Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 08.djvu/45

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Butcher
Butcher
41


in treating cases of fistula. He was still more noted for the eccentricity of his manners. His long beard and extraordinary costume astonished all beholders, and it was his custom to ride about in Hyde Park and the streets on a white pony, which he sometimes painter all purple, sometimes with purple or black spots. To defend himself against rude molestation, he carried a large white bone, which was said to have been used as a weapon of war in the island of Otaheite. For many years he resided in Mount Street, Berkeley Square, and attracted numerous patients by his quaintly worded advertisements in the newspapers.

On the death of his first wife in 1775 he applied to Dr. William Hunter and Mr. Cruickshank to exert their skill in preventing, if possible, the changes of form after the cessation of life. The mode pursued in this embalmment principally that of injecting the vascular system with oil of turpentine and camphorated spirit of wine, coloured, so that the minute vessels of the cheeks and lips are filled, and exhibited their original hue, the body in general having its cavities filled with powdered nitre and camphor, so that it remained free from corruption; glass eyes were also inserted. The corpse was then deposited in a bed of thin plaster of Paris in a box with a glass lid that could be withdrawn at pleasure. For many years Van Butchell kept the mummy of his wife in his parlour, and frequently exhibited the corpse to his friends and visitors. On his second marriage it was found expedient to remove the body to the museum of the College of Surgeons in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where it is still preserved. At the present time it is a repulsive-looking object.

Van Butchell appears to have been alive in 1812. There is an engraved portrait of him on his spotted pony in Kirby's ‘Wonderful and Scientific Museum,’ 1803.

[Gent. Mag. lxiii. 5, 6, 165, lxxvi. 681, lxxxii. (i.) 326; Kirby's Wonderful Museum, i. 191; Eccentric Magazine (1812), i. 109; Malcolm's Curiosities of Biography, 333; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Lysons's Suppl. to 1st. edit. of Environs of London, 113; Timbs's Doctors and Patients, i. 129; Evans's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, 10664; Burning the Dead, by a member of the Royal Coll. of Surgeons (1857), 13.]

T. C.


BUTCHER, EDMUND (1757–1822), unitarian minister, was born on 28 April 1757, at Colchester. He was descended from John Butcher, vicar of Feering, Essex, about 1657. The only son of an unsuccessful builder, he had early to struggle for a living. His primary education was given him by Dr. Thomas Stanton, presbyterian minister at Colchester. At fourteen years of age he gave sign of precocious talent in un heroic poem, the ‘Brutæis,’ illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings (not printed). He was soon apprenticed to a London linendraper, and at this early age wrote for periodicals, sending the profits to his parents and sister. Subsequently the family inherited the small estate of their anceator above mentioned. Butcher attended the ministry of Hugh Worthington, the eloquent Arian of Salters’ Hall, who prepared him for the ministry. He entered Daventry academy, under Thomas Belsham, in 1783, having previously received some classical training from Richard Wright, presbyterian minister at Atherstone. He had been taught the assembly’s catechism, but he says he never gave credence to the trinitarian doctrine, and his studies confirmed him in Arian views. His first settlement was at Sowerby, near Halifax, but he soon removed to London, where Worthington got him temporary engagements at Monkwell Street and Carter Lane. He was ordained 19 March 1789 as successor to Thomas Pope at Leather Lane, Holborn. In this ordination Belsham, who was still reputed orthodox, was associated, for the first time, with Lindsey, the only humanitarian minister in London, and five Arian ministers. While at Leather Lane Butcher took part with others in the Wednesday evening lecture established by Worthington (after 1792) at Salters’ Hall. His feebleness of voice precluded him from popularity, and compelled his retirement from active duty in 1797. Butcher’s lungs recovered tone, and in 1798 he became minister at Sidmouth. Here he remained till 1820, building a house on a piece of ground presented to him by a member of a wealthy Jewish family, who attended his services. Relinquishing all belief in a propitiatory atonement, his views gradually passed from the Arian to the humanitarian form of unitarianism. A paralytic stroke weakened the later years of his ministry, but did not prevent him from preaching. Early in 1821 he went to reside with his son at Bristol, and removed thence in November to Bath. A fall, which dislocated hie hip, confined him to bed. He died on Sunday (his own wish), 14 April 1822, and was buried at Lyncomb Vale, near Bath. A tablet to his memory was placed in the Old Meeting House, Sidmouth. One who knew him describes him as ‘a most lovable man in all respects.’ He married, 6 July 1790, Elzabeth, eldest daughter of John Lawrence, a Shropshire landowner, and widow of Samuel Lowe; she died at Bath 25 Nov. 1831. By