Keighley Boys' Grammar School

Herbert Butterfield


Herbert Butterfield (1900-1979) was  born in Oxenhope, the son of Albert ,whose father had intended him for the Methodist ministry, and Ada Mary who came from Leominster and whose parents were Plymouth Brethren. Albert’s desire to be a minister was cut short when his father died prematurely and he eventually became a clerk in a woollen mill. It would be interesting to find out which mill this was. Herbert left Keighley Trade and Grammar School in 1919 for Cambridge where he was a scholar of Peterhouse. On his graduation in 1922, Peterhouse offered him a fellowship and he remained a Fellow of that college almost until his death and was Master from 1955-1968. He married Edith Joyce Crawshaw, called  Pamela, in 1929.


He was one of the most prominent historians of his day. In 1944 he was elected Professor of Modern History at Cambridge and from 1963-1968 was Regius Professor. He was knighted in 1968 and had a spell as a ,somewhat unwilling, Vice Chancellor of the University from 1959-1961. He wrote many books the most important of which was ‘The Whig Interpretation of History’ in 1931. He was a teetotaller but a smoker all his life. He played the piano and was a lay preacher in the Methodist Church, although in his later days he attended Anglican services in Peterhouse chapel. He died in 1979 and was survived by his wife and two sons.


Source: Tom Punt


See his Wikipedia entry.