Butt Coat of Arms

The Butt Family in Australia
Tracing the Descendants of George Butt and Stephen Butt

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Journey to Australia

Times were extremely hard in the south of England during the 1830s. Hundreds wandered the countryside looking for work and something to eat. The sheer poverty and hardships drove many thousands to gather together their belongings and emigrate to America and Australia.

Because the Australian Emigration Agent in London had been offering ' free passage to New South Wales' for men and their wives under 30 years, interest in that developing new land was intense.

A handout bill being circulated at that time by the Emigration Agent, stated there was 'an extensive and urgent' demand for carpenters, joiners, stonemasons and cutters, bricklayers, plasterers, blacksmiths, wheelrights, glaziers, agricultural servants, shepherds and gardeners.

Hundreds of families responded to the Bill and their moves were made that much easier following special 'Poor Laws' enacted by King William IV which ensured anyone in need could be given passage to a British Colony.

Edward Macarthur son of merino sheep pioneer John Macarthur of Camden New South Wales, was visiting England around that time, recruiting suitable workers for the Macarthur farms in Australia 1.

Brothers George and Stephen Butt and their families were assisted in their passage to Australia with the help of John West, Rector of Chettle, whilst their bounty was paid with financial assistance from their parish of Winterborne Stickland in Dorset.

Winterborne Stickland, October 14th 1836
I have advanced Twenty Pounds for this family, perhaps some Bounty may be recovered for the children, but the parents are too old, being more than thirty. I have just heard from our overseer that the parish has managed to raise the sum required for the passage of both our immigrants and their families. Stephen Butt is absent but his brother saw him yesterday and agrees that Stephen will consent to your proposal accepting George's family. They will therefore, God willing, join Mr Watts' party and proceed to Cowes at the appointed time. Should you have occasion to write to me or Mr Watts, would you have the kindness to mention if there is an provision in the colony for the sick and aged, and what means of help your people have. I ask this because I hope we have only agreed to make a beginning when we went to the Butts. A married man brother to Stephen Butt with six children has also called with a message from the Hon. Mr Damen expressing a wish that you also be kind enough to let him and his family into N S Wales in the same ship that takes our main party, these men are both valuable steady men and if it is as immigrants beyond an anxious feeling in the substinence of the day for themselves and families. I will with pleasure accept your kind invitation at South Hampton. The parishioners of Stickland have placed 40 Pounds in my hand for the Captain, for George Butt's passage to N S Wales. A very promising young man with 2 children related to Stephen Butt called on me yesterday and expressed a strong desire to join the party, but I thought there was not a chance now of this being engaged by you, unless one of the party already engaged chance be prevented by illness or decline going.

Yours Dear Sir
John West 6

As a gesture of good faith, and to seal the deal, George Butt executed a promissory note in favour of the Macarthurs:

25 Pounds
On demand I promise to pay Edward Macarthur Esquire or his order, Twenty Five Pounds Sterling, Five Pounds of which is to be remitted for every year I pass in his or his brothers' service in New South Wales, the period of my service to commence from the date of my arrival at Sydney.

The Mark of George Butt
Witness: William Churchill, Clerk 6

Preparations were made for departure, and the following instructions were issued by Rev. West:

Instructions by The Rev. John West to the Immigrants to Assemble and to Proceed to the Ship
When the party are called upon to leave their homes and their relatives my wish is, that they all rendezvous at the Chettle Church in the morning at 9 O'clock, attend the morning service at the church, when I would address them, and immediately afterwards they should proceed in covered light waggons, my own and Mr King's the Clergyman from ---- Vale to Ringwood, a distance of about 18 miles from here, when they would stop 3 or 4 hours and partake of light refreshments and then wend their way to Southampton, so as to arrive by seven or eight o'clock the next morning, and go direct by the steam boat to the ship. My promise of seeing the immigrants to the ship gave me so much satisfaction to the parties and relations, that I have a pleasure in fulfilling it.

I remain Dear Sir,
John West 6

Accordingly, George and his wife Charlotte and six children, together with Stephen and his wife Martha, sailed from Southampton aboard the 'Brothers' on 20 November 1836. At the end of a four and a half month voyage, the ship arrived in Sydney on 8 April 1837.

George was described as 'an agricultural labourer' aged 33 years who could read. Charlotte was 34 and could neither read nor write. Their children were Isaac (14), Samuel (12), William (9), Robert (6), Stephen (3) and Caroline (14 months). The elder three could read. Three more children were born in Australia; Joseph in 1838, John in 1840 and James in 1843.

George's brother Stephen was 22 years old when he came to Australia. His wife Martha was 21. Stephen was listed as an 'agricultural labourer', whilst Martha was a 'clerk' 1.


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