Hester Bateman grew up in a poor family and had no formal education. She married John Bateman, a goldsmith and chainmaker of similar status, in 1730. Her husband’s business sustained their family, but it was not until Hester inherited the workshop after John’s death in 1760 that the silver workshop truly began to flourish. Her sons, Peter and Jonathan, received silversmith apprenticeships and her son-in-law, Richard Clarke, was also a successful silversmith. With the help of her family and apprentice John Linney, Hester registered her first mark at the London Goldsmith’s Hall in 1761. The Bateman workshop, which also included Hester’s daughter-in-law Ann, produced thousands of pieces stamped with Hester’s single punch-mark until 1790 when she retired. Even then, the workshop continued to thrive through the mid-19th century.
The key to Hester’s workshop’s success was the integration of modern technology with classical design to attract a solid middle-class market. Using cost-efficient manufacturing processes, the Bateman workshop was able to compete with other established workshops. Hester’s works prior to 1770 are comparatively rare because she was producing commissioned works for more prominent silversmiths. The vast array of pieces made during the last two decades of the eighteenth century, however, demonstrate her rapid rise to success. The Bateman workshop produced domestic items—coffee pots, tea urns, cruets, teapots, salvers, goblets, salts, and sugar tongs. Hester’s specialty was flatware. These cost-conscious items were created using easily worked sheet silver and decorated with simple yet elegant patterns—typically a thin, precise line of beading or sometimes a light design of bright-cut engraving to highlight the play of light over the surface of the silver—that were especially popular among the middle class.
Despite being a woman in a male dominated craft and other deterring factors such as several competing workshops neighboring her own and the growing popularity of the newly discovered, cost-efficient Sheffield Plate, Hester managed to turn her business into one of the most successful medium-sized manufacturing companies of its day.
wife of John Bateman
mother of Jonathan Bateman
mother of Peter Bateman
grandmother of William Bateman
grandmother of Jonathan Bateman
grandmother of Ann Bateman
grandmother of Letticia Bateman
mother-in-law of Ann Bateman
mother-in-law of Richard Clarke
teacher of John Linney