writer, and Catholic leader, nephew of Father Alban Butler. Born in London,
England on 14 August 1750; died there on 2 June 1832. He was educated at the
English College, Douai, studied law in England, and as his religious
affiliations constituted ineligibility for the bar, became a conveyancer. He
joined the agitation for repeal of the Penal Laws, was made secretary to the
committee to promote the repeal, and in 1791 on the passing of the bill for
partial relief he was called to the bar. He was a conspicuous figure in the
controversies among the Catholic laymen and clergy in connection with the
Catholic Committee and was the leading opponent of Bishop Milner. His works
include Reminiscences, Horae Biblicae, Hargrave's Coke on Littleton, On
Impressing Seamen, Historical Memoir of English, Scottish, and Irish Catholics,
Life of Erasmus, and a Continuation of Alban Butler's Saints' Lives.
One of the most prominent figures among the English Catholics of his day, b. in
London, 1750, d. 2 June, 1832.
He belonged to an ancient Northamptonshire family, and was a nephew of the Rev.
Alban Butler, the author of "The Lives of the Saints". After spending two or
three years at a private school at Hammersrnith, he was sent to the preparatory
house at Equerchin, dependent on the English College at Douai, then to the
college itself, where he went through the full course. On his return to England
he gave himself to the study of law. Owing to his religion, he was unable to
become a barrister; so he followed the example of a large class of Catholics of
that day, who became conveyancers and practised in chambers. He studied
successively under Mr. Duane and Mr. Maire, both conveyancers of eminence, and
Catholics. In 1775 he began to practise, and continued for over forty years.
From the first he was very successful, and for more than half the period named
he was acknowledged as the first conveyancer of the day. Among his pupils were
some distinguished men, notably Sir Thomas Denman, afterwards attorney-general.
Butler was not, however, content with his position. The fact that he could not
be called to the Bar was a continual mortification to him, and it was chiefly
this which led him to take an active part in the efforts of Catholics to obtain
the repeal of the Penal Laws. He was elected secretary to the committee of
laymen appointed for this end, and he put his heart and soul into the work. This
brought him into the dissensions which unhappily existed at that time between
laymen and the bishops. From the first Butler sided with the former, and the
"Blue Books" which were the official publications of the committee, were almost
entirely written by him. Notwithstanding the internal dissensions among the
Catholic body, the bill for their partial relief was passed through Parliament
in 1791, and Butler the first to profit by the enactment, was called to the Bar
that year. The disputes connected with the Catholic Committee brought under
direct conflict with Milner, then a simple priest. Early in the nineteenth
century, when the Veto Question arose, Milner, by this time a bishop, became the
strong opponent of Butler, against whom he wrote and spoke for many years. In
the end, by the aid of O'Connell, Catholic Emancipation was passed in 1829,
without the concession of any kind of veto.
With such an active life both professional and political, we may wonder how
Charles Butler could have found time for any literary pursuits; but by a habit
of early rising, a systematic division of his time, and unceasing industry, he
contrived, as he himself tells us, to provide himself with an abundance of
literary hours. His writings were many, and their variety indicate an
extraordinary versatility of talent. He could write with facility on such
different subjects as law, history, music, social questions, and Holy Scripture.
Among his own profession his work on Coke-Littleton, on which he collaborated
with Mr. Hargrave, is best known; among the general Catholic public his
"Historical Memoirs of English, Scottish and Irish Catholics" was most read.
This work brought him again into conflict with Bishop Milner, who replied with
his "Supplementary Memoirs".
Charles Butler was married in 1776 to Mary, daughter of John Eystom, of Hendred,
Berks, by whom he had one son, who died young, and two daughters. In private
life he was a devout Catholic; even Milner admitted that he might with truth be
called an ascetic. Every Catholic work of importance numbered him among its
chief subscribers. He survived his opponent, Dr. Milner, and lived to see
Catholic emancipation. One of the consolations of his declining years was his
elevation to the dignity of King's Counsel after the passing of the Act, an
occasion on which he received a special message of congratulation from the king.
There are two miniatures of him in possession of his grandson, Judge Stonor, one
of which is the original of the engraving in the first edition of the
"Historical Memoirs"; there is also an oil painting of him as a boy at Douai,
and a bust at Lincoln's Inn.
His chief works are: "Hargrave's Coke on Littleton" (eight editions, 1775-1831);
"On Impressing Seamen" (1777); "Horae Biblicae" (1797-1802); "Life of Alban
Butler" (1800); "Horae Juridicae Subsecivae" (1804); Lives of Fénelon (1811) and
Bossuet (1812); "Trappist Abbots and Thomas à Kempis" (1814); "Symbols of Faith
of the Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant Churches" (1816); "The French
Church (1817); "Church Music" (1818); "Historical Memoirs of English, Scottish,
and Irish Catholics" (three editions, 1819-22); "Reminiscences" (1822);
"Continuation of Alban Butler's Saints' Lives" (1823); "Life of Erasmus" (1825);
"Book of the Roman Catholic Church" (1825); vindication of preceding (1826);
appendix to same (1826); "Life of Grotius" (1826); "The Coronation Oath" (1827);
"Reply to Answers" to same (1828); "Memoirs of d'Aguesseau and Account of Roman
and Canon Law" (1830).
This site and its contents are not affiliated, connected,
associated with or authorized by the individual, family,
friends, or trademarked entities utilizing any part or
the subject's entire name. Any official or affiliated
sites that are related to this subject will be hyper
linked below upon submission
and Evisum, Inc. review.
Please join us in our mission to incorporate The Congressional Evolution of the United States of America discovery-based curriculum into the classroom of every primary and secondary school in the United States of America by July 2, 2026, the nation’s 250th birthday. , the United States of America: We The
People. Click Here