Theophilus Butler 1669-1724

From Book Owners Online

Theophilus BUTLER, 1st Baron Newtown-Butler 1669-1724

Biographical Note

Born in 1669 in County Cavan, Ireland, son of Francis Butler and Judith Jones. Butler entered Trinity College in 1686 but was not awarded an Legum Doctor (LLD) degree until 1718 due to the Williamite War in Ireland. In 1689, with the outbreak of the war, Butler and his brother Brinsley moved to England until the end of the war in 1691. Butler regularly returned to England and in 1697 was elected steward to London's Music Society.

Buter was elected MP for County Cavan in 1703 and held the position until 1713. In 1711 he was made a member of the Privy Council of Ireland and then represented Belturbet from 1713 to 1714. Butler was raised to the peerage as Baron Newtown-Butler in the Peerage of Ireland in 1715.


Butler used an early armorial book plate, Franks 4664. There is evidence to suggest that Butler became a serious book collector in the early 1690s. Butler's collecting habits changed by the end of the 17th century as his library became more of a public room rather than a place of scholarship. science books are prevalent in the collection as well as The Gentleman's Journal, which was a periodical aimed at the library tastes of gentlemen.

It is known that Butler owned the following books:

  • The Fatal Effects of Arbitrary Power by Antonio Pérez
  • The Succession of the House of Hannover Vindicated by John Asgill
  • Alexander's Feast, or the Power of Music in Honour of St. Cecilia's Day by John Dryden
  • Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift

Butler's will instructions that his collection be kept in the family and "neither to be sold or lent to any person whatsoever."

The Library of Trinity College Dublin now houses the Butler collection (1,239 items) that is predominately the library of Butler but also includes some books belonging to his heirs. This collection concentrates on 17th and early 18th century law, poetry, and plays. This collection was acquired by the college in ca. 1786.

Characteristic Markings

Many of Butler's books are marked with his bookplate or stamp.