ANTIQUE SILVER HESTER BATEMAN
Hester Bateman was born in 1709 in Clerkenwell, London, England, and married John Bateman (a goldsmith) in about 1725. Hester was illiterate, and so many of her contracts were signed with her "X" mark. She was, however, a very capable businesswoman who learned the smithing trade from her husband while she was rearing her six children, John, Letticia, Ann, Peter, William, and Jonathan. The family lived at 107 Bunhill Row in the Parish of St. Luke in North London for more than a century. John and Hester purchased the houses on both sides of theirs, and two of the children occupied those homes in later years.
John Bateman died in 1760, and bequeathed all his tools to Hester. This seems to indicate that Hester was an accomplished Silversmith by this time but she had no small task ahead of her to continue the business. In these times, women-owned businesses were generally not accepted, and the trade was highly competitive. Hester registered her mark of a scroll HB at Goldsmiths Hall in 1761.
During the period between 1760 and Hester's retirement in 1790, she had many silversmiths working for her including her two sons Jonathan and Peter, and his wife Ann Dowling, and their son William. Most of the family's output from 1760 to 1774 was commissioned by other Silversmiths who would stamp their mark on the piece.
Unlike most silversmiths who specialised in just one area of production, the Batemans were masters of many, producing fine wares right across the board. The main reason for their success was due to Hester's attention to design, detail and quality. All the pieces that left the workshop would be inspected to the highest standard and with this attitude the business grew. Many pieces of Hester Bateman's silver show identifying characteristics such as bead detailed edges and fine designs of bright-cut engraving. They received many commissions from The City Guilds, various religious establishments, and private individuals.