Asher Butt of Christchurch

Ari’s 5x great-grandfather Asher Butt lived in Christchurch, Hampshire (now Dorset).

View from the castle


Christchurch was originally called Twyneham, and this story from the National Gazetteer of 1868 explains how it got its new name:

“This circumstance is accounted for by the monkish legend which relates the history of the building of the church. In order to expedite so good a work, Heaven aided the bishop with supernatural assistance, a supernumerary workman being always observed during the hours of labour, though at the times of refreshment and receiving wages only the stated number appeared. By his aid everything prospered till the fabric was nearly finished, when on raising a large beam to a particular situation where it was intended to be fixed, it was found to be too short. No remedy appearing, the embarrassed workmen retired to their dwellings. On returning to the church the ensuing morning, they discovered that the beam had been placed in its right position, and was now extended a foot longer than was requisite. Speechless with surprise, the additional workman recurred to their thoughts, and on recovering their tongues, they agreed that no other than our Saviour could have thus assisted them; and on this account, concludes the story, was the edifice dedicated to Christ.” The miraculous beam is still pointed out by the finger of credulity, though but a small portion of the original structure remains, the greater part of the present edifice having been rebuilt in the 15th century.”

Asher was born in 1785 and baptised on 26 June. His father was also called Asher, but his mother’s name is not known for certain, although there was a marriage in 1778 between Asher Butt and Anne Drodge.

On 20 Oct 1808 Asher married Elizabeth Thomas in Christchurch. Seven children were born and baptised in Christchurch between 1809 and 1825: Charlotte, Hannah, Sarah, William Thomas, Emma, Mary and George. The 1841 census shows Asher staying at the King’s Arms Hotel, Bridge St, aged 50, a Post Boy. (Asher’s wife and two of their children are at an address in Bargates.)

Asher appears on the marriage certificate for his son William on 10 Sept 1844, described as a postman, and also on the marriage record for his daughter Hannah in 1849 (after his death), where he is described as a servant.

He made the newspapers twice, once in 1839 because of an accident:

Salisbury and Winchester Journal 18 November 1839


And then in 1841 when he was sent to Dorchester Gaol for a month:

Dorset County Chronicle 28 January 1841


The Prison Admission and Discharge Registers, 1782-1901 are available to browse on Ancestry.co.uk, and also some prisoner photographs for later years. I wasn’t able to find him in the registers.

Asher died on 2 October 1844 at Christchurch, with the cause of death given as facial cancer. His wife Elizabeth was present at the death.

Ari, this shows how you are related to Asher:

#Christchurch #Butt #Hampshire #DorchesterGaol #Dorset

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