Friday 5 February 2021

(445) Bateman of Tolson Hall, Knypersley Hall, Biddulph Grange and Brightlingsea Hall

Bateman of Biddulph Grange 
In 1622 one Randle Bateman purchased lands at Strickland Kettle near Kendal (Westmld), which his descendants retained into the 18th century. It does not seem to be clear what this property was, or whether the family had any pretensions to gentry status at this time. Rowland Bateman, who founded the Irish gentry family, Bateman of Oak Park, in the mid 17th century, may have been a younger son of the family. On the death of Thomas Bateman in 1736 the Strickland Kettle property descended to his son John Bateman (1719-83), with whom the genealogy below begins. Sometime before 1750 he purchased Tolson Hall, Burneside, and with this acquisition unquestionably joined the ranks of the minor landed gentry. In 1750 he altered the house and constructed a new entrance arch in a rather rustic version of the very fashionable Gothick style. John and his wife Elizabeth had two sons, the elder of whom, James Bateman (1748-1824), was keen to pursue a business career. He therefore persuaded his father to make his younger brother the heir to the estate, and to buy him a Kendal ironmongery business that was for sale at the time. From this small beginning, James rapidly built a substantial business empire, based in Manchester, Salford, Cheshire and Staffordshire, that diversified first into iron foundries and forges, then into steam engine building and cloth mills, and finally into property and banking. Although he eventually inherited Tolson Hall on his unmarried brother's death in 1810, James himself lived at Islington House, Salford, until his own death in 1824 (after which it was sold to Thomas Agnew). In 1809 he purchased, for £37,000, the Knypersley Hall estate near Biddulph, where there was a large Georgian house. Although he may have had an eye to the possibility of his descendants occupying Knypersley, the primary motivation for his purchase was the rich coal deposits which underlay the estate, which he wanted to exploit to power his ironworks and cloth mills.

When James died in 1824, his business empire descended to his only surviving son, John Bateman (1782-1858), who seems to have already been living at Knypersley Hall as manager of the estate. John was not the business man that his father had been, but while the profits of his father's enterprises continued to roll in, he was a rich man, and the profits tailed off only slowly, as parts of the empire were sold, or passed into the hands of less competent managers. John also spent heavily at this time, creating a lake at Knypersley that was overlooked by a sham castle, and indulging his only child, James Bateman (1811-97), in his desire for greenhouses in which to pursue a precocious interest in exotic orchids. James was the first of the family to be sent to Oxford, where he took a degree, although accounts of his life which describe him as being a Fellow of Magdalen College in the 1840s seem to be wrong. In 1838 he made a socially advantageous marriage to Maria Sybilla Egerton of Arley Hall, who shared his interest in plants and gardening, and in 1840 they began developing the former vicarage house at Biddulph, Biddulph Grange, as their home. A great deal of money was poured into this project over the next twenty years, both into creating the large Italianate mansion, and the garden, designed in combination with their old friend, the painter Edward Cooke, which is now recognised as one of the outstanding landscapes of Victorian Britain. By the 1860s, however, the family's capital had all gone and there were mortgages on the estate. The last significant development of the property was the purchase of Old Biddulph Hall about a mile to the north, and the development of the narrow valley between it and the park of Biddulph Grange as a picturesque walk. In 1868, James made over the whole Biddulph and Knypersley estate to his eldest son, John Bateman (1839-1910) and moved to London, where he rented the house in Hyde Park Gate where Edward Cooke had lived until his recent move to Glen Andred (Sussex). John, who was living at a much-reduced Knypersley Hall, found a short-term tenant for the Grange, and look for a way to salvage the estate. But the mortgages, which by 1871 totalled £35,000, were too large, and the family's income from industry had largely dried up. In 1871 the house and estate were put up for auction, but failed to reach their reserve, and in 1872 a private sale was agreed to Robert Heath (d. 1893), who had been the tenant of the coalmines on the Knypersley estate, and who had built a business empire in much the same way as John's great-grandfather. The sale included Biddulph Grange, Knypersley Hall and Biddulph Old Hall, although the last continued to be tenanted by John's brother, Robert, until his death in 1922.

The sale of the Biddulph estate enabled John to pay off the mortgages and his father's other debts and still have enough capital left to buy a new property. In 1875 he bought a shooting estate of some 3,000 acres in County Mayo (which lacked a gentleman's house and must have cost relatively little), and after renting a farm in Essex for a number of years he decided he liked the area and bought some 1,200 acres on the coast at Brightlingsea in 1881. Here he remodelled the Hall Farm into a plain red brick gentleman's house, and took up the role of squire of the little town with enthusiasm. At much the same time, he weighed into the political debate about landownership in Victorian England. The radical MP, John Bright, had claimed that a tiny number of the richest aristocrats and gentry owned much of the country, and that this virtual monopoly was stifling Britain's progress. The landed classes felt threatened by a growing popular clamour for land reform and sought to defuse it by an official survey - The Return of Owners of Land (1873-75) - which was so badly structured and edited that it concealed more than it revealed. John Bateman took it upon himself to reorganise the data for landowners with more than 2,000 acres, to correct the data through correspondence with the landowners concerned, and to add biographical information culled from popular reference works. The result was The Acreocracy of England (1876), later republished and extended to the rest of the country as The Greater Landowners of Britain and Ireland (4th edn., 1883), which was something of a best-seller and remains useful today. It seems unlikely that Bateman was very happy with the results of his analysis - which broadly supported Bright's claims about the concentration of land ownership in the hands of a few thousand men and women - but it must have been some solace to a man so bruised by the loss of wealth and status which he had experienced since his childhood, that as the owner of 1,200 acres in Essex and 3,000 acres in Co. Mayo, he himself was listed among the élite in the 1883 edition.

John Bateman was married in 1865 to the Hon. Jessy Caroline Bootle Wilbraham, whose brother became the 1st Earl of Lathom. Their marriage was the social high water mark of the Bateman story, but it was blessed with only a single child, a daughter. As a result, when John died in 1910 he left his property to his widow (d. 1925) for life, and then to his daughter and her second husband, who sold it shortly afterwards. By 1930, the Batemans were no longer significant landowners.

John Bateman had two brothers and a younger sister, all of whom had interesting lives. The middle brother, the Rev. Rowland Bateman (1840-1916), went out to India as a missionary in 1868 and stayed there until 1902, while the youngest brother, Robert Bateman (1842-1922) was a talented artist in the pre-Raphaelite school. In a compelling biography (The Lost Pre-Raphaelite, (2014), which I strongly recommend as a good read!), Nigel Daly makes the case that Robert and his eventual wife, Caroline Howard, had an affair in the early 1870s, which culminated in the birth of a son at the end of 1873, and that the two families embarked on an astonishingly elaborate conspiracy to prevent this becoming known. The deception not only enabled the families concerned to avoid damage to their reputations and social position, but was politically expedient for the Tory party in the run up to the 1874 General Election, when Disraeli was returned to power. It involved Caroline being isolated for the later months of her pregnancy while feigning illness; the child, Henry, being smuggled out of the country to India, where he was produced as the new-born son of Robert's sister, Katharine (1849-1933), and her husband Ulick Burke (1845-95), but largely raised by Robert's brother, Rowland the missionary. The ostensible parents never bonded successfully with the child and as a teenager he was finally rejected by his father and sent penniless to Canada. Against the odds he survived, became a friend of 'Buffalo Bill' Cody and later a businessman in South America. He married well, but soon afterwards his business collapsed and his health was undermined by the climate and insects of Peru. In 1904 he returned to England, leaving his wife and child with members of her family for a while, and it would seem that only then was he told the truth about his parentage by Robert and Caroline. They helped him make a new start as manager of a tobacco factory in Bristol, but not surprisingly considering his early experiences, he was permanently emotionally scarred. When Robert and Caroline died - within a fortnight of one another - in 1922, Henry was their heir, but the conspiracy of silence continued and his descendants were never told the story.

Tolson Hall, Burneside, Westmorland

A two storey house with rubble walls, slate roofs, and an early core that was either built or greatly improved in 1637-39 for Thomas Tolson, a cloth and tobacco merchant, who exported Kendal cloth to the West Indies via London and imported tobacco in return. The main block with the eastern cross-wing is probably of this period, while the western cross-wing is a later rebuilding or addition.
Tolson Hall: the Gothick gateway, 1750. Image: Jol Martyn-Clark

In 1750 the house was remodelled in the Gothick style for John Bateman (d. 1783), and given sash windows with circles and ovals in the heads; at the same time a Gothick archway was erected on the roadside. A watercolour of about 1800 shows a symmetrical flat front between gabled wings. In 1814, James Bateman built an obelisk designed by George Webster of Kendal in the park to honour the younger Pitt ('the pilot that weathered the storm'); it was struck by lightning in 1822 but restored. The Batemans leased the estate out as early as 1810, and William Whitwell MP, who took on the lease in 1845 and was in residence until 1876, removed the Gothic battlements, raised the roofline, built the porch and the small gable above it, and added bargeboards to the gables. These changes were almost certainly designed by Webster too.

Tolson Hall: the entrance front as remodelled in the late 1840s for William Whitwell MP. Image: Trevor Littlewood. Some rights reserved.
Inside the building, more remains of the 17th century house. The principal room in the central block is lined on three sides with original panelling, with some carved panels and the initials and date 1638 on the north wall; there are some enriched panels also on the east wall, one bearing the date 1687. The south-east room on the first floor, has a rustic plaster panel over the fireplace with foliage and the initials and date T. & A.T. 1639 and the royal monogram, C.R. The adjoining room to the north has a similar plaster panel dated 1638. Also preserved in the house are a number of naïve painted glass quarries dated between 1637 and 1639.
Tolson Hall: drawing of the two dated quarries recording the source
of Thomas Tolson's money spent on building the house.

One shows three pipes, two plugs of tobacco and the inscription "God by this meanes hath sent, what I on this house have spent T.T. 1638"; while a second shows three piles of coins and the legend "All prayses be unto His name, that gave me meanes to build the same". Further quarries depict a female figure, probably Faith, the arms of France, England and Scotland, and those of families and organisations connected to the Tolsons. 

The Batemans retained the freehold of Tolson Hall until 1867, when the accommodation was described as "two spacious Entrance Halls, in front and rear, commodious Dining Room, Drawing Room, Parlour, Library, and Sitting Room... Seven spacious Bed Chambers... Front and Back Staircases and Landings, and all... domestic conveniences...". In 1876 it was acquired by Mr. C.J. Cropper of neighbouring Ellergreen, whose family soon afterwards made Tolson Hall their principal seat.

Descent: Thomas Tolson (fl. 1637-39)... sold c.1745 to John Bateman (1719-83); to son, John Bateman (1754-1810); to brother, James Bateman (1748-1824); to son, John Bateman (1782-1858); to son, James Bateman (1812-97); sold 1867 to S. Whineley; ...sold 1876 Charles James Cropper (1852-1924) of Ellergreen; to son, Maj. James Winstanley Cropper (1879-1956); to son, Anthony Charles Cropper (1912-67); to son, Sir James Anthony Cropper (b. 1938), KCVO. 
In the 19th century, the house was leased to Simon Clark (resident 1810-12), Edward Colebank (resident 1825), Joseph Hinde (d. 1842) (resident 1828-37), Thomas Willan (resident 1843-45), and William Whitwell MP (d. 1890) (resident 1845-76).

Knypersley Hall, Biddulph, Staffordshire

There was a medieval house at Knypersley which was built for the de Kynpersley family and passed by marriage to the Bowyers in the 14th century. The earliest house of which anything is known was a three-storey 16th or early 17th century building with mullioned windows, probably built for William Bowyer (d. 1602) or his grandson, Sir William Bowyer (d. 1641). There were still substantial remains of this house in 1847, when John Buckler drew the ruins, but it is not clear exactly where it stood, as no trace of it appears on Ordnance Survey maps by the late 19th century. 

Knypersley Hall: watercolour by John Buckler, 1847, showing the Georgian house before its partial demolition. Image: William Salt Library.
The Jacobean house was replaced in the second quarter of the 18th century by a new house facing south-west, of three storeys and seven by four bays, the middle three bays of the main front projecting slightly. The house was built of brick and had a hipped slate roof and urns on the parapet. A three-bay service wing continued the south-east return elevation to create a second, but irregular, seven bay front. 

Knypersley Hall: the Rococo ceiling in the drawing room.
Inside, the drawing room preserves a remarkable mid 18th century Rococo plaster ceiling moulded in high relief with arabesques, interlacing, cartouches, shells, ribbons, baskets of flowers, branches of blossom and delicate sheaves above an enriched modillion cornice. The house was updated by James Bateman, who must have been renting it before he acquired the freehold in 1809, as the fine open-well staircase with scrolled tread-ends has a wrought-iron and brass balustrade dated 1800 by W. Marsh with anthemion decoration and the monogram JB. The two-storey canted bays on the south-east side were presumably also an addition to the original house, but may have been earlier than 1800.

Knypersley Hall: the Warder's Lodge built in the 1820s above Kynpersley Pool for John Bateman (1782-1858).
Image: Brian Deegan. Some rights reserved.
James Bateman died in 1824 and his son John began to make improvements to the park soon afterwards. These included the digging of the Knypersley Pool on the boundary between his land and the neighbouring Greenway Bank estate in 1827, and the construction of a sham castle known as The Warder's Lodge on a rocky outcrop overlooking the new lake. The castle was built in red sandstone ashlar, some of which was cut smooth and some of which was left rock-faced, producing a rather odd and unsatisfactory finish. The silhouette of the building was, however, remarkably picturesque, and these developments probably helped to shape the garden-making of John Bateman's son James at Biddulph Grange twenty years later. The house and Warden's Lodge are both illustrated on a Spode plate made to commemorate James Bateman's 21st birthday in 1832.

Knypersley Hall: the surviving fragment of the house today.
By 1860 the house 'had become spoiled, as a place of residence, by the proximity of large iron works and coal pits', and was reduced in size by removing the top floor and demolishing the four west bays of the main front and service wing, so that the four-bay south east side elevation became the principal front. The house has since been divided into flats.

Descent: John Bowyer (fl. 1500); to son, William Bowyer (d. 1541); to son, John Bowyer; to son, William Bowyer (d. 1602); to son, Sir John Bowyer (1557-1606), kt; to son, Sir William Bowyer (1588-1641), kt.; to son, Sir John Bowyer (1623-66), 1st bt.; to son, Sir John Bowyer (1653-91), 2nd bt.; to son, Sir John Bowyer (1672-1701), 3rd bt.; to uncle, Sir William Bowyer (1654-1702), 4th bt.; to daughter, Dorothy (d. 1736), wife of Sir Thomas Gresley (d. 1746), 4th bt.; to son, Sir Thomas Gresley (1722-53); to brother, Sir Nigel Gresley (c.1727-87), 6th bt.; to son, Sir Nigel Bowyer Gresley (d. 1808), 7th bt.; whose executors sold 1809 to James Bateman (1748-1824); to son, John Bateman (1782-1858); to son, James Bateman (1811-97), given 1868 to son, John Bateman (1839-1910), who sold 1872 to Robert Heath (d. 1893); to son, Robert Heath (fl. 1896)... sold or leased to Rev. Charles James Bird (d. 1908), to widow, Caroline Vidler Bird (d. 1914)... sold 1942...

Biddulph Grange, Staffordshire

In 1840, the recently-married James and Maria Bateman moved out of Knypersley Hall and made a new home in what had been the vicarage house of Biddulph, which occupied the site of a medieval grange of Hulton Abbey. They largely rebuilt and greatly enlarged the house between 1845 and 1860, to the designs of an unknown architect, and named it Biddulph Grange. The house that resulted was a three-storey Italianate mansion, somewhat in the style of Sir Charles Barry, of yellow brick and render, with slate roofs that were largely concealed behind balustraded parapets. At the same time, they began to create one of the most ambitious gardens of Victorian England, as well as extensive conservatories in which James could raise the orchids which were his particular interest, and on which he was an acknowledged expert. Since 1988 the gardens have been owned and wonderfully restored by the National Trust.

Biddulph Grange: the Italianate house built by the Batemans between 1845 and 1860, from the sale particulars of 1871.

As first built, the house had a principal front facing south over the gardens. At the centre were five plain bays with plate glass sashes set within architraves, clamped between two broad and slightly taller projecting wings with quoins at the angles. To either side of this block were large asymmetrical wings, also with plate glass sashes. The west wing projected to the north, making the house L-shaped, and terminated in an entrance hall and porch that formed the main entrance. The east wing was largely occupied by the so-called Geological Gallery, in which Bateman displayed fossils and attempted to reconcile contemporary scientific and geological discoveries with the Biblical creation story along the lines proposed by the Scottish evangelist, Hugh Miller. The gallery survives and has recently been partially restored by the National Trust.

By the 1860s, the cost of creating and maintaining the house and gardens at Biddulph had largely consumed the family's wealth, and the pace of development slowed. In 1868 James handed over the heavily mortgaged estate to his son John (1839-1910), who was living at Knypersley, and in 1872 both Biddulph Grange and Knypersley were sold to Robert Heath (d. 1893), a local industrialist who was leasing the Childerplay colliery from the Batemans. He continued the process of developing the house, and commissioned Crace & Sons to redecorate the interior in 1872-74. Some of their designs survive in the British Architectural Library drawings collection.

Biddulph Grange: the main block of the house as rebuilt after 1897, showing the off-centre placing of the tower.
Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.
In 1893 Robert Heath died and his son, also Robert Heath, commissioned a new wing at the rear of the house, which was contracted to cost £20,000. Unfortunately, while this was under construction in 1896 a serious fire burned out the central block of the house, only the wings remaining largely undamaged. It was estimated that the fire caused £30,000 worth of damage. The centre was soon afterwards rebuilt in sandstone ashlar to the designs of Thomas Bower of Nantwich, who employed the English Baroque style rather effectively; were it not for the fact that the three-storey garden front is has an even number of bays and a two-bay centre rather than a three-bay centre, it might be mistaken for a severe frontage of the 1720s or 1730s. It rises in the centre to an attic storey under pediment and has pilasters defining the centre and two bays at either end, which are also slightly broken forward. The roof is largely hidden behind a parapet with urns, which is solid at the ends but has a balustraded section either side of the pedimented attic. The windows are all sashes with glazing bars set in architraves, with alternate triangular and segmental pediments to ground floor windows in pairs. Behind this facade rises an off-centre tower with a balustraded parapet, which unbalances the composition or alternatively gives it tension, depending on your point of view. The eye is perhaps caught more by the series of mighty red brick chimneystacks which also rise above the roof.

Biddulph Grange: entrance front, 2012.

Biddulph Grange: the rebuilt centre of the garden front and the earlier wings, framed by the archway of the Shelter House. 
Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.

Biddulph Grange: the staircase hall.
The central block of 1897 has a splendid three-tiered staircase rising, at the end of a hall with a coffered ceiling, behind a screen of massive marble Ionic columns that are embraced by semi-circular bays of a balustraded landing. Preserved from the earlier house is Bateman's study at the south-east corner, which has a parquet floor, part-mirrored walls, a shallow domed centre to the ceiling and much gilt enrichment. The room is set behind the domed porch and over the steps which lead out to the gardens. Recent restoration work has shown that much of Crace & Son's scheme for the former drawing room (which had earlier been Bateman's sober Grecian library), also survives and this has now been restored.

When James Bateman moved to Biddulph Grange in 1840, it was a small and unpromising house set in a marsh. He had already had some experience of gardening at Knypersley Hall, and had become an expert in the cultivation of orchids. His wife was also deeply interested in plants, her family, the Egerton-Warburtons, being well known for their gardens at Arley Hall. After 1849 the garden's development was a collaborative venture between the Batemans and their friend Edward Cooke (1811-80), a painter, botanical engraver, and enthusiastic amateur gardener, who shared with the Batemans a passion for ferns. The main gardens and pleasure grounds lie south of the house, where they formed terraces overlooking a lake and planted woodland to enclose the gardens on three sides. South and east of the terraces they created a series of garden tableaux, separated from one another by artful planting and rockwork, in which the plants of other countries are displayed amid a remarkable collection of garden buildings. The main framework of the whole garden, including the terraces to the south of the house, was laid out by the Batemans before 1849, but the architectural features were probably all designed by Edward Cooke after that time. Cooke was also responsible for the design of the rockwork which contributes so much to the atmosphere of the garden.

Biddulph Grange: the Dahlia Walk from the Shelter House. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.
The terraces south of the house are divided up into several distinct formal compartments of varying design. Running along the south front of the house from west to east are a long sequence of small garden compartments, to the south of which is the Dahlia Walk, which terminates at its east end in the Italo-Moorish Shelter House, a reconstructed two-storey structure. This part of the garden has had to be almost entirely recreated by the National Trust after it was obliterated by 20th century hospital buildings. The upper storey of the Shelter House gives on to The Stumpery, a sunken path bordered by stumpwork, which leads south to China, and also north to the eastern terrace. The terrace gives views over and along the terraced gardens south of the house, and gives access eastwards to the 'Egypt' garden area, where a path bordered by yew obelisks and stone sphinxes leads up to a stone temple portal, the doorway giving access through a dark passage to a dim chamber containing the Ape of Thoth, a stone idol probably sculpted by Waterhouse Hawkins, creator of the Crystal Palace dinosaurs. A second passage from this chamber leads south, out of the structure, through the facade known as the Cheshire Cottage.

Biddulph Grange: the Chinese Temple. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.
Biddulph Grange: the water buffalo and the dragon in 'China'. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.
'China', reached via The Stumpery, lies south of the Dahlia Walk. It is hidden from the rest of the garden by high banks, trees, and the tall stone 'Wall of China' which encloses it on three sides and terminates in the Prospect Tower. Within China a wooden Chinese Temple looks across a pool spanned by a wooden footbridge that leads to an ornamental landscape of rocks and exotic plants, many of the latter collected for Bateman in the Far East by the plant collector Robert Fortune. Perched high above the south-east end of the garden is the 'Joss House', a small pavilion painted, like all the Chinese structures, in vibrant red, green and yellow. At the north side of 'China' is a semi-circular space entered by stone Chinese doorways and overlooked by a gilded water buffalo idol sculpted by Waterhouse Hawkins which leans over the stone wall around the north side of the space. From the Chinese Temple a grotto and tunnel leads south to The Glen, a quarry-like garden crossed by a stream and planted with rhododendrons from Sikkim and Bhutan.

A wider and less structured pleasure ground extends around and beyond the 'world gardens'; this includes the Pinetum, where Bateman's was one of the richest collections of conifers assembled in mid Victorian Britain, the trees here being planted on mounds to emphasise their silhouettes against the sky. The path ends at the Cheshire Cottage facade, where stone pine-cone finials on the approach wall restate the Pinetum theme. To the east of the gardens there was a small park, principally comprised of Spring Wood. 

Biddulph Grange: the Cheshire Cottage facade at the end of the Pinetum walk. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.
In 1922 the house and garden were sold to the North Staffordshire Cripples Aid Society for use as a hospital, and three years later the Society sold it to Lancashire County Council for the same purpose. They built wooden wards on the cherry orchard and later in the 1930s, knocked down the remaining glass houses and part of the geological gallery to build new wards and a ‘modern’ hospital complex; the house was used as accommodation for nurses. It remained in use as a hospital until the 1991, but there was increasing neglect and vandalism from the 1960s. This prompted a public campaign to designate the gardens as a conservation area, which was successful in the 1970s. The efforts of the campaigners to publicise the unique nature of the gardens ultimately enabled the National Trust to raise the funds to buy the gardens in 1988 and to begin the mammoth task of restoring them. They have been open to the public since 1991. More recently, the parts of the house not owned by the Trust have been converted into flats.

Descent: built for James Bateman (1811-97), given 1868 to son, John Bateman (1839-1910), who sold 1872 to Robert Heath (d. 1893); to son, Robert Heath... sold 1922 to North Staffordshire Cripples Aid Society; sold 1925 to Lancashire County Council; transferred 1948 to National Health Service; gardens and part of the house sold 1988 to The National Trust; remainder converted into flats.

Brightlingsea Hall, Essex

Brightlingsea Hall: the house in recent years.
A modest, probably three bay, early 19th century farmhouse, which was enlarged by the addition of two gables to the entrance front and a four-bay two-storey service wing on the east side for John Bateman after 1881. The house became an hotel in the later 20th century but is now a private house again.

Descent: Robert Mason; sold 1862 to Walter Gainsford Walford; sold to Frank Eagle (d. 1882); sold 1881 to John Bateman (1839-1910); to widow, Hon. Jessy Caroline Bateman (1836-1925); to daughter, Agnes Mary (1866-1957), wife of William Henry Liddell, who sold to Lt-Col. John Usborne (d. 1934).. sold 1948. 

Bateman family of Tolson Hall, Biddulph Grange and Brightlingsea Hall

Bateman, John (1719-83). Only son of Thomas Bateman (d. 1736) and his wife Isabella Pitchal (d. 1723/4?), said to have been born 1719. He married, 13 June 1747 at Kendal (Westmld), Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Branthwaite of Carlingill (Westmld), and had issue:
(1) James Bateman (1748-1824) (q.v.);
(2) Isabel Bateman (1751-69), baptised at Kendal, 17 August 1751; died unmarried and was buried at Kendal, 10 December 1769;
(3) John Bateman (1754-1810), baptised at Kendal, 1 December 1754; inherited the Tolson Hall estate from his father in 1783; died unmarried, 1810.
He inherited property at Strickland Ketel from his father in 1736 and probably purchased Tolson Hall shortly before 1750, when he altered it.
He died in 1783. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Bateman, James (1748-1824). Elder son of John Bateman (1719-83) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Branthwaite of Carlingill (Westmld), baptised at Kendal (Westmld), 20 September 1748. Although the eldest son, he wanted to go into business not to become a landowner. He accordingly persuaded his father to make his younger brother the heir to the estate, and to buy him the business of a retiring Kendal ironmonger. By 1773 he had moved the business to Deansgate, Manchester and by 1781 he was also trading in Salford. Although a highly successful businessman, he was apparently somewhat ruthless, as he was later described as "prosperous and unscrupulous". About 1788, he took William Sherratt (1754-1822) into partnership, and they built iron foundries and forges in Salford and Dukinfield (Ches.), where they manufactured steam engines, boilers and a wide range of other iron products. He eventually retired as an active partner, leaving the firm in the hands of Sherratt and his son, Thomas Sherratt (d. 1837); after the latter's death it was sold. Bateman diversified further and built three large cotton mills in Manchester and a range of warehouses known as Bateman’s Buildings, while towards the end of his career, he also went into banking. He married, 11 May 1779 at St Sepulchre, Holborn (Middx), Margaret (k/a Mary) (c.1750-1819), daughter of Edward Nicholson of Kendal (Westmld), merchant, and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Bateman (1780-1854), baptised at Manchester Collegiate Church, 25 April 1780; married, 21 January 1802 at Manchester Collegiate Church, William Thorpe (d. by 1867) of Ardwick Grove, Manchester, cotton merchant, and had issue; died 19 March 1854;
(2) Margaret Bateman (1781-1854), baptised at St Ann, Manchester, 23 March 1781; married, 7 October 1806 in Manchester Collegiate Church, Obadiah Paul Wathen (1783-1868) of Woodchester, clothier (bankrupt, 1838), fifth son of Sir Samuel Wathen of Stratford Park (Glos), and had issue four sons and four daughters; buried at Prestbury (Glos), 14 November 1854;
(3) John Bateman (1782-1858) (q.v.);
(4) James Bateman (1784-1800), baptised at St Ann, Manchester, 29 October 1784; said to have died young in Germany;
(5) Susanna Bateman (1790-1828), baptised at St Mary, Manchester, 5 February 1790; married, 10 December 1817 at St John, Manchester, Richard Gould (1792-1868) of Willow Bank, Broughton, Salford (Lancs), third son of Richard Gould of Northaw (Herts), and had issue two daughters; died 14 May and was buried at Salford, 22 May 1828.
He inherited Tolson Hall from his younger brother in 1810, but let it. He built Islington House, Salford, as his residence in the late 18th century, and purchased the Knypersley Hall (Staffs) estate in 1809 for £37,000, primarily for the underlying coal seams which he exploited through the Childerplay Colliery (later the Victoria Pit); he never lived on the estate, but remained in Salford.
He died at Islington House, 2 April, and was buried at St Stephen, Salford (Lancs), 8 April 1824, but he is commemorated by a memorial plaque at Burneside (Westmld); his will was proved at Chester, 14 May 1824. His wife died at Islington House, 1 January, and was buried at St Stephen, Salford, 7 January 1819.

John Bateman (1782-1858) 
Bateman, John (1782-1858).
Elder son of James Bateman (1749-1824) and his wife Margaret, daughter of Edward Nicholson of Kendal (Westmld), born 31 October and baptised at St Ann, Manchester, 27 November 1782. Banker, ironfounder, and pump manufacturer. JP and DL for Staffordshire; High Sheriff of Staffordshire, 1829. He held strongly Low Church views and 
was a determined and active opponent of Catholic emancipation. He married, 30 May 1810 at Bury (Lancs), Elizabeth (1782-1857), second daughter of George Holt of Redivals, Bury, and had issue:
    (1) James Bateman (1811-97) (q.v.).
He inherited Tolson Hall and Knypersley Hall from his father in 1824, and created landscaped grounds at Knypersley.
He died 17 August 1858; will proved 26 October 1858 (estate under £10,000). His wife died 30 January and was buried at Biddulph, 5 February 1857.

James Bateman (1811-97) 
Bateman, James (1811-97).
Only child of John Bateman (1782-1858) of Knypersley Hall (Staffs) and his wife Elizabeth, second daughter of George Holt of Redivals, Bury (Lancs), born 18 July and baptised privately at St James, Didsbury, Manchester, 17 August 1811. Educated at Lincoln and Magdalen Colleges, Oxford (matriculated 1829; BA 1834; MA 1845), where he became active in opposition to the Oxford movement; he was subsequently a lay preacher of very Low Church persuasion, and in later life he perhaps became rather paranoid about the subject: his dispute with the rector of St George's church, Worthing (Sussex), about what he perceived as a drift towards ritualism seems to have had little, if any, foundation. While still a schoolboy, he developed a precocious interest in plants and especially in exotic orchids, and i
n 1833, while still a student at Oxford, he sent a local gardener, Thomas Colley, to collect orchids in British Guiana. Colley returned with some twenty new species and Bateman published an account of his trip in Loudon's Gardener's Magazine in 1835. Soon afterwards, he persuaded an English merchant in Guatemala to send him orchids, and this led him to publish a lavish and rare volume, published in ten parts, The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala (1837–43). He returned to publication in the 1860s with A Guide to Cool Orchid-Growing (1864); A Monograph of Odontoglossum (1864–1874); and A Second Century of Orchidaceous Plants (1867). In 1840, he and his wife moved from Knypersley Hall to Biddulph Grange, which they enlarged into a mansion and where they laid out a remarkable and costly garden with the help of their friend, Edward Cooke (1811-80). In 1863 he laid out the Oxford University Parks. He was President of the Royal Horticultural Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society (from 1838), the Linnean Society (from 1833), and the Geological Society. By the 1860s he had exhausted the wealth generated by his grandfather and heavily mortgaged his estates. He handed over his property to his son John in 1868 in return for an annuity, and left Biddulph Grange in 1869. JP and DL for Staffordshire. He married 1st, 24 April 1838 at Norley (Ches.), Maria Sibylla (1812-95), daughter of Rev. Rowland Egerton (later Egerton-Warburton) of Norley and Arley Hall (Ches.), and 2nd, Apr-Jun 1896, Annie Goss (c.1849-1916), who had been his first wife's lady's maid, and had issue:
(1.1) John Bateman (1839-1910) (q.v.);
(1.2) Rev. Rowland Bateman (1840-1916) (q.v.);
(1.3) Robert Bateman (1842-1922) (q.v.); 
(1.4) Katharine Bateman (1849-1933), born 13 January and baptised at Biddulph, 18 April 1849; married 1st, 9 July 1868, Ulick Ralph Burke (1845-95), barrister-at-law, eldest son of Charles Granby Burke, Master of the Common Pleas in Ireland, and had issue one son* and three daughters; married 2nd, 11 November 1906, as his second wife, Rev. John Richard Baldwin (1828-1912) of Fareham (Hants); died 24 June 1933; will proved 17 August 1933 (estate £651).
He developed the existing Biddulph Grange on his father's estate into a new mansion from 1840-60, and made a spectacular garden. In 1853 he bought Biddulph Old Hall as a home for his youngest son. He inherited the Biddulph, Knypersley and Tolson Hall estates from his father in 1858, but partly demolished Knypersley in 1861, sold Tolson Hall in 1867 and handed over the other properties to his eldest son in 1868. He lived subsequently in Kensington (Middx) in a house he rented from Edward Cooke, and later at Worthing (Sussex).
He died 27 November, and was buried at Worthing Cemetery, 2 December 1897; his will was proved 23 February 1898 (effects £Nil). His first wife died in Worthing, 4 May 1895. His widow died Oct-Dec 1916.
* But see below, under Bateman, Robert (1842-1922).

John Bateman (1839-1910) 
Bateman, John (1839-1910).
Eldest son of James Bateman (1811-97) of Biddulph Grange (Staffs), and his wife Maria Sibylla, daughter of Rev. Rowland Egerton (later Egerton-Warburton) of Norley and Arley Hall (Ches.), born 19 March 1839. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1856), and then travelled extensively in North and South America. When he first acquired the Brightlingsea estate he kept it in hand and tried to farm it himself, but finding this was not profitable in Agricultural Depression conditions, he diversified into butchery, forestry, and other enterprises, including growing tobacco (his best crop was unfortunately burnt in the drying kilns). 
In 1891-92 he gave up farming and rented his land out again.  He took a prominent part in the life of his adopted town and made many philanthropic gifts. He helped to revive the Liberty of the Cinque Ports and became the first Deputy from Brightlingsea to the Liberty, providing a chain formed of gold oysters and silver sprats and a large opal as the official chain of office for his successors. He was an elected member of Essex County Council, 1889-1910 and of Brightlingsea Urban District Council, and was also a member of the Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries Committee. JP and DL for Staffordshire and Essex (Chairman of Biddulph Petty Sessions, c.1865-71 and later of Lexden & Winstree Petty Sessions). He is perhaps most notable for having published the Acreocracy of England (1876) retitled in subsequent editions as The Great Landowners of Great Britain (4th edn, 1883), a statistical compilation based upon The Return of Owners of Land (1873-75) which demonstrated the concentration of landed property in the hands of the aristocracy and greater gentry. He was a noted sportsman and in 1882 published in the Essex County Standard an extended account of a shooting expedition to Argentina. He married, 4 October 1865 at Ormskirk (Lancs), the Hon*. Jessy Caroline (1836-1925), daughter of the Hon. Richard Bootle Wilbraham MP, and had issue:
(1) Agnes Mary Bateman (1866-1957), baptised at Biddulph, 16 September 1866; married 1st, 31 July 1889 at Brightlingsea (div. 1906 on grounds of his adultery with Gertrude Mary Burden and desertion), Capt. Robert Maxwell D'Arcy Hildyard (1867-1907) (who m2, 1906, Gertrude Mary Burden) of Avranches (France); married 2nd, 4 December 1909 at St Clement Danes, London, William Henry Liddell (1874-1955), sailor, only son of William Henry Liddell of Wakering (Essex), engineer; died at St. Leonards-on-Sea (Sussex), 9 April 1957; will proved 23 May 1957 (estate £37,094).
His father handed the Biddulph Grange and Knypersley Hall estates over to him in 1868 and he sold them to Robert Heath in 1872. In 1875 he purchased a 3,000 hunting estate in Co. Mayo which had no house. After renting property for some years he purchased the Brightlingsea Hall estate (Essex) in 1881. At his death his property passed to his widow.
He died 12 October 1910 and was buried at Brightlingsea, 17 October 1910; his will was proved 24 November 1910 (estate £10,848). His widow died aged 89 on 18 October  and was buried at Brightlingsea, 23 October 1925; her will was proved 16 November 1925 (estate £626).
* She was granted the rank of a baron's daughter in about 1853.

Rev. Rowland Bateman
Bateman, Rev. Rowland (1840-1916).
Second son 
of James Bateman (1811-97) of Biddulph Grange (Staffs), and his wife Maria Sibylla, daughter of Rev. Rowland Egerton (later Egerton-Warburton) of Norley and Arley Hall (Ches.), born 1 November 1840 and baptised at Biddulph, 15 April 1841. Educated at Brighton College and Magdalen College, Oxford (matriculated 1859; BA 1864; MA 1867). Curate in Keswick (Cumbld), then a Church Missionary Society worker in the Punjab (India), 1868-1902; Rector of Fawley (Bucks), 1902-07 and Vicar of Biddulph (Staffs), 1907-16. He married 1st, 25 November 1879 at Baroda (India), Helen (1856-96), daughter of Philip Melvill, British Resident at the Court of Baroda, and 2nd, 27 October 1908 at Christ Church, Ottershaw (Surrey), Katharine Lettice (c.1865-1950), daughter of Rev. John Young Nicholson, rector of Aller (Som.) and prebendary of Wells, and had issue:
(1.1) John Melvill Bateman (1881-c.1935), born 25 May 1881; educated at King Edward VI School, Norwich and Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester; first went to Canada, 1897 and emigrated permanently in 1904, settling in Saskatchewan and later at Battle River, Alberta and Dauphin, Manitoba; railway worker; he and his family took Canadian nationality; married, 20 August 1904, Margaret Anne (b. 1885; fl. 1937), second daughter of Capt. Francis Motley of Calcutta (India), and had issue one son and four daughters; died about 1935;
(1.2) Ernest Wigram Bateman (b. & d. 1884), born 16 January 1884; died in infancy, 22 January 1884;
(1.3) Mary Sibylla Bateman (1885-1957), baptised at St Paul, Kensington (Middx), 6 March 1885; educated privately at Eastbourne; died unmarried in London 1 April, and was buried at Brightlingsea, 29 April 1957; will proved 31 July 1957 (estate £5,304);
(1.4) Robert Egerton Bateman (1888-95), born in India, 8 May and baptised at Dharmsala (India), 17 June 1888; died young, at Brightlingsea, 27 June 1895.
He died at Nunney (Som.), 7 March 1916 and was buried at Brightlingsea; his will was proved 29 May 1916 (estate £744). His first wife died 12 November 1896. His widow died at Burnham-on-Sea (Som.), 24 January 1950; her will was proved 28 March 1950 (estate £7,896).

Bateman, Robert (1842-1922). Third son of  James Bateman (1811-97) of Biddulph Grange (Staffs), and his wife Maria Sibylla, daughter of Rev. Rowland Egerton (later Egerton-Warburton) of Norley and Arley Hall (Ches.), born 12 August 1842. A professional artist in the pre-Raphaelite tradition, who also turned his hand occasionally to sculpture and architecture. JP for Shropshire. He married, 18 October 1883 at St Marylebone (Middx), Caroline Octavia (1839-1922), daughter of the Very Rev. the Hon. Henry Howard, Dean of Lichfield, and widow of Rev. Charles Philip Wilbraham (1810-79), and probably had issue*:
(X1) Henry Ulick Burke (1873-1960), born ten years before the marriage of his parents, 10 December 1873; his birth was apparently carefully concealed by both his parents' families, and he was probably taken, immediately after birth, out to India, where he was produced as the new-born child of his uncle, Ulick Burke; he was then raised primarily by his uncle Rowland, who was a missionary in the same area; as a teenager, he was rejected by his ostensible father and sent penniless to Canada; after an adventurous life in Canada, the USA (where he was employed by 'Buffalo Bill' Cody) and Peru, he returned to England in 1904 and it is suggested that only then was he apprised of his real parentage, although it was never publicly acknowledged; subsequently his natural parents quietly provided him with support and assistance, perhaps helping secure his appointment as the manager of a tobacco factory in Bristol, moving to live near him, and making him the principal beneficiary of their wills; he married, 4 November 1902, Rose Ellen Marian Antoinette Uvedale (1876-1931), daughter of Capt. Uvedale Edward Parry Parry-Okeden of Turnworth House (Dorset), and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 2 December 1960; will proved 13 March 1961 (estate £102,768).
He lived from 1863-90 at Biddulph Old Hall (where he retained a life tenancy until his death), then rented Benthall Hall (Shrops.) until 1906, and finally bought owned Nunney Delamere (now Rockfield House), Nunney (Som.) in 1906.
He died of a broken heart a few days after his wife, 11 August 1922 and was buried at Whatley (Som.); will proved 3 November 1922 (estate £5,579). His wife died 30 July 1922; her will was proved 3 November 1922 (estate £5,410).
* For an exciting account of this illegitimate child and the impact it had on the family see Nigel Daly, The lost pre-Raphaelite, (2014).

Principal sources

Burke's Landed Gentry, 1850, vol 1, p. 67; 1898, vol. 1, p. 83; 1925, p. 97; 1937, p. 117; J. Ward, The borough of Stoke-upon-Trent in the commencement of the reign of... Queen Victoria, 1843, p. 179; A. Taylor & J. Martin (ed.), The Websters of Kendal, 2004, pp. 97-98; T. Mowl & D. Barre, The historic gardens of England: Staffordshire, 2009, pp. 246-54; M. Hyde & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Cumbria, 2010, p. 207; N. Daly, The Lost Pre-Raphaelite, 2014.

Location of archives

Bateman of Biddulph Grange: small group of miscellaneous deeds and estate records, 1698-1869 [Cheshire Archives and Local Studies DCB/1595/1]. 
No significant archive is known to survive.

Coat of arms

Azure, on a fesse embattled between three crescents, issuant from each an estoile argent the chemical character for Mars, sable.

Can you help?

  • Can anyone provide fuller information about the 20th century ownership of Knypersley Hall or Brightlingsea Hall?
  • If anyone knows of other views of Biddulph Grange before the 1896 fire, especially any views of the entrance front, I would be very interested to see them.
  • Can anyone throw more light on the early genealogy of the Bateman family or the nature of the property at Strickland Kettle before their purchase of Tolson Hall?
  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated. 
  • Any additions or corrections to the text above will be gratefully received and incorporated. 

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 5 February 2021 and was updated 4 March 2023. I am grateful to Alan Bateman for additional information.


  1. The 4th edition of Bateman's "The Great Landowners of Great Britain" can be found online here:

  2. A wonderful compilation, thank you. I am a Westmorland Bateman, brought up near Tolson Hall, Burneside.
    I expect you probably have a photo of the plaque to ironfounder James Bateman (1749-1824)in St Oswald's church, Burneside? I'm happy to send you a copy if you wish. Alan B.

    1. Dear Alan,
      Thank you for your kind words. I don't think I do have a picture of that plaque, and would be most interested to see it. If you use the contact form in the right-hand side bar to contact me privately, I'll send you my email address.
      Nick Kingsley


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.