Lily Alice Butler was born on May 19th, 1878, one of two twins. Her parents were Alice Sophia McCoy, a Pitcairner (and also a midwife), and Peter Butler, an American survivor from the shipwreck Khandeish that wrecked on Oeno in September 1875. Sadly he left his wife and their twin daughters the same year they were born and never returned. Lily’s identical twin sister was Rosalind Eliza Butler who eventually married Parkin Christian (Hall of Fame inductee 2010). They had an older brother, Robert Walter Butler, but he died at only a few days old before the twins were even born. They also had an older half-sister, Roberta to Alice’s first husband Robert Young.
It was around this time that Lily began a relationship with George Francis Chris Warren and they were married in early 1897 (some sources say they may have married on Tahiti). George was a navigator and boatman and commanded several island boats, including two Pitcairn-made vessels, Pitcairn and Messenger. That same year they welcomed their first son, Burley Edson Warren on February 23rd, 1897. The following year they had another son, Christopher Stanhope Warren, who was born on November 1st. Sadly this child died some months later on April 17th, 1899. Their next son received the same name when he was born on May 19th, 1899 (he would come to be known as Christy). Another son, Ernest Wilfred Warren, came on July 23rd, 1900 (he never had children and died while on leave during World War II). George and Lily’s final child was Wallace Maynard Warren (Maynard) who was born on March 31st, 1904. The family initially lived “Down Bob’s,” which was where George’s adoptive father Robert Buffet lived (Bob’s Valley is called after him). Their four sons grew up there, and eventually both Christy and Maynard ended up living (in houses they built on family land). Lily and George left their house to Maynard and his new bride Maria and moved up to Kate’s Fence, where they happily resettled.
Lily learned midwifery skills around this time from her mother Alice, whom she resembled “in her ways and her nature.” She was, according to those who remember her well, “a wonderful and supportive midwife.” Lily actively helped at least two generations of islanders into this world, and would stay with the mother and baby for two weeks and look after them and do the washing and cleaning. In all those years she lost very few babies. Many recollect that she had an “instinct” for midwifery. One example is when Maude Dyett (nee Young. She married a New Zealander called Nelson Dyett) was pregnant; everyone thought she had only one baby. Lily was sure that there was another two, and in the end, Maude gave birth to triplets (sadly the last one died at birth).
She loved children, and used to babysit several lots of children when their parents went out to work or out on the ships. Even today many of those children, now grown, fondly remember and love their “Eai.” Nola Warren remembers being told by Lily that when her 17-year old uncle Curtis died after an accident out one ship in 1942 she (Lily) did not go down to the funeral because she was in the process of treating Nola with mustard water, which was the standard treatment for sickness, and Nola was in agony just cutting her first teeth then.
Besides her considerable midwifery duties, Lily was also what many term a “master cook.” She was one of the yeast-makers (People who get dried hops on the ships, gave it to her, and on Thursday mornings she boiled the hops and put it in bottles to ferment. On Thursday nights she would deliver to people their bottles of “balm,” and they would set their bread that night, souring the bread, and on Friday morning they kneaded the bread for Sabbath to cook it in their stone ovens). Another great-grandchild remembers her as cooking the best pickfish on Pitcairn.
From her mother she inherited deep religious and spiritual beliefs. She was, as one person note “she es one deep Christian woman.” She taught the children at Sabbath School, still fondly remembered by her audience. One great-grandchild remembers her teaching him the 23rd Psalm and impressing him with her sweet Christian influence on his life.
It is believed that the final time Lily attended a birth in the capacity of midwife was when her great-granddaughter Marilyn was born in 1953. Eventually, in recognition for her services to the community as a midwife she was awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II. She was mentioned in Luis Marden’s 1957 article on the Bounty and Pitcairn and her photograph from this article (wearing her medal) is reproduced in this issue of Dem Tull. Lily and George remained on Pitcairn, as well as their sons Burley (who died in 1947), Christy and Maynard (both of whom lived into the 1980’s).
George lived beyond the age of 80 and died on September 2nd, 1959. One decade later, on September 17th, 1969, Lily joined him. I will simply close with this quote: “She nawa thought anyone could be bad and believed in the good of everyone,”