Sunday, 12 August 2012

Laurence Butler- Ch. 21: Butler's children


i. WALTER BUTLER, b. Abt. 1807, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; d. October 04, 1870, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia;

m. (1) MARGARET DUNN, May 16, 1825, Sydney, New South Wales; b. October 05, 1809, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; d. April 14, 1840, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; dau. of Thomas Dunn and Rose Bean

m. (2) FRANCES JANE CATHERINE EDWARDS, Oct 26, 1841, Williamstown, Victoria; b. June 1821, Kilmerston, Somerset, England; d. April 23, 1866, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.; dau .of Rev. William Edwards and wife Mary Ann of Bath, Somerset, England

defacto (3) ELIZA DWYER, c.1832 Sydney, b. 1812, Sydney, NSW; d. unknown ( m. Peter Bodecin 1827, Sydney) ; dau. of  Michael Dwyer and Mary Doyle.


ii.    LAWRENCE ORMOND BUTLER, b. July 20, 1812, Sydney, N.S.W, Australia; d. December 24, 1856, Macquarie St, Surrey Hills, Sydney;
                         m. (1) CATHERINE GORMAN, Oct 22, 1833, Sydney, NSW;
                                b. 1816 Parramatta NSW;
                           d. Dec 6, 1838 Sydney; dau. of Thomas Gorman (1776-1849 from Trim Ire., convict on ‘Rolla’ 1803, life sentence, CP, wheelright, and Catherine McLaughlin 1783-1838, ‘Tellicherry’ 1803, 7 yr)
                         m. (2) AGNES MCPHERSON, Dec 1839, Melbourne Victoria; b. Unknown; d. Bef. 1848?; widow of Rev. McPherson; 
                         m. (3) FRANCES RAINY, Abt. 1848, Melbourne Victoria ?; b. 1822 London, dau. of George Rainy and Ann Pitman; d. 1885 Sydney (m. 2. John George 1859; m.3  George Alfred Henry 1863).

iii.    GEORGE PATRICK BUTLER, b. March 15, 1815, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia;
                         d. November 2, 1819, Sydney, N.S.W, Australia.

iv.     MARY ANN BUTLER, b. June 1, 1817, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia;
                                d. 1. Nov. 1857, Melbourne, Victoria.
                                m.(1) JOHN CAMPBELL MCDOUGALL, Jan 7, 1834, Sydney, NSW
                                           b.c. 1805 Scotlland, d. 21 July 1848 Hobart, VDL (Tas)
                                m. (2) KENRIC BRODRIBB, Feb 20, 1855, Melbourne, Victoria;
                                               b.1825 Hobart; d.1898 Sussex England

v.   ELIZABETH BUTLER, b. August 10, 1819, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia;
d. December 7, 1819, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia.
Original church (Anglican) records of baptisms, burials and marriages by Rev. Samuel Marsden and Rev William Cowper
 ( NSW Miscellaneous Records- BDM Sydney and Parramatta 1811-1826)

Rev Samuel Marsden's returns

baptism Lawrence Butler Junior 1812
listed as "illegitimate"

original baptism Patrick Butler 15 March 1815 (baptised on same day as birth indicating not expected to live)
- rebaptised 2 April as George Patrick (according to NSW Archives Kit Reel 5002- original record not found in Cowper's baptism returns for April)
NB. parents listed as "unmarried"

marriage by Special Licence- Lawrence Butler & Ann Roberts- 1 July 1817
Rev William Cowper, Chaplain (C.of E.)
 (NB. incorrect age given for Laurence as 50 years)

baptism Mary Ann Butler 1 July 1817, same day as parent's marriage
parents listed as "married"

baptism Elizabeth Butler 26 September 1819 

burials Patrick George Butler 4 November
 and Elizabeth Butler 8 December 1819

NB. Their father, Laurence Butler, died just a year later on 7 December 1820. He was not listed in these records, as the Catholic priests had just arrived in the colony, so he would have had a Catholic burial service, but was buried beside his two children in the C.of E. cemetery in Sandhills Cemetery, before being re-interred with their original gravestones in Bunnerong Cemetery in 1901.


No 407 : In the Sacred Memory of
              LAWRENCE BUTLER
              Who departed this life 7th December 1820
              Aged 70 years
              Leaving a widow and 3 children

             Upright Stone – Good Condition
             (NB Although Lawrence was Catholic, the Catholic section of Sandhills Cemetery didn’t begin until 1825)

No 406 : In the Sacred Memory of
Children of Lawrence and Ann Butler
 George died 3rd November 1819 aged 4 years & 6 months
               Elizabeth died 7th December 1819 aged 3 months

              Upright Stone –Good Condition

Keith Johnson and Malcolm Sainty wrote a book “Gravestone Inscriptions, NSW” in 1973 to record approx. 2000 inscriptions at Bunnerong Cemetery before many of them were destroyed. These burials were of the early settlers who were originally buried in The Old Burial Ground in George Street and the Sandhills Cemetery which opened in 1819. These were resumed in 1901 and re-interred in Bunnerong. About 740 of the more historic gravestones of the founding families of this nation have been relocated in a special  section named Pioneer Park next to Bunnerong Road. However all of the gravestones listed were destroyed in the 1976 land reclaimation at Botany Cemetery, including the two Butler gravestones. Considering the Butler graves were still described as being in "good condition" in 1976, it seems criminal that such historic gravestones were destroyed.

See Blog on Walter Butler:

See Blog on Lawrence Ormond Butler Junior:

See Blog on Mary Ann Butler



Convict transport ship Surgeon Peter Cunningham wrote:

“Our Colonialist born brethren are best known here by the name of Currency, in contradistinction to Sterling, or those born in the mother country. The name was originally given by a facetious paymaster of the 73rd regiment quartered here- the pound currency being at that time inferior to the pound sterling. Our Currency lads and lasses are a fine interesting race, and do honour in the country in which they originated.” [1]

The children of Laurence Butler- Walter, Lawrence Junior and Mary Ann, were considered to be 'Currency lads and lass'.

When their father, Laurence Butler, died in December 1820, Walter was aged 13, Lawrence Jnr was 8 and Mary Ann was just 3 years of age. Laurence's left his estate, which according to Walter in his Memorial of 1825 was valued at upwards of £2000, equally to his wife Ann Roberts and his three children, while their appointed guardian was named as the Catholic priest Fr. Joseph Therry. Ann found the terms of this bequest difficult and stated that "she had for some time struggled to clear off the encumbrances attached to her property in which she has succeeded". She wanted to marry the man who had taken charge of Laurence's business, Miles Leary, but her application to Rev. Cowper was denied on the advice of the children's appointed guardian Fr. Therry. In August 1823, Ann then petitioned Governor Brisbane to grant her permission to marry, "that she not be debarred from a privilege to which she is entitled". The response from the governor, written by the Colonial Secretary on her petition was:  

'Answered verbally- she might marry whenever she has secured her late husband's property upon his children.'

By February 1824, just six months later, she was placing an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette cautioning Miles Leary not to ever come into her house or premises. Whether this break-down in her relationship with Leary was due to the fact that she had no control over Butlers' property, which clearly Leary would have been interested in obtaining through a convenient marriage, is unknown. Sometime during the next ten months, Ann died leaving the children orphaned. 

It is difficult to fathom how three children orphaned at such a young age, albeit financially comfortable, could manage in such a harsh society as Sydney was in those early years of the colony. It could only happen through a tight network of family friends and the guardianship of the Catholic priest, Father Therry. Such a young family with so many assets would have been a prime target for thieves and charlatans.

Walter at the age of 16/17 years had been suddenly given the responsibility of looking after 12 year old Lawrence and 7 year old Mary Ann (also known as Ann). Both boys, and it would seem Mary Ann as well, had received a very good education, and Laurence made a specific provision in his will that their education must be continued, and for Father Therry to care for the welfare of the children. Father Therry encouraged an Irish convict, named Andrew Higgins, a surveyor, to set up a school for Catholic children in the Colony. The records of children enrolled in its first term in April 1822 included Walter,  Lawrence and Ann Butler, and the children of Michael Hayes and Thomas Dunn (Walter’s wife’s family). (Frank Murray, Article “1820s NSW- Early Education of the Irish Emancipists’ Currency Lads and Lasses” , SAG Descent Journal, June 2008, Vol 38, Part 2, pp 78-82; and Frank Murray's website: Roll Call of the First Five Terms 1822-23:   & 
Irish Emancipist Childrens Education 1820's:  )

Mary Ann’s later life would indicate that she was well educated, her education continuing at David Greville’s boarding school where she was lodging in 1828. 

Certainly Walter and Lawrence Junior’s signatures on various documents, and their future occupations, indicate that they were well educated, however, it is uncertain where Walter received his early education, or where Lawrence Jnr began his schooling before entering the Higgins School set up by Andrew Higgins and Fr Therry for Catholic children in 1822.  There is some indication that there may have been several schools operated by trained Irish convict male and female teachers teaching Catholic children from as early as 1805.  George Robert Nichols, the son of English ex-convict Isaac Nichols who was Australia’s first postmaster and a very successful entrepreneur, made the statement that he had been school-fellows with Walter Butler [2]- this would have been a Protestant school. George Nichols, born 1809, would later be sent to England for his schooling between 1819 and 1823, and became a lawyer, acting on behalf of Lawrence Junior, and giving character references to Lawrence’s wife, and to Walter at his trial. 
As Walter was only about 13 years of age when his father died, he must have gained his skills as a cabinet maker from Miles Leary who was in charge of his father’s business; whether as an apprentice or by just working alongside Leary is unknown.

In the Colony, there were several distinct classes already established in this small society. Free settlers emigrating from England were a quite distinct class from those who had come from convict stock, each treating the other with disdain and suspicion.
“Those born in the Colony were dubbed ‘currency’ while English-born colonists were known as ‘sterling’, a discriminating acknowledgement of the superiority of old-country Englishmen. The problem for ‘currency’ Australians was that most bore the convict stain. Although born free, few would ever be considered the equal of a true-blue Englishman.” (P9) “The English did their best to keep the Australians in their place, at the very bottom of the social scale. The Catholic Irish and their offspring were the first to be accused when anything went awry. And there was little love lost between the transported Irishman abroad, whether political prisoner or criminal, and the ‘born-to-rule’ Englishman swanning around in the colonies.” [3]

For Walter, a boy of 17, to be required to shoulder the responsibility for his young brother and very young sister must have been a huge burden for the youth. As “currency lads”, those first generations of children of convicts born in the colony, together with their Irish descent, put Walter and Laurence Junior at a distinct disadvantage in Sydney society. Despite their wealth, and their father’s acceptance in Sydney society, they would always be considered at the bottom of the social scale by English born free settlers, and their “sterling” offspring.

In his later life, Lawrence Jnr. would become known for his fractious nature, and have several scrapes with the law as a result, yet, given their harsh upbringing, it is not to be wondered at. However, both Walter and Lawrence proved that they were well capable of standing up for themselves in any conflict, and for what they considered were their rights. Like their father before them, they were more than willing to use the Courts to settle disputes with employers, employees, or business deals in which they felt hardly done by. Made to stand on their own two feet at a very early age, they matured very early, and were willing to try their hand at any venture that beckoned, despite the risks. They were destined for a life of adventure in this vast land with settlements opening in new areas at a rapidly expanding pace. When they chose to begin new lives in settlements other than Sydney, no doubt they kept their ‘convict heritage’ very quiet. None of their descendants have been aware of their ‘convict’ descent, until recently.

In the 1822 Muster, Walter 14 (? sic.15), Lawrence 12 (? sic.10) and (Mary) Ann 6 (? sic.5), were listed as "living with Mrs Butler"
( NB. the disparity in the ages listed in the Musters, and the 1828 Census in which Walter was listed as 21, his wife 20, Lawrence 16 and Mary Ann 11, which were basically accurate).

Although no records exist of Walter’s birth/baptism, his age is calculated using the Musters and the Census of 1828. It would appear to have been between November 1806 and early 1807. The 1806 Convict Muster had Mary Ann Fowles living with Laurence Butler, and the accompanying Female Muster of Rev. Samuel Marsden had Mary Ann Fowles listed as a 'concubine' (all unmarried women living in a relationship were labelled as such), with one 'natural' son, probably Walter. 
Walter was possibly baptized by Fr Dixon before his departure in 1808, as it is known that Dixon was illegally performing baptisms at that time, having baptized Michael Hayes’s children born in the Colony (according to Michael in his letters). However, no records of these baptisms were kept for obvious reasons.
Ann died in 1824, leaving Walter at the age of about 17 responsible for 12 year old Lawrence and 7 year old Ann. (Walter’s Memorial of 1825 stated he and his siblings were recently orphaned.)

 Endorsements on Walter’s Memorial in 1824 stated: “It comes within my knowledge that the Memorialist by industry and good conduct supports his orphan Brother and Sister with much credit to himself” and “The Memorialist is distinguished for his application to business and propriety of conduct.” [4]
In 1825, the newly married Walter was still living in Pitt Street [5], but by the 1828 Census, he and his wife, Margaret (Dunn), were living in Cumberland Street and he was working as a carpenter and living in Cumberland street, boarding with a William French, while Lawrence was working as a printer and boarding with Catherine Clarkson in Hunter St, and Ann was a boarder in the house of David Greville in Pitt St.[6] Although an ex convict (having been transported twice), Greville was a teacher who ran a boarding school in Pitt Street.
In his Memorial to Governor Brisbane in 1825, Walter applied for a land grant for the cattle Laurence had left in his Will, and was granted 80 acres in August 1825, area unknown at this stage.

Walter followed his father’s trade as a cabinet maker/carpenter until he became a publican. Over his lifetime, he would travel extensively throughout the colonies and in time, became very successful. He had a brush with the law in 1839/40, when he was accused of horse stealing, however he was acquitted of this crime as the evidence was very dodgy and a prime witness a drunk.[7]

Walter would eventually have three families. He left his wife Margaret and two infant children and ran off to Hobart with the wife of another cabinetmaker in 1832, abandoning his two infant sons and her two infant children. Her name was Eliza Bodecin nee Dwyer and she was the daughter of famous Irish Rebel leader, Michael Dwyer, known as the “Wicklow Chief”. They returned to Sydney in 1833/34, where Walter briefly held the license for the “Manchester Arms” in George Street. [8]  For the next six years, they would alternate living in Hobart and near Sydney. After having several children, Walter left Eliza, went to Melbourne, and on hearing of the death of his first wife Margaret, he married a third woman, Frances Jane Edwards, the daughter of an English Minister of Religion, [9] and became one of the first licensees in Williamstown, holding the license for the “Ship Inn” from 1841 until 1853 [10]. During this time they had six children.  Walter accumulated considerable wealth during his sojourn in Melbourne, investing in property in Williamstown, and in ventures such as whaling expeditions in 1845 and 1847.
In 1848 he made investments in shipping, purchasing a cutter, the 46ton, 43 ft, “Mary’ in 1848, which plied its trade between Melbourne, Warnambool, Port Fairy, Portland and Circular Head (Stanley- Tasmania) areas, until September 1853 when she was blown ashore in a gale and wrecked near Rye, Port Phillip. He bought the 55 ton, 52 ft schooner “Cecilia” in 1849 and resold it a year later in November 1850. He replaced it with a larger schooner, 65 ton, 61ft  Red Rover” in July 1850. These ships did a roaring trade carrying passengers (including prisoners), timber, grain, foodstuffs, tallow, wool, kangaroo and seal skins, liquor, and general merchandise between Melbourne, Warrnambool, coastal Victoria, Tasmania, and even Sydney.[11]  He was also involved in the timber importing trade, particularly large quantities of palings from Circular Head. Walter sold the “Red Rover” in July 1854 after his relocation to Hobart. (It sank in Bass Strait the following year.)

Williamstown in the late 1850's
(Courtesy Victorian State Library)

Walter and his family moved his family to Hobart in 1853. He was, by then, a very wealthy man having extensive property and business interests in Melbourne. [12] He acquired property in Hobart in February 1853,  [13] and built a rather luxurious house, known as ‘Newbury House’ in Elizabeth Street/New Town Road. [14]
An advertisement placed in the “Mercury” newspaper 23 January 1861, gives a description of Newbury House:
To Let
Situate at the first milestone New Town Road, containing nine rooms, kitchen, servant’s room, with stabling and coach house, &c. water and gas laid on, pronounced to be the most healthy situation in Hobart Town. For cards to view and particulars apply to
Walter Butler
Ship Hotel”

Newbury House, Elizabeth St., Hobart c. 1880
Built by Walter Butler in 1853
(now No. 432 Elizabeth Street Hobart)

Ship Hotel Hobart c 1870

The British Hotel c.1880
(Photos courtesy of the State Library of Tasmania- Images Collection)

Walter stood successfully for the position of Alderman in the Hobart Council, and acted as Alderman from 1858 to December 1861 [15], during which time he made important contributions to the city’s development. When up for re-election in 1861, he was narrowly defeated due to apathy of the electors who failed to cast their votes, as it was assumed the sitting members would all be returned, while friends of a new, unknown, and publicly declared unwilling candidate, all turned out in force to vote.
Walter became the licensee for the “Ship Inn/Hotel” in Collins Street (cnr Elizabeth Street) between 1861 until 1869 [16]. This was a well-patronized hotel in Hobart that was originally known in the 1820’s as Verandah House.

The Licensing Renewal notices in the newspaper of December 3, 1861, had:
Walter Butler, Ship Hotel, Collins-street, and William Moxham, Separate Tap, Elizabeth Street.

This would indicate that Walter was managing the billiard room, private sitting rooms, dining, and accommodation part of the hotel business, and not the 'Separate Tap' which was located on the side of the hotel in Elizabeth Street.

In 1862, Walter’s financial state received a severe setback, one from which he would never recover. He had retained his property investments in Williamstown, including the ‘Ship Hotel” and various small rental properties, some of which he had put in the names of his children and wife. In July 1862, a disastrous fire engulfed several commercial properties and other buildings and tenements in the main street of Williamstown, including the 'Ship Hotel' [17]. Walter stated that he was not insured. His main source of independent income was wiped out in one afternoon. He now had to rely solely on the income derived from the 'Ship Hotel' in Hobart, which sadly, was not a financial success.

On the 23rd January 1869, the following advertisement appeared in “The Mercury”:
To Let with Immediate Possession
This well-known and eligibly-situated establishment which has for many years commanded a first-class business in Hobart Town, is now offered to an enterprising tenant on terms that will in a few years ensure a fortune.
The main building consists of spacious Coffee and Dining-rooms, Four Private Sitting-rooms, Seventeen Bed-rooms, Two Attics, Bar, Parlor and Office, spacious Kitchen, and Cellars extending under the whole house; also commodious Billiard-room, with ante-room.
Stabling for 18 horses, and good Coachhouse.
The TAP, which is quite distinct from the house, faces on Elizabeth –Street, commands a good run of business, and readily lets at a very remunerative rent.
A Tenant will meet with Liberal Terms, and can have a lease, if desired, for a term of years.
For further particulars, apply to William Walton, House and Estate Agent. 106 Collins-street.

A further advertisement listed all of the items in the hotel that were to be auctioned.
These advertisements appeared the day after Walter appeared before the Commissioners of Insolvency, and the documents indicate that his insolvency was resolved on that day. Newbury House was also put up for sale due to his insolvency, purchased by one of the lawyers in the Insolvency case, Cecil Allport (seen on the verandah in the photo). This must have been a very stressful and unhappy time for Walter, who lost everything he had worked so hard to achieve.

In 1870 Walter died at the 'British Hotel' in Liverpool Street, for which he was the licensee and landlord in 1870. He died of ‘general debility’ which was probably brought on by his unhappy circumstances.
Walter’s wife Frances had pre-deceased  him in 1866.
In all, Walter had upwards of fifteen children, from his three families. [18]

Lawrence Junior, born in 1812, orphaned at the age of 12 yrs and in the guardianship of his elder brother Walter, would lead a very interesting albeit controversial life, during which he had several brushes with the law. Since the age of 16 years working as an apprentice compositor, Lawrence was constantly in the courts fighting charges by his various newspaper employers for absconding from his employment contracts, an indictable offence in those days. On each occasion he would spend a few days or weeks in prison while his solicitors fought for his release which invariably happened. On some occasions when he was released, he refused to return to work and was re-arrested. Lawrence was arrested and imprisoned in 1828, 1830, 1832, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1838, and finally in 1847. His many sojourns in prison did not seem to faze him. He knew how to work the legal system. On two occasions, his lawyer argued that the employment contract rules were not applicable in Lawrence's case as his employment as a compositor consisted of mental as well as manual work. His case in 1847 which he won using that argument, was used as a precedent in other similar cases.

He was also charged on two occasions with minor assault, having lost his temper, the first time in 1831, defending a crippled man who was being bullied, by dealing out a severe beating on the bully with his cane- again found not guilty; and the second by thumping a court bailiff in 1841 for which he received a sentence of 3 months with hard labour, but on appeal, was released after one month.

At the age of 16 yrs, he was apprenticed to a printer, named Arthur Hill, in Sydney in 1828, from whom he absconded, resulting in Hill advertising in the Sydney Monitor for Lawrence’s arrest.[19]  Hill had established the Sydney Monitor with Edward Smith Hall in May 1826. [20] The controversial publisher of the “Sydney Monitor” newspaper, Edward Smith Hall, (partner of Arthur Hill)  championed convict rights and was an adversary of Governor Darling and his oppressive rule.

In April 1830, Arthur Hill advertised in the Sydney Monitor for his Runaway Apprentice, Lawrence Butler, calling for his apprehension. (24 April 1830). Lawrence was soon arrested and given a harsh penalty: 7 days in a solitary cell on bread and water
(SRNSW Bench of Magistrates, Punishment Book 1830; Series No. 3403, Reel 2648, No. 139).
A month later, Lawrence had again absconded. Edward S. Hall placed an advertisement in his Sydney Monitor for his two Runaway Apprentices, offering a reward of £2 each for their apprehension. (29 May 1830). They evaded arrest for four months, but on 7 October 1830, Lawrence Butler and Richard Oldfield were brought before the Court, charged with being Absent from their indented Service without leave, and sentenced to 7 days each to House of Correction, and were discharged on 14 October. (Reel 2648, No 35). However, this was not the end of the saga. The two boys were obviously angry and belligerent about their punishment and with their employers, because they were re-arrested on the same day as their release, for refusing to work. The judge had had enough and gave them a harsher penalty to teach them a lesson: Thursday 14 October 1830, Lawrence Butler and Richard Oldfield, Refusing to work. One calendar month each to the Gaol as House of Correction. (Reel 2648, No. 69)
This would prove to be the pattern of Lawrence Butler's employment throughout his life. He must have been efficient at his work, to continue to find employment by the newspaper proprietors despite his growing reputation as an unreliable employee. 

In the following year 1831, Lawrence was charged and acquitted of assault , and his bond was paid by his employer, Edward Hall, Arthur Hill and another printer Thomas Armstrong. [21] He had been indicted on an assault against William White, a carter who had been hired to convey a party to and from the Sydney races. Lawrence and a lame man named Grady had been invited by one of the party to partake of refreshments. The lame man tried to get in the cart and was ordered out by White. When he did not comply White knocked him over the side of the cart, the man falling under the wheel. Lawrence interfered and reproached White for behaving in so unmanly a manner to a cripple, to which he replied that he would serve him the same and, according to witnesses, ran at him with a case knife. To avoid the consequences of which, Lawrence seized Grady’s crutch and struck White several times with it, causing much bruising. The Chairman of the Court observed that very contradictory evidence had been brought forward by the statements of Lawrence and White, which he said were so opposed to each other that it was evident that gross perjury was committed on one side or the other. The Jury returned a verdict of acquittal.

By December 1831, Lawrence, still an apprentice, once again absconded from his employers, Arthur Hill and Edward Smith Hall (of the “Monitor”) and, as the advertisements stated: “is supposed to be in Van Diemen’s Land employing his time as a compositor or settler.[22]  He must have gone to VDL with his brother Walter and his mistress Eliza.
Hall advertised for his Runaway Apprentice on 2 May 1832, and again  on 30 June, and on the 25 July he accused Henry Melville, Proprietor of the Colonial Times in Hobart of employing Lawrence "at this moment in your office" and warned him of the consequences if he continued to employ him.

Lawrence returned to Sydney in 1833 following the death of Arthur Hill, which may have cancelled his apprenticeship contract, as he did not continue his employment with the Sydney Monitor. Maybe Hall had had enough of his wayward apprentice and cancelled his contract.

Deciding to try a change of occupation, Lawrence briefly held a publican’s license for the ‘Goldsmith Arms’, in Pitt Street Sydney in 1833/34 [23]. This proved a financial failure.
He appears to have gone to Hobart on several occasions over the course of the period 1832-1837, whenever his brother Walter went there. [24]

In 1835 he was employed as a compositor by the Sydney Gazette and again broke his employment contract, for which the Gazette advertised and cautioned the public against employing him. [25] At that time, this was an offence for which one could be prosecuted. The adverts were repeated in 1836. [26] The Sydney Gazette on 2 July reported that Lawrence had been arrested and had appeared at the bar of the Police Office. The Gazette stated he had entered into an agreement to work as a compositor for the Sydney Gazette for 6 months at 35s. per week. Some time before, he had absented himself from work and was apprehended. The Magistrate had sentenced him to 20 days in jail. At the end of which he refused to return to work unless his salary was increased to 38 s. per week, which was refused. He again absented himself. His solicitor George Nichol’s defence was, that having been punished, Lawrence was not bound to go back, and as this was the same offence he couldn’t be punished twice for it. He also claimed that, because a compositor’s business was of a mental and manual nature, it did not come under the Act. The newly appointed editor George Cavanagh denied it was anything more than a mechanical occupation. Lawrence was sentenced to a further two months jail. He was allowed to appeal to the Quarter Sessions on bail. There is no follow up report on his appeal.

Lawrence had been in Hobart before April 1836, and returned to Hobart in February 1837, before returning in April. It would appear that Lawrence was either, trying to set up his own printing business, or was hiring compositors on behalf of an employer named Jones, as the following was reported in the Sydney Gazette August 1837:
Jones v. Hawe- Plaintiff who is a printer, residing in Bridge street, appeared against defendant, who is the landlord of the ‘Angel and Crown’, Harrington Street, and also a compositor; charging him with absenting himself from his hired service. It appeared according to the statement of plaintiff, that defendant had entered into an agreement with Laurence Butler, at Hobart Town, to work for him upon his arrival in Sydney at the rate of ₤2 per week; he did work for some time, but about two months ago he left his work. [27]
It would appear that Lawrence employed Hawe on Jones’s behalf while in Hobart Town.

Lawrence was in Liverpool jail in 1838 for reasons unknown, [28] although possibly related to the previous employment incident and, when released, his wife Catherine Gorman having died that year, he moved to the new settlement of Melbourne, where he remarried in Dec 1839 to a recently arrived Scottish immigrant. [29] 

After unsuccessfully applying for a Publican’s license in 1841[30], he returned to the printing trade for a Melbourne newspaper, and was heavily involved in a bitter dispute between two of his newspaper employers, which was played out in public in the “Port Phillip Patriot” and the “Herald” in June and July 1841 [31]. The “Port Phillip Patriot” was owned by John Fawkner, the founder of Melbourne, and employed him for a short time as overseer of the printing office as a temporary replacement, before Lawrence left to work for the owner of the “Herald”, his old employer at the Sydney Gazette George Cavanagh, who had given evidence against him in his absentee case but who obviously did not hold a grudge. The editor of the ‘Patriot’ William Kerr, accused Lawrence of revealing private business information such as circulation figures, to his new employer Cavanagh, which Cavanagh then published. The Patriot editor then vilified both Cavanagh and Lawrence in his editorials, attempting to destroy their reputations. In a series of newspaper articles, Kerr described Lawrence variously as:
a scoundrel named Lawrence Ormond Butler; one of our cast-off servants; the mean wretchthe infamous Lawrence Ormond Butler; he never knew a printer guilty of such cool, deliberate treachery as this of Lawrence Ormond Butler; and of his reluctance to employ Butler, knowing the character of the man from his previous doings in Sydney and Hobart Town; Butler has, in this matter, been guilty of a flagrant breach of Confidence; we feel perfectly satisfied that the trade will note such a dereliction from honourable principle, by expulsion from their society. Paltry and disreputable however, as every employer of labour will consider Butler’s conduct, it does not match in downright blackguardism the conduct of Mr George Cavanagh. With reference to his new employer George Cavanagh, in August 1841, Kerr referred to Her Majesty's jail where his friend Larry Butler is employed nappin stones (breaking rocks with a sledgehammer).

Printing office of Faulkner's 'Port Phillip Patriot' newspaper

John Faulkner's printing press
Within a couple of months of this dispute, Lawrence ended up in jail on a sentence of three months with hard labour, charged with assault on the court bailiff in August. [32]  Why he was in court is not revealed, but as Cavanagh was frequently in Court defending himself in libel cases, Lawrence may have been there as a witness, and lost his temper with the Court bailiff.  After one month, he appealed the sentence, as did his wife on the grounds she was destitute. Their appeal was supported by the R.C. Clergy, and  his employer Cavanagh, and his release was recommended by His Honor Mr Justice Willes, and the Crown Prosecutor. As he was immediately released, he cannot have committed a serious assault, nevertheless, it indicates that Lawrence had a short fuse.

Lawrence was called as a witness in a trial of a prisoner charged with theft in South Australia, who had offered him a gold watch. The trial was held in Sydney in March 1842, so it would appear that Lawrence had returned to Sydney after his release from jail in Melbourne.

Stating he was out of work in 1845, he unsuccessfully applied for a position in a government department in Sydney. His testimonials revealed he had the management of a printing office for two years. [33] His wife, Agnes, who also unsuccessfully applied for a job with the Printing Department (recommended by their friend George Nichols), claimed he was working for the Catholic newspaper “The Morning Chronicle”. [34]

Lawrence was living with another woman, Fanny Rainy, in Sydney by c.1846 by whom he had a further four children (one born posthumously), [35] having had a son by his first wife Catherine in 1834. It is unknown what happened to his wife Agnes. At some point he supposedly married Fanny who was described on his death certificate as his wife, although no record of a marriage has been found, possibly because his wife Agnes may have still been alive.

In June 1847, Lawrence was once again in trouble with his employer, this time in the Victorian coastal township of Portland, as reported in the “Argus” (Melbourne)[36]
Supreme Court-In Chambers-Friday 4th June 1847
(Before His Honor the Resident Judge)
Lawrence Ormond Butler, a prisoner confined in the Melbourne Gaol, under a sentence of the Portland Bench, appeared on a writ of Habeas Corpus, to apply for his discharge.
Mr F. Stephen, solicitor, moved His Honor to order the discharge of the prisoner on the ground of numerous technical informalities in the warrant of commitment, which was signed by James Blair, Esq, Police Magistrate of Portland, and S.G. Heaty Esq, J.P. From Mr Stephen’s statement, it appeared that Butler, who is a compositor, had been sentenced to three months imprisonment, and amerced in the sum of ₤1 6s 6d. costs, on a charge of absconding from the hired service of Mr Osborne, proprietor of the Portland Gazette.
His Honor granted the application, and Butler was discharged accordingly.

How he managed to gain employment with his employment record is surprising, yet, according to the 1849 Melbourne Directory, he was employed as a printer in Collins Street. The Geelong Advertiser 6 November 1849 p.2 reported a Court case, Forrest v. Lawrence Butler, re a dispute over the insertion of an advertisement, in which Lawrence was described as overseer of the Victorian Colonist Office. However, the following year, 1850, he once again claimed he was unemployed and applied for a job with the Government printer in Sydney, again unsuccessfully. [37]

Lawrence contracted consumption (Tuberculosis) and died in Sydney (in Macquarie Street ) in 1856 at the young age of 44 years.  [38] He had had three wives and left four children, his eldest son, George Henry Ormond Butler, continued in the printing trade, working his way up to a high position in the Government Printing Office in Sydney. [39]

Laurence’s daughter, Mary Ann  Butler, born in 1817, orphaned at the age of 7 yrs, married widower John Campbell Macdougall (aged 29 years) in January 1834 at the age of 16 yrs,[40] and moved to Hobart. Macdougall had previously lived in Hobart and had several business interests, including newspapers, before moving to Sydney as a merchant and agent- (see Australian Dictionary of Biography entry). He bought a schooner, the Defiance, in July 1832 which was wrecked in the Bass Straits in July 1833.[41]  One of the shareholders and partners in the Bank of NSW, he sold his interest and capital in the Bank in 1835 [42], before returning to Hobart, where he had previously emigrated to in 1825, from Scotland, following his parents and siblings who had emigrated four years before. He bought and edited 'The Colonial Times', a prominent and influential newspaper of the time. [43]

After his untimely death in 1848 [44], leaving six young children, Mary Ann continued the newspaper with the help of Kenric Brodribb, a solicitor whom she employed as editor, and the son of well-known lawyer in Hobart, William Adams Brodribb [45]. William Adams Brodribb, an emancipist, was Hobart’s first practicing solicitor, having his office in the 'Verandah House' c. 1819, which became the 'Ship Inn/Hotel'.

Having sold the 'Colonial Times', Mary Ann married Kenric Brodribb in 1855 after moving to Melbourne, where she died of heart failure two years later, at the young age of 40, not long after giving birth to a stillborn son, their first baby having died not long before. [46] It is unknown who raised her children- whether Kenric continued to do so, or her eldest sons who were 21 and 20, the youngest child being nine.  Kenric was appointed  in 1855 one of the Commissioners of the Supreme Court of this colony for Victoria, Port Phillip, for taking affidavits, &c. In the 1860’s he was a Provisional Director and then Solicitor for the newly formed ‘Australian Alliance Assurance Company’ [48]. Kenric’s elder brother, William Adams Brodribb Jnr. led a prominent life as a writer, explorer, grazier, and Member of the Lower and Upper House- refer to ADB entry.)  Kenric moved to the UK to live and died in Sussex in 1898.

Hobart Town c.1870

Elizabeth Street Hobart- Ship Hotel on left, c.1880
(Tasmanian Archives)


There is one striking piece of evidence relating to all three of Laurence’s offspring that should be noted. Each of them named a child Ormond. Walter’s youngest son was named Ormond Tasman Butler; Lawrence Junior’s eldest son was named George Henry Ormond Butler, and Mary Ann’s youngest son was named Ormond Campbell Macdougall. Lawrence Junior himself was known as Lawrence Ormond Butler from about 1839 onwards, whether self named is not known. George Henry’s two sons and each of his grandchildren, both male and female, were given the middle name of Ormond. George Henry’s house in Hursteville was surrounded by streets named Butler Street, Butler Lane and Ormonde Parade. Ormond Tasman Butler named a child Arthur Ormond.
Walter’s grandsons from his relationship with Eliza, informed their children that they were descendants of the Kilkenny Butlers.
For three Currency children born on the other side of the world from Ireland, and with no remaining connections with their Irish forbears, the only way they could have understood the significance of the name Ormond and its connection to the history of the Butlers of Ireland (through the Earls of Ormond line dating back to the 14th Century and the Chief Butlers of Ireland preceding it back to the 12th Century), would have been through their father passing on his heritage to his offspring. All three children, obviously, perfectly understood the significance of the name Ormond to their family history and were proud of the fact.
(Notably the Hon. Walter Butler, son of the Marquis of Ormonde, visited the Colony in 1848, as reported in the newspaper.)

Ormonde Butler Coat of Arms,
including the Three Gold Cups representing the Chief Butler of Ireland

Chief Butler Coat of Arms

War Cry: Butler Aboo- ie. Butler Victory
Motto: Comme je Trouve- As I Find

It is this same heritage that I am convinced helped Laurence gain his important and influential connections in the Colony, and his acceptance as an Irish Catholic emancipist living in the society of English Protestant emancipists and ‘exclusives’.

This Butler heritage, which is a magnificent one, is too complex and vast to cover in this document, but may be read in the following blogs:

© B.A. Butler

Contact email address  butler1802 (NB. no spaces)

Link back to Introduction:

Links to all the chapters in this blog:

The 1798 rebellion
Laurence Butler's trial for his role in the Rebellion
Analysis of Butler's trial
Laurence Butler at the Battle of Tubberneering
Laurence Butler's imprisonment
Butler's life and family in Wexford
Laurence Butler's transportation to Sydney in 1802 on the Atlas 2
Conditions on Convict Ships
Life as a convict in Sydney
Laurence Butler's property investments in Pitt Street Sydney
Sydney Town in 1800-1810
Laurence Butler's petitions to the Governor
Laurence Butler's 100 acre land grant in District of Petersham
Butler's membership of the Commercial Society of Sydney
Laurence Butler's court cases
Laurence Butler's business interests in Sydney
Laurence Butler's cabinet making business
Laurence Butler's property investments in Sydney
Laurence Butler's colonial family
Laurence Butler's death in 1820
Laurence Butler's issue- Walter, Lawrence Junior and Mary Ann
The Catholic Community of Sydney up until 1820
Genealogy- Butler's possible ancestry and possible descendants in Ireland, and BDM records
Butler's fellow Irish rebels transported to Sydney
Conclusion about the life of Laurence Butler

[1]  Peter Cunningham “Two Years in NSW”, 2v, London 1827
[2] Sydney Gazette Tues Feb 4, 1840 page 2- Supreme Court (Criminal Side) Trial of Walter Butler
[3] Geoff Hocking, The Rebel Chorus- Dissenting Voices in Australian History, Five Miles Press, Rowville Vic 2007, p9, p74
[4]  SRNSW: Colonial Secretary; [4/3514, p478], Memorial of Walter Butler; 6 Dec 1824, 13 June 1825; Fiche 3081; Reply, [9/2652, p85] Reel 6014
[5]  NSW Registry of Births, Deaths, Marriages; V1825 120 127/1825; marriage to Margaret Dunn, daughter of Thomas Dunn (Hillsborough 1799, 7 yrs) Chief Constable of Sydney, and Rose Bean, daughter of free settler James Bean.
[6]  K Johnson & M Sainty (Eds), 1828 Census, op cit.
[7] Sydney Gazette, 12 Dec 1839, p2; 4 Feb 1840, p2
[8] Sydney Gazette, Thurs 3 October 1833, p2, Publicans’ Licenses
[9] NSW Registry of Births, Deaths, Marriages, V1841 845 25C/1841
[10] Wilson P. Evans, Port of Many Prows (History of Williamstown), The Hawthorn Press, Melbourne 1969; and,
Sue O’Neill, Publican Index of 19th Century Victoria, 2000,
[11] Graeme Broxam, Shipping Arrivals and Departures Tasmania Volume III 1843-1850, A Roebuck Soc Pub-Navarine Publishing ACT, 1998; and Marten A. Syme, Shipping Arrivals and Departures Victorian Ports Vol 2 1846-1855, Roebuck Society Pub., 1987.
[12] The Courier (Hobart), Thurs 14 February 1856
[13] Tasmanian Archives: Application of Walter Butler for a Grant on New Town Road; Folio 572; No 707; 1 Rood 10 Perches; 3 May 1853
[14]  The Courier, 22 July 1858, advert by Walter Butler as candidate for the Municipal Election
[15]  Refer to multiple articles in The Courier and the Hobarton Mercury/ Hobart Town Daily Mercury, over that period.
[16] Tasmanian Electoral Rolls, (Archives Office of Tasmania SLTX/AO/EP/422) 1861, 1866, 1867, 1869;
David J. Bryce, Pubs in Hobart, Davidia Pub, Tasmania, 1997; Hobart Town Gazettes 25 January 1870.
[17] The Argus (Melbourne) Wed 30, July 1862 p5
[18] For the full detailed story on the life of Walter Butler, refer to “Walter Butler- a Currency Lad” written by Barbara Butler
[19] The Monitor, 8 Nov 1828
[20] ADB, Vol 1, MUP, 1966, pp500-502, M.J.B. Kenny, Hall Edward Smith (1786-1860)
[21] SRNSW: Index to Quarter Session Cases; [4/8453, No 32]; Laurence Butler, Sydney, July 1831; and, Sydney Gazette, Thurs 21 July 1831, Quarter Session cases
[22] Colonial Times, Tues 3 July 1832 p4
[23] Sydney Gazette, Thurs 3 October 1833, p2, Publicans’ Licenses
[24]  Sydney Gazette, Shipping News,19 April 1836, 7 Feb 1837, 22 April 1837; – Passenger list of the Warrior, left London 13 Mar 1833, left Hobart 26 June 1833 arrived Sydney 26 July 1833
[25] Sydney Gazette, 14 April, 21 April, 1835
[26] Sydney Gazette, 26 May, 21 June, 25 June, 30 June 1836
[27] Sydney Gazette,Thursday 17 August 1837 p3
[28]  Michell Library NSW, ML Doc 815, Liverpool Oct 30 1838 Letter from L. Butler to G R Nichols
[29] NSW Registry Births, Deaths Marriages; V1840 623 75/1840, to Agnes McPherson; IGI record date 31 Dec 1839
[30] The Port Philip Patriot and Melbourne Advertiser, April 22 1841, Annual Licences Meeting, June 17 1841, appeal
[31]  Ibid, every Monday and some Thursday issues between May 24 until August 23, and again in Sept 2 and 16, 1841
[32]  Ibid, 16 Sept 1841; and, SRNSW: Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence Index to Convicts & Others 1838-1842- extracted by Joan Reese; Primary Source SR NSW-Letter No 41/8666; Shelf 4/2548-  Lawrence Ormond Butler  -SHIP/ID- Melbourne Gaol
[33] SRNSW: Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence Index to Convicts & Others 1843 to 1847- extracted by Joan Reese
Primary Source SRNSW-  Letter No 45/1522  Shelf 4/2693.1- Lawrence Butler   SHIP/ID- for employment
[34] SRNSW: Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence; Index to Convicts & Others 1845- Letter No 45/5986; Shelf 4/2688.6- Agnes Butler
[35] No record of this marriage has been found, or a birth record for the first child; Lawrence’s death certificate states that he was married to Fanny Rainy and his first son was born c. 1846.
[36]  Argus (Melbourne) Tues 8 June 1847 p2
[37] SRNSW: Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence Index to Convicts & Others 1843 to 1847- extracted by Joan Reese; Primary Source SRNSW  Letter/Ref 50/4790  Shelf 4/2900- Lawrence Butler- SHIP/ID  compositor
[38]  NSW Registry Births Deaths Marriages; Reg no. 1047/1856
[39]  The Propellor (Hursteville newspaper, Sydney), 13 June 1945, The Late Ormonde Butler- Obituary for grandson Arthur Ormonde Butler
[40] NSW Registry of Births Deaths Marriages; V18341255 18/1834
[41] Ronald Parsons, Australian Shipowners and Their Fleets, Book 5, 1st pub 1979, repub 1985.
[42] Government Gazettes 1833-1850; 1835, p189
[43] ADB, Vol. 2, MUP, 1967, pp163-164, E. Flinn, Macdougall, John Campbell (1805?-1848)
[44] Colonial Times 25 July 1848 Obituary; Hobart Town Courier 26 July 1848 Obituary
[45] W. A. Brodribb, Recollections of an Australian Squatter 1835-1883, pub John Ferguson in assoc Royal Aust. Historical Soc., Sydney 1978, p71-2
[46] Victorian Registry of BDM; Mary Ann  Brodribb, 1857/6325; The Courier (Hobart) Thurs 29 Mar 1855 p2, reporting marriage on 20 February; The Courier, Wed 4 Nov 1857p2, Death of stillborn son on 25 October.
[47] The Courier, Tues 25 Dec 1855, p3
[48] “The Victorian” newspaper July 19, 1862, Kenrick named in an advertisement for “The Australian Alliance Assurance Company”, as a Provisional Director K.E. Brodribb, Esq., M.L.A., and again in “The Talbot Leader & North-Western Chronicle” March 3 1863, in another add for the Australian Alliance Assurance Co., Solicitor: K.E. Brodribb Esq., M.L.A.