Nathaniel Butler Batten
Solicitor, founder of the Yeovil firm of solicitors
Nathaniel Butler Batten was born in 1712, the son of Robert Batten of Charmouth, Dorset, and Sarah née Butler (m1712). Nathaniel's maternal great-grandfather was the Rev. Henry Butler, Vicar of St John's church, who was ejected from the living after the Commonwealth. Nathaniel Butler's ancestors were originally landed gentry from North Petherton, and he himself bought the manor of Thornfalcon, near Taunton, from the Burridges of Lyme Regis. Nathaniel's descendants, known as Chisholm-Batten, lived at Court House, Thornfalcon from 1859.
Nothing is known of Nathaniel's early life except that he was articled for a period of five years to John Prigg(e), an attorney of Ilminster, on Tuesday 14 July 1730. On 13 December 1737, at Ilminster, Nathaniel married Joanna Prigge, the only daughter of his employer. Nathaniel and Joanna were to have a son, John Prigge Batten (1737-1809) - later of Burton Pynsent, Curry Rivel. It was through John Prigge Batten and his wife Ann née Wallis that most of the later Battens of Yeovil were descended. Sadly Joanna died in 1737, almost certainly in childbirth.
Following the death of his wife, Nathaniel married Ann Adams, daughter of Edmund Adams. Nathaniel and Ann were to have three sons; Nathaniel (1743-1819), Robert (c1745-1824) and Edmund (c1748-1836) and one daughter, Susannah.
Nathaniel had established his law firm in Yeovil at least by 1745 when it is recorded that Richard England became his articled clerk. He also articled his three sons at Yeovil; Robert in 1758, Nathaniel in 1762 and Edmund in 1772.
It appears that the Battens were a Nonconformist family and a coffin containing the remains of Nathaniel's son Robert, a Yeovil solicitor like his father and two brothers, was excavated in 1982-3 when the site of the Unitarian chapel in Vicarage Street was being demolished for the construction of the Quedam project.
It is most likely that, around 1770 Nathaniel had built Church House in Church Street, facing St John’s church. It is built of stone with a frontage in Yeovil red bricks and Ham stone dressings, cornice and parapet; it is the finest remaining town house in Yeovil. The house has played a prominent part in the town's legal affairs, indeed the Town Courts were held in the north annex until the middle of the twentieth century.
Nathaniel Butler Batten died in Yeovil in 1784, aged 72 and was buried in St John's churchyard. He was succeeded by the son from his first marriage, John Prigge Batten.
The record of Nathaniel Butler Batten, son of Robert Batten of Charmouth, being articled to Ilminster attorney, John Prigg.
The entry of the marriage of Nathaniel Butler Batten and Joanna Prigge on 13 December 1737 in the Parish Register of Ilminster.
It appears that the Battens were a Nonconformist family and this early photograph dating to around 1900, of the western end of Vicarage Street looking towards Silver Street shows the Unitarian chapel at right. The chapel, rebuilt in 1809, was in use at this time.
Church House, photographed about 1960. The house was probably built by Nathaniel Butler Batten, founder of the Batten family of Yeovil solicitors and the house has played a prominent part in the town's legal affairs.