Thomas Harsant Butler, South Bucks Free Press

Stop number WHITE 13: Continue to walk along the avenue of lime trees and just before the path to your left look for the Butler graves.
 Butler family plot
Butler family plot
Read the story below and when you are ready to move on click on the dot/circle for C Raffety.
Grave of Thomas Harsant Butler South Bucks Free Press
Grave of Thomas Harsant Butler South Bucks Free Press (SWOP RHW03008)
Thomas Harsant Butler 1851-1926

I am Thomas Harsant Butler, editor of the South Bucks Free Press (you’ll know it better as the Bucks Free Press). It was founded by my father William Butler, a chemist, bookseller and stationer, who was based in Church Street, High Wycombe.

The South Bucks Free Press was first printed at the Little Market House, or Pepper Pot as it is known locally, opposite the chemist shop where my father first lived. Producing the paper was a laborious process back in those days. There were no typewriters so the copy was all handwritten with the type then hand-set, letter by letter. The paper was printed by hand-feeding single sheets into the massive but slow-running printer.

In 1869, the offices moved to 20 High Street. Printing paper was delivered to the offices by horse-drawn carts and it was a very busy enterprise. But in 1885, my father died following a seizure and I became the paper's second editor.

The title changed to the Bucks Free Press during the First World War when everything else was changing too! As our young staff members were called up to fight, it was left to the older employees to carry on, which they did successfully in spite of paper rationing.

Our paper, now in 1916, is full of news of the men fighting at the Somme, casualty lists, names of soldiers missing in action and obituaries. Our pages contain letters of condolence from their company commanders with commendations for the soldier’s bravery and their coolness under fire, sorrow from their comrades with tales of what has happened to the best of their chums, requests from anxious relatives searching for a missing son or husband. Although news via the Government is heavily censored, we often publish the soldiers’ letters which they send back home to anxious relatives and which are then sent in to us from proud parents eager to spread tales of heroism and bravery.

To a public starved of accurate news the paper is a life-line, but we always remain upbeat and, above all, absolutely focused on the task that lies before us - to win the war.

News of families with five or more sons in uniform are regularly highlighted, their devotion to King and Country highly praised, their patriotism flagged up as an example to us all.

There is no doubt that the war is an exciting time for us but I will retire in 1919 and will hand over the reigns to William Hollins who will be appointed the next editor. The business will become a private company but it will still be some time before the rotary printing press is installed, which will change our production processes forever.

I will be buried here in the cemetery, in the family plot D Uncon Private 1.

Thomas Harsant Butler researched by Sally Scagell and performed by Mike Dewey, Flackwell Local Area Hisrory Group
Thomas Harsant Butler researched by Sally Scagell and performed by Mike Dewey, Flackwell Local Area History Group

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