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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Butler, Hon. Henry

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Butler, Hon. Henry, son of Gamaliel Butler, solicitor, was born in Cornhill, London, on November 17th, 1821. In 1823 the family emigrated to Tasmania. Mr. Butler was educated in England, and chose medicine as his profession, becoming a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1843, and in 1849 a fellow of that college. After studying at some of the hospitals on the Continent, he returned to Tasmania, and began the practice of his profession in Hobart. He was elected to the old Legislative Council as member for Brighton, and on the introduction of free institutions in 1856 he entered the new House of Assembly as member for the same constituency, holding the seat, with a short interval, until his death. In August 1869 he became a member of the Wilson Ministry without portfolio. In the following October he was appointed Minister of Lands and Works, a position which he held till Nov. 1872, when he resigned with his colleagues. He succeeded Sir Robert Officer as Speaker of the Assembly in April 1877, and having been twice re-elected in the interval, resigned in July 1885. Dr. Butler took a prominent part in educational matters. In 1853 he was appointed a member of the Central Board of Education for the colony. In 1856, when two boards were appointed, he became Chairman of the Southern Board. In 1863, shortly after the amalgamation of the two boards, he was appointed Chairman of the Central Board in succession to Mr. W. E. Nairn. As chairman he administered the educational system of the colony with ability and success until the abolition of the Board of Education in 1884 and the transference of the control of the education department to a Minister directly responsible to Parliament. Dr. Butler married Catherine Smith, daughter of Thomas Smith, of Glen Rock, Sydney. He died at Hobart on August 22nd, 1885.