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Thomas Lionel BUTLER (1884-1954)

Known As
Biographical Details

Thomas Lionel Butler (1884-1954), known as Tom, was the nephew of Eugénie Sladden and the cousin of Jack, May, Kathleen, Ethel, Arthur, George, Cyril and Juliet Sladden.

Tom was born on 6th October 1884 at Surbiton, Surrey, the seventh of nine children of Charles Butler, a tobacco manufacturer, and his wife, Fanny Eliza Jacqueline (née Mourilyan).  He was baptized the following month at St Mark’s Church, Surbiton.  He was aged 13 when his father died in 1898.  Like his brothers, Tom was educated at Charterhouse in Godalming.

Tom married Phyllis Beata Miller in 1906 in the Kensington district.  By 1911, Tom and Phyllis had moved out of London and the Home Counties and were living at Park Hill House, Ipplepen, Devon.  His occupation then was described as “Private means and owner of French market garden”.  Park Hill House is widely acknowledged to be the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s book, The Hound of the Baskervilles, first published in instalments in 1901.  Conan Doyle used to stay with his friend, Joseph Robinson (no known connection to the family of Frederick Dalgarno Robinson, Tom’s uncle by marriage), and was inspired by the tales he told of ghostly beasts on the moor. He even borrowed the name of Robinson's coachman and gardener, Harry Baskerville, to give the book its title.  Following the death of Joseph Robinson in 1903 and then his son in 1907, the house was sold in 1909, but it is not known whether Tom bought it or rented it.

During the First World War, Tom served in the army with the Army Service Corps, being gazetted temporary Second Lieutenant on 8th November 1915.  At the end of 1915, he was training at Grove Park, due to travel to Bulford en route for Serbia, going via Brindisi.  Orders must have changed, however, as he was sent to France instead, arriving there on 28th January 1916.  A letter of 22nd March 1916 written by his mother reveals that he was at Marseilles and was moving shortly nearer Béthune where his brother, Fred, was based; they were able to meet occasionally.

After the war, Tom trained as an architect.  At the time of the 1939 register, Tom and Phyllis lived at 83 St Mary Abbot’s Court, Kensington.

Thomas died at Bournemouth on 26th January 1954, aged 69.  Probate was granted to his widow, and also to his niece, Gwendolen Iris Shaw (sic – her name also appears as Iris Gwendoline), daughter of his eldest brother, Charles, who had died in 1915 when she was 13.

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