Captain John Batte

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Captain John Batte

Also Known As: "batts/bates/"
Birthplace: Okewell, Yorkshire, , England
Death: April 29, 1668 (57-65)
Henrico, Virginia, USA
Place of Burial: at sea
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Batte and Elizabeth Parry
Husband of Hannah Unknown and Martha Katherine Mallory
Father of Esq. William Batte; Captain Henry Batte; John Batte, 2nd; William Batte; Martha Batte and 4 others
Brother of William Batt; Elizabeth Marsh; Henry Batte; Catherine Mallory; Mary Batte and 3 others

Managed by: James Michael McCullough, Jr.
Last Updated:

About Captain John Batte

SOURCE: Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography Volume 1 Name: John Batte was a royalist officer in the civil war in England. He was fined £364, and is said to have been a captain at the battle of Adwalton. He was of Okewell, county York, England. His wife was Martha Mallory, sister of Rev. Philip Mallory. He came with his sons John, William, Thomas and Henry to Virginia and brought over many others. He patented over 5,000 acres on Appomattox river. He died about 1668. IV--Burgesses and Other Prominent Persons

Oakwell Hall - The Batts of OakwellRichard Aspinall - June 2009 SOURCE:

The Batts of Oakwell remain, in many ways, an elusive family. Although they dominated Oakwell for over a hundred years, surviving documentary evidence relating to their activities and domestic arrangements is sketchy; even establishing the exact number of children in each generation is sometimes impossible. Nor do we know what the Batts look like - no known portraits exist of any of them. Despite this, we do know a little about their interests and aspirations from clues in the few historical documents that do survive which enable us to chart the progress of this family.

The most obvious testimony to the success of the family in the late 16th Century is Oakwell Hall itself. When John Batt built it, in 1583, he used the most Up-to-date architectural features and created a home typical of most well-off middling gentry; it dominated the landscape and firmly established the Batts as one of the leading gentry families in the area. Indeed, the acquisition of the manor of Oakwell and lands in Heckmondwike, Gomersal and Heaton by John’s father, Henry, and the building of Oakwell Hall must have marked a significant rise in status for this entrepreneurial family whose fortune had been acquired through business interests in Halifax throughout the 15th and 16th Centuries.

Nevertheless, a certain notoriety characterised the earlier Batts. Within a few years of their arrival at Oakwell, Henry and John were implicated in a plot which resulted in the parish church bell being stolen and melted down and the rectory being demolished for its stones! Money to build a school was also diverted. This opportunist streak seems to have been hereditary - it also motivated the actions of some of their descendants.

What was life like at Oakwell? Three key documents survive to tell us something about life and work in the household and on the estate in the early 17th Century. The Court Baron Orders of John Batt, written in 1603, were a code of conduct for tenants on the estate. The tenants were liable to fines if these rules were broken. Thus no man was to:

‘break any mans hedge or sell, cut, burn or carry away any wood’;

No-one was to hunt or kill any of the lord’s rabbits upon pain of a fine of 3s 4d; tenants were to maintain hedges dividing their land from the next man’s and keep their ditches well scoured so that the land could be kept well drained. Many of these rules were simply good husbandry, there was little chance that lawbreakers would get away with their misdemeanours as the court was held several times a year.

The Account Book of 1609-12 also gives us some idea of the type of work performed on the estate and the wages paid. The average wage for a male labourer was 7d a day, while a woman was paid about 4d. This did not mean that women’s tasks were less strenuous; although they occasionally helped out in the house cleaning, washing the milk house and buttery or collecting herbs for distilling, they also did heavy outdoor tasks alongside the men, such as spreading manure, hedging, sowing and harvesting.

The Account Book, kept by the steward John Matteson, also records details of expenditure when he went on various trips for provisions or to buy livestock or get the plough mended. On these occasions, he had to account for every penny spent. It was rare that he did overspend but, on one occasion, when an opportunity arose for him to visit an alehouse, he found that he had

‘spent more time than I had allow’d (drinking) wyne and beere with Mr Lister and Mr Mydgley’s man...11d.’

Also recorded was a journey to Wakefield ‘to fetch the midwife in haste’, which cost 6d, and another to take her back two days later.

Several of the Batt sons attended university. Of the surviving correspondence relating to the Batts, a letter of 1595 written by Robert Batt at university to his father, John, contains some interesting snippets of information about life as a scholar and about national newsworthy events. He wrote that:

‘the small pokes (smallpox) doe still continue amongst us and doe endainger many, whereupon most of our scholars are sent home unto their friends’.

He also mentioned Captain Hawkins, the famous Elizabethan seafarer who brought treasure captured from Spanish ships home to Queen Elizabeth. News had just reached England that he:

‘hath met with the Spanish revenues out of the Indies and hath sent aide to bring him homewards safely with it.’

It is a very chatty letter but gives some indication of scholars’ circumstances at this time; they were responsible for finding their own food and for whom ‘the excessive dearnesse of corne with us and all other vitails’ brought hardship to some and made them more reliant on their fathers for their keep.


We know a little about what possessions the Batts had in their home from the Inventory of 1611. This was made when John’s son Robert, who owned Oakwell but lived in Wiltshire, leased the hall to his cousins, the Waterhouse family, and wanted to record which of his possessions remained there. Of interest are the ten maps and 62 books owned by Robert Batt, indicating a studious mind as well as the means to afford to buy such luxury items. The Ten maps included:

‘ye world: palestine: france: spain: low countries: Greece: Italie: Africa: Asia: England, Tables of both the Universities,’

suggesting that the Batt’s horizons extended far beyond their native Yorkshire, a characteristic which was borne out, especially by the next generation of the family.

Robert Batt’s successor was his son John who, like his grandfather and his great-grandfather, showed an entrepreneurial and adventurous spirit and lived an even more colourful life. He was a Justice of the Peace and a friend of Sir William Savile of Thornhill Hall near Dewsbury where he made frequent visits, some of which were recorded in the account books of that house. It was around this time that John Batt may have made some of the alterations to the interior structure of Oakwell Hall. The motivation for this was probably to create a home that was in keeping with his family’s rising status. John Batt pursued the life of a gentleman; he hunted, dined, socialised and did business with other local and greater gentlemen than himself; in keeping with this lifestyle he set about improving his family home.

The Civil War may have marked a turn in the family’s fortunes. John Batt was a Captain in Sir William Savile’s regiment and fought on the side of the Royalists. When the war ended, his Royalist sympathies resulted in a fine of one tenth of the value of his estate, over three hundred and sixty pounds which, despite appeals to Parliament, he had to pay.


It may have been financial difficulties which drove John Batt to seek his fortune in the New World, which presented attractive opportunities to Englishmen at the time. John set sail sometime in the late 1640s, possibly 1648, to Virginia with three of his sons. He entered a business venture with Sir Thomas Danby of Farnley, whereby the two men arranged the transportation of settlers. The venture was not successful and there followed an acrimonious dispute over a payment of money which had not been honoured. Moreover, John’s eldest son drowned on the return voyage. The affair was one of personal tragedy and business failure for the Oakwell Batts.

Other members of the family, however, were successful in America. Two of John’s brothers had earlier gone out to settle in Virginia, as did his brother-in-law Phillip Mallory; these members of the family clearly did well for themselves: the name of Batt occurs in lists of the leading gentry in Virginia in the 17th Century. In 1654, the Charles City Order Book notes the provision that William Batt, gentleman, made for his younger brothers Thomas and Henry. He ordered that they have certain livestock which was to remain upon his plantation until the boys came of age. Also that they should have:

‘two men servants’ each: ‘...with good clothes and bedding for four years...and each of them a feather bed with curtains, blankets, rug and two pairs of sheets to each bed’ and that when the plantation be sold it would be ‘only for their proper use and benefit’.

John Batt’s death in 1652 marked the end of an era in the history of the family. Sadly, the place of his death remains uncertain. An administration of his will states that he died ‘in parts beyond the seas’ and no more. In all likelihood, he died in America but we will probably never know for certain.


John was succeeded to Oakwell Hall by his son, William. Unlike his father, who had spent so much time and money on the family home, William chose to live elsewhere, at the seat of his wife’s family at Howroyd Hall in Barkisland. When he died in 1673, his eldest son, William, succeeded him.

In 1684 William was killed in a duel in London. He will be remembered not for his influence on Oakwell and the estate he inherited, but for the story of his ghost coming home on the day he died, stalking through the Great Hall, past his surprised family, up the staircase and into his chamber. He then disappeared, leaving only a bloody footprint in the doorway. This story has become a legend at Oakwell and is firmly embedded into the history of the place.

William’s brother, Gledhill, inherited next but he died in 1686, just two years after his brother, and a third brother - John - became the next owner. John was a bachelor until 1695, when he married Henrietta Catherine Metcalf in York Minster. We know very little about their life together but it is probable that when Henrietta moved in, she made changes to what had been a bachelor’s residence, possibly changing the decoration and furniture. She probably also changed the organisation of the household and the servants to suit her own ideas.

As the 17th Century drew to a close several of John Batt’s brothers and sisters were dead; he was probably left with the company of one or two, the most likely being his sister Martha, who had married John Murgatroyd of Crow Nest in Dewsbury. His other sister Elizabeth had married the Reverend William Beevor of Thornhill and the couple moved to a living in South Walsham in Norfolk at about the time of John and Henrietta’s marriage. Most significantly for the family, John and Henrietta had no children so, when John died in 1707, the family name died with him. His wife was later remarried - to a John Smyth of Heath, near Wakefield, and the ownership of the manor of Oakwell went with her, although it was later divided between John’s remaining sisters.

The final break up happened in 1747; various portions of the estate were sold and a new era in Oakwell’s history began. However, this was not the end of this remarkable family - a branch thrived in America and, today, members of the family travel to visit Oakwell and view their ancestral home, some occasionally providing us with new bits of information.

LeighThomas42added this on 30 Oct 2010
A descriptive study of the Oakwell Battes, those affiliated with Oakwell Hall, built in 1583. 

Captain John Batte

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Captain John Batte's Timeline

June 24, 1606
Okewell, Yorkshire, , England
June 24, 1606
August 13, 1628
Age 22
Yorkshire, England
July 22, 1629
Age 23
Birstall, West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
July 15, 1632
Age 26
July 15, 1632
Age 26
Birstall, Yorkshire, , England
September 29, 1636
Age 30
Yorkshire, England
November 1638
Age 32
Yorkshire, England
Age 31
Probably England