William Butler

Born March 13th, 1843
Died August 24th, 1907

The following is a copy of the schroll deposited in the Foundation Stone at the William Butler Memorial Cottages at Quinton.

Two cottages were built to perpetuate the memory of William Butler, who was born at Hinckley, Leicestershire, on March 13th, 1843, the son of Robert and Mary Ann Butler; both were buried in Burbage Churchyard, Leicestershire. Robert Butler died in his ninety-eighth year, and on his tombstone is inscribed, “He lived to be the oldest inhabitant of his native town.”

William Butler, after spending his boyhood in Hinckley, commenced work in Birmingham about 1858. He married Mary Ewing, of Dumbarton, Scotland, on February 19th, r866, at Carrs Lane Chapel, Birmingham. The wife died on November 29th, 1899, and was buried at Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham.

William Butler died at Elmdon, Selly Park, Birmingham, on August 24th, 1907, and was buried in the same vault on the 28th August.

The surviving members of his family were:-

William Waters born December 14th, 1866.
Henry Alexander born August 17th, 1870.
Clara born June 26th, 1876.
Albert Edward born March 26th, 1878.
Nellie born September 19th, 1885.

Since the decease of William Butler, the son Albert Edward died at Elmdon on September 28th, 1908, and was interred at Lodge Hill Cemetery, Selly Oak, Birmingham, on the 2nd day of October, 1908.

It may be truthfully said of Albert Edward Butler that his career, though brief, was commercially and socially of a humane character, also that he always looked to his father for guidance and emulated him in all his kindly methods.

William Butler began his labours in the Brewing Industry, with which his name will always be honourably associated, on February 19th, 1866, by taking the London Works Tavern, Smethwick, Staffordshire. This sphere of his work was prosperous, and when he left there remained many friends who had participated in happy hours under his genial guidance. He afterwards occupied, in partnership with his Brother-in-Law, George Owen, The Crown, Broad Street, Birmingham, in 1876.

Five years afterwards he solely carried on the business and commenced as ‘a Wholesale Brewer. The fine premises in Broad Street and King Edward’s Place, Birmingham, are a testimony to his assiduity and successful labours.

In the year 1897 William Butler amalgamated his~ business with that of the well-known Brewery Firm of Henry Mitchell & Company, Limited, of Cape Hill, Smethwick, and Birmingham, and then the inauguration of Mitchells & Butlers, Limited, was accomplished, and the trade so increased that at his death it had become one of the greatest commercial undertakings in the Midlands.

William Butler was widely known for his many charitable actions and the great interest he always took in Friendly Societies. He was Trustee for numerous Trade and Money Clubs, and in appreciation of his services was selected to lay a Foundation Stone at the Foresters’ Convalescent Home at Clent, Worcestershire.

The esteem in which he was held by all classes of the community was shown by the respect and sorrow of the crowds of people who lined the whole length of the streets on the day of his interment whilst the cortege passed from his house at Elmdon to Key Hill Cemetery, Hockley, Birmingham, where he was laid to rest. His funeral was chronicled in the Press, as bringing together the greatest concourse of people in Birmingham ever known under like circumstances, and it was estimated that ten thousand persons visited the Cemetery the day after to mark their respect and to view the hundreds of floral tributes sent by sorrowing relatives and friends as a mark of their deep condolence.

A Kind Father
A Just Employer
A Great Friend
A Generous Man

As a permanent record of his estimable qualities, a fund was started amongst the Tenants and Managers of the Licensed Premises and the Employees of Mitchells & Butlers, Limited, a Committee being then appointed as follows:-

135 City Road, Edgbaston

Kelvin Grove, Cape Hill.

Grove Avenue, Moseley.

Edwina Lodge, Moseley.

Victoria Inn, Stratford Road.

The Crown, St. Paul’s Road, Balsall Heath.

Ale Stores, Rutland Road, Bearwood.

King’s Head, Broad Street.

Crown Hotel, Hill Street.

Victoria Inn, John Bright Street.

Red Lion Inn, King’s Heath.

Sun Hotel, Bristol Street,

Sandon Road, Edgbaston,

It was ultimately decided to purchase the plot of land on which these cottages are to be erected, consisting of 771 super yards, from Emma Amplias Barker, at two shillings and sixpence per yard; and Harold Walker, of Alfred Caddick, Solicitor, Birmingham, generously gave his legal services for this and any future work connected with this memorial, and so that all the money collected should be available for the worthy object for which it was subscribed. Enoch Wood and William Henry Kendrick, acting in partnership as architects at West Bromwich and Birmingham, prepared the sketches and working drawings, and promised to superintend the building operations until the same are satisfactorily completed, free of any charges for so doing.

Another gratifying feature and striking instance of the respect in which William Butler was regarded by the Builders and Tradesmen who had dealings with him during his lifetime was the spontaneous assistance given by the following firms in labour or materials, so that they might participate in this memorial to his memory: -

BREEDON & SON, Gas Service.

DALLOW & SON, Scaffolding and Planking.

DOULTON & Co., Sanitary Goods and Drain Pipes.

EMPIRE STONE Co., Granolithic Work.

GIBBS (W. HARVEY), Bay Windows.


HATHERN STATION Co., Quarry Floors.

INGRAM & SON~ Joinery.

KING & Co., Best Bricks and Terra Cotta.

JONES (AARON), Plumbing.

LEWIS & Co., Tiles.

NELSON & Co., Cement.


PRATT (J. W. D.), Common Bricks.

SMITH (SAMUEL & Co.), Ironwork.

SMITHIES & Co., Plastering.

TAILBY, Timber.

VAUGHAN, Fittings.

WEBB (GEORGE), Joinery.

WRIGHT & Co., Foundation Stone.

The plans having been approved by the District Council of Oldbury, the work was commenced, and to day, Tuesday, 26th January, 1909, the Peterhead Granite Foundation Stone in which this bottle is bedded, was laid by William Waters Butler, F.C.S., F.R. Met. Soc., Chairman of the Brewers’ Society, 1908; President of the Institute of Brewing, 1906; Chairman of the Birmingham and Midland Counties Brewers’ Association for three years; Member of the Council of the University of Birmingham, and eldest son of William Butler, in the presence of his brother Henry Alexander Butler and their Co-Directors, and the subscribers to the scheme, with a Silver Trowel presented by the Architects (Wood & Kendrick), and an Ivory Mallet by the Committee, the Trowel and Mallet being symbolically designed by the Architects, and faithfully and artistically produced by J. and B. Bragg, of Birmingham.

The Cottages when finished will be handed over to William Waters Butler and Henry Alexander Butler aforesaid, as a slight gift to their father’s worth, and in memory of his noble qualities, to be held by them and their heirs and to be in their power to select any aged employees of Mitchells & Butlers, Limited, to reside free from rent therein, and such selection shall be free from any restrictive covenant on the part of the Committee or Subscribers, and otherwise in accordance with a Deed of Trust.

It is also pleasing to record that the layer of this foundation stone, William Waters Butler, and his Brother Henry Alexander Butler, have decided to set aside a sum of money on trust sufficient to provide for outgoings, such as rates and taxes, to which this property may be liable, so that the occupants may have full enjoyment of these homes. It is further their intention to erect two similar homes at their sole cost, endowed, and to be occupied in like manner to those herein described, in memory of their beloved Brother, Albert Edward Butler.

The cottages are still there today although I gather that they were recently auctioned, presumably after the demise of M itchells & Butler Brewery. In case you were unaware of the buildings here are a few photographs taken in December 2008.


One of the cottages presently for sale at £166,950

Cottage Plaque

The plaque in the centre of the two cottages

Semi-detached house

One of the eight semi detached houses

House Plaque 1

The Plaque in the centre of the houses

House Plaque 2

Plaque on one of the other houses which reads
“Erected by the tenants and employees of Mitchells & Butlers Ltd to The Memory of a Great Friend”

Ed’s comment-my thanks to David Bryant (Smethwick Heritage Centre) who passed a copy of this document to me after one of his supporters had sent it to him the original

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