He was commissioned lieutenant on 3 September 1760 and promoted commander on 1 December 1778, being appointed to the recently captured French vessel Star 10 in which he sailed from North America for the Leeward Islands with Vice-Admiral Hon. John Byron’s fleet that month. In the spring of 1779 he commissioned the ex-American privateer Governor Trumbull as the Tobago 16 on the same station.
He was posted captain of the Fame 74 on 15 June 1779 in which he fought at the Battle of Grenada on 6 July 1779, suffering four men killed and nine wounded, and barely escaping capture by the French. This vessel was paid off in March 1781 after returning to England.
Immediately Butchart commissioned the new Argo 44, sailing for the Baltic at the end of October in company with the Albemarle 28, Captain Horatio Nelson, and Enterprise 28, Captain John Willet Payne, to bring home a convoy. In February 1782 he took her out from Spithead to Gorée on the West African coast where he assisted Captain Thomas Shirley of the Leander 50 in final operations against the French and Dutch forts on the Gold Coast. Progressing to the Leeward Islands, the Argo captured the French vessel Dauphin 64, armed en-flute and mounting 26 guns, on 24 October 1782.
On 16 February 1783 the Argo was in the process of replacing a sprung topmast off the island of Sombrero in the Leeward Islands when she was surprised by the French frigates Nymphe 38 and Amphitrite 32. For nearly seven hours the latter vessel maintained a withering fire, and because of a heavy sea the Argo could only respond with her upper deck guns. Upon the further intervention of the Nymphe Butchart was obliged to strike his colours, having lost thirteen men killed. During the action the governor of the Leeward Islands, also called Thomas Shirley, was aboard the Argo having sought a passage from Tobago to Antigua. Fortunately the Argo was retaken three days later by the Invincible 74, Captain Charles Saxton, whilst Butchart and his officers were acquitted of any blame for her loss at the subsequent court-martial. He was re-appointed to the command by the commander-in-chief, Admiral Hugh Pigot but left it shortly afterwards
Butchart died in 1796 before achieving flag rank.
His address at the time of his death was given as Newgate Aberbrothock, Forfar in Scotland.