Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions

 

BATEMAN, Letchworth, early 20th century.

July, 2003

 

Places

Ware

Keith Bateman (keith.bateman @t virgin.net) of Whitchurch, Shropshire, writes I believe my grand father  - who had a building firm  - help build Letchworth at the start of the New Town - James Bateman gambled away this firm and my father and his brothers who had all been apprenticed to different building trades were thrown out of work. My father never spoke to his father for the next 40 years - after this incident  - and he would never tell me any further details - can you help. He was born July 10th 1876 at Amwell End, Ware.

When I get a question which only includes brief information of the individual I often check the 1881 or 1901 census returns indexes to see how common the name is and whether there is a danger of ambiguity. The 1901 census check produced the following:

James Bateman

25

Herts Ware

Herts

Ware Urban

Shoemaker

James Bateman

26

Hertford Ware

Middlesex

Edmonton

Carpenter

Clearly one needs to be careful - see Right Name, Wrong Body - especially as the first had a brother in the building trade. As a result I checked the 1881 census and found only one James Bateman of about the right age - the son of a shoemaker. However I also found the following family at Amwell End, Ware, and I suspect that your James Bateman is the Jeremy of this census return.

 James BATEMAN 

 Head 

 M 

 Male 

 44 

 Ware, Herts 

 General Laborer 

 Eliz.Th. BATEMAN 

 Wife 

 M 

 Female 

 42 

 Hitchin, Herts 

 (Sweets Shop) 

 Chas. ROGERS 

 Stepson 

 U 

 Male 

 20 

 Ware, Herts

 Baker 

 Emily BATEMAN 

 Daughter 

  

 Female 

 9 

 Ware, Herts  

 Scholar 

 Mary BATEMAN 

 Daur 

  

 Female 

 7 

 Ware, Herts  

 Scholar 

 Jeremy BATEMAN 

 Son 

  

 Male 

 4 

 Ware, Herts  

 Scholar 

 Lizzie BATEMAN 

 Daur 

  

 Female 

 1 

 Ware, Herts  

  

I then looked for information about a building firm run by James Bateman in the 1912 and 1922 Trade directories for Herts (from archiveCDbooks). The only relevant entry is for 1912, where J Bateman & Co, Pondcroft Road, Knebworth Station, Stevenage, is listed as a builder. There is no entry for 1922 - and it should be possible to find more about the company's span of operation from looking for entries for earlier and intermediate years.

A check of The Book of Letchworth and Letchworth - The First Garden City - showed no reference in the index, although I note that both books include un-indexed references to personal names. Neither throw any light on the major event that occurred between 1912 and 1922 which undoubtedly had an effect on many building firms. The Book of Letchworth has a chapter entitled "War and Peace" which mentions that a new housing scheme was drawn up to house the Belgian refugees who flooded into the country at the end of 1914, while Letchworth - The First Garden City has details of the "Housing for Heroes" of 1919. Neither book describes any new developments during the 1916-1918 period and this is almost certainly because there weren't any.

 My own studies on the effects of the Great War on Hemel Hempstead (see The London Gunners come to Town) would suggest that many building workers and other non-essential labourers would have been called up. In many cases the owners of small organisations organised their "essential" work to keep members of their own family in "key" jobs and out of the army for as long as possible. I suspect that throughout the country new building projects would have been put on hold, and there could well have been many builders who ceased to trade due to the effects of war. In investigating what happened to you grandfather's company it would be well worth looking to see if the war could be a contributory factor. If the company went belly-up during the war any remaining "reserved occupation" employees (= relatives?) may well have found themselves called up and fighting at the front. This could have increased family resentment about financial "irregularities" which would have not been so devastating in a period of peace.

So what happened to the company? I am afraid that I have little relevant experience of personal or company bankruptcy records - but if, as it appears from the trade directory entry, it was a limited company the records would have been at Company House and may well still exist. This would give you a date for the winding up - and it could be worth looking in the local paper to see if it reported the event - which could include more personal details.

September, 2003

Keith Bateman (keith.bateman @t virgin.net) responded: I also presumed that Jeremy was James but was still dubious about this ( as you say in your pages - check details!!) so I purchased his birth certificate and found this was correct with date and name James - I have since also purchased 2 other certificates of my great grandfather James Bateman born August 1838 and his brother William born March 1841. Have now tentatively gone back even further to Amwell/Ware - but now it seems guess work comes more into it - as my family seem only to consist of James and William Batemans How can I check whether these are father/son or cousins ? 

The problem of lots of people with the same name is very common - see The Inheritance of Single Christian Names and Right Name, Wrong Body. Within a social group cousin marriages were common, and most of the labouring people in a small village will be related in one way of another. I am afraid that in such circumstances there is no alternative but hard work and meticulous record keeping. I had many years good fun sorting out the cousin relationships in Who is Related to Who? but another branch of the family proved to be such a headache (with many duplicated names and no baptism records for those who were non-conformists) that I gave it up.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.