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Butcher, Edward William (1826–1895)

by Sandy McGie and Xavier Reader

Edward William Burchell Butcher (1826-1895) was an early pastoralist of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) who later relocated to Western Australia.[1] Born on 12 May 1826 or 1827 in Van Diemen's Land, Edward was the son of two early colonisers in the Richmond region: John Hunt Butcher (1781-1839) and Sarah Burchell (1791-1872).[2] His parents had married in 1808 in Westminster, England.[3] They resided on the ‘Parkhatch Estate’ in Surrey, which had been inherited by John, until its sale in 1814.[4] One of Edward’s elder brothers, John Hunt Butcher (junior), was born on the 28 April 1817.[5] Edward also had at least three sisters, Harriet, Jane, and Martha, although their birth and death dates are yet to be determined.[6]

The Butcher family emigrated to Van Diemen’s Land in 1822, accompanied by five of their children, on the Deveron.[7] They purchased the 1,800 acre ‘Lowlands Estate’ near Richmond.[8] The Butchers had brought a herd of Saxon Merino sheep with them, and are thought to be the original importers of these sheep into Tasmania.[9] A year after Edward’s birth, John was appointed magistrate. Along with fellow magistrate Charles Schaw, Edward’s future father-in-law, John earned a reputation as being anti-convict and anti-Catholic.[10] John retained the position until his death on the 20 March 1839.[11]

Although aged only twelve when his father died, Edward and his siblings were provided for through the stipulations of his will, which divided the value of his estate equally amongst all his children biannually until they came of age.[12] Following his father’s death, Edward must have travelled to England, as he is said to have been educated at Kings College in London.[13]

Edward married Maria Susan Schaw (1820-1914) at St. Lake’s Church, Richmond, on the 11 October 1853, aged twenty-six.[14] Maria had emigrated with her parents to Van Diemen's Land in 1833, following generations of slave ownership in the West Indies through both Maria’s paternal and maternal family lines.[15] The couple had several children: Edward William Norton (1851-1913), Maria ‘Minnie’ Louisa (1856-1921), William James Burchell (1858-1944), Charles John Hunt (1860-1931), and Frances Emma (b.1862).[16] As a young man, Edward left Tasmania with his wife and family for the diggings in Victoria’s goldrush where, according to his obituary, he met with “a fair amount of success.”[17] He later managed East Lodden Station and also purchased Towangay Station near Wickcliffe in the western districts of Victoria.[18]

Edward emigrated to Western Australia in 1876, on the Lucy S. Wills, accompanied by his wife and their sons William and Charles.[19] Arriving at Champion Bay (north of Geraldton), Edward took up leases on the pastoral stations ‘Tallering’, ‘Moorarie’ and ‘Beringarra’ on the advice of his friend Sir Malcolm Fraser (former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser’s uncle) who was head of the W.A Lands Department at the time.[20] Edward brought 3,000 ewes with him to Western Australia, bred from the same stock taken to Tasmania by his father in 1822.[21] He later became a master pearler at Shark Bay from 1884 to 1892, as well as having mining interests in Marble Bar.[22]

In 1895, Edward died of heart failure, aged sixty-seven.[23] He was buried at Carnarvon cemetery.[24] His obituary described him as “an adventurous [and] speculative Australian.”[25]

Edward was outlived by his wife, Maria, his son, William, and daughter, Marie.[26] William became a prominent West Australian serving in the Legislative Assembly as an independent member for the seat of Gascoyne for twelve years.[27] Minnie married Henry Frederick Johnston (1853-1915) who became the Surveyor General of Western Australia.[28]

Endnotes

[1] The Late Mr. E.W Butcher,’ Western Mail (Perth), 16 February 1895, p.26; ‘Baptisms in the Parish of Hobart Town,’ Libraries Tasmania Archives, https://stors.tas.gov.au/NI/1083697, p.106.

[2] Obituary gives 1827, baptism record gives 1826. ‘Baptisms in the Parish of Hobart Town,’ p.106; ‘The Late Mr. E.W Butcher,’ p.26; John Hunt Butcher, Australian Cemetery Index, Genealogical Society of Tasmania ancestry.com.au/family- tree/person/tree/180237485/person/272340823229/facts; Sarah Burchell Butcher, Tasmanian Names Index, Libraries Tasmania Archives, https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=NI_NAME%3D%22Butcher,%20Sarah%22

[3] ‘Marriages in November 1808,’ Church of England Marriages and Banns, Ancestry.com Online Database, https://www.ancestrylibrary.com.au/imageviewer/collections/1623/images/31547_212684-00259?pId=10062163, p.77; ‘Marriage,’ Hobart Town Advertiser, 20 December 1859, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/264681450, p.2

[4] ‘Particulars of Park-Hatch Estate,’ 1814, Butcher One-Name Study Database, https://butcher.one-name.net/showmedia.php?mediaID=985&medialinkID=589

[5] ‘Baptisms in the Parish of Cobham,’ Church of England Baptisms, Ancestry.com Online Database, https://www.ancestrylibrary.com.au/imageviewer/collections/4772/images/40761_311930-00285?pId=150172236, p.29.

[6] Last Will and Testament of Sarah Butcher, Libraries Tasmania Archives, https://stors.tas.gov.au/AD960-1-8-1591$init=AD960-1-8-1591_2

[7] ‘Hobart Town,’ Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser, 22 June 1822, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/1089718, p.2.  

[8] Peter MacFie, “A Social History of Richmond 1820-1855,” (2017), https://petermacfiehistorian.net.au, p.43

[9] ‘The Original Importer,’ Examiner, 6 April 1901, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/35395214, p.4. John Butcher also imported a variety of fruit trees to the colony. See MacFir, “A Social History of Richmond, 1820-1855,” p.43.

[10] MacFie, “A Social History of Richmond 1820-1855,” p.9

[11] ‘The Original Importer,’ p.4.

[12] ‘ Deaths in the District of Hobart,’ Libraries Tasmania Archives, https://stors.tas.gov.au/NI/1183972; Last Will and Testament of John Hunt Butcher, Libraries Tasmania Archive, https://stors.tas.gov.au/AD960-1-1-157_2 John’s estate was valued at under £2000.

[13] ‘The Late Mr. E.W Butcher.’

[14] Courier (Hobart), 12 October 1853, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/rendition/nla.news-article2245518.3.pdf?followup=c3f894f96c30314871aac551b66919f7, p.2; ‘Marriages,’ Illustrated London News, 11 March 1854, p.200.

[15] ‘Charles Schaw’, Legacies of British Slavery Online Database, University College London, www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/20992; ‘Jamaica St Andrew 388,’ Legacies of British Slavery Online Database, University College London, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/claim/view/20969

[16] Edward William Butcher, The Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians, pre-1829–1988, ed. Rica Erickson (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1987).

[17] ‘The Late Mr. E.W Butcher.’

[18] ‘The Late Mr. E.W Butcher.’

[19] Edward William Butcher, WABD; ‘The Late Mr. E.W Butcher.’

[20] ‘The Late Mr. E.W Butcher’; Marion Nixon and R.F.B. Lefroy, Road to the Murchison, p.78.

[21] Marion Nixon and R.F.B. Lefroy, Road to the Murchison (Vanguard Press, Perth, 1986), p.78.

[22] Edward William Butcher, WABD.

[23] ‘The Late Mr. E.W Butcher.’

[24] ‘The Late Mr. E.W Butcher.’

[25] ‘The Late Mr. E.W Butcher.’

[26] ‘Births in the District of Richmond 1856,’ Libraries Tasmania Archives, https://stors.tas.gov.au/RGD33-1-34p677j2k; Marie Louise Butcher, The Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians, pre-1829–1988, ed. Rica Erickson (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1987).

[27] William James Burchell Butcher, The Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians, pre-1829–1988, ed. Rica Erickson (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1987).

[28] ‘Marie Louisa ‘Minnie’ Butcher Johnston,’ Find a Grave Online Database, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/179293177/maria-louisa-%20johnston

Original Publication

Citation details

Sandy McGie and Xavier Reader, 'Butcher, Edward William (1826–1895)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/butcher-edward-william-32694/text40626, accessed 28 September 2022.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012