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British Industrial History

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John Octavius Butler

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John Octavius Butler (1812-1883) of Kirkstall Forge Co

1812 Born son of Thomas Butler, iron master, and his wife Ann

1814 Baptised in Headingley[1]

1851 John O. Butler 38, iron master and engineer, was living at Kirkstall Forge, Headingley, Leeds with Anne Butler 38, Alice O Butler 6, Thomas S Butler 4, James Butler 2, Sarah E Butler 9 Mo[2]. His mother. In the adjoining property lived his mother Ann Butler, 73[3]

1859 of Kirkstall Forge, Leeds.[4]

1883 Died in Leeds

1884 Obituary [5]

JOHN OCTAVIUS BUTLER, born in 1812, was the second son of the late Mr. Thomas Butler, of Kirkstall, near Leeds, descended from a family possessing lands at Baildon, near Bradford, for upwards of two hundred years.

He was educated at two Yorkshire schools with a view to the engineering profession, and was articled to Fenton, Murray and Jackson, engineers, Leeds, in 1829 for five years, and in 1835 went to Rothwell and Co, Bolton, as draughtsman.

He entered into partnership in 1848 with his brothers Thomas and Ambrose, and his cousin George Skirrow Beecroft, late J.P. for Leeds, at the old ironworks at Kirkstall Forge, of which the Butler and Beecroft families had been proprietors since 1778.

The style of the firm, Beecroft, Butler and Co, was altered in 1858 to the Kirkstall Forge Co., on the retirement of Mr. Beecroft.

Mr. J. O. Butler introduced important improvements at Kirkstall Forge, where railway-plant, engine- and bridge-work, steam-hammers, &C., &C., were turned out on an extensive scale, and under his management one of the largest hydraulic forging presses ever made in this country was constructed for forging and stamping of malleable iron on the system of Mr. Haswell, of Vienna.

On his retirement from the Kirkstall Forge Co. in 1878 the engineering department was discontinued, but the extensive ironworks are still carried on by his nephews. Mr. Butler re-edited and greatly enlarged Beecroft’s 'Companion to the Iron Trade,' a work brought out by his uncle, the late Mr. George Beecroft, Sen.

Mr. Butler was for many years Major in the 1st West York Artillery Volunteers, was a Justice of the Peace for Leeds, and held various other important offices in connection with his native town.

He died from paralysis on the 16th of October, 1883, after an illness of eighteen months. Mr. Butler’s connection with this Institution dated from the 12th of March, 1844, when he was elected an Associate; he was transferred to the class of Members on the 27th of January, 1857.

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