The Bates Family of England, Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky

by Kenneth Bate

The ancestry of Dr. James Bate who immigrated to St. Mary's County, Maryland can be traced back to 15th century in Warwickshire, England. I've tentatively traced my Bate line to John Bate who was listed as Dean of the Collegiate Church in the parish of Tamworth, Warwickshire in 1448. This parish is about 30 miles north of Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

There were several more generations of these Warwickshire Bates including Robert Bate of Newton Regis or "Newton in the Thistles." Another Robert Bate was born ca1544 in Tamworth parish which is within two miles of Newton Regis.  This Robert Bate was the son or grandson of "Robert Bate of Newton Regis." I found Robert, the son or grandson, to be the verifiable progenitor of my Bate Family.  This Robert Bate was married twice. His first wife Margaret and child died during childbirth. By 1574 Robert had married again to Elizabeth Nash of London (born 1555) daughter of either John or Nathaniel Nash of London. As of this writing I have yet to determine if John or Nathaniel was Elizabeth's father.

Before 1575 the couple moved to Thurvaston, Little Chester, in the county of Derbyshire. Their parish was St. Alkmund (see Figure 1). Certainly the social standing of the Bate family rose in status via the achievements of Robert Bate. While in his twenties, Robert Bate became a successful Draper of London. Note: Drapers were merchants, traders in wool and cloth, and also financiers. They asserted great power and control over the woolen cloth trade in the city of London. As a result of his success, Robert made purchases of land and houses in the counties of Leicestershire, Warwickshire and in Derbyshire. He also owned four tenements in London where he leased and collected rents. In 1575 Robert and Elizabeth had their first and only child, Nathaniel Bate.

Figure 1.   St. Alkmund Church in Derbyshire


One could say that the Bate family's upsurge in academia blossomed with Nathaniel Bate. He earned a B.A. at St. John College, Cambridge in 1601. He also seemingly made up for a lack of siblings by marrying twice and fathering twenty children; ten by each wife! His first marriage in 1603 was to Jane Turvill daughter of Edward Turvill, Esq. of Aston in the county of Leicestershire. They had six sons and four daughters. Four of their children died in infancy or in their youth. Infant mortality was extreme in this era, approaching 50%!

To make matters worse, there were religious civil wars that raged throughout Great Britain from 1642-1701. Thomas, one of their sons, was born in 1712 and survived to adulthood but was killed as a young man while serving as a Major in the army of King Charles I. Their surviving son Richard (born 1616) would later end up with most of the estate left by his grandfather Robert and it would later be Richard, the eldest surviving male of the family who would verify and sign the Bate Pedigree chart, prepared during a Visitation of the Heralds. 

Jane (Turvill) Bate died in 1619 probably during the birth of her last child, Elizabeth. Nathaniel Bate married again in 1620. His second wife was Catherine Hull, daughter of Thomas Hull, gentleman of Godaiming in the county of Surrey. They had three sons and seven daughters, of whom five daughters and two sons, including my 6th great grandfather, survived to adulthood.

At the time of Robert's death in 1626 his accumulation of houses and property would be willed to the children that were products of Nathaniel and Jane. No sons of Nathaniel and Elizabeth were born before Robert's death. This situation would leave any family inheritance to Nathaniel and Elizabeth's children Éespecially sons É.to be fulfilled solely by their parents. John Bate, Nathaniel's twentieth child, was born in 1634. As a result of the large number of siblings and "half" siblings, John Bate would receive minimal inheritance. It is John Bate that is this writer's ancestor.  

In 1647 Nathaniel Bate died and left most of his wealth and property to his widow Elizabeth and older son Nathaniel which was the custom. Elizabeth (Hull) Bate died some time after 1648. 

On August 5, 1662, a "Visitation" of Derbyshire took place. Visitations took place between 1530 and 1688 when the King's Heralds were sent out to all the Counties of England. In each county the Sheriff was required to make a list of all the Knights, Esquires and Gentlemen so that they could summoned before the Heralds to show proof of Arms (if they had them), pedigrees, and other documents relating to their family.

Richard Bate, John Bate's half brother, was called by the Heralds and satisfied all requirements of the 1662 Visitation. As a result the Bate pedigree was officiated; this Bate clan was to be known as "Bate of Little Chester." The Arms and Crest that were verified are described as follows: Arms – "Sa a fesse ar between three dexter hands palms upwards bendwise, or." The Crest which is on top the arms consist of a "Maltese Cross on a small pinth."

Before I continue weaving my genealogical line through my ancestor John Bate, I am going to deviate just a bit. I wish to talk about Richard Bate, John's brother. In the text of notations that were later added to the Bate 1662 pedigree chart, I found this statement: "Richard Bate of West Broughton"É.the hamlet of Doveridge is part the Manor of West BroughtonÉ"bp (=baptized ) 30 June 1616; aet (= aged) 45.5 Aug 1662; 6 hearths in 1670". Note: Hearths or fireplaces represented an enclosed house for tax purposes.

A later note added to the pedigree chart in 1687 says: "Hath sold all ---is dead, poor, hath left sons." Richard had obviously lost or thrown away his inheritance. The Pedigree chart then goes on to provide a short biography of Richard's sons. Historically I could give some benefit of doubt for Richard's woes by assuming the Great London fire of 1666 destroyed his inherited London houses. However, noting in 1670 that he still owned a significant number of houses over and above the four London ones he had inherited from his grandfather, I find there's no room for such consideration. Therefore, in light humor, I find the satirical phase "Poor Richard" very applicable to this collateral ancestor!!      

Thomas Bate (1648-1707), gentleman, one of Richard's sons, was a successful mercer of the parish of Ashby de la Zouch in the county of Leicestershire. A monument dedicated to him is located at St. Helen's Church in the same parish, and gives his birth and death dates and family description, and is inscribed in Latin. The Bate Coat of Arms, as previously described, is displayed on the top of the monument.

There is not much documentation relating to John Bate. I believe that many parish records and other pertinent documentation were destroyed or irretrievably scattered around during the aforementioned civil wars. However, there is enough evidence to ascertain that John Bate of Doveridge, Derbyshire was the father of Nathaniel Bate who was born in 1665. No mother's name is given however. Note: All locations in the English Counties that I've mentioned concerning the Bate family are confined within a 40 mile radius.

Documentation is also relatively skimpy with regard to his son Nathaniel Bate but I found him married in the parish of Eckington, Derbyshire. The Eckington Court Rolls of 1694 have Nathaniel and his wife Philippa (maiden name still unknown) Bate listed. Between the years of 1694 and 1696 Nathaniel and Philippa moved to Gorsy Ransdales (now called Ravensdale) which is in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. This is where their son John Nathaniel Bate (b 1696) was born. Research indicates that when the couple moved to Nottinghamshire they registered their marriage at Radford, a small village southeast of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire.

John Nathaniel Bate received his B.A. 1718-19; M.A. Incorporated at Oxford in 1723; and was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1722 at Wilford in the County of Nottinghamshire. In 1720 a deed is recorded that John Nathaniel Bate leased a moiety (one-half) of the Gorsy Ransdales land of 60 acres to a James Ellis for 60 pounds. At this time John Nathaniel Bate was 24 years old and working on his Master's degree at Cambridge. John Nathaniel is also described as a cleric on the lease and had moved from Gorsy Ransdales in Mansfield to the villages of Leake or Wilford, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire. Both villages are in the same local area where the parish church is St. Mary's, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire. It is believed that John Nathaniel lectured at St. Mary's after becoming an Anglican priest in 1722.

While attending college, John Nathaniel Bate became good friends with James Young (son of George Young, rector of St. Michael's Church until his death in 1719) who was also to be an Anglican priest. James Young would eventually take over his father's charges at St. Michael's Church in Catwick, East Yorkshire. This relationship most certainly resulted in the meeting of John Nathaniel Bate and Catherine Young the sister of James Young.

In 1727, John Nathaniel Bate (born 1696) and Catherine Young (born 1702) were married at St. Peter's, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire.  

Their first son, John Nathaniel Bate, died in infancy.  Their second son, Dr. James Bate was born in Wilford, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire in 1729. In 1731 a daughter would be born and named Philippa Catherine Bate for her grandmother and mother.  She married Alexander Leslie in 1751 at St. Peter's, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire. This couple had a son Andrew, and later moved to Scotland.

John Nathaniel Bate named his son, Dr. James Bate after his brother–in–law, James Young. When James Young died in 1768 he left 100 pounds sterling to Dr. Bate which Dr. Bate later willed to his sister's son, Andrew Leslie. Catherine Young had a niece named Elizabeth Smalley; Smalley being her married name. John Nathaniel Bate and his wife, Catherine would name their second son James Smalley Bate. In turn, their son, Dr. James Bate would name his second son and youngest child, James Smalley Bate.

Dr. James Bate attended primary school at Berry Hill in nearby Manchester, Nottinghamshire. He must have had pleasant memories of his time there as he would eventually name his last home in America after this town. Upon graduation from medical school at Edinburgh, Scotland ca1750/1751, Dr. Bate received a commission in the Royal Navy and served as a ship's surgeon.

Upon completing his tour of duty, Dr. Bate made his way to St. Mary's County, Maryland.  No record has been found to determine the exact time or place of his arrival but we do know that he was practicing as a physician in Leonardtown, St. Mary's County by 1758 when it was recorded that a paper written by him was mentioned in the "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London." The paper, in the form of a letter, was titled "An account of the remarkable Alteration of Colour of the Negro Woman." The paper was published by the Royal Society in 1759. His practice is also referenced in "Doctors of Saint Mary's County 1634-1900" by Margaret Fresco.

As his practice grew, Dr. Bate acquired several parcels of land in and around St. Mary's County. One patent in 1764 was called the "Visit Paid", containing 114 acres.  That property is located on present day Rt. 247, north of Loveville.  In 1767 he acquired another parcel that he named "Bate's Prospect", containing 64 acres, located on Rt. 5 just north of Leonardtown. This land now includes a strip shopping center. If only Dr. Bate could know that his "Prospect" eventually came true!

Dr. Bate also began to acquire property in Charles County.  Between 1766 and 1768 he received a patent of a total of 500 acres named "Truman's Place" which lies near the present Gallant Green Road. This land was purchased in quarters, e.g., 125 acres each from the heirs of William Wilkinson, deceased. One heir and daughter, Susanna Wilkinson, was Dr. Bate's seamstress. This land was also thought to originally include the town of Benedict where, during the war of 1812, the British stopped and camped on their way to burn Washington, D.C. A census taken between 1775 and 1778 mentions Dr. Bate being at Benedict, Charles County, Maryland.

Earlier in 1764 Dr. Bate was listed as a taxable bachelor in the records of All Faith Episcopal Church, near the town of Benedict but within St. Mary's County at Huntersville. He most likely met his future wife at this church.  No record exists of their marriage date, but we know that Dr. Bate married Susanna Bond ca1764/1765 as the first of their six children, John Leslie Bate was born in 1766.

Susanna Bond was born in St. Mary's County in 1740. She was one of 11 children of Captain John Bond and Elizabeth Attaway. Captain John Bond was one of the wealthiest, most prominent residents of St. Mary's County at that time.  Between 1753 and 1758, the St. Mary's County rent rolls show that he owned various parcels of property exceeding 1,600 acres. The primary crop for Captain Bond was tobacco and it required many acres as tobacco quickly depleted the nutrients in the soil and fields would have to be switched every couple of years. Raising tobacco was also very labor intensive, requiring many servants and slaves.  At the time Capt. Bond made his will in 1760, he owned at least 32 slaves which he divided among his children.  His sons received the land and servants while his daughters received 150 pounds sterling each and a share of the residue of his estate.

As the Revolutionary War approached Susanna's brothers clearly aligned themselves with the "rebel cause."  Her brothers, Richard, William, and Gerard Bond were members of the General Committee in 1774.  In 1777, both William and Gerard Bond received commissions as Captain of the one of the companies of the Upper Battalion.

This must have caused friction between Susanna's family and that of Dr. Bate as he was traditionally thought to be a loyalist. Susanna's leanings were never truly known but a later court case might have indicated an alignment with that of her husband. This family upheaval may have directly attributed to Dr. Bate leaving Southern Maryland in 1778 when he sold "Truman's Place" and purchased land in Berkeley County, Virginia (now West Virginia). This writer also believes that Dr. Bate had probably seen enough of blood and guts in the galley of an English warship that he wanted no further part of that type of misery and suffering again.

"Wilford Meadows" was the name Dr. Bate gave to his land purchase in Berkeley County, Virginia. This name was recalled from Dr. Bate's birthplace in the parish of Wilford, Nottinghamshire, England. "Wilford Meadows" was a combination of property bought from Thomas Gantt and of Samuel Washington, a brother of George Washington. Its present location would be east of Interstate 81 and southeast of Martinsburg, West Virginia; east along highway 51 toward Charles Town, including the towns of Aldridge and Middleway. Notes: The Washington brothers had inherited this vast amount of land from their half- brother Lawrence Washington upon his death in 1752. Charles Town was established in 1786 by Charles Washington, the younger brother of General/President George Washington

Berry Hill stood near today's intersection of Route 51 and O'Sullivan Road. A historical marker is located there with the following inscription: "1 ½ mi. S is the 1825 home of John T. A. Washington, a great nephew of the 1st president. Land part of ÔHarewood' plot Sam'l Washington, a brother of George. Original site of 1780 home ÔBerry Hill'."

The Berry Hill location is only 35 miles from Frederick Town, Maryland and 25 miles from Martinsburg, West Virginia. However, in 1779 the lack of river crossings would require about double the estimated mileage to reach the site. 

Using the preceding logic and noting the testimonials of witnesses in a Chancery Court Case which I will summarize later, I deduce that the Dr. James Bate probably rented a place or stayed with friends at Frederick Town, Md. while his wife and young children stayed with friends at Martinsburg while their house was being built. This would give Susanna and the children an easy access to the property to observe the construction of their new house, while ensuring the well being of their farm animals, servants and slaves. In Frederick, James would be closer to their Charles County, Maryland homestead in order to direct that part of the family's move.

Records show that some of the Bate's personal effects, books, perishables, a carriage and some horses were with him at Frederick. It was during one of these trips from Charles County, Maryland that Dr. Bate became seriously ill and at the age of fifty died fairly suddenly. His will of November 4, 1779 indicated that he did succumb in Fredrick Town, Maryland on November 17, 1779 which was only two weeks after becoming sick. During this time Susanna made her way to Frederick Town be with her husband at the end. Susanna Bond Bate and their six young children survived him.

This episode must have been quite a shock to Susanna as it would have been to anyone. She was suddenly a widow with six young children. A Chancery Court case in 1796 shows that Susanna auctioned off a large amount of the Berkeley estate goods and chattels to get enough funds to remove herself and family back to St. Mary's County to live with her brother Gerard until the children reached a proper age. Testimonials given in the court case noted above indicated that her brother, Gerard Bond, was agreeable and willing to help his sister and her family. Gerard Bond was also co-executor of Dr. Bate's will along with Denton Jacques of Washington County, Maryland. This executorship would subsequently lead to another Bate and Bond feud which I will attempt to summarize later.

Dr. James Bate and Susanna Bond had six children. They were: John Leslie Bate (c 1766), Ann Bate (c 1766), Philippa Bate (c 1767), Elizabeth Bate (c 1770), Catherine Bate, (c 1772), and James Smalley Bate (b 1776).  In 1782 the St. Mary's County Orphan's Court appointed Gerard Bond as guardian of Catherine and Elizabeth Bate. Ann and Philippa, both over the age of 14, selected their uncle, Gerard Bond as their guardian. According to receipts "Berry Hill" was finished and paid for by April 1780. Susanna and her children moved back to Berkeley, Virginia.  By 1784, most of the children were of age.

Gerard Bond died in 1789 with his brother Richard named in his will as executor. As luck would have it, Gerard's house burned down as family and friends attended his funeral. Dr. Bate's papers, accounts, receipts and all things that showed his estate being properly divided and executed were stored under the stairs and burned along with the house. Later, Susanna and her children would file a suit against the executors of Gerard Bond's estate, alleging misuse of estate funds collected for Dr. Bate. These funds were thought to have been pocketed by the executors and not distributed to the family as prescribed by Dr. Bate's will. The Chancery Court case was conducted between 1796 and 1798.

Chancery Court case 1796/06/02. 586 "Susannah Bate, John Donaldson Locke, Ann Bate Locke,  Richard Llewellin and his wife Philippa Llewellin, John Bate, James Jordan, Susanna Jordan his daughter, Catherine Bate and James Smalley Bate vs. Denton Jacques and Richard Bond. CH. Estate of James Bate - "Wilford Meadows". 

By 1796 Elizabeth Bate had married James Jordan of St. Mary's County, Maryland and she had died before this Chancery Court case began. It is her daughter Susanna Jordan mentioned in the list of plaintiffs. Philippa Bate had married Richard Llewellin of St. Mary's County and would marry twice more. Catherine Bate was unmarried at the time. Ann Bate married John Donaldson Locke of St. Mary's County, Maryland; John Bate married Agnes Burch of Charles County, Maryland and by 1789 had moved to Louisville, Kentucky to be one of the first Methodist ministers there. James Smalley Bate was as yet unmarried.

In a nutshell the Chancery Court case really didn't amount to much and would probably not have been launched if Dr. Bate's records were not destroyed in the aforementioned house fire. Fortunately for Richard Bond and Denton Jacques, they were able to provide enough pertinent receipts to show that the estate was administered appropriately.  A deposition by John Bond, another of Susanna's brothers, who had helped collect debts due Dr. Bate's estate, was also crucial. The executors proved that Dr. Bate had just enough assets, above those distributed to his wife and children according to his will, to pay off the claims and demands against his estate. As I see it the Court and lawyers where the only winners. This sounds much like our present day system!!! I am sure that Susanna's relationship with her bothers was never quite repaired.

Susanna, Catherine, and James Smalley Bate stayed at "Berry Hill" in Berkeley, Virginia for only a short time after the Chancery Court case ended. In 1798 James Smalley Bate would marry his Ônext door' neighbor Lucy Moore Throckmorton (born 1779) in Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia). Lucy was the daughter of Robert Throckmorton of "Roxton," Jefferson County, Virginia, a Justice of Berkeley County and later Sheriff of Frederick County. Notes: The Throckmorton estate was in Berkeley County. Later in 1801 when Jefferson County was formed some of his land was also in Jefferson County; hence the interchangeability. Today its location would be west of Interstate 81 near Arden and Darkesville, West Virginia. In 1798 the homes of the Ônext door' neighbors were at least 15 miles apart!   

Robert Throckmorton was a direct descendant of the Throckmortons of Coughton, Warwickshire, England and Ellington, Huntingdonshire, England. His immigrant grandfathers Robert and John would later settle in Gloucester, Virginia. Lucy Throckmorton's mother, Catherine Robinson Moore, was a direct descendant of Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia, Speaker John Robinson of the House of Burgesses, Capt (ship's Captain) Thomas Todd of "Toddsbury" and other Virginia notables. She was also directly descended from English, Irish, Scottish, and other European Royal families.

In late 1798 Susanna, Catherine, James Smalley Bate and his new wife Lucy (Throckmorton) sold their property in Virginia and began the trip west to Kentucky. Note: Records indicate that the Bates sold their property back to members of the Washington family. The Ohio River valley was fairly pristine but had been surveyed and mapped earlier by pioneers Daniel Boone and John Filson just to mention a few. All in all, the Bate family held patent to at least 3,500 acres of land which was just about four and a half miles of present day Louisville, Kentucky. To this day it is not known if Dr. James Bate possessed the land grant or if it was his son, James Smalley Bate who actually received the grant.

Tradition has it that Ann (Bate) Locke and her husband John D. Locke had been sent to Kentucky earlier and had a brick house built in the name of Susanna (Bond) Bate. Her home, "High Cliff" at Harmony Landing was near Westport, a suburb of Louisville. Her daughter Catherine Bate would return to Virginia c 1799 and marry John Wager of Harper's Ferry, Virginia. Later their daughter Sarah Ann would marry Noah H. Swayne who would serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

As the story goes, when James Smalley arrived they brought with them furniture, servants, over eighty slaves, and other necessities. They came with pack mules over the Wilderness Road following the Ohio River which so many others from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland had traveled on their way to Kentucky. James Smalley Bate also brought their doors and other custom furnishings from "Berry Hill," Virginia to be used on their new "Berry Hill," Kentucky home.

By all accounts the new "Berry Hill" was designed and built in the colonial theme as those elaborate mansions which had been earlier constructed in Ôold' Virginia. The estate was planned and laid out to be a combination of the "old" Bate houses in Maryland and the first "Berry Hill" in Virginia. A rough sketch of the house is shown in Figure 2. A recent picture showing partial front and side elevations of Berry Hill is shown in Figure 2A.

Beery Hill's floors, woodwork and exquisitely carved mantles were made from the wood of the black walnut forest located to the side of the homestead. Zinc-white and mahogany was the finishing of the wainscoting and stairs. The exterior was built with penciled brick walls and large planked porches. A floral garden containing the family graveyard was in the midst of service-berry and lilac bushes. A three story barn was built later with entrances from the ground to each floor. Here various phases of tobacco processing were practiced.

Side Notes:

1.   From the early nineteenth century the Bate farm at Berry Hill was one of the largest most productive hemp tobacco farms in the U.S.

2.   Berry Hill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and is privately owned. The Bate family sold their interest in the property in 1869. Gerard Bond Bate, youngest son of James Smalley Bate, had inherited the property, was a bachelor and was in failing health. Therefore, he probably lacked interest in keeping the homestead. Gerard would die the next year in 1870 at the age of 53.

Susanna Bond Bate became very ill in 1806 and as a result prepared her will. She mentioned that she had purchased 400 acres from her sons John Bate and James Smalley Bate. This fact might shed some light upon the grant of land that the Bates possessed. Dr. James Bate possibly had obtained the grant and upon his death it would have gone to his sons. Susanna also manumitted her two personal slaves threatening to void the inheritance to her daughter Ann if her son-in-law, John Donaldson Locke did not follow her instructions. Susanna (Bond) Bate died in 1807 and was the first of the now approximately 25 family members buried at "Berry Hill."

Figure 2 -- "Berry Hill" at Glenview in Jefferson County  Kentucky;
Built by James Smalley Bate

James Smalley Bate and Lucy Moore Bate were the parents of seven children. They were Catherine Robinson Bate (b 1800), James Smalley Bate II (b 1801), Robert Throckmorton Bate (b 1804), Susan Louisa Bate (c 1808), John Throckmorton Bate, (b 1809), Lucy Anne Bate (c 1811) and Gerard Bond Bate (c 1819).  (This writer's great grandfather would be John Throckmorton Bate).

In a later article we shall examine the substantially prosperous and high society type of lives that the Bates lived at their "Berry Hill' farm. We shall touch upon their intermingling and intermarriages with the upper crust and distinguished families, e.g., the family of Zachary Taylor, 12th President of the United States. The Taylors were neighbors of Susanna Bate in Louisville, Kentucky. We will also document a scandalous twist that could possibly have had seeds of inception from Dr. James Bate's 1758 article titled, "An account of the remarkable Alteration of Colour of the Negro Woman."