As this blog is due on July 4th, we thought it appropriate to focus on Cliffe Castle
Why? Isn’t it a museum in Yorkshire rather than America? Well, yes, but let us explain….
Visitors are often surprised to learn of connections between Cliffe Castle’s previous owners, the Butterfields and the USA It involves several American wives and a surprising amount of time spent ‘across the pond’.
The Butterfields are from Yorkshire – their mills and their family house were orginally in Haworth. Cliffe Hall (as the Castle was first known) was their weekend retreat, and under Henry Isaac Butterfield’s ownership was converted in the grand house we’re more familiar with today.
The Butterfield Brothers (Henry was one of five) were successful but wished to expand their business further afield – which is why in 1840, Henry Isaac Butterfield and his elder brother Richard Shackleton Butterfield traveled across the Atlantic. Their first American premises was in Philadelphia (7 Church Alley) and later they would also set up in New York (53 Exchange Place).
Henry was described by his son Frederick (more on him later) as:
living there for many years, a popular figure in the society of the period….He ended by marrying there, after retiring from business
Henry married Marie Louise Roosevelt Burke in 1854. She was the daughter of the Honourable Michael Burke of New York and his wife Catherine Angelica Roosevelt (1803-1844) .
Catherine Angelica’s parents were James Jacobus Roosevelt (a wealthy New York banker, sugar refiner and politician) and Maria Helen van Shaack. When Catherine died in 1844 Marie Louise was sent to live with her uncle, the Supreme court judge, James (or Jacobus) Roosevelt of 836-838 Broadway, New York (d 1875) and his wife Cornelia van Ness.
It was while living with her Aunt and Uncle that she was introduced to Henry. During this period, she also became acquainted with Napoleon III (whom her aunt had hosted). This connection meant that after Henry and Marie married, they moved to Paris, where they became part of the Imperial court of the Emperor and his wife, Empress Eugenie.
Marie Louise was included in Scribner & Co’s book, Queens of American Society, a set of biographies of prominent women in the USA, although sadly, the year it came out was the year she died (1867). They are very complementary to her:
…finding the society of Paris much to her taste, made that her city home. Her personal beauty, her natural grace, her many accomplishments (being a fine linguist), and her exquisite taste…added to her husband’s wealth and liberality, soon gave her a prominent position in the court circles of that brilliant Capital…Elegant, cultivated, and refined, she was a true-hearted woman, loving her country and its instititutions, loyal to her flag at all times and under all circumstances, and doing all in her power to make the name of America honoured and respected abroad…her death was mourned by many friends in the brilliant circle she adorned
Henry and Marie Louise named their son to include references to the American family. His full name was Frederick William Louis d’Hillers Roosevelt Theodore Butterfield. The Theodore is after ‘Teddy’s’ father Theodore Roosevelt Sr who was first cousin to Marie.
‘Teddy’ Roosevelt was a second cousin to Frederick. They would both go on to study Law at Columbia College Law School in 1880 . Looking at portraits and images of both men, there’s a family resemblance – helped no doubt by Frederick styling his hair and moustache in a very similar fashion to ‘Teddy’….
Frederick completed his studies at Columbia but Theodore left to pursue politics and ultimately became President of the United States of America. Frederick would described the time he spent there fondly – ‘On arrival in America, I had been very well recieved by my Roosevelt relatives‘. Frederick and family would later be invited to attend the wedding of Roosevelt’s daughter Alice which was held at the White House in 1906.
Frederick met his first wife, Miss Jessie Kennedy Ridgeway who was from Philiadelphia, not in America, as you may have expected but at a summer party held at Cliffe Castle in 1887 to which she had been invited by Henry.
It would have featured Menu cards like the one below – which proudly displays both Cliffe Castle and American symbols – these were used by the Butterfields and show that they were as proud of their American connections as of Cliffe Castle.
Jessie and Frederick became engaged on his return to the USA. Frederick became a member of the Diplomatic Service for the United States of America and in 1888, just after his marriage to Jessie he was sent to be the US Consul in Ghent (part of Belgium).
On retiring as Consul he then lived in New York (1891-93) before moving to Washington DC. Eventually he would return to Britain, wishing to be nearer Henry as he grew older.
Frederick renounced American citizenship in1912 as he wished to enter politics in the UK. Previously, he had considered himself as American (via his mother) and when travelling in 1906, he was doing so as an American citizen.
Despite giving up his citizenship there were still frequent visits to America. In fact, after Jessie’s death Frederick met his second wife, Hilda, on an Ocean liner travelling to New York. She was also American and they married in 1930. Learn more about Hilda in a previous blog.
Whilst we know small bits and pieces about the Butterfields and their time in America, we’re always looking for information on the family’s activities and properties over there. If you can help us find out more or supply us with additional info, please do get in touch with us, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
We hope this blog post has whetted your appetite for Cliffe Castle and its fascinating family.
And for those that celebrate it, Happy Independence Day!