George was a musical instrument maker in Dublin and later in London, with a manufacturing company that would be run by several generations of his descendants. According to William Waterhouse's 'The New Langwill Index: A Dictionary of Musical Wind-Instrument Makers and Inventors' (London, T. Bingham, 1993), "flourished in Dublin from 1826 as a successor to a Mr. Dollard, maker of flute, Kent-bugle, serpent and bass-horn". "The New Langwill Index" lists Algernon Rose's 'Talk with Bandsmen' (London, 1894; reprint ed., London: T. Bingham, 1996) as a secondary source for George. According to Mr. Rose, George "succeeded Mr. Dollard, who set up in Dublin about the year 1810." From the above it would appear that George took over Mr. Dollard's musical instrument business in 1926. However it appears there was already a Butler family musical instrument business in operation in Dublin prior to this if a statement made in a newspaper advertisement in the 1920s is true:
(Successor to G. BUTLER & SONS)
Being the 5th generation in direct line trading in Dublin since the rebellion of 1798.
The "J. Butler" menioned here could only have been Jennie Butler, daughter of William J. Butler who was a son of George Patrick Butler who was a son of George James Butler above. George James would therefore have been the second generation in the business, indicating that his father was also a musical instrument maker
It appears George James moved to London between 1832 and 1834 while continuing to maintain the business in Dublin. There was a branch of the business located at 34 Sackville St. (now O'Connell St.), Dublin in 1832, with a move to 59 Mary St., Dublin in 1833. Our estimated time of George's move to London is based on the fact that his eldest three children were born in Dublin between about 1828 and 1932, while the fourth, born in 1834, and subsequent children were all born in London. At that time there was a large and tight-knit Irish community in the Strand area of London where the Butlers settled.
It seems George worked for others in London for a number of years (the 1851 census of England shows that George, along with his son George, was working as a "journeyman trumpet maker"), but in 1859 it is believed that he set up his first London shop at 17 Brydge's St. in Covent Garden. According to Algernon Rose, "Mr. Butler's business was established in the Haymarket in 1826" but it seems more likely that this may have been the year he started working in London; according to the "The New Langwill Index", the Haymarket business wasn't set up until 1865.
In Dublin it is possible that George's workshop was located in the mid-1850s on Capel St. because the only Griffith's Valuation entries for a George Butler in the entire city of Dublin are for (i) 155 and 156 Capel St (warehouse, house, warerooms and small yard) and (ii) an address on what seems to be a lane between 13 and 14 Strand St. Little (just off Capel St.) where an office was rented. Part of Strand St. Little runs behind shops on the river end of Capel St. where numbers 155 and 156 are located. Griffith's Valuation was undertaken for the Capel St. area in May of 1854.
According to his death certificate, George died of "debility from age". He is buried, along with his wife, Margaret, in St. Mary's Cemetery, Kensal Green, London. Unfortunately, their grave was public (a cheaper option than private) and when the cemetery needed to create new private graves in 1980 public graves had their headstones removed and the public area was covered over with a new mound of earth. Although George and Margaret's grave was undisturbed no trace of it is now visible, but we do know that they were buried in plot no. 145 in section NP.
There was a musical instrument maker by the name of Thomas Butler who was born in Dublin about 15 years after George and who may have been related to him. Thomas lived in London and we have established a connection between him and George's family in that it appears that George's mother was the informant named on Thomas's death certificate. However, we have no evidence that Thomas and George were in fact related. Thomas's father's name was James and, according to Thomas's marriage certificate, James was a hatter, suggesting that Thomas and George were not brothers (based on the newspaper advert mentioned above). Then again there are indications that George's father's name was James: George's middle name, for instance, and the fact that George appears to have named his eldest son James, which ties in with the tradition at the time of naming one's eldest son after the child's paternal grandfather. However, we have no proof whatsoever that there was any blood connection between Thomas and George.