Weeden Butler, the elder (1742–1823) was an English cleric and writer.

Butler was born at Margate on 22 September 1742. Orphaned when still young, he was articled to the attorney Benjamin Rosewell in London, but left the legal profession for the church. He acted as amanuensis to William Dodd, the clerical fraudster, from 1764 till Dodd was hanged in 1777. In 1776 he had succeeded Dodd as morning preacher at Charlotte Street chapel, Pimlico, a fashionable place of worship where he then officiated till 1814.

In 1778 Butler was lecturer of St Clement Eastcheap, and St Martin Orgars; and for more than 40 years he was master of a classical school at Chelsea. Located in Cheyne Walk, the school had pupils including Thomas Butler, son of Pierce Butler.

In 1814 Butler retired to Gayton, Northamptonshire, where he acted as curate to his son till 1820. Then, in poor health, he went at first to the Isle of Wight, next to Bristol, and finally to Greenhill, Harrow, where he died on 14 July 1823. He was chaplain to the Duke of Kent and the Queen’s Volunteers.

Butler’s works were:

  • The Cheltenham Guide, London, 1781 (anon.).
  • Account of the Life and Writings of the Rev. George Stanhope, D.D., Dean of Canterbury, London, 1797, (anon.); on George Stanhope.
  • Memoir of Mark Hildesley, D.D., Bishop of Sodor and Man, London, 1799; on Mark Hildesley.
  • Pleasing Recollections, or a Walk through the British Musæum. An interlude of two acts, British Library Addit. MS. 27276.
  • Poems left in manuscript, including The Syracusan, a tragedy, and Sir Roger de Coverley, a comedy.

Butler assisted his friend James Neild with editorial work. He also prepared editions of John Jortin’s Tracts, 2 vols. 1790, and Joseph Wilcocks’s Roman Conversations, 2 vols. 1797.

He was father of Weeden Butler the younger, and of George Butler, headmaster of Harrow School.



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Isambard Kingdom Brunel

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