Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Butler, Samuel (1774-1839)

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BUTLER, SAMUEL (1774–1839), bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, born at Kenilworth 30 Jan. 1774, was the son of William Butler of that place; was admitted to Rugby 31 March 1783, and entered St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1792. At Cambridge his career was singularly brilliant. He obtained three of Sir William Browne's medals, and in 1793 was elected Craven scholar in competition with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Keate, afterwards head-master of Eton, and Christopher Bethell, afterwards bishop of Bangor. He was a senior optime in the mathematical tripos of 1796, when he proceeded B.A. He carried off the chancellor's medals in 1797, and the member's prizes for 1797 and 1798. He became fellow of St. John's 4 April 1797, and in 1798 was appointed head-master of Shrewsbury School. He held this appointment for thirty-eight years. Although many ecclesiastical benefices were conferred on him within that period, the school occupied most of his attention, and it acquired a very high reputation during his head-mastership, in which he was succeeded by his pupil, Dr. Benjamin Hall Kennedy, in 1836. In 1802 Butler became vicar of Kenilworth, and in 1811 he proceeded D.D. In 1807 he was instituted to a prebend at Lichfield, in 1821 to the archdeaconry of Derby, and in June 1836 (when he left Shrewsbury) to the bishopric of Lichfield and Coventry. In December 1836 the archdeaconry of Coventry was annexed to the see of Worcester, and left Butler bishop of Lichfield. While holding this office Butler suffered much ill-health, but he administered his diocese with great energy, and was popular with his clergy. He died 4 Dec. 1839, and was buried in St. Mary's Church, Shrewsbury. He married in 1798 Harriet, daughter of the Rev. East Apthorp, B.D., vicar of Croydon and rector of St. Mary-le-Bow, by whom he had two daughters, Mary and Harriet, and one son, Thomas. His elder daughter married Edward Bather [q. v.], and his son became rector of Langar.

Butler was the author of many educational works, the chief of which are: 1. An elaborate edition of ‘Æschylus,’ published at the Cambridge University Press in four volumes between 1809 and 1826. 2. ‘A Sketch of Modern and Ancient Geography,’ Shrewsbury, 1813 (and frequently reprinted). 3. ‘An Atlas of Ancient Geography.’ 4. ‘An Atlas of Modern Geography.’ He was also the editor of ‘M. Musuri Carmen in Platonem, Is. Casauboni in Josephum Scaligerum Ode. Accedunt Poemata et Exercitationes utriusque linguæ,’ 1797, he wrote ‘A Praxis on the Latin Prepositions with Exercises,’ 1823; and several sermons, one of them being the funeral ser- mon on Dr. Parr. Butler's library was rich in Aldines, and in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek manuscripts. The latter were purchased for the British Museum, and are now numbered there Addit. MSS. 11828–12117.

[Gent. Mag. 1840, pt. i. 203–5; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl.; Baker's St. John's Coll. (ed. Mayor), i. 311.]

S. L. L.