Reverend Robert James Bateman was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England on 14 October 1859 1.
He was the son of Charles Bateman (1823-1909), a currier (leather worker), and Esther Beck (1823-1891), Mongotsfield, Gloucestershire natives who had married on 1 October 1849; and he was brother to Charles (b. 1850) and Matthew (b. 1856).
Robert appears with his family on the 1861 census living at Old Market Street in St Paul, Bristol. He later became a stonemason and, being a deeply religious man, also dabbled with Methodist mission work. He was married in early 1880 to Emily Jane Hall (b. 20 August 1860), a London native, and their first child, Laura Emily was born early the following year. The child did not reach her third birthday and died in 1883.
Robert, his wife and child appear on the 1881 census living at the home of his parents at Oldbury Court Road, Stapleton, Gloucestershire and he was then described as an evangelist missionary. The couple later moved to London and had a further two children: Ernest Robert (1884-1960) and Daisy Esther (1886-1970, later Mrs John Carson Walker). The entire family later emigrated around 1889 and settled in St David's, Toronto, Ontario, appearing in that city on the 1891 census. They would have another child in that city, Mabel Lilian (b. 1890) before entering the USA, living in various states including Missouri, Tennessee and Maryland. They had a further three children in the States: Percy Bruce (1893-1987), Grace (1895-1990, later Mrs Frederick William Ellinghaus) and William Frizell (1901-1928). The family were shown on the 1900 census living in Knoxville, Tennessee and on the 1910 census twice, in Jacksonville, Florida and Baltimore, Maryland. On all occasions Robert was described as a minister but is understood to have continued his work as a stonemason whilst in America, building bridges in Key West, Florida and a train station in St Louis, Missouri.
Reverend Bateman had returned to England to visit relatives in his native Bristol and it was under his encouragement that his widowed sister-in-law Ada Balls, née Hall, accompany him back across the Atlantic, with her sons to join her at a later date. They boarded the Titanic at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as second class passengers (he on ticket number 1166 which cost £12, 10s, 6d).
On the night of the disaster, alongside his sister-in-law Ada Balls, also a deeply religious woman, he had organised a prayer meeting near the second class dining room. A small group of no more than half a dozen people sang hymns and joined in prayer, concluding around 10.30 pm. Ada then retired to bed and slept through the ship's impact with the iceberg. Her cabin companion Mrs Jerwan woke her when she burst into their room exclaiming "We had an accident!" Too tired to take notice, Ada nonchalantly went back to sleep and was only compelled to get up and dressed when her brother-in-law arrived at her cabin and boldly instructed her to do so. He then escorted her to the boat deck and assisted her into one of the aft port lifeboats, reportedly throwing his neck tie to her as the boat was lowering and shouting "If I don't meet you again in this world, I will in the next."
Robert Bateman died in the sinking and his body was subsequently recovered by the cable-laying vessel Mackay-Bennett. On 6 May 1912 his remains were forwarded to his widow in Jacksonville and he was interred in the Evergreen Cemetery, Jacksonville on 12 May 1912.
NO. 174 - MALE ESTIMATED AGE, 50. - GRAY HAIR AND MOUSTACHE
CLOTHING - Black overcoat; black frock coat; vest and trousers.
EFFECTS - Gold watch and chain; masonic charm pin; glasses; knife; photo; fountain pen; pipe lighter; gold links; 4 gold studs; purse; 7s 2¾d.; gold mounted eye glasses; £4 10s. in a sovereign purse; cigar holder; style pin.
NAME - ROBERT J. BATEMAN
His widow Emily later moved to Baltimore and kept in close contact with her sister, Ada Balls (later Mrs William Perrine). She remained in Baltimore for the rest of her life, living with her married daughter Grace and her family, and passed away on 12 October 1953. His last surviving child, Grace Ellinghaus, lived in Baltimore and died in 1990 just short of her 95th birthday.