Batesons in the United States - a timeline


It may seem surprising that late 19th Century travellers were able to sail back and forth across the Atlantic almost as though they were commuting to work. But as the speed, reliability, comfort and cost of transatlantic voyages improved steadily towards the end of the century, so did their popularity. An account of conditions on board ship in the 19th Century may be found here:


Three of Charles Bateson's children emigrated to the United States and three others made a number of transatlantic voyages to visit them. At least one associated family also made the trip.

Their stories can be accessed by clicking the links below.


References (for all documents):

UK censuses 1841 to 1911

UK parish church records

Transatlantic passenger manifests

US Federal Censuses

US naturalisation records

US Social Security Death Index

US City Directories for Providence, Pawtucket, Cambridge, Palmer, Fitchburg, Bridgeport

Rhode Island BMD 1630-1930

UK BMD index

Bradford Voters Lists

Bradford Trade Directories

Personal birth, marriage death and probate records

Harry Midgley UK Army records

Harry Lee UK Army records

John Shackleton UK Army records

Fitchburg Daily Sentinel

Bridgeport Post

Tucson Daily Citizen

  • Bateson Rawnsley Smith
  • John
  • Haley
  • George Horatio
  • George William
  • Hannah

Next to emigrate was John Bateson. He was born in Bradford in 1858 and became a United States citizen in 1887.

The 1900 Federal Census notes that his date of immigration to the US was 1880: he first appears in the record in the 1880 Census when he was aged 20 and employed as a weaver in a worsted mill in Fitchburg, Worcester, MA. He was boarding in a house in Water Street along with a certain John Howarth.

In August 1881, he married Clara A Howarth in Fitchburg. Clara has proved quite difficult to pin down. She was probably born in Yorkshire in 1859 and appears in the 1871 Census for Bradford. Her parents, John Howarth and Mary Briggs, are listed in the 1880 US Census in the Water Street, Fitchburg lodging house together with their twenty-year-old daughter called Adeline. Clara's middle name was never revealed in any documents or reports and could well have been Adeline. If so, this was the girl that married fellow lodger John Bateson the following year.

In 1882, the local Fitchburg Daily Sentinel printed two reports that seem hard to comprehend. On September 16, Clara A Bateson sued a John Howarth for $70 non-payment of wages for 7 months' housekeeping. He countered with a $204 claim for clothing. Evidently the newly married Clara had been housekeeping for her father when an acrimonious dispute arose. A subsequent hearing on the 23rd seems to have concluded the litigation, though it is not clear which party emerged the victor. I print the report in full in case any lawyers reading it can provide illumination:

On the 23rd at the civil session of police court, the defendant in the case of Clara A Bateson, against John Howarth and trustee withdrew his appeal. John W Briggs appeared as claimant for the funds in the hands of the trustee and his claim was sustained by the court, from which decision the plaintiff [ie Clara] appealed.

Over the next 14 years, the Fitchburg Daily Sentinel carried occasional and sometimes revealing reports of the activities of the Bateson family.

In 1882 it listed John as the opening bat for the Worsted Mill Employees cricket eleven (along with his brother Haley, a wicketkeeper).

On 21 September 1885, he was onboard the SS Catalonia bound for Boston from Liverpool. He was accompanied by his wife Clara and son John C Bateson, who was 11 months old. Strangely, while John and Clara were listed as passengers 294 and 295 respectively, John C was listed as passenger 219 on a different part of the steerage deck. All three are stated to be US citizens; in fact, only the child had that right by birth: John was naturalised two years later, when his address was 282 Water St, Fitchburg.

In 1889 he was elected Worthy Treasurer of the Shakespeare Lodge No 121 of the Order of the Sons of St. George. This was an ethnic fraternal benefit society for first- second- and third-generation Englishmen residing in the United States of America, as well as their sons and grandsons. It offered sick and death benefits to members, benefits, and social activities such as dances, picnics and other lodge activities.

In August 1891 the Sentinel copied an extraordinary news item from the Boston Globe accusing John Bateson of deserting his wife and children.
He was said to be in trouble with a girl and "has not since been heard from".
This was surely printed at the instigation of the redoubtable Clara. The identity of the girl in question was not revealed but may well be deduced from what followed.
Perhaps there was a reconciliation - in October 1892 Clara wrote a Will that bequeathed her entire estate to her husband.
The Witnesses were Emma and James Keegan.
The dying Clara was living with the Keegans at their Charles St home, probably because the Bateson family was in the process of moving to Pawtucket in Rhode Island.

She died shortly afterwards on 5 November 1892 and was buried in the local Laurel Hill cemetery.

By the end of 1892 John had upped sticks and gone to Pawtucket RI - he is listed in the directory for that city as boarding in Central St at a bakery.

The following year the Sentinel was able to report that his Fitchburg house had been let to a florist. A short time later, its readers must have been fascinated to learn that the old house was looking much better, thanks to a fresh coat of paint.

By 1894, the Pawtucket city directory was listing a bakery in Dexter St run by the Bateson & Keegan Company - John had evidently taught James Keegan the elements of baking and had gone into business with him.

In 1896 John cut his ties with Fitchburg by selling his property in Water Street to a Charles Dufort.

A month's trip home to England followed in 1898, sailing from New York to Liverpool onboard the SS Majestic. He returned to Boston on the SS Dominion in early 1899.

Although he was in the bakery business, the 1900 Federal Census gives John's occupation as Storekeeper. The faded census form also states that he was widowed.

But not for long! On 24 December 1900 he married Emma Keegan, the widow of his business partner James Keegan, who had died earlier in the year.

John must have returned to Windhill alone at some point in the next five years, because on 18 July 1905 he embarked on the SS Ivernia, which was returning to Boston from Liverpool. He had only $10 to his name and was travelling on to Central Falls. He was English, could read and write and, we are relieved to hear, had never been in prison and was not a polygamist, an anarchist or a cripple.

In the 1910 Census, he was alone in Central Falls, Emma having died a few days earlier on 25th March. Also there were his brother Haley and eldest son John Charles. He ran his own Baker's shop and owned his own house.

John probably made one more trip across the Atlantic, on 6 August 1912, in a 2nd Class cabin onboard the SS Laconia, sailing from Liverpool to Boston. The entry, on the United Kingdom Passenger List for the vessel, gives his age as only 48 (when it should have been 54), but it does say he was a Baker and a US citizen.

He married Annie Wilson, an Englishwoman 16 years his junior, in Rhode Island in January 1914. Annie was probably born in Bingley and retained strong ties with the place - when she died in 1959, she left money that she had kept in Bingley Building Society to the local Parish Church.

In the 1920 Census, John was alone with Annie in Central Falls. He was stated to be 65 years old but still had his Baker's shop, although it had moved a few blocks along Dexter St, Central Falls.

The 1921 Central Falls Tax Book records that John and his family owned six properties in Central Falls, adding up to a tax bill of $583.

John's last record in the Pawtucket city directory is in 1928 when he was listed as a baker and grocer. The following year his wife was listed there alone and in 1930 as a widow. The business was subsequently known as Bateson Bros.

According to the records of Mohassuck Cemetery in Central Falls, John died on 3 May 1929 aged 70.

Annie travelled back to England around this time; in September 1930 she sailed to Boston on the SS Scythia. On the manifest she is noted as married. Her last listing at Central St in Pawtucket was in 1959, when she would have been in her mid-eighties.

John and Clara's first son, John Charles Bateson, married a divorcee called Florence Sloane and died in Central Falls on New Year's Day 1941. He probably had a son, John, who died in infancy.

Their second son, Henry Briggs Bateson married Edith Sutcliffe and had a daughter, Clare, who also died in infancy. He last appears in the Pawtucket city directory in 1953.

An infant boy, born on 15 July 1888, died the same day.