Butler, Humphrey (c.1700–1768), 1st earl of Lanesborough , landowner, politician, and freemason, was born c.1700, the eldest of four surviving sons of Brinsley Butler (d. 1735), 2nd Baron Lanesborough, who – known to Jonathan Swift (qv) as ‘Prince Butler’ – had an estate at Lanesborough, Co. Longford. Brinsley Butler's wife, Catharine (d. 1759), daughter and co-heiress of Neville Pooley, a Dublin barrister, is said to have borne him twenty-five children. Humphrey Butler was a captain in the Battle-Axe guards, MP for Belturbet (1725–35), and high sheriff of Co. Cavan (1727) and Co. Westmeath (1728). When his father was elevated to a viscountcy (12 August 1728) Humphrey became known by the courtesy title of Lord Newtown Butler until he succeeded to his father's titles and estates on 6 March 1735. He was appointed a privy councillor of Ireland (15 November 1749), created earl of Lanesborough (20 July 1756), and in March 1760 presided over the house of lords during the illness of the lord chancellor. Although he was never a student at TCD or called to the bar, he was awarded the degree of LLD honoris causa (1730) and was a bencher of King's Inns (1756). A freemason, he was appointed deputy grand master of Ireland (24 June 1725), the earliest grand master appearing in the surviving records of the Free and Accepted Masons of Ireland. He was a trustee of the linen board for Connaught (1734–68) and a founder and active member of the Dublin Society, serving as vice-president (1750–58, 1760–68) and president (1759). A portrait of Humphrey Butler was painted by C. Brown and a mezzotint made of it by John Brooks (qv). His brothers Thomas Butler (1703?–1753) and Robert Butler (1705?–1763) were both MPs for Belturbet (1727–53 and 1736–63 respectively) and John Butler (d. 1789) was MP for Newcastle (1743–83). Humphrey Butler died 11 April 1768 at St Stephen's Green, Dublin. He had married, in 1726, Mary, daughter and heir of Richard (or perhaps William) Berry of Wardenstown, Co. Westmeath.
Their only son, Brinsley Butler (1728–79), 2nd earl of Lanesborough , politician and freemason, was born in Dublin on 4 March 1728. This Brinsley Butler entered TCD (1745), graduated BA (1748), and was awarded LLB and LLD (1754). Styled Lord Newtown Butler from 1735, he was appointed in 1749 joint clerk of the pipe, a sinecure, and served as an MP for Co. Cavan (1751–68). Proving a strong supporter of the administration, he became a revenue commissioner (1761) and a privy councillor (1765). For opposing the government he was removed from the privy council and the revenue board in May 1770, only to be reinstated by Lord Harcourt (qv) to the council (December 1774) and awarded a pension of £1,200 in lieu of his place on the board. A freemason like his father, he was deputy grand master of Ireland (1753–6) and master (1757). He is mentioned by Pope (‘sober Lanesb'row dancing with the gout’). He died 15, 24, or 27 January 1779, having married (1754) Jane Isabella, only daughter of Robert Rochfort, 1st earl of Belvidere; they had two sons and five daughters, of whom Robert Herbert (1759–1806) succeeded him as 3rd earl and two years later married the daughter of the banker David La Touche (qv), thereby improving the Butler family fortunes.