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THE GREAT ENGLISH PHILOCOPT WOMAN WRITER, EDITH LOUISA BUTCHER

March 1, 2013

butcher

Figure 1: A wedding group photo, at All saints Church, showing Mr And Mrs Butcher third and forth to the right of the bride in the centre. The photo is believed to include other prominent Anglican figures of the time, such as Re. Thornton and Dr Watson.[1]

Edith Louisa Butcher (or Mrs. E. L. Butcher) is a Coptic household name. Who doesn’t appreciate her writing “The Story of the Church of Egypt”, which has rendered a great service to the Coptic Church and nation? Nevertheless, there exists no biography of her. We practically know little of her life. I hope by writing this article I will help in building up an adequate Life of her, as others, hopefully, will add to it.[2]

She was born Edith Louisa Floyer on 13 February 1854 in Marshchapel, Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England. On 26 June 1896, at 42 years of age, she married Rev. Charles henry Butcher of Cairo, at St. Paul’s, Rome, Roma, Latium, Italy. After marriage, she moved with him to Cairo. Rev. Butcher, who was born in Clifton in 1833 and died in 1907 in Cairo, was Chaplain of the Anglican, All Saints Church (built 1878) in Azbakiyya, Cairo,[3] from 1880 to 1907, when he died at 74 years old age, was a major figure in the British community in Egypt after the British occupation in 1882; and he had a great influence in her. She called him “The Dean”, and says of his help, for example, “My History of the Egyptian Church was finished just about the time of my marriage to the Dean, else, as I afterwards told him, it would certainly never have been finished at all.”[4] Mrs Butcher survived her husband, and she died on 4 may 1933 in Devon, England, where she has been buried. I don’t know of any children of her.

The DeanFigure 2: Rev. Charles Henry Butcher, or The Dean, as Mrs Butcher calls him.[5]

Mrs E. L. Butcher showed a great interest and admiration in the Copts and their Church, and she wrote three important books that no one interested in Coptic matters should miss (click to access them):

In these books, which are not exclusively about the Copts, particularly the last two, Mrs Butcher surveyed not just Coptic history in sympathy and care but also recorded many Coptic traditions as she saw them around the turn of the 20th century.


[1] Published by The Egypt Diocesan Association (on their website).

[2] I have collected these bits of information from the internet and genealogy sites.

[3] Between Shari’a 26th July and Shari’a Sharif in Azbakiyyah.

[4] Egypt As We Knew It; p. 149.

[5] Ibid; p. 148.

[6] Published in London by Smith, Edder, & Co.

[7] Published in London by Seeley.

[8] Published in London by Mills & Boon.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 4, 2014 7:16 am

    As you rightly say, little biographical information is readily to hand regarding Edith Louisa Butcher. However, the good Rev. Butcher was also the ‘Dean of Shanghai’, reference:

    http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=sandberg&id=I00419

  2. April 15, 2015 1:05 pm

    Joseph secretary of EDA passed this on to me. Very interesting and useful, I have not previously seen Mrs Butchers books. Glad to hear that the wedding picture of my grandparents on our website was useful and of interest to you. The 5 in front row (as marked by my father years ago on the original print) are L-R Mrs Adeney, Rev Adeney, Rev DMThornton, Mrs Thornton (bride) and Geraldine Weston. The photo above described as Rev CH (Dean) Butcher does look very similar to the Rev Adeney on the wedding Photo. Can you tell me where it came from? I don’t know who in the wedding photo are Dean and Mrs Butcher, but suspect that the formidable looking lady in black three to the Brides left may be her. I have no proof of that.
    Best wishes Doug Thornton, webmaster EDA. e mail dougthornton@btinternet.com

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      April 15, 2015 2:28 pm

      Thank you for your interesting post. I do not have any confirmation who in the picture is Mr and Mrs Butcher. I was told that they were the ones in the front row, 2nd and 3rd to what appear as the bride. What you are saying clearly negates that.

      It will be great if you could engage your congregation in an effort to identify them if they indeed exist in the photo.

      • April 15, 2015 3:38 pm

        Thanks for response. I suspect that Mrs Butcher is 3 to Brides ( my Grandmothers) left (our right) as she looks like a “formidable” lady, in black: but I have no proof of that or who Dean Butcher is in the wedding Photo. I have identified 5 however on front row; Mrs Adeney, Rev Adeney, Rev Thornton Mrs Thornton, Geraldine Weston. Also 4 others who are separately shown on website history section. I will search further among the EDA members.
        Mrs Butcher “collared” my grandfather on his arrival in Cairo 1898 and introduced him to some coptic priests who showed him around their compounds and he also took part in one of their services. He became friendly with many of them and when he had learnt some Arabic, he set up and invited them to his ‘open’ meetings to discuss moral and religious matters. He also started and circulated to them the Orient and Occident magazine in English from front and Arabic from (our) back.
        Very best wishes, Doug Thornton

      • coptictreasures permalink
        November 9, 2016 5:24 am

        Hi, I am just wondering if there are any new findings about who in the picture is Mrs. Butcher, or if there are any other available photos of her, thanks.

      • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
        November 13, 2016 11:59 am

        Hello, I have no other information to help in this.

  3. July 2, 2016 4:57 pm

    Dean Butcher was married previously – in London in 1864 to a woman named Margaret Gardner. She went out with him to Shanghai but return to the England “for her health.” She went to live with her brother, the Rev. Townley Gardner in Tickhill, Yorkshire. The Rev Gardner was dying; he was assisted by a curate, Rev. F.W. Chorley. Mrs. Butcher and Chorley commenced an affair and, after her brother’s death, she and Chorley moved to London. The Butchers were divorced in June 1873. When Butcher married Edith Floyer, it did cause comment among those who remembered that the Dean’s first wife was still living.
    Tom Hughes victorianclericalerrors.blogspot.com

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      July 2, 2016 5:13 pm

      Thank you for the information. Interesting.

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