Obituary | Published:

Mr. W. R. Butterfield

Naturevolume 135page985 (1935) | Download Citation



THE town of Hastings has suffered a grievous loss through the death of its museum curator and librarian. William Ruskin Butterfield came from Bradford in 1894 as a school teacher, and soon began to take a prominent part in the work of local scientific societies as a field naturalist. In 1905 he was appointed curator of the museum in the Brassey Institute, Hastings, and in 1909 librarian of its reference library, both of which under his care grew greatly in importance as centres for the study of the natural history, archaeology and arts of south-east Sussex. In 1929 the mansion of John's Place was purchased by the town as a home for the museum. This gave Butterfield his opportunity. In its new quarters under his skilful hands the museum became a live thing, each room the sanctuary of a particular science or art. Meanwhile, the reference library was rehoused in the old museum, and a lending library and reading rooms were added. The whole was a wonderful achievement for a man constitutionally unable to delegate responsibility; but a breakdown in health followed. From this, Butterfield recovered sufficiently to set up as an annexe to the museum the “Indian Durbar Hall” (from the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886) which had been given to the town by the late Lord Brassey, and to arrange in it with his old skill the collections of “The Voyage of the Sunbeam”, but he never regained complete health and died suddenly on March 24 at the age of sixty-two years.


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