Butler Family Events

Visit of King Edward VII to Kilkenny Castle in 1904
The Butler Rally in Kilkenny is the cornerstone event of the Butler Society. Traditionally held every three years in Kilkenny City, Ireland, the rally coincides with the Triennial General Meeting (TGM) of the Butler Society.

Our last rally took place in London in 2018. Our hope is to host the next rally in Canada in 2022, after the COVID-19 threat subsides. Until then, please stay in touch by joining the Butler Society for our updates.

Regional chapters of the Butler Society also organise gatherings and trips. The German von Buttlar families have held numerous very successful gatherings in Berlin and Kassel while gatherings have also taken place in the UK, USA, Canada, Spain, Argentina and New Zealand. Two seminar-style genealogical gatherings took place in Cambridge and Oxford, England. In March 2021, we held our inaugural Zoom lecture.

What Is A Rally

Rallies and gatherings are arranged by members, for members. They tend to be social occasions which offer a great opportunity to get to know others with whom one may have corresponded, and who share an interest in the same subject. Some come to visit their roots, some to exchange information, some to enjoy the party. Tours and speakers are organised as economically as possible, and visits are arranged to places which may not normally be open to the public. The locations usually have strong Butler connections.

Upcoming Events

An exciting joint Canadian/ USA Rally will take place in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada from Friday 25th August to Sunday 27th August 2023. Numbers will be limited to 80 attendees. Itinerary and booking information is available here >

The traditional Triennial Rally will resume at Kilkenny Castle in August 2024. Details to follow.

Past Events

Golden Jubilee Mini-Rally, Kilkenny

Rally 2016

Germany 2017

A Guide to Researching Your Butler Family Conections

By no means are all families called Butler descended from the same origin. Completely different families share the same name. There are a number of quite distinct family groups. These can be classified according to whereabouts of the earliest known forefather of each group.

The late Lord Dunboyne (Paddy, who used to be Genealogical Assistant of The Butler Society) devised a classification of about sixty five groups published with references, in The Journal of The Butler Society Vol.2 No.1 (1981) p.125. Butler Family Groups provide an essential framework for research, but as research progresses. New groups will no doubt be identified or existing groups may merge, but most Butler families can eventually be traced back to one of these groups. Family mottoes often offer a clue.

Few people, at the start of their research into a family named Butler, will know from which group their own particular family originates. It is for this reason that The Butler Society deliberately sets out to be a “one-name” society as opposed to a “one-family” society. There are members with an active interest in many different groups.

The Butler Society is not a commercial research organisation. Collectively, the membership has a wealth of knowledge and most members are prepared to help others. The Society can best help by facilitating this networking, but experience has shown that it is essential to have some sort of central clearing, through which information is channelled and disseminated. Since 1967, the “Happy Families” serial (compiled by Paddy, Lord Dunboyne up to 1997) has been published in the Journal and fulfilled this function admirably. Sound ground rules for successful collaboration have evolved and continue to apply. However, any process relying on the publication of an occasional Journal is necessarily slow. The internet is a powerful fast new tool for genealogical research. The challenge now is to harness this power, building on the experience of our past.

The web is helping researchers in different countries to join forces and pool data. Some members are kindly submitting the product of their research for publication on the website, such as Butler Extracts from the Lists of Arrivals at New Orleans. Data for other US Ports and other extracts from around the world are posted on the “members-only” section of this website as and when they become available. That said, the Happy Families serial still remains the central resource. The Happy Families Datafile is now available for on-line interrogation by members of the Society. The 456 queries {to Vol.4 #1 (1997)}, together with their subsequent follow-ups, contain a huge amount of information on ancestors of many different Butler families in many different parts of the world (see the Happy Families Table of Contents Only). All too often, people ask questions that have either already been tackled in Happy Families or which could, with a little extra research, be linked to one of its existing entries. It cannot be emphasised too strongly that this datafile should be checked before posting an enquiry.

Many of the other articles in the Journal also contain valuable information. Various libraries subscribe to the Journal, including The Library of Congress (Washington DC), The New York Public Library and The Newberry Library in Chicago.

James Butler
9th Earl of Ormonde (1496-1546)

Richard Butler
1st Viscount Mountgarret (d.1571)
Photo: Arran Q Henderson

When Writing For Help

Check the obvious sources yourself before involving others.

Always write (or e-mail). Genealogical research does not lend itself to the spoken word. Enclose stamps, cash, or reply paid vouchers to cover the cost of replies.

Explain your problem clearly. It is helpful if you trace the family tree back (from yourself) until you reach the “brickwall” about which you are seeking help.

State your sources and references for each and every event in the family tree. Ensure that place names are clearly listed with county and country. List all your sources and also list sources that have proved fruitless.

Include as many branches of the family tree as possible. They may suggest unsuspected avenues for investigation.

Only then, give family folklore, religious traditions, and any other clues and hints that may assist a search.