Sunday, 12 August 2012

Laurence Butler- Ch. 25: DNA genealogical testing, and Conclusion



The newly developing science of genealogical Y-DNA matching will probably gain momentum in the coming years and may play an important role in unraveling these family tree mysteries and help with matching family links. It may also pose new unanswerable genealogical questions as well. DNA can provide information about our ancestor's migratory paths through thousands of years as well as individual descent from one's forefathers. The same DNA markers are handed down from generation to generation for hundreds even thousands of years, with occasional mutations of individual markers in the DNA profile. A recent example was the use of DNA matching to identify the remains of King Richard III whose bones were found in a carpark in Leicester. Also the remains of the Russian Imperial family, murdered by the Bolshevics in 1917, were identified using Prince Philip's DNA (through his mother) and the Y-DNA of a Russian Count living in France. Two types of DNA testing were used in these cases- Y-DNA passed down through the male line (from father to son) and Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) passed down through the female line (although mtDNA is passed from the mother to both male and female children, only the female child can pass it onto her children). 
The mtDNA of Richard III matched two living relatives of eldest sister Anne of York who held a rare additional genetic variant, which carried down through the female line. 

DNA is the only genealogical record that is absolute proof of one's true heritage, and combined with the traditional genealogical paper trail, it promises an exciting future in family research. Research estimates there is a 1-3% rate of false paternity per generation.
Y-DNA is passed down from father to son, as only the male child inherits the Y chromosome from his father. And it is through the Y-DNA tests that Surname genealogical groups can be set up such as the Butler Surname Y-DNA Project. This project aims to try and sort out the different origins of Butlers, such as the varied Butler family groupings with origins in Ireland and England, worked out by the late Lord Patrick Dunboyne, as seen on the Butler Society website. (http://
and - Butler Surname Project

Surnames were established in Britain about 700 years ago, and the correlation between Y chromosome type and surname is complicated by several factors. Common surnames named after occupations, such as Smith, Butler, Carpenter, Cooper, Weaver, Cook, etc., or from patronyms such as Johnson, Jackson, Williamson, Williams, etc., had been founded independently more than once and have relatively large numbers of founders. This will result in more than one Y type being associated with a given surname. Non-paternity events, the adoption of male children, the tradition of the servant classes of taking their master's name, the husband or son of a sole heiress taking her surname for inheritance purposes, and deliberate name change will have the same consequence. Genetic drift, known as 'daughtering out', can lead to the extinction of some Y chromosome lineages, and is responsible for the complete extinction of some British surnames, and consequently can lead to the increase in the frequency of other lineages within the surname groups.
At this point, the Butler Surname Project bears this out, as there is no single lineage standing out as predominant in the Y-DNA results, and subsequently there are a large number of unrelated Butler lineages showing up.
It should also be remembered that, at ten generations back, an individual has up to 1024 unique ancestors, and a Y-DNA test is only studying one of those ancestors.

DNA also determines our deep ancestry, viz. from where our ancient ancestors originated. The ancient migratory paths of ancestors out of Africa, tens of thousands of years ago, have been grouped into HAPLO groups.


All the world's peoples are divided into ancestral groups called 'haplogoups', using their DNA code.
A Haplogroup is defined as a genetic population group of people, or, a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor on the patrilineal or matrilineal line;
and a haplotype is defined as a group of genes or a set of DNA variations which is inherited together by a single parent.
It is like a pedigree chart of the different clans of humans throughout the world.

The earliest haplogroups were found in Africa. As people moved away from Africa and crossed into Asia and Europe and then spread further into the Americas, Australasia, etc, they developed unique mutations in their genetic code that would give rise to the various human clans worldwide, dating back tens of thousands of years ago. A new haplogroup is formed when a specific new mutation occurs in a chromosome of an individual, and all descendants carry that mutation. 

The different haplogroups worldwide have been assigned a letter of the alphabet, and refinements consist of additional number and letter combinations eg. Haplogroup 'R' can be divided into R1a and R1b, and further R1b1b1a…; and Haplogroup 'I' can be divided into I1 and I2 etc. 
With each mutation, called a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, or 'SNP' for short, a subgroup or subclade of the original haplogroup begins a new haplogroup. As more and more haplogroups are rapidly being discovered as more SNP's downstream are discovered, the old letter numbering system is becoming unwieldly and will probably change, and may give way to the label of the lowest branch, or terminal SNP, to identify one's haplogroup, eg. Haplogroup 'I- L813' means original haplogroup 'I' (originating in northern Europe around 25,000 years ago) and subclade terminal SNP 'L813' which indicates a single ancestor with a unique mutation living about 1700 years ago in Norway. This subclade will be further refined as more SNP's are discovered 'downstream' of L813, and the time-frame of the most recent ancient ancestor is reduced further, giving rise to a new terminal SNP.

To understand these different groupings, one would need to read some of the numerous online articles on this subject. Suffice to say that the most common Haplogroups for western European ancestry fall into the Haplogroups and R and their subclades.
Haplogroup I  (I1 and I 2is of 100% European origin and represents nearly one-fifth of the European population, whereas the R1b haplogroup which represents the majority of Western Europeans, is Eurasian/Indo-European and believed to have originated in West Asia/India.

Estimates of the age of Haplogroup I suggests it arose prior to the last Glacial Maximum (approx. 25,000 years ago), and is the oldest Haplogroup in Europe, having arrived from the Middle East as haplogroup IJ sometime between 40,000 and 30,000 years ago. There are two main subgroups, I1-M253 (Scandinavian origin) and I2-M438 (Central and SE Europe origin).

 I1-M253 is estimated to have branched off and dispersed from the area of the northern Germany area below the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark, possibly about 5,000 years ago.
I1 would have been the first to penetrate into Scandinavia during the farming transition that lasted from about 4,200 to 2,300 BC.
The largest concentration of those from the I1 Haplogroup appear in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden (particularly Gotland) and Norway, and to a lesser extent in parts of Finland, northern Germany, Poland, the Low Countries (Netherlands, Belgium), Britain, Ireland, France, Switzerland, the Baltic countries, parts of Russia, and the Balkans.
The Haplotree for the Y-DNA Haplogroup I and its subclades, as of 2016, produced by ISOGG (International Society for Genetic Genealogists) can be seen at:
The remainder of western and central Europe, Britain, and Ireland are concentrated in the R1b Haplogroup. As Britain, peopled by the early Celts and Britons, was invaded by Romans, Angles, Saxons, Danes, Vikings and Normans, the majority of those of long British heritage are a mixture of the two Haplogroups, with R1b (and its subgroups) the most common, and I1 found in greater numbers in the Danelaw settlement areas of Great Britain, and around York and Eastern Scotland, and in parts of SE Ireland including Dublin which were subject to Viking and Norman invasion. The Celtic regions of Wales, SW England, Ireland and Scotland have a high percentage of people in the R1b Haplogroup.

The following website gives information on the breakdown of Haplogroups within Europe, based on the limited number of tests that have so far been analysed for each area (constantly updated as the number of tests increase):

Migratory map out of Africa showing the routes of Haplo group I  (l1, l2b, I2a) and R
(http:// www

How are Recent and Ancient Ancestry determined, and what are STR and SNP mutations?

As mentioned, Y-DNA is only present in males and is passed down from father to son, as only the male child inherits the Y chromosome from his father, and this information can reveal information on the patrilineal line and determine one’s ancestral roots. The Y chromosome is passed down almost completely unchanged, although changes or mutations occur every couple of generations and those mutations are also passed on, giving each male lineage a unique signature.
There are two types of mutations: the more frequent STR, and the rare SNP mutation, and these are explained in more detail below.

Human DNA consists of about 3 million bases and more than 99% of those bases are the same in all people.
In the nucleus of each cell, the DNA molecule is packed into thread-like structures called chromosomes. Each chromosome is made up of DNA, containing thousands of genes which contain the instructions for our individual characteristics. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes: 22 pairs of numbered chromosomes, and one pair of sex chromosomes, X and Y. Each parent contributes one chromosome to each pair so that offspring get half of their chromosomes from their mother and half from the father. Males have one X and one Y chromosome, while females have two X chromosomes.

Your genome is made of DNA which contains four basic building blocks or ‘bases’.
In scientific terms, the chemical structure of DNA consists of four nitrogenous bases: Adenin (A), Thymine (T), Guanine (G) and Cytosine (C).
DNA bases pair up with each other, A with T, and C with G to form units called base pairs. Each base is also attached to a sugar molecule and a phosphate molecule, which together are called a nucleotide.

A DNA strand is a string of Nucleotides joined together, and the Nucleotides are then arranged in two long strands that twist around one another, joining together to make base pairs, and form a spiral called a double helix, looking like a ladder with the base pairs forming the ladder’s rungs, and they only pair up in a specific way- A only pairs with T, and G pairs only with C. Each strand has a backbone made of alternating groups of sugar and phosphate groups.

The order of these bases is what determines DNA's instructions or genetic code, and the entire human genome contains about 20,000 genes.

A Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, or SNP mutation is a single, small change in your DNA code. A SNP happens when a single base pair by mistake is replaced to another type of base pair. This mutation is then inherited down to all male descendants of the man in whom it first occurred. This type of mutation on a single position in Y-DNA is very, very rare and seldom changes back. It points to a certain individual as your paternal ancestor, although his name, exact lifetime and location remain unknown. The more people who have SNPs tested within a group will eventually lead to more accurate estimates as to when and where he must have lived.

A STR is a 'short tandem repeat', ie. a place in your DNA code where a letter sequence in a single strand is repeated, eg. AGTAAGTAAGTA is three repeats of the sequence AGTA. STR's have a much faster mutation rate, and when they change, it is an increase or decrease in the number of repeats. STR values change back more commonly, and can occur every couple of generations , passing on to male descendants.

Y-DNA testing involves the STR (short tandem repeat), and sometimes, SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) testing of the Y-chromosome. These tests can provide insight into the recent (via STRs) and ancient (via SNPs) genetic ancestry.

A Y-chromosome STR test (of several markers) will reveal the ‘haplotype’, which should be similar among all the direct male descendants of a male ancestor.

SNP tests are used to assign people to a patrilineal Haplogroup, which defines a much larger genetic population.

Mutation acts to diversify the Y chromosome types associated with a particular surname, but its impact is relatively predictable. The mutation rates of SNPs are low, so, within the time-frame of surnames in most populations, the widely typed SNPs are not expected to undergo mutations. As they only occur once in maybe 1000-2000 years or more, this can help sort out our deep ancestry of thousands of years past.
By contrast, STRs mutate rapidly, so mutations are relatively likely to be observed in that surname time-frame (ie. 700 years), and even within a few generations, with some markers  having faster mutation rates than others and are more likely to change within the genealogical time frame of 15 generations (500 years) or less.

The following example illustrates the difference between SNP’s and STR’s:

Example of STR and SNP mutations in a single DNA strand of nucleotides

STR mutation- When reading the Y-DNA chromosome above, the number of repeats of ‘CTA’ is recorded as a STR marker value, for example, the marker  DYSxxx =5 repeats for Male 1; DYSxxx=6 for Male 2; and DYSxxx=7 for Male 3.
This change, or mutation, in the numbers of repeats can occur in any generation. 
Short tandem repeats’-STR’s (or 'microsatellites'), are tandemly repeated sequences of a repeating unit of 1 to 4 ‘nucleotides’ long. The number of times the unit is repeated in a given STR can be highly variable, a characteristic that makes them useful as genetic markers, widely used for kinship analysis. STR’s occur at thousands of locations in the human genome and they are notable for their high mutation rate and high diversity in the population.

STR markers are usually identified with DYS and a three digit number eg. DYS393. The D stands for DNA, the Y stands for the Y chromosome, and the S stands for ‘a unique segment’.  (A few markers are identified differently, eg. CDY, Y-GATA-H4, YCAII, etc.)
STR’s that have faster changing mutation rates are: DYS385, DYS439, DYS458, DYS449, DYS464, DYS456, DYS576, DYS570, CDY, DYS413, DYS557, DYS481, and DYS446.

The SNP mutation occurs between Male 1 and Male 2 with ‘A’ instead of ‘T in the sequence. If Male 1 was the original lineage with a marker of T following GTAC, then Male 2 has the SNP mutation of A and will be the ancestor of a new lineage, or his descendant, ( Male 3 descends from the same ancestor as Male 2, with a STR mutation of 7 repeats of CTA instead of 6). That ‘nucleotide’ mutation or genetic variation, may remain unchanged for many hundreds or even thousands of years before another SNP mutation occurs. Male 1 is classed as a different subclade than Males 2 and 3.

Haplogroups and Subclades making up a Haplotree

Haplogroups can be further divided into subgroups, called subclades, as defined by a change in a SNP, each with their own branches of SNP changes, which narrows down a place and time when the original ancestor of one’s particular lineage lived. They refer to these branches as a mutation occurring “downstream” from the line of descent - eg., in the I1-M253, or M253+ tree, - the DF29 and Z131 SNPs are two different branches of the I1- M253 tree; DF29 has further branches, and so on, reducing the time-frame of a shared ancestor, and predicted place of migration.
Further SNP divisions are being discovered all the time, so the Haplotree continues to evolve.

Genetic tree of I1-M253, as of 2016 (ISOGG)

Each branch in the tree is a SNP mutation that has divided a subgroup or subclade, which has occurred over a time span of thousands of years.
Laurence Butler’s proven haplogroup and subclades on this tree are marked in red.

One of Laurence Butler's male descendants has done a Y-DNA test (111 STR markers tested) and his Haplogroup (deep ancestral roots) was confirmed as belonging  to the  I Haplogroup, I1 subclade, confirmed by the Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, ie. SNPs (mutations), known as M253, DF29, CTS6364, L22, Z74 and L813.
Males belonging to Haplogroup I1 can take individual SNP tests to check for the  M253  SNP mutations to further narrow down deep ancestry. Laurence’s descendant has had individual SNPs tested to confirm his ancestral roots.

Haplogroup Geographical Origins

Haplogroup ‘I’, subclade I1, geographically, is highly concentrated in Nth Germany, Denmark, Sth Norway and Sth Sweden.
A new study in 2015 estimated the origin of I1-M253  between 3,470 to 5,070 years ago or between 3,180 to 3,760 years ago, using two different techniques. It is suggested that it initially dispersed from the area that is now Jutland in Denmark and Holstein in adjacent NW Germany, although the Haplo I expert Dr. Ken Nordvedt, has now suggested that I1 possibly originated in the ancient Old Prussia territory, or Pomerania (a region on the Baltic Sea split between Germany and Poland). The Danish and Norwegian Vikings brought I1 to Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Normandy, Flanders, and Iberia (Spain, Portugal, Andorra) in the 9th and 10th centuries.
However, there is still great debate on the estimated ages of these subclades. The names of subclades continually change as new markers are discovered which clarify the sequence of branchings of the I tree. Subclade Z74 is one such recently identified subclade.

Subclades L22+ and the later Z74 are Norse, founders having lived up in Scandinavia. Z74 is further divided into the L287 branch which is predominantly Finnish (using SNP CTS2208 to confirm or negate), and L813 which spread NW into Norway and via the Vikings into Britain, SE Ireland, and the Nth Netherlands area, and probably the Normandy area. This was estimated to be in the period about 1500 to 1700 years ago. It has been observed that Haplogroup I decreases in Britain when moving east to west, influenced by the Danish Vikings settling in the Danelaw areas of the eastern counties, and that the Norwegian Viking invaders influenced the northern  area of Britain around York, and including mainland Scotland in the east.

HAPLOGROUP PROJECT PARTICIPATION: ( use ‘Find’ function for Kit ‘294887’)

refer to “I haplogroup, subclade I1 Project”- 
Laurence Butler placed in group: ‘I1- L22  L813   (L22+, Z74+ CT9346+, L813+)’

and the “I1d-L22 Project”:
Laurence Butler placed in group: ‘L22 and Z74+’

and the “Viking and Invader YDNA Project”:
Laurence Butler placed in group: ‘I1-DF29+, CTS6364+, CTS10028+, L22+, Z2338+, Z74+ ,L813+ -NORWEGIAN CLADE (suggest try Y5153 & Y5474)

(Also see "Ireland YDNA Project"
about page 12 of 14- Group 18a:  I1-L22)

How Haplogroups and subclades have specific STR marker values in common

The human genome is full of repeated DNA sequences coming in various sizes.
The Y-DNA test creates a Y-DNA signature or haplotype using the Y-chromosome  STR Markers, which can be compared with the Y-DNA signature of others.
All men with the I1- M253 Y-chromosome SNP share a common ancestor, and all of their STR markers can be expected to be in a range around that of their forefather.

The 111 STR markers of Laurence Butler’s descendant can be seen in the STR results chart below. Each STR marker is numbered, eg. DYS 393, and given a value of repeats, eg. 13.

Certain STR Markers (and their ‘repeat values’) indicate belonging specifically to the I1 Haplogroup.
Varieties of I1 have been defined by Dr. Ken Nordtvedt based on STR haplotypes:

DYS455 = repeat value 8, is virtually exclusive to I1Most males have a value of 11 at this marker and the deletion to 8 is believed to have taken place about 5000 years ago. (Laurence’s descendant’s TEST= 8)

DYS511 has a value of 10 in Norse and Ultra-Norse varieties, but have a value of 9 in Anglo Saxon varieties. (descendant’s TEST=10)

DYS462 is similarly useful- value 13 in Norse, and value 12 in Anglo-Saxon varieties. (descendant's TEST= 13)

YCAII is universally 19, 21 for I1  (descendant's TEST= 19, 21)

DYS388 = value 14 (Test=14)

DYS437 = value16  (Test=16)

The website, is worth reading for information on the history of this haplogroup.

Grouping by STR:
All Germanic tribes expanded from a small geographic core around Denmark and Southern Sweden. STR variations allow the division of  I1 members into various categories.
There are two main clusters, each with their own subgroups:

peaking in Norway, Sweden and Finland, which corresponds to the I1a2 (L22+) subclade, normally has an STR value greater than 22 for DYS390 (descendant's TEST= 23)
-the NORSE group corresponds to Ken Nordtvedt’s Norse (mostly Swedish, and smaller quantities in Finland, Norway and Denmark) and ULTRA-NORSE (mostly Norwegian and Icelandic, smaller quantities in Sweden and Denmark) haplotypes:
STR's: DYS 390 greater than 22 (Test =23); DYS 511 greater than 9 (Test =10); DYS617 less or equal 13 (Test=13);  DYS 462 =13 (Test 13) 
The Ultra-Norse haplotype I (ie. I1-uN1) differs from the Norse by having DYS385b=15 and usually DYS449=29  (descendant's TEST: DYS385=13-14; DYS449=28); DYS19=14 (Test=14); DYS 390 =23 (Test =23), DYS 385=14-15 (Test =13,14), DYS462=13 (Test= 13)
 -The BOTHNIAN group is found mostly in Finland and NE Sweden, bordering the Gulf of Bothnia. Western Finland STR's: DYS390 greater than 22 (Test=23); DYS511 less or equal 9 (Test=10); DYS 462=13 (Test=13) ; DYS458 less or equal 15 (Test =16); DYS439=10, (Test=11) DYS385= 14,14 (Test= 13,14) DYS464d=15 (Test=16)

mostly in Denmark, Germany, the Low Countries and the British Isles.
-The Danish/Polish group usually has a DYS557 value greater than 15 (descendant's TEST= 15)
-The Western Group/Anglo-Saxon, comprising the Low Countries, England, Scotland, and Ireland, matches the Z58+ subclade. It probably matches Anglo-Saxon and Frisian/Batavian ancestry (notably marked by DYS 511=9; DYS462 =12; descendant’s Test =10, 13). There appears to be a specific Welsh subgroup defined by a GATA-H4 value superior or equal to 11 (descendant's TEST=10)
-The German group is the most common type of I1 in Germany, France, Italy and Central Europe, but is also found in the British Isles and to a lower extent in Scandinavia. It is defined by a DYS456 value inferior to 15. It corresponds to the Z63+ subclade(descendant's TEST= 14)

NB. DYS462 and DYS511 are two markers that mutate very rarely.

Refer to the  'I haplogroup, subclade I1 Project'

The L22+/Norse/ultra Norse subclades have also been given a further breakdown, with the predicted time of the most recent common ancestor:
M253-uN1315 (ultra-Norse 13 15)- about 3500 years (the first to carry the mutation known as I1)
L22-N (Norse)- about 3000 years ago (I1-L22 Norse was born- the first to carry the mutation known as I1d- ie DYS462=13, DYS 511 =10)
L22-NuN14 (Norse ultra-Norse)- about 2750 years ago
L22-uN1 (ultra-Norse type 1)- about 2550 years ago (now concentrated in Sweden)
L22-uN2 (ultra-Norse type 2)- about 1570 years ago (now concentrated in Norway)
L22-uN9 (ultra-Norse type 9)- about 1800 years ago (now concentrated in Sweden)
L22-uN9a (ultra-Norse type 9a)- about 1450 years ago (now concentrated in Sweden)
L22-Bothnian- about 1850 years ago- still have the value 9 for DYS511 (now concentrated in Sweden/Finland)

Laurence Butler’s Deep Ancestral Origins

The test results of Laurence Butler's descendant, are listed in this 'I Haplogroup, subclade I1 Project', and the ‘I1d-L22 Project’. They have determined, from his STR values, that he is in the I1- M253- DF29- CTS6364- L22,  Z74+, L813 subclade (see above).
His subsequent SNP test of Z74 was positive, confirming the above prediction, and his subsequent SNP test for L813 was also positive.

The L22+ subclade is from the Northern Cluster- Norse group. 
The website, has the following explanation of the subclade L22:
L22+ is the main Nordic subclade. It is also very common in Britain, especially on the east coast where the Vikings settled most heavily, in the Low Countries and Normandy (also doubtlessly the heritage of the Danish Viking), as well as in Poland and Russia (Swedish Vikings). The L22 subclade is further divided into P109+ (all regions settled by the Danish Vikings), L205+ (mostly limited to the Low Countries, France and Britain), L300+ (almost exclusively southern Finland), and the Z74 branch divides into L287 (predominantly Bothnian- test CTS2208) and L813 (predominantly Scandinavian- common in southern Norway, and in Britain and northern Netherlands, but not Germany)
NB. Descendant’s SNP test for CTS2208, downstream from Z74, proved negative, which therefore discounts Bothnian/Finnish ancestry) 
Descendant's SNP test for L813, downstream from Z74, proved positive.

In the ISOGG Y-DNA Haplogroup I and its subclades tree, Laurence’s descendant is given the following Haplogroup subclade identity: 
I1a1b3b  (L813/S436/Z719)

 (NB. ‘SNP L813’ determined by a SNP mutation in Y chromosome position 7719777 from an ancestral base A changing to a new ancestral base G, about 1570 years ago, found in L22- ultra Norse people)

Conclusion on the ancient ancestry of Laurence Butler
The above information indicates that Laurence’s descendant comes from the Northern Cluster of Norse haplotypes (I1-L22, Z74+, L813), and L22- uN2 (ultra Norse type 2 with a common recent ancestor of about 1570 years ago), which means Laurence and his descendants are probably of Norwegian Viking heritage.

Interestingly, the first of the Butler line in Ireland was Theobald Walter, and Theobald’s grandfather Hervey and father Hervey Walter were granted lands in Weeton, Lancashire and also held lands in East Anglia, Norfolk & Suffolk in 1130 which are in the Danelaw areas. The name 'Hervey', derived from the French 'Herve', arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is a name of ancient Norman or Breton origin, from the Breton given name Haerviu, meaning 'battle worthy'.
Hervey the elder (no surnames in England at this point) is supposed to have been a Norman, and to have accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066.
The Normans first settled in the area of France named Normandy in around 918 by the leader of a group of  Viking settlers, named Rollo (c.846-c.932), who supposedly came from a noble warrior family of Scandinavia. Legends say that Rollo sailed off to Scotland, Ireland, England and Flanders on pirating expeditions before settling on Frankish soil in the valley of the lower Seine. The King of West Francia ceded them lands between the mouth of the Seine and the city of Rouen in return for protection against further incursion by Norse bands. This became the Duchy of Normandy which was ruled by Rollo’s descendants. William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and King of England, was 3x great grandson of Rollo, and his many Norman followers were mostly descendants of this original Viking band. With permission of French authorities, the bones of Rollo's grandson and great grandson were recently dug up (March 2016) from their sarcophagus tomb in the floor of a monastery in Fecamp, and their teeth will be DNA tested by Norwegian and Danish forensic researchers to determine if Rollo was of Norwegian or Danish ancestry, and thereby settle a long-time dispute about his origin. Refer to article in:
UPDATE: DNA tests have resulted in an unexpected result- the bones proved to be much older than the two descendants of Rollo, and are possibly Roman.

However, not all of William’s followers were necessarily Normans. The historian, Gwyn Jones ['History of the Vikings'] makes it clear that: although Danes formed the bulk of Rollo's band, there were Anglo-Danes from the Danelaw amongst them, some Hiberno-Norse, a few Swedes and a small Norwegian contingent that allegedly settled the Cotentin (peninsula on NW coast of France extending into the English Channel towards Great Britain, near the Channel Islands) in the 9th and 10th centuries. Duke William recruited from the whole of northern France with some outliers. The bulk of his invasion force of 1066 were 'native Norman' but these men would not be Scandinavian on all lines due to intermarriage with women of the Gallo-Frankish culture. The second largest contingents were from Flanders and Brittany. Other areas of recruitment were Ile De France, Gascony etc. The invasion force of 1066 was, far from being 'Danish', something of a mixed Celto-Germanic bag- native Normans, Bretons, Flemings, Franks, Gascons etc.

During the 9th century, Ireland was attacked by Viking raids and a Viking longport (Viking ship enclosure along rivers, or a shore fortress) was established at Dublin. Most of the early raiders came from the fjords of western Norway, under the leadership of Olaf and his kinsman Ivar. They entered into alliances with various Irish rulers. Their descendants were forced to leave Dublin in 902, but remained active around the Irish Sea. A new Viking fleet appeared in Waterford Harbour in 914 and another near Leixlip in Leinster, and regained control of Dublin. Some of these were Danish Vikings. A more intensive period of settlement in Ireland began, with Viking longports established at Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick which became the first large towns in Ireland, and they founded many other coastal towns. Wexford in pre-Norman times was part of the Kingdom of Uí Cheinnselaig, with its capital at Ferns. The first recorded raid by the Vikings in Co. Wexford occurred in 819, and in 835 Ferns was plundered. In 839 and 919 Ferns was burned by the Vikings. At least as early as 888, the Vikings had established a separate settlement of some sort at Wexford Town, known then as Loch Garman by the Irish, and in 919 "the foreigners of Loch Garman" are mentioned, and again in 1088. The original separate Viking settlement was named 'Waesfjord' by the Vikings (meaning 'inlet or fjord of the mudflats', in old Norse language). The two separate settlements eventually merged to become Wexford Town.
After several generations of coexistence and intermarriage, a group of mixed Irish and Norse ethnic background arose, which shows in the DNA evidence in some residents of these coastal cities, particularly in Wexford, to this day.

Laurence Butler’s Norse DNA ancestry could be attributed to either of the above scenarios- as a direct descendant of Theobald Walter, a Norman knight who arrived in Co. Wexford in Leinster when King Henry II invaded in 1171, and was granted the hereditary title 'Chief Butler of Ireland', hence the origin of the surname 'le Botelier' or 'Butler' in Ireland; or a direct descendant of one of the Viking settlers in Leinster, particularly Wexford, dating back to the 9th or 10th centuries, and having acquired the Butler surname, possibly through a marriage alliance, sometime down the centuries that followed. 

Laurence Butler's 'Recent Ancestry' and Y-DNA Haplotype Signature

To prove that the results of the Y-DNA test done on the descendant of Laurence Butler makes up Laurence Butler's Y-DNA haplotype signature, a Y-DNA test was conducted on a descendant of each of Laurence Butler's two sons, viz. Walter Butler (b. 1807 Sydney, to Mary Ann Fowles) and Lawrence Butler Junior (b.1812 Sydney, to Ann Roberts).

These Y-DNA results can be viewed on the Butler Surname Y-DNA Project  website at:  under the name of ancestor Laurence Butler b.1750 Wexford, Ire. Scroll down to Haplogroup I - Lineage XI 

The Y-DNA tests were conducted by Family Tree DNA at , and specifically, the Butler Surname Project Y-DNA tests linked with Family Tree DNA, (which offer a discount):

The descendant of Walter Butler (by 1st wife Margaret Dunn) had 111 STR markers tested and is 7th generation down from Laurence Senior; and the descendant of Lawrence Butler Junior (by 1st wife Catherine Gorman) had 67 STR markers tested, and is also 7th generation.

The test results for various levels show that the two descendants match exactly for the first 25 markers; for 36 out of 37 markers; and for 64 out of 67 markers, with three mutations, which is defined as a Genetic Distance of 3; and they have the same HAPLO group ( I1- M253).

Historically, it should also be taken into account that when Walter (b.1807) and Lawrence Jnr (b.1812) were born, the colony of New South Wales had a population of only a few thousand, many of whom lived outside of Sydney, whereas Laurence Butler Snr lived in Sydney. This small population statistic can be further divided by gender, age, and class status viz. convict, emancipated convict, free settler, military, or government official. Both sons were named and recognised as Laurence Butler’s sons in his Will of 1820. So this further confirms that Laurence Butler Senior was undoubtedly the biological father of Walter and Lawrence Junior.
'Familytreedna' interprets the criteria for Genetic Distance at 67 Y-Chromosome STR markers, when two men share a surname:
A Genetic Distance of 3 or 4 are related- 63/67 or 64/67 match between two men who share the same surname (or a variant) means that they are likely to share a common ancestor within the genealogical time frame. The common ancestor is probably not extremely recent but is likely within the range of most well-established surname lineages in Western Europe.
The 'Genealogical Time Frame' is the most recent one to fifteen generations. 
'Recent genealogical times' are the last one to five generations.
A Genetic Distance of 1 or 2 are tightly related- 65/67 or 66/67 match between two men who share the same surname (or a variant) indicates a close relationship (within one to five generations). It is most likely that they matched 36/37 or 37/37 on a previous Y-DNA test. Very few people achieve this close level of a match.

In the case of these two descendants,  7th generation down from Laurence Butler is not classed as within the ‘recent genealogical time-frame of 5 generations’, which accounts for one extra marker variation, viz. 64 out of 67, in that time-frame. Notably, all three marker changes were in fast changing STR’s (DYS570, DYS557 and DYS446).
The Y-DNA match plus the matching genealogy, proves beyond doubt that Walter and Lawrence Junior were true blood brothers, and both sons of Laurence Butler Senior. As a result, both of these Y-DNA test results are grouped together in the Butler Surname Project in Haplogroup I-  Lineage XI.

The Y-DNA tests therefore provide us with Laurence Butler's Y-DNA haplotype signature for 67 markers, plus the probable haplotype for the remaining markers between 67 and 111 (with the possibility of some further mutations occurring in one or two of the remaining markers, noting that some markers are more prone to mutations than others). Only an upgrade to a 111 marker test of the second descendant, or of another descendant, would prove if there are any further mutations. The testing of these two descendants of Laurence's two sons by two different women, is a rather rare and unusual scientific study, providing absolute proof of the Y chromosome haplotype of a man, born in 1750 living more than  260 years ago, and where the paper trail of descent matches the Y-DNA evidence.

Y-DNA Test results of descendant of Walter Butler, for 111 STR markers:

 Micro Allele marker DYS710: this is a high frequency mutating Y-STR that is very useful for near range/family genealogical studies. Micro Alleles = part of a repeat for an STR is lost.
eg. if you are 33.2 and a cousin is 33.1, or 33.3, you can determine that the mutation occurred with either your father or your cousin's father)

Markers DYS19 ** (value 14), and DYS389II*** (value 28) notably have red stars against them:
DYS19** - is also known as DYS394
DYS389II***- the Family Tree DNA and the National Geographic Genographic Project report DYS389II differently

Y-DNA Haplotype Test results of descendant of Lawrence Butler Jnr for 67 markers:

NB. STR markers marked in Red differ in value to test of Descendant 1, viz. DYS570 (20-19), DYS557 (15-16) and DYS446 (13-12)

Laurence Butler’s confirmed haplotype signature is:

STR Markers (FTDNA)
Panel 1 (1-12)
DYS393 - 13
DYS390 - 23
DYS19 – 14  (also =DYS394)
DYS391 - 10
DYS385 - 13-14
DYS426 - 11
DYS388 - 14
DYS439 - 11
DYS389I - 12
DYS392 - 11
DYS389II - 28

Panel 2 (13-25)
DYS458 - 16
DYS459 - 8-9
DYS455 - 8
DYS454 - 11
DYS447 - 23
DYS437 - 16
DYS448 - 20
DYS449 - 28
DYS464 - 12-14-14-16

Panel 3 (26-37)
DYS460 - 10
Y-GATA-H4 - 10
YCAII - 19-21
DYS456 - 14
DYS607 - 14
DYS576 - 17
DYS570 –
20 or 19 (mutation change in value)
CDY - 36-38
DYS442 - 12
DYS438 - 10

Panel 4 (38-47)
DYS531 - 11
DYS578 - 8
DYF395S1 - 15-15
DYS590 - 8
DYS537 - 11
DYS641 - 10
DYS472 - 8
DYF406S1 - 9
DYS511 - 10

Panel 4 (48-60)
DYS425 - 12
DYS413 – 24-24
DYS557 –
15 or 16 (mutation change in value)
DYS594 - 10
DYS436 - 12
DYS490 - 12
DYS534 - 15
DYS450 - 8
DYS444 - 14
DYS481 - 25
DYS520 - 20
DYS446 –
13 or 12 (mutation change in value)

Panel 4 (61-67)
DYS617 - 13
DYS568 - 11
DYS487 - 12
DYS572 - 11
DYS640 - 11
DYS492 - 12
DYS565 – 11

The following markers are identified from one test only, and need to be confirmed from a second descendant’s test result to see if any mutations have occurred.

Panel 5 (68-75)
DYS710 – 33 (see Micro Allelles below)
DYS485 – 12
DYS632 – 8
DYS495 – 17
DYS540 – 12
DYS714 – 23
DYS716 – 27
DYS717 – 19

Panel 5 (76-85)
DYS505 – 11
DYS556 – 12
DYS549 – 12
DYS589 – 13
DYS522 – 12
DYS494 – 9
DYS533 – 11
DYS636 – 11
DYS575 – 10
DYS638 – 12

Panel 5 (86-93)
DYS462 – 13
DYS452 – 31
DYS445 – 11
Y-GATA-A10 – 13
DYS463 – 21
DYS441 – 16
Y-GGAAT-1B07 – 11
DYS525 – 10

Panel 5 (94-102)
DYS712 – 26
DYS593 – 15
DYS650 – 18
DYS532 – 12
DYS715 – 25
DYS504 – 17
DYS513 – 13
DYS561 – 15
DYS552 – 25

Panel 5 (103-111)
DYS726 – 12
DYS635 – 23
DYS587 – 19
DYS643 – 12
DYS497 – 14
DYS510 – 18
DYS434 – 9
DYS461 – 11
DYS435 – 11

Micro Alleles
DYS710            Result 33.2       Normalized Result 33

Laurence Butler’s STR signature, in summary:

Conclusion on Laurence Butler's Y-DNA haplotype and recent ancestry

Laurence Butler’s Y-DNA haplotype profile/signature would be confirmed if male descendants from Walter's three different family lines (by Margaret Dunn, Eliza Dwyer, and Frances Edwards), and Lawrence Junior's two family lines (by Catherine Gorman and Fanny Rainy), also took the test to see if the results match the Y-DNA profiles above, particularly in showing in which generation and lineage, markers DYS 570, 557 and 446 have changed since Laurence’s two sons were born.

If Laurence's Y-DNA profile/signature  eventually matches with Laurence's descendants of his first family in Wexford by wife Catherine, it may even lead to sorting out Laurence Butler's ancestry- whether from the Chief Butler/Ormond/Mountgarrett lines or from other more recent Butler immigrants to Ireland from England, or even (heaven forbid!) a non-Butler line in Ireland of maybe Viking origin.

To any descendants contemplating taking a Y-DNA test, it is suggested that the minimum number of markers that are tested should be 37, and the 67 marker test is recommended to show a higher degree of proof of descent, and ancestry. The provider of this information (Walter Butler's descendant) tells us that at 37 markers he was found to have fairly close Y-DNA matches with several non-Butlers from America (viz. a Genetic Distance of 2 or 3, which indicated a fairly high probability of sharing a common ancestor between 12 to 24 generations ago), and all of those 'matches' were proved unrelated (within 24 generations) after upgrading to a 67 marker test. As all of Laurence's descendants are only 7 to 9 generations down, and both descendant lines are known genealogically,  a 25 or 37 marker test may suffice in proving common descent from Laurence, as long as their markers are an exact match or only one mutation (25/25 or 36/37), but a test of at least 63/67 markers is of greater proof. As time progresses and these Y-DNA tests become more common, costs of the tests are reducing significantly. and there are often substantial savings at sales of DNA tests during Easter and Christmas periods.

Notably, at this stage (viz. in 2016), of 430 Butlers tested, the majority are American participants of mostly English and some Irish descent, or their ancestral place of origin is unknown. However, the Butler Project is showing up an unexpected result- in the lineages claiming an Irish ancestor, there are two distinct lines of ancient ancestry (viz. Haplo groups) that are not related, despite the general consensus that nearly all Irish Butlers 'descend' from the first Butler, Theobald Walter, which can be interpreted in several ways:  there were some Non-Paternity Events (NPE- father not biological father) occurring somewhere down the generations; or non-Butlers have taken the Butler surname eg. tenants and servants taking their overlord’s surname; or the husbands of female Butler heirs, or their eldest son, taking the Butler surname for inheritance purposes, such as the O’Brien Butlers and the Creaghe Butlers- eg. Lineage II in the R1b Haplogroup section are of O’Brien Y-DNA, descended from Morgan O’Brien Butler- ie. Morgan O’Brien of Ballyphillip, Co Limerick married Eleanor Butler, daughter of Capt Edward Butler of Bansha, and took the additional name of Butler. Their son, William O’Brien Butler of Bansha d.1773, married Catherine Butler who was heir to Bansha and daughter of Edmund Butler 8th Lord Dunboyne. So the 22 matching members of this lineage, are of O’Brien Y chromosome ancestry, not Butler.
Several of the other R1b lineages show non-Butler surname matching members, which could also be significant.

Despite quite a sizeable group of Butlers testing as I1 or I2, the majority of Butlers in the Butler Surname Project so far, belong to the Haplogroup R1b1a2, including a descendant of the Viscount Ikerrin and Earl of Carrick lines who descend from John Butler [1306-1330], younger brother of the 1st Earl of Ormond. The descendant who tested his Y-DNA, a grandson of the 7th Earl of Carrick, has the following Y-DNA test result for only 12 markers (placed in the ‘No Match Yet in Project’ lineage), and has listed his ancestral tree:

Ancestry of the ‘Carrick’ Y-DNA testee:
Hervey Walter (extant 1156)
Theobald FitzWalter (1st Hereditary Chief Butler of Ireland appointed 1177)
Theobald FitzWalter d.1230 (2nd Hereditary Chief Butler of Ireland)
Theobald Butler d.1248 (3rd Hereditary Chief Butler of Ireland)
Theobald Butler d.1285 (4th Hereditary Chief Butler of Ireland)
Edmund Butler d.1321 (6th Hereditary Chief Butler of Ireland)
John Butler 1306- 1330 (
brother of James 1st Earl of Ormond 7th Chief B)
Edmund Butler
Pierce Butler
James Butler
James Butler
Pierce Butler
(?of Lismalin Tipp d.1526)
James Butler
James Butler

Sir James Butler of Lismalin Tipp.
Sir Pierce Butler d.1661(1st Viscount Ikerrin) m.Ellen Butler (d.o. Walter 11th E. of Ormond) d.1668 BTR8
James Butler (Hon) 1616-1638 BTR373) m.Ellen Butler (d.o. Edmund 3/13th Baron Dunboyne & Margaret Butler)
Pierce Butler 1637-1661 (2nd Viscount Ikerrin) m Eleanor Bryan in 1657
James Butler 1658- 1688 (3rd Viscount Ikerrin) m Eleanor Redman in 1678
Thomas Butler 1683- 1719 (Rev 6th Viscount Ikerrin) m Margaret Hamilton
Somerset Hamilton Butler 1718-1774 (8th Viscount Ikerrin and 1st Earl of Carrick in 1748) m.1745 Juliana Boyle d.o. 1st Earl of Shannon
Henry Thomas Butler b.1746 d.1813 (2nd Earl of Carrick) m.1774 Sarah Taylor
Henry Edward Butler b.1780 d.1856 (Lt Gen) m.1812 Jane Gowan  (second son- when eldest brother 3rd EofC and 2 heirs died, Henry’s grandson inherited as 6th EofC)
Charles George Butler b.1823 d.1854 m.1850 Jane Elizabeth Prosser
Charles Henry Somerset Butler b.1851 d.1909 (6th Earl of Carrick) m.1856 Ellen Sarah Morgan
Charles Ernest Alfred French Somerset Butler b.1873 d.1931 (7th Earl of Carrick) m.1898 Ellen Rosamund Mary Lindsay
G.S.L. Butler b.1905 Dublin d.1983

R. L. S. Butler born New Zealand

At present, the Carrick descendant is the only known direct descendant of the Ormond/Chief Butler line who has taken the test, and that lineage broke away from the senior line seven centuries ago, so it is too early in the project to make a conclusion about the probable Haplo groups of the Ormond Butlers. And it also must be taken into account that over the period of several centuries, the true paternity of each generation being a Butler sire cannot be guaranteed- remember the legend that the sire of James 9th Earl of Ormond's brother Richard Butler 1st Viscount Mountgarrett  was Henry VII (which even the Mountgarretts themselves believe), as the king had the right to bed anyone's wife, and Piers (8th Earl of Ormond) and wife Margaret were close to the English Court, and son Richard was certainly well favoured by the Court, despite being only a second son.

Being of Norman/Viking ancestry, one could generalize that Theobald Walter's DNA would have most likely been from the I Haplogroup, but the passage of nearly thirty generations and 900 years makes the likelihood of his Y-DNA continuing down the male Butler line to the present day, uninterrupted, pretty slim.

At present, this science is still in its infancy, but within the next ten years, one can see this gaining momentum as genealogists come to realise that Y-DNA testing could be the solution to breaking down that brick wall in their search for their ancestral roots. As more and more Butlers take the test, patterns of paternal lineages and common ancestors should emerge. It may also lead to disappointment (and possibly some family disharmony) as some will discover they may not be of 'Butler' descent, but as family historians, we have all come to accept the 'skeletons in the closet' and the 'black sheep' that we have each unearthed in our quest, and we should be capable of accepting that our ancestors, no matter from whence they have come and what they have endured or experienced, have contributed to who we are today. And most importantly, without them, we would not exist.


Laurence Butler- what was he like as a man?

To describe the character of a man who lived 200 years ago is very difficult. One can only form an impression on the few known events of his life.

The event that would shape the last 20 years of Laurence Butler’s life, was the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
At the time of the rebellion in 1798, Laurence was 48 years old with a wife and possibly a grown up family. It would appear from evidence given by his defence witnesses at his court-martial, that Laurence was a peaceable man, living in a small village in the area of Wexford previously inhabited by his forebears. At his trial, Laurence claimed he was not politically involved in the United Irish movement before the rebellion, and was forced by the tide of revolution sweeping his county to become an active participant. His initial reaction to becoming involved, knowing full well the repercussions of failure, was to “hide under the bed” when his acquaintances came to fetch him. As he was accused of “disguising himself in women’s clothing and returning home” that same evening, it would suggest that he was rather horrified by the atrocities being committed by some of the more extreme rebels on Vinegar Hill. However, on reflection that night, he apparently returned voluntarily the following day and became actively involved in the struggle. As he was elected a captain of his unit, was mounted on a horse, and was eventually tried in a court-martial, he must have had some standing in his community. He was appointed to “carry the colours” at the battle of Tubberneering, probably for his local parish unit of Ferns, which indicates a position of trust and respect. It possibly also indicates that his role was a non-combative one, probably due to his age and disposition. A further witness stated that he had heard that Laurence had been quite “active” during the uprising, so at some point, Laurence must have realised that there was no turning back, and that failure meant the loss of everything he had worked for throughout his life, as well as life itself. However, his defence may have also been a ruse to save his skin from the dire consequences of conviction, and he may well have played an active role in the United Irish Society well before the uprising began, as the society was very active in the region of Wexford in the near vicinity to where Laurence lived. The Orangemen Society led by local landowner in Ferns, Richard Donovan, was conducting secret meetings at the old castle in Ferns. That cannot have gone unnoticed by Laurence and may have fired up his support of the opposing United Irish Society. His true beliefs in this matter will remain a mystery. However, non-participation in any of the Irish disturbances or revolts in his years living in the Colony would suggest that he was not politically active.

Following the defeat of the rebels by July 1798, he was captured and taken to Wexford Gaol. Somehow he was either released with a ‘protection’ or escaped, before being rearrested towards the end of 1798, brought to trial and found guilty of at least acting as a rebel captain.
He was both fortunate and unlucky in his punishment. Many of the leaders were executed shortly after their arrest or capture, so Laurence was very fortunate to escape that fate given the seriousness of his first charge, that of ‘aiding, abetting and assisting the murder of Grimes’. His initial sentence may have been execution, which may then have been commuted on appeal. However, there were other rebel officers and United Irishmen associated with Laurence, such as Thomas Cloney, Miles Byrne, Edward Hay and Edward Fitzgerald, all of whom were more active and famous for their rebel exploits than Laurence, who escaped heavy punishment and were eventually allowed to live out their lives in either Ireland or in exile on the Continent.
Laurence endured three years of extreme discomfort, possibly lashing and torture, and hardship in an overcrowded jail at Wexford, Waterford, Duncannon Fort or New Geneva, or on a prison hulk. Then deported at the age of 52, torn from his wife whom he would never see again and could no longer support, his children and their families, and from a community and society in which he was respected, he would have to begin his life again in a place totally unlike that which he had left, forced to adapt to a completely foreign way of life enduring many hardships and humiliation. Michael Hayes’s letters indicate Laurence continued to send monetary support back to his wife Catherine in Wexford, whenever he was able, albeit rather reluctantly in the latter stages. This was despite being poorly paid by customers, relying on a monetary system based on Promissory notes rather than payment by cash, restricting cash-flow, and raising a large young family in the Colony.  It should also be remembered that this was more than ten years after leaving Wexford. The effect of participation in the Rebellion and its consequences on the families of rebels, including the confiscation of property, must have been enormous. And separation under a life sentence at the opposite sides of the world must have made many husbands and wives despair. The time that had elapsed and the great distance between them would dim the memory of a relationship torn asunder by such circumstances. People move on with their lives- they have to.

As an experienced cabinet-maker, Laurence was quickly assigned to the lumber yard, making furniture for Government and even for Governor King himself. Michael Hayes, in his letter written shortly after Laurence’s arrival in the Colony, wrote  “His (Laurence’s) trade is very good”.
By 1809 at least, he had set up his business at No. 7 Pitt Street, as records indicate he was making furniture for John Blaxland who paid him £95 in 1807/08, which would have made him financially able to lease this property, which he purchased from his friend and fellow rebel William Gough in 1809.To be making such an amount from one customer alone in a period of only thirteen months indicates that he was becoming financially secure very quickly. His cabinet-making business continued to expand, employing a considerable number of men, and supplying quality furniture to Sydney’s society, and the Colony’s wealthier citizens, until his death in 1820.  His expansion into the general merchandising business allowed him to reinvest into expanding his property portfolio. By 1812-14, he was a trader, selling imported merchandise and ironmongery. His advertisements for a large variety of goods in the following years indicate this was quite a substantial business, and by 1816 he was selling from three different warerooms- his Kent Street and his two Pitt Street properties.  During the period 1815-1816 he made several property investments in Pitt Street, Kent Street and Elizabeth Street.
The merchandising business, and property acquisitions are the areas where most of Sydney’s entrepreneurial business owners made their fortunes.
The loss of £150 worth of property and money during a robbery in 1815 must have been very difficult to cope with (£150 was equivalent to three years of wages for a chief constable or a lower ranked officer in the Army).
Laurence’s inclusion in the founding membership of the Commercial Society of Sydney indicates that he was amongst the group of leading businessmen of Sydney by 1813. All members had to issue £100 worth of Promissory Notes, which was a substantial amount. W.C. Wentworth described the members as ‘belonging to the richer class of inhabitants’. Laurence and John Reddington were two of the six hundred or so transported Irish rebels who developed successful businesses in trade- all of the most successful traders were English emancipist convicts or free settlers. Some other rebels such as Denis McCarty and William Davis became successful in agriculture and property investments, James Dempsey had a successful stonemasony business, and William Gough’s tannery business did well before his return to Ireland. Michael Hayes successfully dabbled  in various enterprises, but eventually went broke, culminating in his premature death, regarded as a possible suicide. Reddington was a distiller in Roscommon, and it makes one wonder about the level of success of Laurence’s business in Wexford, despite being Catholic.
How did Laurence manage to become so successfull in his trade? Was it pure chance and favourable circumstances, or possessing a skill that was highly sort after in this quickly developing and poorly resourced colony, or did he arrive with good business acumen and experience?  Maybe all of the above.

In 1816, Laurence purchased the lease of his second Pitt Street property from Samuel Terry, having previously bought the Kent street and Elizabeth street properties the year before. The Pitt Street purchase was of considerable value, having paid ₤400, and put him into substantial debt to Samuel Terry. Although this appears to have caused a problem financially for a short period, evidenced by his court case with Wentworth, his financial situation at this time must have been very profitable, possibly largely due to his substantial Government furniture order for the new Courts of Law buildings.

In the same year, on the recommendation of D’Arcy Wentworth, he was granted 100 acres neighbouring Dr. William Balmain, Captain John Piper and George Johnston’s land grants. For Laurence to be granted land in an area reserved for community leaders and high ranking military officers, would indicate he had some standing and influence in the community.  He must have had a close association with someone with influence. He carefully nurtured a business rapport with the Protestant members of the community, as most of his clientele were English Protestants. This was also evidenced by his financial support of the Protestant Bible Society.  Laurence was one of only four Irish businessmen and inhabitants of Sydney (including William Davis, Ed Redmond and Patrick Cullen) who were signatories to the 1817 Memorial to Governor Macquarie, signed by seventy-eight of , as Macquarie stated in his own words, ‘a great majority of the most respectable Inhabitants of the Colony’, requesting Macquarie to rescind a Government restriction on the importation of goods from England. To be included in this list shows his standing and acceptance in that community.

 According to his son Walter, Laurence left an estate worth £2000, including the two houses and premises in Pitt Street, the house and premises in Kent Street, and the 100 acre farm in the District of Petersham, so wife Ann and the children were well catered for after his death. He distributed his assets equally between the four members of his family, which unknowingly would cause some financial difficulty for his wife in the future, and following her death, probably for the children who would ‘become of age’ at different stages, preventing the distribution of the assets. However, if Laurence had left his estate only to Ann, her relationship with Miles Leary could have left the children with no assets following her premature death, so his decision turned out to be a wise one.

From the evidence of his success one could describe Laurence as motivated, still reasonably active physically, practical, and willing to make the best of a difficult situation, particularly given his age. He must have been a highly skilled cabinet maker, as seen in the quality and style of his well made furniture,  Colonial Furniture expert John Hawkins stating, that in his opinion, "The objects made between 1800 and 1820 must qualify as among the finest surviving pieces of colonial furniture, and it is a quirk of history that the cabinet maker responsible, Laurence Butler, an Irish political convict, had the necessary skills and expertise to raise the level of cabinet-making within the primitive colony of New South Wales to a standard that has not been surpassed in the succeeding 160 years".

He also had considerable business skills, not only as a cabinet maker but also as a merchant.  At various times he appeared to be in considerable debt which was due to expansion of the business and property investments, plus poor cash flow due to the difficult currency situation in the Colony. He was not averse to using the Civil Court system to sort out his monetary problems with customers and suppliers as evidenced by his stand against West and Laing, resulting in their disputes being sorted out  in the Civil Court. Just as happens today, one had to be paid by customers before one could pay the suppliers, and the promissory note system hindered fast payments of debt. The lack of any banking system in the Colony must have greatly hindered progress.

Laurence was literate, but possibly not highly so, by the standard of his signature. As Catholics in Ireland were not allowed access to education, under the Penal Laws, he was probably educated in the Irish “hedge schools”, illegal schooling given to Catholic children in private houses and barns. They taught basic grammar, English and maths. His rebel leader, Fr John Murphy who grew up in the Ferns district, was also educated at a ‘hedge school’, before going to a Seminary on the Continent to further his education. It should be noted that it was illegal at that time for Catholics to send their children abroad for their education. Laurence’s rebel friends were well educated as evidenced by friend Michael Hayes letters home to his family, and his friend, Isaac Wood, who was a teacher and set up an Academy of Learning, however, they were both of a much younger age and grew up in Wexford at a time when the Penal Laws were being relaxed and rescinded. Education was obviously important to Laurence, as he left strict instructions in his Will for his children to continue their education. The wide variety of merchandise sold by his business, indicates he must have had considerable trading, merchandising and book-keeping skills, before he arrived in the colony. He also spoke English, which was important for a man to succeed in the business community. Many of the Irish rebels only spoke Irish, and Wexford natives had a language peculiar to that county, called Yola, which was a mix of ancient Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Irish, and English, that was only understood by fellow Wexford natives. This language was particularly used by the citizens living in south Wexford, in the baronies of Forth and Bargy, at that time, and as ‘southerners’ moved north they would have brought the language with them. No doubt Laurence was bi-lingual, as he would have had to trade with the Wexford citizens in the south. It should also be remembered that County Wexford was a very small place, measuring no more than 38 by 24 miles in total, yet isolated from the rest of the country by its topography.
(see Robert Fraser’s Statistical Survey of the County of Wexford, Dublin 1807- Google books- for basic dictionary of Wexford words.)

Laurence quickly made useful acquaintances in the elite of Sydney society, as shown by the signatories of various documents including his Petition for a Pardon endorsing his good character, and the recommendations he received for a land grant, Government orders etc- viz. free citizens (‘exclusives’) such as  John Oxley, Gregory Blaxland, John Blaxland, Major George Johnston, Capt John Piper, Captain John Apsey, Captain James Birnie, D’Arcy Wentworth, and even Elizabeth Macarthur whose husband John was rabidly opposed to any association with convicts or emancipists. Oxley, Blaxland, Apsey, Birnie and Elizabeth Macarthur stated they “recommended the Petitioner as an honest, industrious man deserving of that Clemency that may be granted to Good Characters”. Wentworth recommended Laurence’s very favourable land grant and awarded him a substantial Government order for furniture. Laurence’s Ormond heritage may have also played a part in his acceptance in these circles. As an Irishman, Wentworth would have certainly understood the importance of the connection. He himself used his distant connection with Earl Fitzwilliam to his great advantage.

It would appear that Laurence may have had a temper, as revealed by his charge of assault on Mrs Eliza Palmer in 1817 for which he was fined £10 but not imprisoned –although it was a substantial fine, the lack of a jail term indicates it can’t have been considered too serious an assault by the Court, and was probably considered partly justified due to provocation. Notably, Eliza, an ex-convict, was charged with assaulting a Robert Brown the following year, so she herself was of a questionable nature. At the time of the assault, Laurence accused her of being a “thieving bitch”, following an altercation the day before, so it would appear that the provocation was great. However, that does not excuse his disgraceful behaviour in assaulting this woman by hitting her about the head and kicking her.
The citizens who put up the considerable bail sureties for Laurence were an interesting collection. Before the trial, fellow Irishman and cabinetmaker Thomas Shaughnessy (also now recognised as an important cabinet-maker in the early Colony), and English carpenter Joseph Larkin, both emancipists, each guaranteed ₤50 that he would front Court, while, after the trial, the infamous emancipist lawyer George Crossley, and Robert Lathrop Murray, the assistant Superintendant of Police (under Wentworth), each put up ₤100 in sureties for Laurence to keep the peace for 12 months. Crossley may have represented Laurence in Court, and his law practice was opposite Laurence’s residence, so it it difficult to know if he put up the surity for professional or personal reasons. Crossley also witnessed Laurence’s purchase agreement for his second Pitt Street property.
Murray’s motivation is also unknown, although his close personal and professional association with Wentworth may have been a factor.
This was Laurence’s  second charge of assault on a woman. Back in 1808, Laurence was charged along with his partner Mary Ann Bradley (?Radley/Fowles?) with disturbing the peace. Although requested to be quiet, they continued to “quarrel , beat and abuse Ann Johnson (an assigned convict), who was turned out of the house at 12 o’clock at night.” Laurence was reprimanded and Mary Ann was ordered a week’s imprisonment. That indicates that Mary Ann had been the main instigator of the disturbance, and possibly jealousy may have triggered the rage. Laurence may have been ‘reprimanded’ for not controlling the situation.
However, the two incidents outlined above, do bring into question Laurence’s attitude towards the treatment of women, albeit that in those days women were classed as ‘chattels’ and it was commonplace for husbands to beat their wives. It should be remembered that we cannot judge or compare the standards of behaviour exhibited during those early years in a Colony filled with felons of all descriptions, with society standards of today. Life styles and the human rights of women, particularly convict women, in that society were very different.

In the early days at least, it would appear Laurence enjoyed a drink, as his friend, Michael Hayes, wrote home saying Laurence’s business was good, “but where sobriety was attached”. Many convicts resorted to drink as an escape from the misery of their new lives, and it was particularly enjoyed by the Irish. Alcohol brewing was one of the main industries that County Wexford was renowned for, and there were many reports of rebels imbibing during the uprising. The rebel leaders were reported to have conducted their meetings at some well-known and patronised pubs. In the Colony, the Rum trade was the basic form of currency, and illicit distilling was rife. Several of his rebel friends were caught with illegal stills, resulting in time spent in the outer Colonies of Norfolk Island and Coal River. By 1811, Sydney was full of legal pubs. It would seem everyone enjoyed the social entertainment of drinking, after all there was precious little else to do in their spare time. On 25 November 1812, Michael Hayes responded to a letter from his brother Patrick in which he apparently hinted that Michael had been  indulging in liquor, by admitting that "I have resorted to it as a restorative to assuage despondency, but not to that excess to deprive me of my mental faculties. It's with temperance and only occasionally that I have been obliged to resort to it, at the departure of (William) Goff and (Fr. James) Dixon it prevailed more than it has since or before, or ever will again". The rebel 'general' Joseph Holt delivered the letter on his return to Ireland. It would appear that the periodic return to Ireland of members of this close-knit group caused some feelings of depression for those left behind.

Laurence remained loyal to his friends, particularly to those from Wexford, as evidenced by his long friendship with Michael Hayes dating back from their days at home in Wexford right up until his death in Sydney. In an early letter, Michael asked his family to tell Catherine that Laurence was well, and then requested they ‘remember me to her’, so he must have known the family before their transportation.
Laurence was also associated with fellow rebel William Davis from Enniscorthy, who was transported on the ‘Friendship’ with Hayes, and would become one of his executors following the death of his wife Ann.
There was also his friendship with Isaac Wood who arrived in 1813 from Wexford for a seven year sentence, and set up an educational Academy for young gentlemen. Both Hayes and Woods witnessed his Will.

Employee, Miles Leary, who had a relationship with Ann Roberts after Laurence’s death, was also from Wexford and was probably related to another Wexford rebel John Leary. The Learys came from the Gorey district, a few miles north-east of Ferns, and John and James Leary were transported on the 'Atlas 2' with Laurence.
Michael Hayes’s letters described their feeling of loss when William Gough and Fr. Dixon returned back to Wexford. Gough, who lived near Ferns and probably knew Laurence well in Wexford, would continue to send them letters, giving them news of friends back home.

Laurence’s caring qualities were exhibited in his support of  English convict John Booth, a sickly man whom Laurence looked after by giving him light work “to get him a little nourishment” and by allowing him to sleep at his house. However, he also displayed a nature possibly hardened by his experiences. His supposed treatment of his apprentice William Ezzy, as reported in the “Sydney Gazette”, certainly indicated a hard and uncompromising attitude towards his employees who failed to work to capacity. As against that, Thomas Bowman worked for him for many years, and loyally defended Laurence in at least two court cases.

Laurence was considered an honest and trustworthy citizen, as he served on a number of juries in the colony, including one a few weeks after ending his recognizance for keeping the peace following his assault conviction.
Only law-abiding citizens were considered to serve on jury duty, so his inclusion on the last jury makes light of his assault conviction. Unlike most of his rebel friends and associates, Laurence never committed an offence resulting in a transfer for a period of time to one of the outlying penal settlements.

Although deprived of following his Roman Catholic faith, Laurence remained a true Catholic and a moral man who instilled his moral beliefs into his children as evidenced by the instructions in his Will, leaving the moral education of his children in the hands of the newly appointed Catholic priests. He also contributed to the Bible Fund and made a subscription for the fencing of the Burial Ground. Although legally entitled to remarry, as was encouraged by the Governor, he did not legally marry Ann in church until the death of his Irish wife, even though they had lived together for six years and had had three children out of wedlock. Ann had been described as “wife to Laurence Butler” in the 1814 Muster. Although his faith was strong, he was also a realist and practical. However, it must have galled him to have to accept Anglican services when he married, and when his children were baptised. For a man who fought for his Catholic faith and suffered transportation away from everyone and everything he loved, the ultimate irony and penalty was paid when he was buried in the Church of England Cemetery.

He appears to have been a loving father and a devoted husband, by the wording in his Will, which described Ann as “his affectionate wife and “his love for his infant children”. It is also interesting to note, that in a colony of few women and many men, Laurence, at the age of 56 and 61, managed to attach two women of much younger age- Mary Ann Fowles being about 39 in 1806 and Ann Roberts being about 34 in 1811. Convict women quickly understood that it was in their interests to attach them themselves to men in a viable financial position who would look after them and treat them well. My impression is that, even at an advanced age, and given that his son Walter’s descendants were very handsome men, Laurence must have been charming and attractive to women. However, he was a man of his time and a typical patriarch, as is demonstrated in his will, in which he ordered the appointed Catholic priest “as guardian to superintend the education of my three children and to inspect and see justice done them agreeable to my will. To this request I enjoin the Executor therein named (ie. his wife Ann) to pay due respect and compliance under pain of forfeiting her share and control over my children.”
‘MY’ children, not OUR children!

Notably, the appointed priest would not give Ann permission to marry Miles Leary when she applied, and the reason probably related to the above instructions.

Physically, Laurence must have had a strong constitution. Not only did he survive years of deprivation and harsh living conditions in prison followed by five months discomfort on the transport ship, he then faced several years of hard labour as a convict, suffering a significant injury in the building of the church, all at a relatively advanced age.  He then lived to the ripe old age of 70 years.
In those early days of the Colony where medical facilities and remedies were pretty basic, this was quite a feat of endurance. His wife died in her forties. Two of his surviving children, Lawrence and Mary Ann, died in their early forties. Both of Walter’s wives died young, Margaret being only 32years. Several of Laurence’s  friends also died prematurely. So, to reach 70 years of age was remarkable.  There was nothing wrong with his fertility either, fathering five children, right up until his 69th year.

Laurence was one of the early pioneers of this country that made this fledgling community viable. Without men (and women) like him and others like the Macarthurs, Lords, Reibys, Underwoods, Kables, Campbells, and Wentworths, etc., who were motivated to succeed and had that entrepreneurial flare, this penal colony would have floundered, and we wouldn’t be the lucky people today who call Australia home. The majority of English convicts were from the poorer classes, immoral, uneducated, unskilled and unmotivated. If the colony had had to depend on them alone, this colonial experiment would have quickly failed. The introduction to this mix, of educated, highly skilled Irish political prisoners, along with the free settlers who envisaged the potential of this new land, made the difference between the failure and success of this new nation.

Overall, it would appear that Laurence Butler, despite his flaws, was basically a good man- a creative, skilled, honest, motivated, hard-working man of principle, loyalty, devotion and trustworthiness, who was a respected member of the fledgling community of Sydney. He left a legacy to his new country in the form of his beautiful furniture, which exists to the present day in museums and in private collections.
He was the progenitor of many Australian citizens living today.
As an ancestor, he was a man to be proud of.

The Wearing of the Green
by Dion Boucicault (1864)

O Paddy dear, an' did ye hear the news that's goin' round?
The shamrock is by law forbid to grow on Irish ground;
St Patrick’s Day no more we'll keep, his colour can't be seen,
For there's a cruel law agin the wearin' o' the Green.

I met wid Napper Tandy and he took me by the hand,
And he said, "How's dear ould Ireland, and how does she stand?"
She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen,
For they're hangin' men an' women there for the wearin' o' the Green.

Then since the colour we must wear is England's cruel red,
Sure Ireland's sons will ne'er forget the blood that they have shed,
You may take a shamrock from your hat and cast it on the sod,
It will take root and flourish there though underfoot it's trod.

When law can stop the blades of grass from growin' as they grow,
And when the leaves in summer-time their colour dare not show,
Then will I change the colour, too, I wear in my caubeen
But 'till that day, please God, I'll stick to wearin' o' the Green.

But if at last our colour should be torn from Ireland's heart,
Her sons with shame and sorrow from the dear old isle will part;
I've heard a whisper of a land that lies beyond the sea
Where rich and poor stand equal in the light of freedom's day.

O Erin, must we leave you driven by a tyrant's hand?
Must we ask a mother's blessing from a strange and distant land?
Where the cruel cross of England shall nevermore be seen,
And where, please God, we'll live and die still wearin' o' the

© B. A. Butler

Contact email  butler1802  @hotmail. com  (NB. no spaces)

Link back to Introduction:

Links to all the chapters in this blog:

The 1798 rebellion
Laurence Butler's trial for his role in the Rebellion
Analysis of Butler's trial
Laurence Butler at the Battle of Tubberneering
Laurence Butler's imprisonment
Butler's life and family in Wexford
Laurence Butler's transportation to Sydney in 1802 on the Atlas 2
Conditions on Convict Ships
Life as a convict in Sydney
Laurence Butler's property investments in Pitt Street Sydney
Sydney Town in 1800-1810
Laurence Butler's petitions to the Governor
Laurence Butler's 100 acre land grant in District of Petersham
Butler's membership of the Commercial Society of Sydney
Laurence Butler's court cases
Laurence Butler's business interests in Sydney
Laurence Butler's cabinet making business
Laurence Butler's property investments in Sydney
Laurence Butler's colonial family
Laurence Butler's death in 1820
Laurence Butler's issue- Walter, Lawrence Junior and Mary Ann
The Catholic Community of Sydney up until 1820
Genealogy- Butler's possible ancestry and possible descendants in Ireland, and BDM records
Butler's fellow Irish rebels transported to Sydney
Conclusion about the life of Laurence Butler