BATEMAN, Robert (1561-1644), of Mincing Lane, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

bap. 8 Sept. 1561, 2nd s. of Robert Bateman, yeoman, of Hartington, Derbys. and Ellen, da. of William Topleyes of Tissington, Derbys.1 educ. appr. London 1581.2 m. (1) 22 Sept. 1594, Joan (d.1602), da. of John Mounsell, merchant, of Weymouth, Dorset, 1s.; (2) by 1607, Elizabeth (d. 16 Apr 1663), da. of John Westwraye, Draper, of London and Barking, Essex and coh. to her bro. John, 7s. (3 d.v.p.) 3da. (1 d.v.p.). d. 11 Dec. 1644.3

Offices Held

Freeman, Skinners’ Co. c.1590,4 asst. 1606-at least 1640, auditor 1613, 1619, warden 1614-15, 1617-18, master 1620-1;5 member, E.I. Co. 1600, solicitor and cttee. 1614-20, auditor 1615-20, treas. (jt.) 1620-6, (sole) 1626-3 July 1644;6 member, Levant Co. 1605,7 Virg. Co. 1609-at least 1623,8 French Co. 1611,9 N.W. Passage Co. 1612;10 Merchant Adventurer by 1621;11 dep. gov. New River Co. 1619-20;12 member, Mass. Bay Co. 1629.13

Clerk in c.p. 1607;14 commr. trade 1621-2, govt. of Virg. plantation 1624,15 repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral 1631-at least 1632,16 treas. by 1634-at least 1636;17 treas. London loans to the king 1640-1,18 for monies to disband the armies (jt.) 1641.19

Gov. St. Thomas’ hosp. Southwark, Surr. 1611-at least 1626;20 chamberlain, London 1626-43.21


Bateman was apprenticed in the London Skinners’ Company in the same year as Robert Myddelton*. They married two sisters, the stepdaughters of Thomas Barfoot*, lived in the same house in Mincing Lane,22 and went into partnership together. Between 1600 and 1612 Bateman joined the East India, Virginia, French and North-West Passage Companies, but as an investor rather than as a merchant. He seems to have undergone some form of legal training, for by 1607 he was employed as an attorney in Common Pleas. Among his clients was a group of Dutch merchants, on whose behalf he attempted to arrest the Member for Bristol, Richard James*, an action which aroused the wrath of the Commons. He was ordered into custody for a month, but the Dutch ambassador requested his enlargement, and Bateman petitioned that without his liberty he had ‘no means to relieve his poor family or to perform the many businesses committed to his charge’.23 His first wife’s premature death in 1602 did nothing to weaken his existing connections, since he and Myddelton’s brother Richard married the coheirs of another East India stockholder and neighbour, who brought them property in Essex. Moreover, he retained the land in Dorset (including a house in Weymouth) which he had bought from Barfoot and his brother-in-law John Mounsell.24 When Myddelton was elected for London in 1614 Bateman succeeded to his Weymouth seat. In the debate on the ordnance bill (11 May) he reminded the House of the need to control exports of good quality from Ireland. He was named to only three committees, on the bills to expedite recovery of small debts (11 May), to confirm the endowment of the Haberdashers’ School by a Merchant Adventurer (16 May), and to prevent abuses in the dyeing of silk (24 May).25

Bateman invested in the New River Company and was involved with Sir Edward Seymour* and James Bagg I* in assisting Roger North’s voyage to the Amazon in 1620.26 However he was most prominent in the East India Company, serving as its solicitor and treasurer. He was also a leading member of the Skinners’ Company, twice serving as one of its wardens before being elected master in June 1620. It was while holding this office that he was returned to Parliament for London five months later. Over the course of the 1621 Parliament he received only six committee appointments but made 21 speeches, all on trade. On 12 Feb. he moved to bring in the bill against export of ordnance, and the following day complained of a large order of artillery was waiting to be shipped to Spain:

Shall we suffer these great jewels to be carried from us? We cannot carry out of Spain so much as a rapier but its felony, and shall we suffer a hundred pieces of ordnance to go from hence, which have been thought sufficient to furnish an Emperor’s army? I pray God they be not turned against our bosoms.

The king should be petitioned to stay the export of these guns ‘altogether, or at least till known what will become of the Palatinate’.27 Bateman was appointed to attend the conference with the Lords of 16 Feb. on the address against recusancy.28 Ten days later he declared that he was willing to open the East India Company books for examination by the committee of inquiry into the outflow of bullion, which he attributed rather idiosyncratically to the salt trade.29 In March and April he produced several arguments of varying weight against levies on shipping to pay for lighthouses. It had never been intended, he maintained, that both mariners and merchants should be charged. It was unfair to rate ships by their burthen, rather than the value of their freight, or to charge on outward voyages, when the lights were not required; and in any case they had to be extinguished during hostilities.30 He subsequently attended the committee for the seamarks bill, even though he was not one of its named members.31 On the eve of the Easter recess Bateman ‘moveth for a committee of lawyers this vacation to draw a bill against transportation of ordnance; and he will attend them with such notes as he hath concerning this business’ (26 March). He evidently performed this promise, for after the bill was drafted he reported that the committee had decided to proceed no further until the king had been approached (30 April).32 On 20 Apr. he proposed that the use of logwood should be prohibited ‘as wonderfully prejudicial to the dyeing of cloth in England’.33 Four days later he complained of Frenchmen fishing off the Sussex coast ‘with craws’, and, after expressing the hope that the bill to preserve fry might prove a good bill he was appointed to the committee.34 On 21 Apr. he also protested that, under colour of a patent to inspect landings of cod,

Sir Richard Wigmore hath gotten all these kind of fish into his own hands, and hath laid ten pence on every barrel ... whereby the price of these kind of fish is much enhanced, ... and yet he never looketh to reform any kind of abuse or deceit in the said fish, but regardeth only his own profit.35

He declared his interest, as a Merchant Adventurer, in the debate of 28 Apr. on the free trade bill, which measure he opposed ‘for the good of the commonwealth’.36 However, he was no protectionist in cases of legislation which might make it difficult to feed London’s inhabitants. On 17 May he opposed the bill to prohibit corn imports, arguing that it would damage the interests of their allies the Dutch, whose corn staple ‘makes them able to be the greatest nation of the western parts of the world’. Were not the Low Countries the breadbasket of northern Europe, the Dutch would be incapable of maintaining a large fleet and therefore their own independence.37 A bill to facilitate the recovery of debts from executors was entrusted to Bateman after its first reading on 9 May but made no further progress, and on 25 May he opposed the limitations bill because of the difficulty of proceeding against factors overseas.38 On the announcement of the forthcoming prorogation, on 29 May, he urged the House to proceed with grievances and bills as long as possible.39 His only recorded activity in the winter sitting was to complain in the debate of 24 Nov. on the staple bill that ‘the liberty of trade some eight years since by dyeing and dressing hath been diminished’.40

Bateman was one of four men considered for appointment as deputy governor of the Virginia Company in May 1622, but in the ensuing contest he was soundly defeated, garnering just ten votes.41 Re-elected to Parliament for London in 1624, he made nine speeches and was named to 11 committees, although he also attended several committees to which he was not personally appointed. In the debate of 2 Mar. on the second reading of two naturalization bills he made it clear that he had no personal objections to the cosmopolitan financiers Burlamachi and Vandeput, but concurred with (Sir) Arthur Ingram in advising the House to be wary of making the practice of naturalizing foreigners too common. As free denizens by letters patent they were already exempt from discriminatory duties, ‘but now, being naturalized, they might transport strangers’ goods for their own’. To avoid this difficulty he moved that Burlamachi and Vanderput ‘should take a third oath, which was yielded to by the House’, but thereupon the Speaker interjected, saying ‘that an Act of Parliament did licence him to give them two oaths, but none other’. Consequently, the bills passed unamended.42 He subsequently opposed another naturalization bill because ‘in the Low Countries they will not permit a tailor or barber to live amongst the Merchant Adventurers’ (12 April).43 On the complaint of Sir Thomas Estcourt about large quantities of bullion to be shipped in four East Indiamen, Bateman ‘was called up to deliver his knowledge clearly what money is to go in this fleet’. He replied (6 Mar.) that he was not certain of the precise sum, but knew it was more than £30,000. As Bateman was the East India Company’s co-treasurer the House was understandably dissatisfied with this answer, and cried out ‘search the books’.44 On the third reading of the usury bill (26 Apr.) he said that restricting the rate of interest would only encourage the flight of capital to Spain and Italy, and diminish trade, but he failed to convince the House.45 He voiced the opposition of his constituents to government fiscal policy on 9 Apr.; if taxed at will, he said, merchants could not hold any trade.46 That same day he was named to the committee of inquiry aimed at lord treasurer Middlesex (Lionel Cranfield*) to discover who had advised the new impositions on wine, sugar and groceries.47 Evidence had been given to this committee, he said three days later, that ‘the imposition of the wines is not yet accounted for to the king, and so he no better, though the subject paid, ... and it was not known where the same resteth’.48 On 5 May he presented a petition from the soap boilers.49 On the third reading of the bill for the true making of woollen cloth (20 Apr.) he secured the withdrawal of a proviso which removed the liberty and privilege of the City and gave it to strangers.50

Bateman’s legislative committees included those for freedom of fishing in North American waters (15 Mar.), which he did not attend, and a levy on Newcastle coals (29 April).51 On 15 Apr. he was named to the committee for the bill to relieve the felt-makers in his constituency from an adverse decision in Chancery, and subsequently attended two of its five meetings. Two weeks later, on 30 Apr., he and his fellow London Members were appointed to the committee for the artisan clothworkers’ bill, which measure the City corporation was anxious to suppress. He evidently took seriously the corporation’s instructions, as he attended all four of the committee’s meetings.52 Although not named to the committee on the bills for tithing lead in his native county and preventing the extortions of customs officials he was recorded as attending their deliberations.53

As in 1621 it proved necessary for Bateman to defend the Merchant Adventurers, whose monopoly rights came under renewed assault. In the debate of 5 May he argued that the Company ought to be encouraged, as it paid £4,000 p.a. to the Exchequer for the right to export 30,000 cloths. Its goods were liable to seizure for debts of £36,500, and consequently he exhorted the Commons ‘to think, first, how this debt may be paid’. However, he conceded that consideration should also be given to ‘how the trade may best be managed for the good of the commonwealth’.54 With the end of the session in sight on 19 May, he moved that the House might sit every day in the afternoon.55 Sir George More proposed that he should distribute part of the usual collection to the London poor; but most of it went in gratuities to the officers of the Commons.56

Bateman was named to only three committees in 1625, to consider the recusancy bill (23 June), a petition against the impositions on wines (29 June), and the bill enabling the 4th earl of Dorset (Sir Edward Sackville*) to sell land (8 July). On 29 June he proposed Josias Chute, chaplain of the East India Company, as the first preacher at the fast, and on 5 July, during the debate on the Tunnage and Poundage bill, he called for the Book of Rates to be surveyed.57 He is not mentioned in the records of the Oxford sitting.

Bateman sat for London for a fourth and final time in 1626, but was relegated to the most junior of the capital’s fours seats. He was named to ten committees, including the committee for privileges (9 Feb.), and those to consider the Weymouth chapel bill (25 Feb.), to hear a petition from the Levant Company calling for Sir Thomas Roe* to be kept on as ambassador to Constantinople (13 Mar.) and to draft a bill for the regulation of alnage (25 May).58 On 15 Feb. he presented to the committee for grievances a petition from the wine merchants, and complained that the wine trade, badly hit by the plague, was in no condition to pay impositions.59 One week later, during the debate on the detention of the French vessel the St. Peter of Le Havre, he suggested that the Commons ‘mediate with the king about this business’, as the French had issued letters of marque to seize English goods worth £100,000 in reprisal which, if acted upon, ‘will fall heavy upon many thousands’.60 On 27 Feb., with attention now focused on the inadequacy of England’s coastal defences, he recommended that the defence of the rivers should not be overlooked. He subsequently complained that pirates and enemy privateers were so unhindered ‘that our merchants cannot pass’ (6 Mar.), and contributed to the debate on the duke of Buckingham on 11 March.61 As a spokesman for the East India Company, Bateman explained, on 1 May, the background to the bill introduced by the widow of Sir Thomas Dale, who had died while in the Company’s employment. On 24 May he defended the imposts placed on cloth by the Merchant Adventurers, of which Company he was probably still a member, claiming that they were ‘very profitable for the commonwealth’.62 The following day he was ordered to help marshal the grievances to be presented to the king. On 13 June Bateman was appointed to help collect money from his colleagues to pay the officers of the Commons.63

After the dissolution Bateman attempted to step down as treasurer of the East India Company. His fellow joint treasurer had recently died and he feared that the burden of office would now fall solely on him. Besides, the duties of the office had proved so demanding that he had been forced to abandon trading on his own account. However, after being promised the services of an assistant, he was persuaded to stay on for another year.64 In September 1626, apparently without seeking the office himself, he was elected chamberlain of London.65 This was a lucrative position, and since the holder was customarily re-elected each year Bateman managed to retain it until the Civil War. He did not seek re-election to Parliament in 1628. Sworn in as an alderman on 23 June 1629, he was discharged from office the same day on payment of a £400 fine.66 He continued to be re-elected annually to the treasurership of the East India Company, regardless of his protestations of advancing years and despite claiming that ‘his office of chamberlain of London would take up a whole man’s time’.67 In 1634 he was troubled at the false and scandalous report that he was receiving £1,500 a year for brokage, whereupon the board responded with a vote of thanks for his care, faithfulness, and diligence.68

Bateman entered his pedigree at the heralds’ visitation of London in 1633.69 Eight years later the Commons appointed him treasurer of the money raised to disband the armies in the north. He signed a will of inordinate length (23 sheets in the original) on 31 Aug. 1641, which was probably his 80th birthday, for he declared himelf to be ‘specially weighing my own great age, which calleth for a dissolution’. He left £45 to the poor of his birthplace and of eight London parishes, £25 to the hospitals, £20 to poor prisoners, and £20 to the repair of St. Paul’s, in addition to £30 already subscribed. ‘I desire that my funeral may not be over-great nor too chargeable’, he wrote, ‘being a matter of nine days’ wonder only and soon forgotten’. However, he left £100 to the Skinners’ Company and the governors of St. Thomas’ hospital for funeral dinners, and ordered that ‘four score cloaks of black or sad-coloured cloth of the price of about eight shillings the yard shall be ready made and given to four score poor men’. Two hundred pounds was to be advanced on four-year loans to young Skinners, the interest providing an annual feast on 5 Nov. ‘in remembrance of God’s great and wonderful deliverance of the whole realm and state from that horrible and hellish powder plot’. His wife was to receive one-third of his estate ‘according to the laudable custom of the City of London’, and he expected his children’s portions to amount to £1,800 each. He earmarked over £1,000 for personal legacies, including £10 each to his first wife’s nephews, Peter Middleton* and John Whiteway†. In the course of the next couple of years he purchased the Essex manor of Little Stanbridge from the brothers-in-law of Oliver Cromwell*, which by codicil he settled on one of his younger sons.70 In February 1642 he signed the protest against the usurpation of supreme power in the City by the committee of safety, and failed to secure re-election as chamberlain at midsummer in the following year.71 On 13 May 1644 he was assessed at £1,500 by the committee for the advance of money, and by the end of July he had paid at least £800.72 In July 1644 he was finally permitted to surrender the treasurership of the East India Company, and died five months later. He was buried, according to his instructions, in the chancel of St. Dunstan in the East.73 Two of his sons were knighted at the Restoration and a third was created a baronet; but they are said to have sustained heavy losses in the Great Fire. His eldest son Richard was granted a pension of £1 a week by the common council in 1667. 74 None of Bateman’s descendants sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Burke, Commoners, iii. 349; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xv), 55.
  • 2. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 3), i. 43; GL, ms 30719/1, p. 365.
  • 3. Dorset RO, P243/RE1; Procs. Dorset Nat. Hist. and Antiq. Field Club, xvi. 66-7; St. Dunstan in the East (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxix), 162, 176, 182; Smyth’s Obit. ed. H. Ellis (Cam. Soc. xliv), 21, 57; PROB 11/121, f. 247.
  • 4. GL, ms 30719/1, p. 365. He was certainly a freeman by 1595, when he took on two apprentices: ibid. 444.
  • 5. GL, ms 30708/1, ff. 85v, 134; 30708/2, ff. 379, 431; 30708/3, ff. 1, 33, 44v, 53v, 179.
  • 6. CSP Col. E.I. 1613-16, pp. 116, 291, 303; 1617-21, pp. 283, 340, 364-5, 435; 1622-4, pp. 120, 299; 1625-9, pp. 180, 218, 363-4, 524; Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. ed. W. Foster, iii. 31.
  • 7. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 243.
  • 8. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 220; Virg. Co. Recs. ed S.M. Kingsbury, iv. 80.
  • 9. Select Charters of Trading Cos. ed. C.T. Carr (Selden Soc. xxviii), 65.
  • 10. CSP Col. E.I. 1513-1616, p. 239.
  • 11. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 346.
  • 12. Select Charters of Trading Cos. 113.
  • 13. Rabb, 243.
  • 14. CJ, i. 333a, 338b.
  • 15. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 4, p. 145.
  • 16. Ibid. viii. pt. 3, p. 173; CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 364.
  • 17. CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 147; 1636-7, pp. 102-3.
  • 18. SP28/162, unnumb. items.
  • 19. CJ, ii. 210b.
  • 20. LMA, HO1/ST/A/001/005, ff. 4, 26.
  • 21. A.B. Beaven, Aldermen of London, ii. p. lxiv.
  • 22. For evidence that they shared the same residence, see E. Suss. RO, GLY/613.
  • 23. CJ, i. 332a, 333a, 337b, 338a-b.
  • 24. PROB 11/193, f. 360r-v.
  • 25. Procs. 1614 (Commons),
  • 26. APC, 1619-21, p. 193.
  • 27. CD 1621, ii. 55, 70; CJ, i. 519b.
  • 28. CJ, i. 522b.
  • 29. CD 1621, vi. 12, 17.
  • 30. Ibid. ii. 284; CJ, i. 573b.
  • 31. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 189.
  • 32. CJ, i. 572b, 597a.
  • 33. CD 1621, iii. 27.
  • 34. Ibid. ii. 316; CJ, i. 588b.
  • 35. Nicholas, i. 294.
  • 36. Ibid. 346.
  • 37. Ibid. ii. 87; CD 1621, iii. 281.
  • 38. CD 1621, v. 371; Nicholas, ii. 101.
  • 39. CD 1621, iii. 344.
  • 40. Ibid. 444.
  • 41. Virg. Co. Recs. ii. 28-9.
  • 42. Holles 1624, 16; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 64; CJ, i. 724a.
  • 43. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 140v.
  • 44. ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 36; CJ, i. 730b; CSP Col. E.I. 1622-4, p. 256.
  • 45. CJ, i. 775b.
  • 46. ‘Lowther 1624’, f. 56v.
  • 47. CJ, i. 760b.
  • 48. ‘Lowther 1624’, f. 60; CJ, i. 763b; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 143v.
  • 49. CJ, i. 783b.
  • 50. Ibid. 771b.
  • 51. Ibid. 694a, 737a.
  • 52. Ibid. 695b, 767b; CLRO, Reps. 38, f. 117v; Kyle, 202, 216.
  • 53. Kyle, 214, 218.
  • 54. CJ, i. 698b; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 170v.
  • 55. CJ, i. 706b.
  • 56. Ibid. 796b.
  • 57. Procs. 1625, pp. 226, 268, 314, 350.
  • 58. Procs. 1626, ii. 7, 125, 272; iii. 330.
  • 59. Ibid. ii. 49-50.
  • 60. Ibid. 90, 94.
  • 61. Ibid. 142, 208; Lansd. 972, f. 69.
  • 62. Procs. 1626, iii. 111, 326.
  • 63. Ibid. 330, 432.
  • 64. CSP Col. E.I. 1625-9, pp. 217-18.
  • 65. Magdalene Coll. Camb. Ferrar Pprs., 21 Sept. 1626, anon. to Nicholas Ferrar.
  • 66. Beaven, i. 117.
  • 67. CSP Col. E.I. 1625-9, p. 524.
  • 68. Ibid. 1630-4, pp. 510-11.
  • 69. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xv), 55.
  • 70. PROB 11/193, ff. 356v-61.
  • 71. V. Pearl, London and Outbreak of Puritan Revolution, 150, 247-8.
  • 72. CCAM, 384.
  • 73. St. Dunstan in the East, 217.
  • 74. Beaven, ii. 182; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 354; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 47; Burke, iii. 350.