top of page

The Last of the Butlers

Arrival - Publican - Landholder - Councillor - Politician - The Last of the Butlers - References

Patrick Butler arrived in SA in 1839 on the ship Prince Regent, and then Clare founder Paddy Gleeson first employed him as a shepherd at Gleeville, in the late 1830s and 1840s.

Upon Gleeson's insolvency and owed £36.4.9 by Gleeson, Butler subsequently moved north with Gleeson. The township of Armagh became home to Patrick Butler (1818-1876) and his wife Sarah Naulty (1819-1871).

The township of Armagh, SA (2 miles west of Clare) was laid out on the 76-acre section 131 of the special Hutt River Survey by the purchasers, Solomon, Neales and Smith, who bought the land for £76-5-0 in May 1849. and advertised it in June 1850.


Patrick Butler received the first hotel license for Armagh, the hotel named Emu Inn. Butler applied for the Armagh license in March 1849 and used his nine year district residency successfully but lost the application on appeal late in 1850.

In 1849 John and William Day, hoping to profit from the opening of a new mine built the Miner’s Home Hotel. At the same time, Patrick Butler built his own hotel, named the Emu Inn.  Only one license was granted by the Bench of Magistrates, which went to Patrick Butler’s hotel.
The Day’s then launched an appeal and sought signatures from friends of influence, which saw the Magistrate board overturn their ruling, granting a license to the brothers to operate their hotel[3]

John Day's Miner's Home hotel was built of brick and stone, had 5 bedrooms, stabling for 10 horses and a good stockyard.

The Miners Home Hotel operated for only two years, 1850 until 1851. The license changed from John Day to his brother William in 1851.[4]

After the closing of the hotel, the land was bought by Patrick Butler, who lived in the building and built a larger house on the land. He went on to become a Councillor in the Clare region.


Butler could have been the archetypal Irishman of the St Patrick’s Society 1849 Memorial to Lord Grey – in a “prosperous condition” due to his great efforts.

By 1843 Wicklow-born Butler was “a stockholder of Inchiquin [with] 6 acres of wheat, ½ acres (sic) of maize, ¼ acre of garden and 28 cattle.” The small acreage might have been leased from Gleeson.

The 1843 Land Returns show that of County Stanley’s seventeen landholders, two in addition to Gleeson and Hope were immigrant Irishmen: Patrick Butler and Mortimer Nolan, both from Wicklow, who were nominated by George Hepenstal, and were colonists arriving on the Prince Regent.

The Butler family had three children in their Armagh home of “red gum slabs, thatched with a straw and grass roof.” In 1844, the then Archbishop of Adelaide, Dr Murphy, assisted by Father Michael Ryan, celebrated the first Mass in the Clare district at the Butler residence.

This house of Patrick Butler at Armagh was utilised as a site for Catholic weddings --- Catherine Coffey (1841-1918) in 1858 married Robert Henry, a sawyer, at Butler’s Armagh house --- (the couple had two daughters, Margaret in 1860 and Mary (on June 11th 1864) before Robert died on September 21st 1864).

Patrick then outlaid £160 for 80 acres of Section 130 in 1846, but in early April 1847 he disposed of half for £180, which was a reasonable short term profit. October 1848 saw him extend his property holding by the purchase for £160 of S116 and 119 at Stanley Flat, three miles further north than Armagh. After less than a decade in the colony, this Stanley-based Irishman was doing very well, even providing a loan of £27 to Bishop Murphy in June 1848.

Another Irishman probably employed by Gleeson but definitely a resident in Clare by 1845, James Cleary (1806-1887), acquired an occupation lease in 1848. The following year, aged 43, he married Bridget Naulty (1797-1871), the 54 year old widowed mother of Sarah, wife of Patrick Butler.

In early 1846, the Butlers had confidently sent for the remainder of Sarah’s family from

Wicklow. Bridget had emigrated from Glendalough with her six youngest children, arriving on the Britannia in late October 1846. Her older children “found employment as labourers, or domestic servants, on the surrounding station properties.” For example, John, born in 1832, aged 14 at emigration, was employed at various times by large local landholders including Irish-born John Hope and E.B. Gleeson..

Like both Nolan and Kenny, Butler emerges as an entrepreneurial Irishman.

In 1849 Irishmen were represented strongly on the committee appointed to plan a Clare school.

Patrick Butler was treasurer, with E.B. Gleeson, Nolan and Ryan constituting almost half the group. The second meeting in January had debated crucial issues and reached agreement over the use of the Irish national system.


Patrick Butler was also an original council nominee. Gleeson became first Chairman, a position he held until his 1857 resignation. Butler (chairman from 1859) was joined in 1854 by Mintaro Irishman Peter Brady; John Hope too stood for council in 1857. The election of Irish councillors reflected the nature of the active voting community, especially in areas such as Armagh, Sevenhill, and Mintaro.

In 1855 Patrick Butler was re-elected, receiving the second highest vote in the contest. Butler and Brady then constituted half the councillors, and Gleeson served as chairman.

In subsequent reports that year, Butler and Brady appeared to be cooperating closely in questioning the treasurer and assessor’s report. But later, when the issue of a rate deeply split council, Brady supported Gleeson while Butler opposed the idea.

In 1857 council nominations seemed to reflect some Irish cooperation when Gleeson nominated Brady, and Hope and Lennon proposed Butler. Brady retained council membership until 1861 and Butler until 1867. While Hope was only temporarily on council, Patrick Butler and Peter Brady were longstanding local government participants.

Within one extended Irish family, James Cleary and Patrick Butler supported opposite candidates. Cleary ( stepfather of Sarah Butler) was one of local Irish promoting the defeated candidate; meanwhile, Patrick Butler ( Sarah’s husband) spoke at the victory dinner.


Irish Individuals listed on 1853 Stanley Electoral Roll.*

Name Place where property affording the qualification is listed, County, Year of Arrival

Patrick Butler Nature of Qualifications: Freehold Armagh, Sections 116, 130 and 131: emigrant from Wicklow, Ireland, arrived 1839

  • Clare Councillor 1853-1867. Judge at 1865 & 1866 Clare Ploughing Match.

  • Chair of SAPA Committee 1860, in Clare.(South Australian Political Association)

In a speech, Patrick Butler referred to the likelihood of SAPA victory in the electorate when the combination of some 800 Clare, Burra and Mintaro electors would see the “end [of] class legislation and misrule.” The meeting’s enthusiasm provoked Gleeson into speech. Claiming that one candidate had “looked at him unutterable things,” he stated that he did not oppose SAPA principles, arguing that issues about payment for all in unpaid positions, not just MPs, should be decided by the next parliament..

The Association (SAPA) promoted seven principles:

  1. the temporary discontinuation of immigration,

  2. the welfare of the majority to direct all legislation,

  3. equal political rights,

  4. payment for parliamentary members,

  5. a tax on unoccupied land,

  6. law reform

  7. and freedom of the press.

Branches of SAPA were soon established at North Adelaide and Unley, where fifty attended a public meeting in October. A November gathering included communications from many country areas. Editorials sounded alarm by the end of 1859, criticising SAPA as unnecessary, and its labour versus capital principles.

By December 12th 1860, numbers of Clare’s Irish were involved. Patrick Butler became President, Peter Brady, Richard Quinlan and William Lennon were all also on the committee. Meetings were held weekly. John Clark spoke at Burra on January 7th, clarifying SAPA objectives. Lennon insisted that the “present system [of land sales] must be entirely altered.”

In January 1860 it was resolved that delegates from Clare, Mintaro and Burra would nominate three members for the District of Clare and Burra.


IN THE MONTH of August, this year, there appeared the following Death Notice in an Adelaide daily: — 'BUTLER — On August 15th., at his late residence, 11 Farrant St., Prospect, Thomas Charles Butler, husband of late Mary Ann Butler, and father of Bridge, Sarah, Myde, John, Jim, Susie, Tom, Vincent, Len and Michael (decd.) Aged 87 years. R.I.P.'

Bishop Francis Murphy, 1844-1858

This 87 year old citizen, the father of 10 children, is linked to Patrick Butler, one of the first pioneers of Armagh, in whose house the Sacrament of Holy Communion was first given in the district. Records about this event show that the Catholic

Archbishop of Adelaide (Rev. Dr. Matthew Beovich, D.D.) said on May 31, 1941, when he blessed the alterations to the Sisters of St. Joseph Catholic School: —

'In 1844 (99 years ago) Father Michael Ryan, with the assistance of their First Bishop (Dr. Murphy) came to Clare and celebrated Mass at Armagh in a house owned by Mr. Patrick Butler. Father Ryan built the first church at Clare (now the Convent School) in 1847, while the Bishop was absent in England, and dedicated it to St. Michael the Archangel."

By 1844 the presence of Clare’s Catholic population led to the celebration of the first Mass. Father Michael Ryan used Patrick Butler’s Armagh barn; he stayed with this family on visits before Father Dennis McGuin became the Hutt’s first resident clergyman late in 1847.

As the death of Thomas Charles Butler also removes the last of 10 members, sons and daughters, of the original pioneer Butler family, I sought the assistance of the wonderful memory of Mr. Jas. Scales, Senior, of Wright St., Clare, and this is what Jim tells me: — 'Patrick Butler had several sections of land at Armagh, some of which is owned to-day by Mr. R. E. H. Hope.'

  • He left Armagh about 70 years ago to take up farming land at Whyte Yarcowie, but later on met with a fatal accident when run over by a waggon loaded with wheat at Farrell Flat. That was a sad end to a great man.

  • His wife died at Armagh, in which locality he built large stockyards and the cattle of the district were mustered, branded and handled there.

  • Hundreds of bullocks were coupled, and there were over 20 bullock teams within 2 miles of Armagh.

  • Patrick Butler was easily the leading man there in the early days.

There were 3 daughters and 7 sons, the latter all being good horsemen and any stock missing were soon rounded up by the clan. Members of the family were

  • Patrick Butler Jr., married Miss Verran, Armagh;

  • James Butler, unmarried;

  • Michael Butler, married Miss Neumann, Saddleworth;

  • Thomas Butler married Miss Miskin, Jamestown;

  • Matthew Butler married Miss Sally Bickhoff, Blyth;

  • James Butler, married Miss Mary Jane Gillen, Clare (They lived mainly at Port Pirie, where Jim was on the executive staff of the Smelters and a son — Peter Butler — now occupies a good position with the B.H.P. at Whyalla);

  • Mary Ann Butler married John Amery, manager of Hill River in the time of the late C. B. Fisher;

  • Sarah Butler and Ellen Butler, whose married names are unknown to me.'

With characteristic Irish wit, Jim Scales ended his memories with this sally:

— 'In a seasoned review of my long life I have come to one definite conclusion — that he is a wise man who keeps well on the right side of Printers, Publishers and Policemen.'

I forgot to mention that the home of Patrick Butler later became the Miner’s Arms Hotel; but I can remember when the Lomman family, who lived in it, turned it into a museum.

There are no members of this family around here now.


PATRICK BUTLER was born 1808 in County Wicklow, Ireland, and died 12 April 1876 in Clare, South Australia.

Arrived on 25th September 1839, at Port Adelaide, on the Prince Regent, (with Bell Freeman).

He married twice:

(1) SARAH NAULTY in 1839 in County Wicklow, Ireland. She was born 1818 in Ireland, and died 9 September 1871 in Clare, South Australia.He married

(2) BRIDGET SAXTON - DONNELLEY 2 November 1875 in Caltowie, South Australia.

Notes :

He married Sarah Naulty in County Wicklow, Ireland, 1839. He resided in Armagh, Near Clare, South Australia (1841).

  • Sarah was born in Ireland 1818. Sarah died 9th September 1871 in Clare, South Australia.

He married Bridget Saxton - Donnelley in Caltowie, South Australia, 2nd November 1875.

  • Bridget was born in Tothill's Creek South Australia 1858.

  • Bridget died 19th July 1921 in Adelaide, South Australia.





iii. PATRICK BUTLER, b. 7 May 1842, Clare, South Australia; d. 11 January 1911, Terowie, South Australia.

iv. MARY ANNE BUTLER, b. 13 June 1844, Clare, South Australia; m. JOHN EMERY, Hill River Station.

v. JOHN PATRICK BUTLER, b. 1 September 1846, Clare, South Australia; d. 23 September 1927, Hd of Wanna, South Australia; m. FRANCES BICKOFF, 1866, Clare, South Australia.

vi. MICHAEL BUTLER, b. 24 October 1848, Clare, South Australia.

vii. THOMAS CHARLES BUTLER, b. 30 June 1856, Clare, South Australia; d. 15 August 1943, Prospect , South Australia.

viii. MATTHEW BUTLER, b. 21 July 1858, Clare, South Australia; d. 11 October 1929, Terowie, South Australia.

ix. JAMES BUTLER, b. 1859, Clare, South Australia; d. 1860, Clare, South Australia.

x. JAMES PATRICK BUTLER, b. 30 July 1860, Clare, South Australia; d. 3 April 1936, Clare, South Australia; m. MARY JANE GILLEN1, 1880, Clare, South Australia. from Descendants of Patrick Butler


441 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page