As far as I can learn, the Batstones originally came from Lancashire, a county on the North-West coast of England.
It appears that Grandpa, John Charles Batstone I, settled at Quidi Vidi, a tiny village in the very east end of St. John's. It is almost as quaint today as when our forebears lived there. The village is being incorporated into a park together with Signal Hill and Cabot Tower with its battlements overlooking the Narrows, as the entry to St. John's harbour is called. Quidi Vidi sits at the bottom and west of this hill and is as historically famous as the hill itself.
It was at Quidi Vidi that Grandpa was born on January 6, 1846. The records of the old two hundred year old church, (which is the oldest Church standing in Newfoundland today), has among others who donated the bell the name of W. Batstone, and also a Knight. Years ago this church served as a community church and was used by the Congregationalists and the Anglicans. It is now the property of St. Thomas Anglican Church, to which many of the congregation moved when it became unsafe for worship. It is being preserved as it is and as truly possible as it was in bygone days. Money is not readily available, as there seems to be few people interested in the project; but a Mrs. Goodridge, whose people worshipped there has of late been trying to raise funds for renovation purpose[s] to make it a tourist attraction which will fit nicely in with the park. There are still some of the original family names there in the village which has altered very little. The roads are unpaved and the little brook still gurgles along beside the Church and little boats are moored along the "Gut" as the narrow entrance is called. This narrow entrance was used by the French to bar the English from entry; it takes only small boats and must have been an excellent place to take a stand against the enemy. It is quite a picturesque little village!
Grandpa had four brothers, namely Robert, Thomas, James, and William. William never married, he was drowned when quite a young man. Some folks say it was thought his death was suicide. The story goes that he went out in the boat and never returned.
It is believed that the Batstones were of Welsh-English extraction and must have certainly come from sea-faring stock. Grandpa was a rover and loved the sea. When they were young Grandpa's family of boys claimed that they would one day sail the seven seas; they didn't do that, but they sailed the Atlantic over and over.
Early in life Grandpa's mother died, it could have been when he was born; anyway the story goes that he ran away from home because of his step-mother and reared by my great-grandparents John Knight and wife. Both families Knights and Batstones were very close as you will notice later. I do not know whether Grandpa was the eldest or the youngest or somewhere in between.
He went as a young man (boy almost) to the East Indies on a schooner of, I presume, Goodridges, a St. John's firm which in early years carried on a large business and also did coastal trading. The firm I believe had a fleet of vessels. He remained away for quite some time and for a while lived with an old aunt of his somewhere in England. She together with her husband were Lodge-keepers on Lord Morey's Estate. (Whatever that means.) On his return to Newfoundland he again shipped on a Goodridge schooner; the Goodridges had branches of their business at Nippers Harbour and Round Harbour, and did a flourishing business at Nippers Harbour, in fact it was the busiest port down that way. It was on his first trip to Nippers Harbour that he met Elizabeth Marion Wells on the wharf. The wharf in those days was the same as the Terminals of today, generally crowded when the boats were in, especially by the young people. The sea of course was the only highway the people had in those far-away days and the public wharf was a busy spot. Anyway, he met Grandma there and on his next trip down they were married. Aunt Hetty, a daughter of theirs, says it was a real love match. Love at first sight! I can very well believe this as when I knew them and as I remember them they were a real "Darby and Joan" pair. I have not been able to discover where they were married or by whom, but I would suspect it took place at Three Arms which was her home then, her parents having moved across the bay from Back Harbour, Twillingate to Three Arms. The Wells and Strong families were the first settlers in Three Arms, so it would only seem natural that she would be married in her own home. They lived after their marriage on what was known (and is to this day) as Batstone's Point, and all the children were born there. Grandma's people came from Ringwood, Hants, England. They settled at Back Harbour, Twilllingate where most of the Wells-Strong children were born. The Strongs came to Newfoundland with the Wellses and also came from the same place. This is Grandma's forebears, her father John Burge Wells, married Elizabeth Strong, and later both families moved across the bay to Three Arms and settled there. Three Arms is a very pretty and picturesque place and in earlier days was a hive of industry, shipbuilding, fishing, etc. being carried on there for many years and was quite a prosperous place, a thriving settlement. The Wells started the first business there, in fact the first in the bay (Green Bay) and Nellie Wells (Moore) has some old account books dating back to 1862-1875 with dealers from Shoe Cove and Leading Tickles. They also ran the first Post Office and the salary for a year was ?. Dozens of schooners were built there, some large, some small.
The Batstones were a very musical family, and Grandpa always raised the hymns in Church at Jackson's Cove when the organist was absent. I can remember very well how he always raised his head high and as he wore a 'goatee' this would amuse us youngsters. He was very fond of children and Nellie Moore remembers him always having peppermints which he would give to the children. He seemed to have a never ending supply.
Of all the Batstone boys, I imagine that Uncle Corb was the most widely known. (You know the story of the boat at Port-aux-Basques told by your mother.) After retiring from the sea himself, he was always in demand to pilot foreign vessels around Notre Dame Bay, as well as other parts of the coast which was in places and at certain times very treacherous and confusing to strangers who were unfamiliar with all the hidden rocks and shoals, headlands and bights and coves. Uncle Corb knew them all like the palm of his hand! He gave up his schooner rather early. His schooner was the Fanny W. Freeman, and one evening at dusk entering a harbour he cut down a motor boat and a young man lost his life. The fact that the young man was not mentally sound and could have saved himself had he been normal made no difference. He gave up his schooner and as far as I know never sailed again. Uncle Wallace took her and sailed her for many years and eventually lost her on the Penguin Islands in a severe storm, and [was] almost lost himself. It appears to me that the Batstones had no fear of storms or the sea, in fact to me it seems as if they were sometimes rather rash in this respect. Uncle Randolph left Catalina one morning when he knew a storm was coming up, in mid-December and lost his two-master, the Warren M. Colp and most of the crew including himself. This happened at Burnt Point, Bay de Verde. This was a real tragedy! The bodies were recovered by the people and sent home arriving on Christmas Day. He was only thirty-seven. UncleTom captained one called the Ahava. This could have been owned by Strong and Murcell of Little Bay Island. He lost this one on the way home from the West Indies. (I believe.) Uncle Wall was the last of the Batstones to give up sailing. He owned the Kestral, which he later renamed the Norman Batstone, after his youngest son. This one he sold a few years later and became a landlubber. Norman lives alone in his father's old home in Silverdale having never married. I don't believe that Uncle Will ever went to sea. He married Annie Wells and had no children. Uncle Tom married Ellen Baker of Harry's Harbour. They had two boys and one girl. Aunt Nell died March past at Toronto. Her son Fred and daughter Rita live there and I think Ed is still at [Churchill] where he went as a very young man. Ed [changed to Fred] was lame. As you are aware, Uncle Wall married Mary Seymour of Exploits who died in New York after which he brought the children home and Grandma Batstone reared them. Two girls and one boy, Sadie, Lucy and Lloyd. He many years late[r] married a teacher, Ella Gillingham from Twillingate. There is a boy and a girl from this marriage, Norman and Florence (Mrs. Mackie Knight). Uncle Randolph's daughter you know and remember, Maisie who was only a child herself, but has ten of her own all grown and married now. They are quite a musical bunch! She lives near by here at Windsor.
Two of Grandpa's brothers lived at Nippers Harbour and are buried there, namely Robert and Thomas. Robert had two wives and children and Thomas Knight Batstone, I believe had only three daughters. One brother James settled at Jackson's Cove possibly because he married Jane Knight, my Grandfather's sister. This was Bert's Grandfather. I'm not too sure about his children, I know there were several sons and one daughter but probably there were more daughters.
Uncle Steve went to Montreal when quite a young man. He did make one trip home that I remember, this was when he built Cochrane Street Church which was around 1915-1916, as I lived at that time with Aunt Kitty, Mom had died in 1914. Cochrane Church is rather attractive, different from all the other churches in St. John's. It resembles, a little, pictures I've seen of the Alamo. Kind of a Mission building. Uncle Steve's wife, Rae King of Portugal Cove whom he met in Montreal, never visited any of the relatives, no one ever met her. She still lives with her only child, a daughter at Montreal. The daughter, also Sadie, is blind and is or was a music teacher. He also built a large hotel in Nassau, Bahamas. This you know I think, and no doubt he built others in and around Montreal. Grandpa's four daughters married Knights, two of the sons of Henry Knight and two of the sons of Jonathan Knight. These were cousins as the fathers were brothers.
Grandpa's property at Silverdale, formerly Western Arm or Bear Cove, was a large block of land on the corner of the road from Jacksons Cove, with the sea at the front where his schooners tied up. Three of the sons homes were built on this land together with the fathers. Uncle Wallace is still there, also Uncle Tom, which Sadie (Batstone) Upward lives in. Uncle Will's has been sold since Aunt Annie's death and Maisie, Uncle Randolph's daughter who owned the old home, or the one which replaced the first one, sold it to a man from Harry's Harbour, who had to move it off the property as Grandpa's will stipulated. The highroad has gone through and some of this land was taken for that and the whole place looks rather forlorn to me and also a bit messy as the younger folk seem to have no pride in their places and do nothing to keep their surrounding looking nice as the older folk did. Both Batstones and Wells were originally Anglican families. There is an Anglican Church at Twillingate and there was one at Nippers Harbour years ago until the Wesleyan Movement came to Newfoundland after which the Methodist Church became wide-spread. So at the beginning all the descendants were baptized in the Anglican faith and those born later were Methodists. A family named Norris moved to three Arms from Petty Harbour, and after the Wells' people gave up doing business Norris started and ran quite a large and thriving business there. A number of vessels were built at Three Arms for this firm. The first man was James Norris of Waterford, Ireland. They were great friends of the Batstones and Wells, this was natural as they too, the Norrises, were a musical family. The last of this family, Bernard, who was a buddy of Uncle Randolph died last year at Baie Verte. His descendants still live at St. John's. Grandpa captained schooners for Norris and later built his own. He named her the Colonel, and sailed her for years. I have written about Three Arms because it was here that Grandpa and Grandma started life together and where most all the children were born. It is a very picturesque island and I hope to get a picture of it sometime. I have seen a couple and taken from any angle it is a very pretty spot. It is deserted now, the last [to] leave was Nellie (Wells) Moores. As she says they were the first settlers there and they were also the last to leave. She, with her family moved to Harry's Harbour a few years ago, but she with others go in every summer to check on the old homes which are still standing. Some of her Great-grandfather's stores are standing still. They have quite a number of apple trees there and one year I think it was sixteen barrels they gathered.
She writes very movingly about her former home and her people. I think the following is her own composition. I copied it from a story she has written about her Island Home...
"I leave within this house where once I lived a part of me. Within these walls forever shall there beat the heart of me. Upon those stairs a ghost of me shall tread, upon these floors my feet will dance! My loving hand will touch remembered doors. If I should dwell a thousand miles away and if I find contentment bound by other roofs, and wall, as strong, as kind. Within this house where I have lived and loved and laughed and cried, I leave a tiny portion of my soul walled up inside."
Grandma Batstone was an invalid during the last few years of her life and spent many years in a wheel chair, (made by Uncle Corb by the way), but no doubt she 'ruled the roost' from it. She was a very capable person, an excellent needle-woman, beautiful drawn thread work lace etc... She was also sharp-tongued as well as sharp-eyed. Nothing escaped her eyes and very little her tongue. I think she must have had the business head, as Grandpa appeared to leave things to her judgement. He, on the other hand, (at least to me) as I remember him was a very mild, even-tempered person, perhaps a bit easy-going, with a real sense of humor. Perhaps I should say he possessed the "Saving Grace of Humor". He loved children and animals. I remember a big white or grey horse that followed him around like a puppy, and would come and stand with his fore-feet in the small outer porch at meal time and would whinny until Grandpa got up from the table and gave him a carrot or cube of sugar and backed him outside. He cared for Grandma during her invalid years and no doubt lost the will to live after her death following such a long life together. At any rate he died the day following her burial and as far as was known wasn't ill. She died April 21, 1925 and he died April 25, 1925.
Some of Grandma's sisters left Newfoundland, Jane and [an] Englishman named Henry Rittman went to live in England, another Caroline went over to visit her sister Jane, fell in love with the captain of the vessel, Captain John Pitt, married him and went to live in New Zealand. Julia married John Stephens and went to Michigan, U.S.A. I think she lived later in New Jersey as Kit Batstone has a photograph of the wedding of one of her daughters and has corresponded with some of the family in New Jersey.
Grandma re-named Silverdale, which was formerly Western Arm or Bear Cove; I remember seeing a Silverdale on a map while I was in England and I have often wondered if this is near Ringwood where her people came from. Anyway, Silverdale is on the map of Newfoundland today and Grandma named it not too many years ago. Only one member of Grandpa's family survives today, [noted here, 'Aunt Hetty'], she is ninety years of age and lives at Jacksons Cove with her youngest son Leslie. Maisie has Grandpa's will of which I hope to secure a copy. The old Bible you have. I mentioned the closeness of the Knights and the Batstones earlier. They certainly lived in the village of Quidi Vidi at the same time and some of the Knights moved to Green Bay and did possibly live at Twillingate, or so it seems to me. I have a little on the Knight family which I got from the Archives at St. John's a few years ago. The old gentleman who looked after this has died since, but he told me that he couldn't find anything on the Batstones, as the St. Thomas Church has taken over the Quidi Vidi Church together with its records. The old gentleman must have inquired for me as he told me later that he didn't have access to the files. I do plan to visit the graveyards, the older Anglican ones that is, sometime to see what, if anything I can discover.
As to the closeness of the two families mentioned, I can understand Grandpa christening Aunt Hetty, Harriet Knight Batstone, because he was reared by the Knights, but why his brother Uncle Tom was Thomas Knight Batstone, this I cannot understand. Certainly the connection must have dated back much earlier. They married and inter-married. The cemetery at Jacksons Cove tells a rather pathetic tale of the early deaths of both families who were so closely knit during their lifetime and in death are all there together still.