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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
John Butler (Senior)

Born: 1810; Died: 1884; Married: Nancy (Ann) Dwyer

John Butler (Snr) was transported to Sydney on the 'Waterloo', arriving in September 1836. He was convicted of a 'fire arms' offence in his native Tipperary. Born in 1810, on arrival he was a widower with a daughter left behind in Ireland, unable to read or write, and described as having been a 'farm servant'.

Initially assigned to George T. Palmer at Bathurst, within a few years he was at Palmerville, Palmer's estate at Ginninderra. He received his ticket of leave in 1844 and was granted a conditional pardon in 1849. Before that however he had been granted permission to marry and married Nancy Ann Dwyer of Yass at St Augustines Roman Catholic Church in Yass on 5 May 1846. They transferred to Yarralumla Station shortly after.

It is believed that they had four children - Patrick (1847), Margaret (1848), John ('Jack') (1855), and Maria (not known). The first three of them, according to the baptismal register, were born at Yarralumla. Patrick, the first son, left the district, and died at an early age. It was John Butler Junior and his wife Euphemia ('Phoebe') Gillespie who carried on the family's interests.

John Butler purchased 100 acres beside the upper reaches of Ginninderra Creek in November 1859 - Portion 2, Parish of Goorooyarooo - and built Malton, the family home. Around that time a number of other smaller landowners purchased land in the Tea Gardens and Mulligans Flat areas of Ginninderra, around the periphery of the Palmerville estate. Among the Butler's neighbours were the Cavanaghs, Gillespies, Rolfes, Boltons and the Crinigans. There were remarkable parallels in the lives of Butler and John Crinigan. Irish convicts, they both arrived in Sydney in 1836 on the 'Waterloo'. Subsequently they both worked for Palmer at Palmerville, and were granted their ticket of leave and conditional pardons at the same time. Then on 2 November 1859 Crinigan bought land adjacent to the Butlers at the same Crown Lands sale in Queanbeyan, and they became neighbours.

Typically, success at farming was marked by further land acquisition. In 1861 Butler was able to acquire the nearby Portion 38 of 88 acres, and fourteen years later (1875) added two intervening Portions (208 and 209) totalling nearly 100 acres. The latter acreage was described in 1876 as 'undulating open forest poorly grassed barren land', and without improvements. Nevertheless, an illiterate, convicted 'farm servant' and his wife and family had created a home and a livelihood at Malton - a (still modest) holding of some 380 acres.

John Butler died in 1884, and his wife Ann in 1895. By that time his son John ('Jack') Butler (also referred to as John Butler Junior) and his wife Phoebe were running the property.

Obituary - Mrs Annie Butler

It is with sincere regret that I have to report the death of another of our old and respected residents in the person of Mrs John Butler Snr, relict of the late Mr John Butler who quietly passed away at the residence of her son Mr John Butler (Junior) of Mulligan's Flat about midday on Friday last. The deceased old lady who was in her 85th year, though at one time a woman of robust constitution, had for the last two or three years been in a rather feeble state of health, death of course being the result of breaking up of the system consequent upon old age.

The late Mrs Butler who was a native of Ireland and possessed all the generous and kindly dispositions so familiar to descendents of her native land, had been a resident of Ginninderra and in adjoining locality for a period of over 50 years and during that long term of residence had won and retained the respect and esteem of all who knew her. Her remains were interred on Sunday in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Queanbeyan to which place they were followed by a large cortege of mourners who desired to pay their last tribute to a good old woman whom most of them had known and esteemed since childhood. [Wizard's Notes Post 14.9.1895]

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