Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Butterworth, Edwin

BUTTERWORTH, EDWIN (1812–1848), Lancashire topographer, was the tenth and youngest child of James Butterworth [q. v.], and was born at Pitses, near Oldham, on 1 Oct. 1812. He followed in the footsteps of his father, whom he assisted in his later works, but was more given to statistical research. When Mr. Edward Baines undertook the preparation of a history of Lancashire, he found a useful colleague in Edwin Butterworth, who visited many parts of the county in order to collect the requisite particulars. During the six years in which he was engaged by Mr. Baines he travelled on foot through nearly every town and village in the county. His own notes and those of his father formed a large mass of manuscript material. So extensive was it that in 1847 he conceived the idea of issuing a history of the county in fifty volumes, each of which, while part of the general series, should also be complete in itself. This project was encouraged by the Earl of Ellesmere. Overtures were made to Samuel Bamford, as it was thought that his pleasant style and Butterworth's facts would make a popular combination. The suggestion was roughly treated by the ‘Radical,’ and Butterworth's death occurred before such a plan could have been completed. In addition to his share of Baines's ‘Lancashire’ the following are from the pen of Butterworth: 1. ‘Biography of Eminent Natives, Residents, and Benefactors of the Town of Manchester,’ Manchester, 1829. 2. ‘A History of Oldham in Lancashire,’ London, 1832. 3. ‘A Chronological History of Manchester brought down to 1834,’ second edition, Manchester, 1834. The first edition was the ‘Tabula Mancuniensis’ of his father; a third edition appeared in 1834. 4. ‘An Historical Description of the Town of Heywood and Vicinity,’ Heywood, 1840. 5. ‘A Statistical Sketch of the County Palatine of Lancaster,’ London, 1841. 6. ‘An Historical Account of the Towns of Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge, and Dukinfield,’ Ashton, 1842. 7. ‘Views of the Manchester and Leeds Railway, drawn from nature and on stone by A. F. Tait, with a descriptive history by Edwin Butterworth,’ London, 1845, folio. 8. ‘Historical Sketches of Oldham, by the late Edwin Butterworth, with an appendix containing the history of the town to the present time,’ Oldham, 1856. The previous edition appeared in 1847.

In addition to these labours Butterworth acted as correspondent for the Manchester newspapers, and was for a considerable time registrar of births and deaths for the township of Chadderton. He is described by those who knew him as genial and modest. Such of his books and manuscripts as had not been accidentally dispersed were purchased by Messrs. Platt Brothers, and by them presented to the Oldham Lyceum. Butterworth died of typhoid fever on 19 April 1848. In 1859 a monument to his memory was erected by public subscription in Greenacres Cemetery, Oldham. His books are now for the most part scarce and difficult to obtain.

[Local Notes and Queries from the Manchester Guardian, 1874–5; Index Catalogue of the Manchester Free Library, Reference Department, Manchester, 1879; Historical Sketches of Oldham, 1856; Fishwick's Lancashire Library, 1875.]

W. E. A. A.