, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1806
  • Eliza Butler, who landed in New York, NY in 1816
  • Andrew Butler, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816
  • George Butler, who landed in New York, NY in 1816


  • Octavia Estelle Butler (1947-2006), American science fiction writer
  • Nicholas Murray Butler (1862-1947), American educationist
  • Robert Olen Butler Jr. (b. 1945), American author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1993
  • Robert Neil Butler (1927-2007), American physician, gerontologist, and psychiatrist awarded the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction
  • Brigadier-General Frederic Bates Butler (1896-1987), American Commanding General Granite City Engineer Department (1950)
  • Major-General William Ormond Butler (1895-1962), American Commanding General 6th Air Force (1944-1945)
  • Pierce Butler (1744-1822), American soldier, planter, and statesman, one of United States' Founding Fathers
  • John "Jack" Bradshaw Butler (1927-2013), American NFL football cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2012)
  • Sir William Francis Butler (1838-1910), Irish soldier and author
  • Richard Henry Piers Butler (1936-2004), Captain in the Irish Guards, 17th Viscount Mountgarret



  • The Ancestry of Blanche Butler Ames and Adelbert Ames by Pauline Ames Plimpton.
  • Della Elizabeth Butler Hudson Be.
  • : Her Family and Ancestors by Martha Ann Butler.

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  1. McDonnell, Frances. Emigrants from Ireland to America 1735-1743 A Transcription of the report of the Irish House of Commons into Enforced emigration to America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1331-5).
  2. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  3. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  4. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  5. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  6. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  7. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  8. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  11. ...

The Butler Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Butler Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 16 October 2014 at 12:34.

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