He was educated at Marlborough College in Wiltshire and then received a place at Trinity College, Cambridge, attending between 1869 and 1873 where he was Senior Classic and Chancellor's medalist. Elected fellow of Trinity in 1874, he left the college on his marriage, in 1876, to the daughter of Archbishop Trench. From 1876 to 1882 he was a fellow of University College, Oxford, and tutored there From 1882 to 1903 he was Professor of Greek at the University of Edinburgh succeeding Prof John Stuart Blackie. During this period he lived at 27 Palmerston Place in Edinburgh's West End. He was succeeded at the University of Edinburgh by Prof Alexander William Mair.
He was President of the British Academy, 1909–1910.
He died in London on 29 December 1910, and his body was returned to Scotland and interred at the Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh with his wife, Rose Julia Butcher (1840-1902). His grave has a pale granite Celtic cross and is located near the northern path of the north section in the original cemetery.
John Butcher, 1st Baron Danesfort was his younger brother.
He married Rose Julia Trench (1840-1902) in 1876. They had no children.
His many publications included, in collaboration with Andrew Lang, a prose translation of Homer's Odyssey which appeared in 1879 and the OCT edition of Demosthenes, Orationes, vol. I (Or. 1-19, Oxford, 1903), II.i (Or. 20–26, Oxford, 1907).
- Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783-2002: Biographical Index (PDF). I. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
- "Butcher, Samuel Henry (BTCR869SH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1900
- "Greek - Our History". ourhistory.is.ed.ac.uk. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
- Works related to Samuel Butcher at Wikisource
- Works by Samuel Butcher at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Samuel Butcher at Internet Archive
- "Archival material relating to Samuel Butcher". UK National Archives.
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb
Sir John Eldon Gorst
| Member of Parliament for Cambridge University
1906 – 1910
With: John Rawlinson
Sir Joseph Larmor