Fred Butler had a longer First-Class cricket career than his older brother Robert but their uncle, the legendary George Parr, outstripped them both by some margin.
Born in Radcliffe-on-Trent on 29 December 1858, Frederic (sometimes recorded with an additional ‘k’), was a right-hand bat and a consistent rather than a heavy scorer, though his one score above a hundred was certainly notable – 171 in just under five hours against Sussex in 1890.
He first came to attention when twice selected for the Nottinghamshire Colts; in 1879 he failed to score but two years later he made 43 when no other Colt reached double figures. Picked for the XXII Colts of England v MCC, Butler gave almost a repeat performance, scoring 47; Wisden commented that his, ‘strong defence and clean hitting gave great promise of future excellence’.
Butler was included in the county side for the first match of the 1881 season – also versus Sussex – and continued the pattern, scoring 40 in his only innings. He played in every Nottinghamshire match in that strike-hit season.
His next engagement was a long way from his native village – as professional with Staten Island CC in New York state from 1885-6. Refusing a third season in America, he returned to the UK and joined Sunderland CC and made occasional appearances for Notts. His final season, which included that impressive knock against Sussex, saw Butler’s last First-Class game, v Lancashire at Old Trafford and two matches – against Derbyshire and the Next XVI – that were not First-Class fixtures.
In total he played 50 First-Class games, making 1,084 runs at 15.26, with 171 by some distance his best score. Butler was rated as a good fielder, especially in the deep, and took 30 catches in those 50 games. He was an occasional bowler, taking five First-Class wickets, all of them in one innings against the Gentlemen of Philadelphia in 1885 when he represented the Players XI of the United States of America (5-54).
His engagements with Sunderland enabled him to represent Durham County CC, playing from 1891-94; he was engaged by local land-owner Calverley Bewicke of Close House, Wylam, secretary of Northumberland CC and Butler played for that county and Mr Bewicke’s XI prior to returning to the USA around 1900. He is listed in the Eleven of the New York Veterans of 1912 and as umpire for some Halifax Cup matches and other games in America in 1917 and 1920.
Frederic Butler died at Sailors Snug Harbor, Staten Island, on 26 February 1923.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 170