Kendall & Butler Connections


Sophia Ann Colenso was born in Plymouth in October 1821. She was christened in an independent Chapel, but again in the parish Church of St Austell with her siblings in 1827. She is living with her father and elder sister in Lostwithiel in 1841.


On the 17th November in 1845, she married Nicholas Kendall. He was a cleric and the son of the former Vicar of Lanlivery. The marriage was witnessed by her father, sister and two brothers.


Nicholas Kendall’s family had long been associated with Pelynt and active in the politics of Cornwall and England. He had graduated from Oxford in 1833, having been a student at Exeter College. In 1841 he was living with his parents at Ladock, but by 1851 he was the Chaplain of Bodmin Prison.


Nicholas and Sophia Ann had one daughter Mary, born in 1847, while they were living in Bodmin. Sophia Ann died in 1854 and Nicholas died in 1858.


In 1861 Mary is living with her aunt Emily Colenso in Lower Durnford Place, Devonport. Emily was a schoolmistress.


On the 17th September 1863, in Devonport, Mary marries Spencer Percival Butler. She is 16 and he is a lawyer aged 35. He was educated at Cambridge and the son of George Butler, the headmaster of Harrow between 1805 and 1829. In May 1862 Mary’s uncle, the Bishop of Natal, left Natal and spent the next three years in England. With his connections to Harrow, as a former master, he may have arranged or facilitated this marriage.


This Butler family includes many persons of renown, and Sir Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin and husband of Spencer’s sister Louisa Jane, commented that the major trait of this family was intelligence. Francis Galton was the father of eugenics and studied hereditary characteristics in prominent English families. There is a close connection with Cambridge as described in this article from The Times in 1978.


Mary and Spencer were married for over 50 years and had 10 sons and 3 daughters. These are summarized below.


*      Sir Cyril Kendall Butler (1864 to 1936). He was a prominent business man, associated with Siamese Tin and was one of the founders of the Contemporary Art Society. He was also Chief British Representative on the International Mission for the Relief to central Europe 1919-20. His wife Louisa Mary was the only child of Joseph Beaumont Pease, a member of the Quaker Pease family of North-East England.  They had a son and daughter.

*      Maud Marion Butler (1865 to 1866)

*      Mary Isabel Butler (1868 to 1945). She married Sir Henry Erle Richards, the Chichele Professor of International Law at Oxford. They had four daughters including Audrey Richards, the anthropologist and Enid Eleanor, wife of the publisher Sir Geoffrey Faber.

*      Sir (Spencer) Harcourt Butler (1869 to 1938). After an education at Harrow and Balliol College Oxford, he spent a life-time in the Indian Civil Service, finally as Governor of Agra and Oudh 1921-1923 and then Governor of Burma 1923 – 1927. He married Florence Wright and had one son Victor Spencer, who was later a senior executive of Shell Oil.

*      Margaret Emily Butler (1872 to 1948), who married Alan Macpherson, a solicitor and son of Sir Arthur Macpherson, an Indian Judge. They had two sons – Ian and Walter Dugald.

*      Sir Montague Sherard Dawes Bultler (1873 to 1952). Educated at Harrow, Haileybury and Pembroke College Cambridge. Like his brother he also joined the Indian Civil Service, serving as Governor of the Central Provinces 1925 – 1933 and Chancellor of Nagpur University at the same time. After retuning to England he was Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man 1933-1937 and then Master of Pembroke College till 1948. He married Ann Gertrude Smith and had two sons and two daughters. One son was Richard Austen (Rab) Butler, Home Secretary, Deputy Prime Minster and Foreign Secretary, who later became Baron of Saffron Walden.

*      Lieutenant Walter Vivian Butler (1875 to 1900) died of typhoid while serving in the Royal Navy.

*      Arthur Francis Butler, later Norman-Butler (1876), also educated at Haileybury and Pembroke College Cambridge. Was Private Secretary to Sir Francis Galton, then became an Inspector of Schools with the Board of Education, serving with the Ministry of Munitions during WW1. He married Sibella Akers Norman in 1900 and changed his name to Norman-Butler in 1923 after the death of his father-in-law. They had two sons and four daughters.

*      Lt-Col Bernard Arnold Barrington Butler, DSO & Bar, (1878 to 1918) died from wounds received in action in France. He was educated at Haileybury and the Royal Military College at Woolwich, serving nine years in India, joining the Royal Field Artillery in France 1914. He married Winifred Emmeline Cohen, daughter of a barrister and judge. They had one son Anthony Bernard.

*      Ralph Lewis Giberne Butler (1883 to 1967), was educated at Rugby and Oxford He was also a fellow of Corpus Christi, but leaving to become a journalist in the Balkans. He married the novelist Violet Constance White de Kazarine, who was the daughter of Percy White, also a novelist. They had no children.

*      Otto Perceval Butler (1885 – 1885).

*      Sir George Geoffrey Gilbert Butler (1887 to 1929) was an historian and fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He had also been a member of the Balfour Mission in 1917, remaining in America as Director of the British Bureau of Information. Later he was the MP for Cambridge University. His wife was an American - Elizabeth Levering Jones. They appeared to have had no children.

*      Captain Leonard Grey Butler (1889 to 1916) was killed in action while serving with the Rifle Brigade in France. Prior to the war he was a fellow of St John’s College Oxford.

In his autobiography “The Art of the Possible”, Rab Butler attributes his political gifts to his grandmother Mary Kendall of Pelyn, Lostwithiel, Cornwall. He wrote a lengthy paragraph on the Kendall family history, with no mention of his Colenso heritage. I have also had a brief communication with the daughter of Lord Dunboyne, the Butler genealogist, and they did not know of the connection. However Emily Frances Colenso died at Julian Hill in Harrow in 1879, and in her will left two thirds of her assets to Mary Butler, wife of Spencer Perceval Butler, and the other third to the Bishop’s daughter Harriet Emily Colenso.