Frances Butler

Frances Butler (1790–1868)

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 1, 298–299.

Born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 3 March 1790, she was the sixth child and fourth daughter of John and Arabella Graham-Clarke. In family letters she is generally mentioned as “Fanny.” She was the subject and recipient of a teen-age poem by EBB entitled “To dearest Fanny on receiving from her an apron” (see Reconstruction, D953). She grew to adulthood in the Graham-Clarke family home, and on 30 January 1812 married Thomas Butler (1783–1861). He was a brother of the Rev. Richard Pierce Butler, who later married Frances’ sister Charlotte. The residence of Thomas and Frances was Ballin Temple, County Carlow, Ireland. In 1817, upon the death of his father, Thomas became the 8th Baronet of Cloughgrenan, and Frances thereby acquired the title of Lady Butler. They had a large family, consisting of at least five sons and six daughters. Substantial efforts were made toward their education. In a letter of 14 December 1830 (SD733), Aunt Bummy wrote to Henrietta: “from all accounts their house is filled all the day by Masters from every Country & I hope the great anxiety to have the poor children accomplished will not deprive them of the essential necessity of air and exercise.” A tragedy occurred in Frances’ family on Good Friday, 1831, as reported by Bummy in a letter to Henrietta dated 8 April of that year (SD740). One of the sons, Tom, accidentally shot and killed his brother John. Bummy commented: “This is indeed a grievous & great trial for poor Fanny, & Sir T. … I trust dearest Bro will be more than ever careful where he places his gun.” Living seven years after the death of her husband, Frances died on 30 August 1868 at Westwood Park, Scarborough.

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