To The Butler Society Southern Cross Region website!

Updated January 2024

The Southern Cross Region was established in March 1972 as a Branch of The Butler Society to give recognition to the many Butlers who have contributed to the history and development of Australia and New Zealand. We celebrated our 50th Anniversary in March 2022.

And now we have extended our network in the Southern Hemisphere to include Butlers in Argentina! (See the new Butlers In Argentina section)

Our members enjoy sharing information about their family histories through the Southern Cross network, and by doing so, possibly discovering a previously unknown branch of their family tree.  Over the years, a variety of reasons have encouraged people with the Butler surname to emigrate from many different countries to this part of the world, and members are also interested to learn more about the lives of their earlier generations back in their country of origin.  Researching these earlier generations can sometimes uncover a relative who emigrated to a part of the world other than Australia or New Zealand, and who started another branch of the family. We therefore welcome being contacted by people from other countries and assisting them with expanding the Butler network.

The Butler Society has it’s headquarters in Kilkenny Ireland, but please note that the membership fee charged by the Butler Society in Ireland does not contribute to the operating costs of the  Southern Cross Region and it is therefore necessary for us to charge a separate annual fee, currently $50 Australian.

For that fee, Southern Cross members have the opportunity to

  • view digital copies of material held in our Southern Cross Archive, as those copies become available;
  • exchange research hints and information with other members;
  • seek advice on how to overcome any brick walls encountered in their research;
  • discover a possible link with another member by including an article in our quarterly Newsletter or sharing information at a meeting;
  • connect with a previously unknown cousin, if a family member emigrated to Australia or New Zealand at any time, by adding a listing to the First Butlers sections of our website
  • .join in our quarterly meetings, either personally or via Zoom, and to also meet with other members at our triennial Australian Gatherings.

Origins of the Butler Surname

The Butler Society is a worldwide organization and was formed in 1967 in Kilkenny Ireland. From 1391 until 1967 Kilkenny Castle was owned by a Butler family who became Earls and then Dukes of Ormonde.  The family traces their ancestry back to a Theobald Walter who was granted the title Chief Butler of Ireland in the 1180’s by King Henry II of England in order to act as the King’s representative in Ireland.

When surnames first came in to use in the 1200’s Theobald’s descendants adopted the title as their surname.  The first written record of this happening occurs about 1220. This may be the origin of Butler as a surname for some people. However, other medieval noble families had a butler in charge of their large households and it is possible that these men subsequently took their ‘job description’ as their surname and started alternative Butler lineages. 

For instance, there are records referring to:

1) Richard, the butler to the Earl of Chester in 1086;

2) Arnold who was alive in 1090 and was butler to William de Londres (that is William of London);

3) William le botiller (the butler) of Eaton, Leicestershire, alive in 1154;

4) William the butler of Hockerton, Nottinghamshire, alive in 1175;

5) Richard le butiller, living at Aiserigge, Devon in 1237.

Alternative Spellings

Variations of the spelling of the surname include Boutler (France), Buttlar (Germany), Buteler (Argentina) and Buitlear (Ireland).

Society Contacts:

8 Victoria Ridge, Upper Ferntree Gully, VIC 3156, Australia.

President: Abigail Butler, Tel 03 9758 6469.

Secretary: Kerry Butler Phillips


Treasurer: Alan Squires


Webmaster: Bruce Butler