Member Biography

Richard Butler 


Portrait by John Trumbull

Sessions Office Position District Party
1790-1791         Democratic-Republican


04/01/1743 - 11/04/1791

General Richard Butler (Democratic-Republican) Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties 1790-1791

Early Life:

General Richard Butler, born April 1, 1743, Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland; son of Thomas and Eleanor Butler; family moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, five years old, 1748; military; engaged military Western Pennsylvania area; tradesman, primarily Pittsburgh and Chillicothe, Ohio; Captain 2d Pennsylvania Battalion 5th January, 1776; Major, 8th Pennsylvania, July 20, 1776; Lieutenant-Colonel, March 12, 1777; Colonel 9th Pennsylvania, June 7, 1777; appointed Indian agent, May, 17, 1778, and lost rank in army; transferred to 5th Pennsylvania, January 17, 1781; transferred to 3d Pennsylvania, January 1, 1783 - November 3, 1783; brevet Brigadier-General, September 30, 1783; Judge, Court of Common Pleas, City of Pittsburgh; elected, Democratic-Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1790-1791; Major-General United States, 1791; killed in action with Indians, Battle of Wabash River, November 4, 1791, Fort Recovery, Ohio, Mercer County, Ohio; interment, Fort Recovery Monument Park, Fort Recovery, Mercer County, Ohio   

Early Career:

Saw action, Valley Forge, Monmouth, and Saratoga; present at Yorktown, the deciding battle that ended the American Revolutionary war, at the time the war concluded, promoted to brevet brigadier general, 1783.

After the war he became a large landowner in the Pittsburgh area, having been granted a thousand acres by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and six-hundred acres by the Continental Congress as part of his military pension. 

Pennsylvania Politics:

Judge, Court of Common Pleas, City of Pittsburgh.

Elected, Democratic-Republican, original member of first Pennsylvania State Senate, Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties, 1790-1791, unsuccessful campaign, Speaker of the Senate. Richard Butler died or resigned prior to 23 August 1791 and was replaced by John Moore on 23 August 1791.  


General Richard Butler is the namesake of the city and county of Butler, Pennsylvania. First of three counties to be named as such, joined by counties in Ohio and Kentucky.        

 It is alleged that he was buried separately from the other dead in a coffin; that the burial site was lost; and that the coffin was accidentally found years later in the Town of Fort Recovery Ohio and that it was reburied in Soldiers Monument, Fort Recovery Ohio.


Cox, Harold. "Senate Members B"Wilkes University Election Statistics ProjectWilkes University.

A New Nation Votes (

Gen Richard Butler (1743-1791) - Find a Grave Memorial