Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 08.djvu/49
[Wood’s Athenæ (ed. Bliss), iii. 209-10, Fasti, i. 223, 240; Hist. of Hampshire by Woodward, Willis, and Lockhart, iii. 230-2; Fuller’s Worthies; Hawkins’s History of the Music, ed. 1853, p. 574.]
lished a treatise displaying considerable learning on affinity as a bar to marriage. The title of the work is ‘Συγγένεια. De Propinquitate Matrimonium impediente Regula, quæ una omnes quæstionis hujus difficultates facile expediat,’ Oxford, 4to. In 1633 appeared ‘The English Grammar, or the Institution of Letters, Syllables, and Words in the English Tongue. Whereunto is annexed an index of words like and unlike,’ Oxford, 4to; 2nd ed. 1634, Oxford, 4to. The author dwells upon the capriciousness of English orthography (‘neither our new writers agreeing with the old, nor either new nor old among themselves’), and proposes the adoption of a system whereby men should ‘write altogether according to the sound now generally received.’ Butler’s last work was ‘The Principles of Musik in Singing and Setting. With the two-fold vse thereof, Ecclesiasticall and Civil,’ London, 1636, 4to, dedicated to Prince Charles. Hawkins commends this treatise as learned and valuable.
BUTLER, CHARLES (1750-1832), catholic and legal writer, was the son of James Butler, brother of the Rev. Alban Butler [q. v.], author of the ‘Lives of the Saints,’ and was descended from the ancient family of the Butlers of Aston-le-Walls, Northamptonshire. James Butler settled in London and carried on the business of a linendraper at the sign of the Golden Ball in Pall Mall. There Charles Butler was born on 14 Aug. 1750. In his sixth year he was sent to a catholic school at Hammersmith, kept by a Mr. Plunkett. He remained there three years, and was then sent to Esquerchin, a school dependent on the English college at Douay, to which college, after three years, he was removed. He continued his studies to the end of rhetoric. About 1766 he returned to England, and in 1769 began the study of the law under Mr. Maire, a catholic conveyancer. On the decease of that gentleman he was placed under the care of Mr. Duane, a catholic conveyancer of much greater eminence. Here he formed a close friendship with John Scott, afterwards Lord Eldon, who, after attaining to legal eminence, did not forget his old fellow-student. In 1775 Butler set up in business for himself, and entered at Lincoln’s Inn. At this period a catholic could not be called to the bar nor hold any official position. In these circumstances Butler commenced practice under the bar as a conveyancer, which department of the profession was then becoming particularly celebrated and counted among its members Fearne, Booth, Duane, Shadwell, and others nearly as famous. For many years he was in the full swing of practice, and he was at the head of his profession as a landed property lawyer and a conveyancer until his seventy-fifth year, when he experienced a decay in his sight, and his business considerably declined. He had numerous pupils and he took delight in making the fortunes of all the young barristers who studied under him. While he was drawing deeds, writing opinions, and delivering dicta to his pupils, he was editing ‘Coke upon Littleton,’ in conjunction with Mr. Hargrave, or composing some literary work. He would steal from his home, even in midwinter, at four in the morning, taking his lantern, lighting the fire in his chamber, and setting doggedly to work till breakfast-time. The whole of the day afterwards was given to the ordinary routine of business.
In the 31st George III, c. 32, an act passed for the relief of the catholics, a clause was inserted (§ 6), as it was understood by the instrumentality of Lord Eldon, the solicitor-general, for dispensing with the necessity of a barrister taking the oath of supremacy or the declaration against transubstantiation. Soon after the passing of this statute Butler availed himself of its provisions, and in 1791 he was called to the bar, being the first catholic barrister since the revolution of 1688. He took this degree rather for the sake of the rank than with any intention of going into court, and he never argued any case at the bar, except the celebrated one of ‘Cholmondeley v. Clinton’ before Sir Thomas Plumer and the House of Lords. His argument is printed at great length in the reports of Merivale and of Jacob and Walker. In 1832 the lord chancellor (Brougham) informed him that, if he chose to accept a silk gown, he was desirous of giving it to him, and he was accordingly called within the bar and made a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn. He took the honour, however, without any view to practice, and he never appeared in court except on the day on which he received his rank, when the lord chancellor departed from the common rule and complimented him on his advancement. This honour was thrown open to him by the catholic relief act.
Butler acted as secretary to the committees formed for promoting the abolition of the penal laws. The first of these committees was appointed in 1782 at a general meeting of the English catholics. It consisted of five members, all laymen; it was to continue