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Butter family, Benbecula

Butter family, Benbecula

Posted: 21 Jan 2011 10:07PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: BUTTER MacRURY
I have found Archibald Butter and family on the 1841 census, living at Aird, Benbecula, with his wife Catherine (probably nee MacRury) and six children. I can find no trace of them after this, except the birth of a son, Angus, in 1849.

There's a good chance that Archibald (born c1795-1800) was somehow related to John Butter who was factor to the Clanranald estates, 1795-97.

If anyone knows anything about this family, I would be interested in hearing from you.

Re: Butter family, Benbecula

Posted: 23 Jan 2011 8:18PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Butter
Archibald Butter was the son of John Butter, Factor of the Clanranald Uist Estate. Archibald and his family are understood to have left Benbecula and settled in or near Glenelg township, Ontario.
John Butter was himself a son of Henry Butter of Faskally
in Perthshire. For more on the Butter ancestry see

Re: Butter family, Benbecula

Posted: 24 Jan 2011 8:58PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: BUTTER
Thanks for the Glenelg lead. I've now found their gravestones online via Canadian GenWeb.

I had been speculating that John was John Scott Butter (1773-1800) the son of Henry but had not managed to prove the connection - what is your source? John Scott Butter died at Bath around the time Archibald must have been born.


Re: Butter family, Benbecula

Posted: 27 Jan 2011 8:40PM GMT
Classification: Query
John Butter was dismissed from his position as Clanranald's Factor on the Uist Estates in 1797, having lost the confidence of Clanranald XX's Tutors through financial mismanagement - among other things. His successor was Robert Brown, an Ayrshire-born lawyer. In 1811 Brown became Factor on the Lanarkshire and Arran estates of the Marquis of Douglas and Clydesdale and, on the Marquis becoming the 10th Duke of Hamilton, became Factor for all the Hamilton estates in 1819 - a position which he held until his death in 1855. Much of Brown's correspondence between 1797 and 1855 can be found today among the Archives of the Douglas-Hamilton family, Dukes of Hamilton and Brandon.

John Butter was in Benbecula in 1799, returning to the mainland in November of that year. In a letter from Hector Macdonald Buchanan, Clanranald's lawyer in Edinburgh, to Robert Brown later the same month, Buchanan writes that he has heard of Butter's arrival at Faskally but does "not imagine he will return in a hurry as his father is determined not to part with him until all his accounts are fairly given in and settled with the Tutors, for he will not again trust him out of his sight". Rightly or wrongly, I interpret this as implying that John was a son of Henry Butter of Faskally; whether or not he was a "lawful" son is open to question. You have a date of 1800 for John Scott Butter's death. John Butter, ex-Factor to Clanranald was alive and well in Edinburgh at the end of 1803. This information is taken from the Douglas-Hamilton Papers mentioned above - NRAS (National Register of Archives Scotland) reference 2177.

Re: Butter family, Benbecula

Posted: 29 Jan 2011 12:21PM GMT
Classification: Query
Yes, I would have taken the letter to mean that John was the son of Henry of Faskally. Indeed all the evidence suggests this. The natural conclusion from this is that it was John Scott Butter. This is only contradicted by the fact that he died at Bath in 1800. This fact is taken from "The Gentleman's Magazine, Mar. 1800, p. 288"

"At Bath, John Scott Butter Esq., second son of Henry B. of Faskally and late in the East India Company's service"

So, as you say, then there must be another explanation. I think you're right in suggesting an illegitimate child. Henry did not marry Katherine Hay until 1767. Henry was working in the western Highlands since the early 1750s, so an illegitimate child may have been born during that time. However as any record is likely to be under the mother's name, I'm not holding much chance of locating one.

I can find no record of a will for Henry, as far as I can tell, so no clues there; his wife Katherine died intestate in 1813 so, while there is a testament dative, it is unlikely to mention beneficiaries.

The other option is that there were wider family living at Faskally with Henry and that John was a son of one of those.

I will pursue the fact that he was in Edinburgh in 1803. If he was resident, rather than just passing through, he may appear in the Edinburgh Directories. When time permits, I'll be consulting the Clanranald papers as well.

Re: Butter family, Benbecula

Posted: 9 Feb 2011 9:56AM GMT
Classification: Query
A colleague at the University of Edinburgh just found the following while researching something else:

CH2/361/1: Presbytery of Uist

6 Aug 1798, at Valay, North Uist


Compeared Christian MacEachin of the Roman Catholick persuasion, from the Island of Benbecula, fathering a Child born by her in fornication April 27th 1797 on John Butter Esq late Factor for Clanranald and complaining of Mr George Munro Minister in South Uist for having rashly taken the Oath of Mr Butter signifying that the Child was not his, while at the same time he acknowledged guilt with her, the Presbytery after having seriously weighted the nature of this delation & complaint find that as Parties are not before them, they are not competent to pronounce judgement in the cause, but that as it appears Mr Butter is about to leave the Country, and the Child unprovided in mantainance [sic], They enjoin Mr George Munro to cite the Parties before the Kirk Session of South / Uist, and to proceed in the cause according to the regulations of the Church, with a view to prove the Father of the Child, not sustaining the oath of any man assoilvied who acknowledges guilt with the woman. The woman being called in, an extract of this minute was given her signed by the Clerk.

The reference to John Butter leaving the country fits with John Scott Butter's move to the East India Company. I still of course need to reconcile the report of his death in 1800 with the Clanranald papers which suggest he was alive after that.

Re: Butter family, Benbecula

Posted: 16 Mar 2011 3:33PM GMT
Classification: Query
Apologies for the delay in responding to your posting of February 9.
The word "country" is used here in the sense of "district" or "region", rather than Scotland the country. This usage crops up regularly in writings around that time.
John Butter's movements post-1798 can be outlined from reference to correspondence of his successor Robert Brown. In early 1799 Butter was on Benbecula; around 1800 or 1801 he became factor of the Faskally estate; in 1802 he was from time to time in Edinburgh, and in May 1803 he was - presumably briefly - back on Benbecula.
Incidentally, Henry Butter had another son, Archibald, who was an Army Major and apparently older than John Butter, Clanranald's factor. This Archibald did not long survive his father.

Re: Butter family, Benbecula

Posted: 16 Apr 2011 6:44PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi there.

I have some info regarding the butter family:

Donald MacRury b: 1805
...................................................................... 8 Catherine MacRury d: 23 Dec 1852 in Glenelg, Grey County, Ontario Canada b: Abt. 1806
............................................................................. +A Archibald Butter d: 04 Mar 1857 in Glenclg, Grey County, Ontario Canada b: 1800 in Nunton, Benbecula

I also have a list of Archibald & Catherine's children. You may have this already?


Re: Butter family, Benbecula

Posted: 22 Apr 2011 8:12PM GMT
Classification: Query
I don't know if it is of interest but, in addition to Archibald, a somewhat older sister, perhaps born about 1791, married a MacDonald in Aird, settled at the Haye end of the township, did not emigrate and there are connections still in the township. Jane was born in Eoligarry, Barra. What is intriguing is that the registration of her death 1.4.1864 shows her mother as Flora MacEachan.

I have not come across any indication that John Butter had marryied Flora so have wondered whether part of the opprobium in which he apparently came to be held may have been that there was some close relationship between Flora and Christy MacEachan, mother of Archibald.

Re: Butter family, Benbecula

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 6:51PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 19 Oct 2012 6:52PM GMT
Thanks for this leads and apologies for not responding sooner. Something happened which meant I had to drop a lot of stuff for an extended period and I'm only catching up with research now.

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