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Anne-Marie Ford    -    6 June 2016

In the Worcester Herald of 9th May 1857 a story concerning Amadine Butler’s daughter, Susannah, was reported in some detail; it was the result of a court hearing at Malvern, where a vicious assault upon Susannah was considered and the miscreants sent for trial at the next Assizes:

Joseph Butler and Susannah Butler were brought up by PC Deakin, charged with stealing a knife, a tobacco-box, a shilling, and a hat from Thomas Brydges and PC Stanton introduced the complainant to the bench on a charge of cutting and wounding Susannah Butler (one of the prisoners), and John Brydges for aiding and abetting. The case of felony was first gone into, and from the evidence it appeared that the family of Butlers, the two Brydges, and others (tinkers and basket makers), had been drinking at the Herefordshire House, a few yards from the Wytch; they quarrelled and fought, and in the scuffle the things were lost. There was not a tittle of evidence to support the charge of felony and the case was dismissed. As to the cutting and wounding, Susannah Butler said “about six weeks ago the prisoner, Thomas Brydges, made proposals to me to go and live with him and said he would leave the woman he calls his wife. I refused; he made this proposal several times. I informed his wife and also my own friends of it. On Saturday last, the 2nd May, Thomas Brydges asked me if I had told anyone that he had asked me to go and live with him, I said I had. Thomas Brydges said, ‘Never mind, that will do.’ We had gone a short distance along the road when he again abused me very much and said, ‘I will give you a blow which will lay you to sleep.’ We walked on till we came to the Herefordshire House. We had some drink there and then left. At the time my brother, Joseph Butler, my mother, Amadine Butler, and several other persons were present. We all were walking together when Thomas Brydges came up to me with a knife in his hand. I saw the knife. He put the other hand on my forehead. He took it away again and laid hold of my right wrist, saying he could cut my b……. arm. Previous to this I heard John Brydges say, ‘Tom, here is a knife, stab the b………’ I did not see John Brydges give Thomas Brydges the knife. My brother Joseph came up and released me from him. Thomas Brydges attempted to cut me twice, but did not succeed the first time. After Thomas Brydges had cut my arm, and it was bleeding, John Brydges threw stones at me and they struck me twice.” Joseph Butler deposed, “On Saturday evening I was in the road near the Herefordshire House, with my sister, mother and others. I heard the prisoner, John Brydges, say to Thomas, ‘Put the knife in the b…….’ In a few minutes after I saw my sister and Thomas Brydges tusselling by their cart. I heard my sister say, ‘He has cut me.’ I went and released my sister from him. I did not see the knife. I said, ‘Tom, what did you do that for?’ when he struck me and I struck him again and we fought. I saw my sister’s arm bleeding when I went up to her.” Amadine Butler said, “I am Susannah Butler’s mother, on Saturday evening I went into the Herefordshire House. The prisoners, my daughter and several other persons were there. There was a row. Thomas Brydges and Susannah Boswell were quarrelling. I heard Thomas Brydges say to my daughter, holding a pair of tongs in his hand, ‘If you come out of this house tonight I will lay you to sleep.’ Several minutes after this we all left the Herefordshire House. Thomas and John Brydges went away first, with their cart. Harriet Smith was in the cart. Susannah Boswell followed the cart down the road and my daughter followed her. I also followed. When I came to the cart I heard John Brydges say to Tom, ‘there’s a knife, and use it.’ I saw John give a knife to Tom Brydges.”

After a number of other witnesses were called, including the surgeon who treated Susannah Butler, the two prisoners were committed for trial at the next Assizes.

Amadine Butler had been born Amadine Colbourn Boswell, the daughter of William Colbourn and Elizabeth Boswell, and her children were the result of two marriages, her first to Daniel Butler, the son of Joseph and Letitia Butler, and her second to Daniel’s brother, James. In fact the two children mentioned in the court case were half-siblings, Joseph the son of Amadine’s union with Daniel, Susannah the daughter of James and Amadine. The family links continued with the marriage of Daniel and James’ sister, Susannah, to Amadine’s brother, William Colbourn Boswell, and they had a Susannah Boswell born in 1832. Therefore, the Susannah Boswell mentioned in the court case was either Amadine’s sister-in-law or her niece, and in reality also a member of the Butler tribe.

Amadine’s known children with Daniel include Thomas, baptised in Wellesbourne, Worcestershire 1st January 1826; Charles, baptised at Dunchurch, Warwickshire in 1830; Ambrose, born about 1832, as well as Joseph. Her known children with James were Susannah, baptised at Southam, Worcestershire, 5th April 1840; Louisa, baptised Oddingley, Worcestershire 22nd February 1845; Matthew, baptised Hadzor, Worcestershire, 9th May 1848; Cynthia, baptised Lt. Malvern, Worcestershire 6th April 1851.

In 1861 there is another reference to Amadine and her family in the local newspaper, where she is recorded as Ameline, who, together with her husband, James Butler, and an Elizabeth Hodgkiss (Hodgkins) were involved in a drunken quarrel. Elizabeth is probably Amadine’s daughter-in-law, the first wife of Amadine’s son, Charles, by her first husband, Daniel. Among Charles and Elizabeth’s children were a Sophia, recorded as a Hodgkins born about 1850, and an Amadine, named for Charles’ mother, but also recorded as a Hodgkins, in 1852. This Amadine, in fact, was to marry a cousin, Sylvanus Boswell, the son of Susannah Boswell, the elder Amadine’s niece, which indicates how prevalent intermarriage was within this family group.

We know too that Amadine’s son Joseph, born about 1836, and mentioned in the earlier court hearing, was to marry Sophia Coleman, with whom he had several children, prior to their marriage in 1903 at Droitwich, Worcestershire, where Joseph claimed to be a 66 year old bachelor, the son of Daniel Butler, and Sophia, claimed she was a 56 year old spinster, daughter of Harry Smith. Their known children were Cynthia, born about 1873; Joseph, baptised in West Malvern, Worcestershire in 1875; William, born about 1879; Ambrose, born about 1882; Sylvia, born about 1884; Sabina, baptised in Colwall, Herefordshire in 1886.

Amongst the complicated web of unions of the family, Sylvanus Boswell and Amadine Hodgkins had a Louisa who married the William Butler who was the son of Joseph Butler and Sophia Coleman, and their children included an Amadine, born in about 1909. The name acts as a significant marker amongst the tribe of Butlers, and helps follow the thread as it weaves its way through unions with Boswells and Hodgkins, in particular. The story that follows next month explores the union of Sophia Hodgkins, grand-daughter of Amadine Butler, and that of Samuel Brumwell, and also of her sister Amadine’s partnership with Sylvanus Boswell.

* The Romany and Traveller Family History Society has just published the Butler Family Tree book, please see their website for details.

Copyright © 2016 Anne-Marie Ford