BUTLER, ALBAN, 1711-1773.
Letter from Saint-Omer, France to unknown English correspondent, 1770.


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CITATION: Alban Butler Letter from Saint-Omer, France to unknown English correspondent, MSS 013, Archives and Manuscripts Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University. 

Biographical Note

Alban Butler is the author of many works, including the multi-volume The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints or Lives of the Saints; The Life of Sir Tobie Matthews; Travels through France and Italy, and part of Austrian, French, and Dutch Netherlands, during the years 1745 and 1746; and the unfinished Meditations and Discourses on the sublime Truths and important Duties of Christianity.

Born in 1710 or 1711 in Northamptonshire, England, Alban Butler attended the English College at Douai, France.  It was from this institution that he graduated and later joined the faculty as Professor of both Divinity and Philosophy.  While in Douai, Butler began work on Lives of the Saints.  In 1735 Butler was ordained a priest and promptly received the favor of the Duke of Cumberland for his devotion to the wounded English soldiers during the Battle of Fontenoy.  Butler returned to England in 1749 and was made chaplain to the Duke of Norfolk.  He accompanied the duke's son to Paris, where he served as tutor and completed his work on Lives of the Saints.  In 1766 Butler accepted the Presidency of the English College at Saint-Omer, where he spent the remainder of his life.  While maintaining his duties as President of the college, Butler continued to write and advise the bishops of Arras, Saint-Omer, Ypres, and Boulogne-Sur-Mer as their Vicar-General.  He died in Saint-Omer in 1773 and was buried in the parish church of Saint-Denis.

Scope and Content Note

This letter, written from Saint-Omer on March 2, 1770, was composed three years before Butler's death.  In it, he details his many responsibilities as President of the English College and Vicar-General to four local bishops.  The letter is interesting in its snapshot of everyday life for the famous hagiographer.  Butler recounts the deaths of three acquaintances, the legal problems of a local family, rivalries among various Catholic orders, and housing shortages at the college.

Last Modified: 10/10/00