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William Allen Butler (February 20, 1825 – September 9, 1902)[1] was an American lawyer and writer of poetical satires.

William Allen Butler
William Allen Butler cph.3b02586.jpg
Butler in 1902
Born(1825-02-20)February 20, 1825
DiedSeptember 9, 1902(1902-09-09) (aged 77)
Alma materUniversity of the City of New York
OccupationLawyer, poet
Mary R. Marshall (m. 1850)
ChildrenHoward Russell Butler
Parent(s)Benjamin Franklin Butler
Harriet Allen


Early lifeEdit

Butler was born on February 20, 1825 in Albany, New York. He was the son of the poet and lawyer Benjamin Franklin Butler and nephew of naval hero William Howard Allen, Allen graduated at the University of the City of New York in 1843 and became a New York lawyer.[2]


After being admitted to the Bar, Butler practiced law and eventually headed the firm of Butler, Stillman & Hubbard. He served as president of the American Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

He contributed travel writing and comic writing to The Literary World, a series on 'The Cities of Art and the Early Artists' to the Art Union Bulletin and also wrote for the Democratic Review.[3] His most famous satirical poem, Nothing to Wear, was first published anonymously in Harper's Weekly in 1857 (see 1857 in poetry), though Butler was forced to reveal his name after someone else claimed authorship.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

On March 21, 1850, he married Mary R. Marshall.[5] Together, they were the parents of Howard Russell Butler, a painter and founder of the American Fine Arts Society, who was born in 1856.[6] One of his daughters married John P. Crosby, another married Daniel B. Lord. His other children included Benjamin Franklin Butler, Jr., Mrs. Edmund Dwight, Mrs. Thomas S. Kirkbride, and Mrs. Alfred Booth.[7]

Butler died at his residence, Round Oak, in Palisade Avenue in Yonkers, on September 9, 1902.[7][8] Following a simple ceremony at his estate in Yonkers, a service was held at the First Presbyterian Church of Yonkers, and he was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx.[9]


  1. ^ Herringshaw, T. W., Herringshaw's national library of American biography, 5 vols, 1909-14.
  2. ^ Appleton's cyclopaedia of American biography, 6 vols, 1888
  3. ^ Duyckinck, E. A. & Duyckinck, G. L., Cyclopaedia of American Literature, 2 vols, 1856
  4. ^ The national cyclopaedia of American biography, 11 vols, 1898-1909
  5. ^ Hall, H., America's successful men of affairs, 2 vols, 1895-96.
  6. ^ Butler, William Allen. A Retrospect of Forty Years, 1825-1865 p.427.
  7. ^ a b "WILLIAM ALLEN BUTLER DIES SUDDENLY; Noted Lawyer and Writer Ill but One Day. Leading Authority on American Admiralty and Author of the Satire of "Flora McFlimsey of Madison Square."". The New York Times. 10 September 1902. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  8. ^ ""NOTHING TO WEAR"; Death of William Allen Butler Recalls the Story of "Flora McFlimsey of Madison Square" Which Achieved Fame in 1857" (PDF). The New York Times. September 14, 1902. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  9. ^ "WILLIAM ALLEN BUTLER BURIED.; Many Conspicuous Men Attend the Funeral at Round Oak". The New York Times. 13 September 1902. Retrieved 31 October 2017.

External linksEdit