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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
John (Snr) Butler

Born: 1810; Died: 1884; Married: Nancy (Ann) Dwyer

John Butler (Snr) was transported to Sydney on the Waterloo, arriving in September 1936. He was convicted of a 'fire arms' offence in his native Tipperary. Born in 1810, on arrival he was a widower with a daughter left behind in Ireland, unable to read or write, and described as having been a 'farm servant'.

Initially assigned to G. T. Palmer at Bathurst, within a few years he was at Palmerville, Palmer's estate at Ginninderra. He received his ticket of leave in 1844 and was granted a conditional pardon in 1849. By that time he (and his new wife) were at Yarralumla station. John Butler ('of Queanbeyan') married Nancy (Ann) Dwyer of Yass at St Augustines Roman Catholic Church in Yass on 5 May 1846, John having been granted permission to marry on 25 April.

It is believed that they had four children - Patrick (1847), Margaret (1848), John Jnr (1855), and Maria (not known). The first three of them , according to the baptismal register, were born at Yarralumla. Patrick, the first son, left the district, and died at an early age. It was John Butler Junior and his wife Euphemia (Phoebe) Gillespie who carried on the family's interests.

John Butler (Snr) purchased 100 acres beside the upper reaches of Ginninderra Creek in November 1859 - Portion 2, Parish of Goorooyarooo - and built Malton, the family home. Around that time a number of other smaller landowners purchased land in the Tea Gardens and Mulligans Flat areas of Ginninderra, around the periphery of the Palmer estate. Among the Butler's neighbours were the Cavanaghs, Gillespies, Rolfes, Boltons t4and the Crinigans. There were remarkable parallels in the lives of Butler and John Crinigan. Irish convicts, they both arrived in Sydney in 1836 on the Waterloo. Subsequently they both worked for Palmer at Palmerville, and were granted their ticket of leave and conditional pardons at the same time. Then in 2 November 1859 Crinigan bought land adjacent to the Butlers at the same Crown Lands sale in Queanbeyan, and they became neighbours.

Typically, success at farming was marked by further land acquisition. In 1861 Butler was able to acquire the nearby Portion 38 of 88 acres, and fourteen years later (1875) added two intervening Portions (208 and 209) totalling nearly 100 acres. The latter acreage was described in 1876 as 'undulating open forest poorly grassed barren land', and without improvements. Nevertheless, an illiterate, convicted 'farm servant' and his wife and family had created a home and a livelihood at Malton - a (still modest) holding of some 380 acres.

John Butler (Snr) died in 1884, and his wife Ann in 1895. By that time John Butler (Jnr) and his wife Phoebe were running the property.

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