Sir Richard Butler
|23rd Premier of South Australia|
Elections: 1905, 1906
1 March 1905 - 26 July 1905
|Governor||Sir George Le Hunte|
|13th Leader of the Opposition (SA)|
|Born||3 December 1850|
Stadhampton, England, UK
|Died||28 April 1925 (aged 74)|
South Croydon, England, UK
Sir Richard Butler (3 December 1850 - 28 April 1925) was an Australian politician. He was a member of the South Australian House of Assembly from 1890 to 1924, representing Yatala (1890-1902) and Barossa (1902-1924). He served as Premier of South Australia from March to July 1905 and Leader of the Opposition from 1905 to 1909. Butler would also variously serve as Speaker of the House of Assembly (1921-1924), and as a minister under Premiers Charles Kingston, John Jenkins and Archibald Peake. His son, Richard Layton Butler, went on to serve as Premier from 1927 to 1930 and 1933 to 1938.
Richard Butler was born at Stadhampton, near Oxford, England, elder son of Richard Butler, père and his wife Mary Eliza, née Sadler. They emigrated with their two children Mary and Richard to South Australia, arriving in Adelaide on 8 March 1854, following Richard père 's brother Philip, who emigrated fourteen years earlier, made a fortune as a pastoralist and landowner, established Mallala sheep station, and built the magnificent homestead "Yattalunga", then returned to England. Richard père took over management of Mallala and the growing family (see below) lived at "Yattalunga" until around 1870.
Young Richard was educated at St Peter's College, Adelaide, then spent many years as a farmer and grazier. He was a Justice of the Peace before he was 30.
Butler attempted to enter parliament early in 1890 when he stood for Yatala but was defeated. A few months later he won the seat at a by-election caused by the death of one of the seat's sitting members, James Cowan. On 13 April 1898 he succeeded Cockburn as minister of agriculture in the Kingston ministry which resigned in December 1899. Yatala was abolished in 1902 and Butler represented Barossa from 3 May 1902 to 4 April 1924.
Butler became the parliamentary leader of an informal group of country members supported by the Farmers and Producers Political Union in 1904. Butler was Treasurer of South Australia in the Jenkins ministry from 15 May 1901 to 1 March 1905, and was also Commissioner of Crown Lands and Immigration from 1 April 1902 to 1 March 1905. Jenkins then went to London as Agent-General. Butler succeeded him as Premier, still keeping his previous portfolios. His ministry was defeated soon after the 1905 election where Labor formed government under Thomas Price and retained government at the 1906 election, relegating Butler to opposition until a year before the 1910 election, when Labor lost government resulting from Price's death. The Liberal and Democratic Union (LDU) insisted on taking the premiership. On 22 December 1909 Butler joined the first Peake LDU ministry as Treasurer and Minister for the Northern Territory, but the ministry was defeated following the 1910 election. Following the 1912 election, Butler was Commissioner of Public Works in the second Peake ministry from 17 February 1912 to 10 November 1914 and Minister of Mines and of Marine from 17 February 1912 to 3 April 1915. The Peake government was defeated at the 1915 election, however Labor split over conscription in 1917 which brought down the government. Butler was Treasurer once again and Minister of Railways in Peake's third ministry from 14 July 1917 to 7 May 1919, and Minister of Agriculture 19 December 1918 to 7 May 1919.
Butler left the ministry in controversial circumstances. The report of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Scheme appeared to reflect on the actions of Butler while he was the minister in charge of it, and Peake asked Butler to resign. He refused to do so because he considered that that would admit the justice of the charges. The Executive Council, on the advice of the government, thereupon dismissed Butler from his offices. The report of another royal commission presented some 14 months later was, however, accepted as clearing him of guilt; also the fact that he was elected Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly in 1921 suggests there had been injustice. Butler was defeated in his seat at the 1924 election after having represented the same district area for 34 years.
At the beginning of 1925 Butler went on a trip to England and died at South Croydon on 28 April 1925. Butler was made a knight bachelor in 1913. He had married Helena Kate Layton in 1878 and Ethel Pauline Finer in 1894, who survived him. He had eight children by his first marriage and three by his second.
Richard Butler (c. 1812 - 9 June 1887) married Mary Eliza Sadler (c. 1822 - 18 June 1898), arrived in South Australia March 1854
Richard's brother Philip Butler (c. 1822-1899) arrived on vessel John in February 1840 and was associated with A. W. Thorold Grant in running sheep on a large property in the Hundred of Munno Para and at Mudla Wirra; leased "Mallala" inc. Gawler; married Matilda Roe (- 12 April 1862) on 13 September 1849. He built large two-storey house "Yattalunga" used by his brother Richard. Philip and his family returned to England where Matilda died. He married again to Margaret Chesshyre on 2 July 1863, returned to South Australia briefly then retired to England. Joseph Barritt purchased Yattalunga 1878. Their children were:
He had three further children in England: twins in November 1862, and a son on 15 February 1859.
| Premier of South Australia
| Leader of the Opposition of South Australia
| Commissioner of Public Works
1912 – 1914
|South Australian House of Assembly|
| Member for Yatala
Served alongside: William Gilbert
| Member for Barossa
Coombe, Crosby, Gilbert, Hague, Rudall
| Speaker of the House of Assembly