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Bourton House circa 1910, home of the Butlers. Photo courtesy Paul Williams
The village of Bourton, home of the Butlers. Photo by Neil B. Maw
Sir Cyril Kendall Butler - Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery NPG 166284

Butler's of Bourton Family Genius

Faringdon Advertiser
Sat 20 Sept, 1913
Family Genius - 150 years’ Record
There is, perhaps, says The Daily Mail, no family in England which can show so extraordinary and well-maintained a record of high intellectual achievement, extending over several generations, as the Butlers. On Wednesday, Mr Spencer Perceval Butler celebrated his golden wedding with Mary, the only child of the Rev. Nicholas Kendall, of Bodmin, Cornwall.
Mr Spencer Perceval Butler is an elder brother of the famous Master of Trinity, Cambridge, who celebrated his silver wedding last month. He is the second son of the Very Rev. George Butler, Senior Wrangler in 1794, and headmaster of Harrow, from 1805 to 1829. He retired last year from being one of the conveyancing counsel of the High Court of Chancery and counsel to the Treasury. He was born in 1828, and was educated at Rugby under Dr. Arnold, so that his memories go back to a splendid past. He won high academic distinction, like almost everyone of his house, taking a first class in classics at Trinity College, Cambridge.
First Classes in the Family
The same capacity is marked in his numerous family; of his nine sons:-
One (Sir Harcourt Butler) is Vice-President of the Legislative Council in India.
Two, Ralph and Geoffrey, obtained fellowships at Cambridge Colleges and first classes in the tripos.
Two more obtained first classes at Oxford or Cambridge, but not fellowships.
One, after being President of the Cambridge Union, is an Inspector of Schools.
One, Mr C.K. Butler, has been High Sheriff for Berks.
One is in the Army
One died as Gunnery Lieutenant in the Navy
One of Mr Butler’s two daughters married Sir Eric Richards, Chichels Professor of International Law, Oxford.
The Father of Heredity
Three of Mr Butler’s brothers gained first classes in classics, among them being Dr. Butler, the Master of Trinity. Of his nephews, five have gained first classes in classics or mathematics, among them being Mr J.R.M. Butler, the son of the Master of Trinity, who swept the board of prizes at Cambridge, and whose list of triumphs is unprecedented. By his sister, Louisa Butler, who married Sir Francis Galton, the famous authority on heredity and eugenics, he is connected with the house of Galton, which also has a remarkable record, and with the Darwins, with whom the Galtons’s intermarried.
Mr Butler’s grandfather was the Rev. Weeden Butler, with whom the intellectual distinction of the family began. He was born in 1742, and was a classical master at Chelsea. This for more than a century and a half the stock has maintained the bent which he gave it. This is remarkable in the annals of heredity, and seems to show that family has more to do with producing capacity than any environment.
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