yeovil people

Nathaniel Butler Batten

Solicitor, founder of the Yeovil firm of solicitors


Nathaniel Butler Batten was born in 1712, the only son of Robert Batten (c1690-1773) of Charmouth, Dorset, and Sarah née Butler (1681-1774, m1712), daughter and co-heiress of Nathaniel Butler of Lyme Regis, goldsmith and mayor of that town in 1690 and 1705. 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.

The Battens were a Nonconformist family and Nathaniel was probably a Presbyterian.

Nothing is known of Nathaniel's early life except that he was articled for a period of five years to John Prigge, an attorney of Ilminster, on Tuesday 14 July 1730. On 13 December 1737, at Ilminster, Nathaniel married Joanna Prigge, the only daughter and heiress 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 Joanna, in 1740, Nathaniel married Ann Adams, daughter of mercer Edmund Adams of Ilminster. Nathaniel and Ann were to have three sons and a daughter;

  • Nathaniel Batten (1743-1819) was articled clerk to his father in 1762 and admitted to Inner Temple in 1777. He was a solicitor in Yeovil and lived at Kingston House. He inherited the manor of Thornfalcon from his father. He died in Yeovil in 1819 and was buried at Yeovil on 6 December 1819.

  • Robert Batten (c1745-1824) was articled clerk to his father in 1758. He was a solicitor in Hare Court, Inner Temple and lived briefly at Kingston House. He was a Unitarian in religion and inherited a moiety of the manor of Thornfalcon from his elder brother Nathaniel. He married Hannah, daughter of John Copeland of Peckham and Lingfield Lodge (Surrey), and had issue one daughter. He died in 1824 and was buried at the Unitarian chapel in Vicarage Street, from which his remains were exhumed when the site was redeveloped in 1982-83 for the construction of the Quedam project.

  • Edmund Batten (c1748-1836)

  • Susannah Batten (c1750-1841) was married on 11 July 1809, at Yeovil, to the Reverend Samuel Fawcett (1751-1835), the radical Unitarian minister of Yeovil. They had no issue. Susanna died in the spring of 1841 and her will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 18 January 1843.

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 is most likely that, around 1770 Nathaniel had Church House built 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 inherited an estate at Pitminster, Somerset, from his father in 1773 but sold it and purchased the manor of Thornfalcon, near Taunton.

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.


See Batten Family Tree

See Yeovil Solicitors




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 his first wife, 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 around 1770. The house has played a prominent part in the town's legal affairs.