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Charles Rupert BUTLER (1873-1915)

Biographical Details

Charles Rupert Butler (1873-1915), known as Charlie, was the nephew of Eugénie Sladden, being the eldest son of her sister, Fanny.  Charlie is mentioned in two letters written by his aunt, Polly Robinson, in 1914, and in several letters in 1915 shortly after his untimely death.

Charlie was born on 4th August 1873 at Moreford Lodge, Noribton, the eldest of nine children of Charles and Fanny Butler.  When he was four years old, the family moved to Gloucester House, Claremont Road, Surbiton, Kingston upon Thames.  Charlie was educated at Charterhouse.

Charlie became a tobacco manufacturer like his father and grandfather.  His grandfather, also Charles Butler, had founded Lambert & Butler in 1834 with his wife’s brother.  They began selling cigars first in St John Street, Clerkenwell and then from 1836 from their premises in Drury Lane.  During the 19th century, Lambert & Butler grew considerably.  In 1901, the company joined with 12 other companies to form the Imperial Tobacco Company during the Tobacco Wars, in order to fend off competition from the United States by the American Tobacco Company.  Charlie was by now head of the Lambert & Butler branch, his father having died in 1898; at the time of his death he was a director of Imperial Tobacco Company.  After the amalgamation, Imperial concentrated on the British market. A new company called British American Tobacco was set up to export all tobacco brands. (In 1973, after an exchange of trademarks, the Lambert & Butler name is owned in Britain and elsewhere by Imperial Tobacco; Lambert & Butler is a UK cigarette brand.)

Charlie married Annie Gwendoline Winter (known as Gwen) on 31st October 1900 at St Mary Abbot’s Church, Kensington.  A newspaper report of the time described it as a fashionable wedding with no fewer than eight bridesmaids.  After the wedding, the couple left for a Continental honeymoon tour.

At the time of the 1901 census, Charlie and Gwen were living at 7 Sloane Gardens, Chelsea.  They had one son and one daughter:  Iris Gwendoline (1901-1983) and Charles Desmond Northcutt (1904-1976).  In 1901 Charles was listed as having chambers at 101 Mount Street.  Elsewhere he is described as a tobacco manufacturer.  In 1911 and 1913 he was listed as being a private resident at New Place, Sunningdale.  At the time of the 1911 census, Charlie was away from home; Gwen was living at 13 Park Crescent, London, with her two children and eight servants. 

Charlie died suddenly of a heart attack at the Savoy Court Hotel, London, on 19th March 1915; his wife, Gwen, was with him at the time.  His sudden death is referred to in several letters written shortly after the event.

He was buried in Windlesham churchyard.  Charlie’s address at the time of his death was given as New Place, Sunningdale.  Newspaper reports by auctioneers in August 1915 reveal that the property was sold just over four months after his death and then a separate auction held for the furniture.  He left effects of £59,357 15s 5d.

Letters mentioning this person: