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John Wesley Bateman (1852–1907)

In the early hours of Friday, May 17, there passed away, at his residence, in North Fremantle, Mr. J. W. [John Wesley] Bateman, eldest son of Mr. John Bateman, and principal of the well-known firm of J. and W. Bateman. By his death, which was primarily due to ptomaine poisoning, Fremantle has lost one of her most prominent citizens. Of him it is said that he was an indefatigable worker, a man of few words, but of unusual experience in all matters relating to shipping and commerce; a man of sound judgment, sincerity of purpose, and one for whom many residents have been in the habit of obtaining sound advice. He was unassuming in manner, and, although not having taken any of the higher public offices, had always manifested a keen interest in all movements having for their object the good of the State and the district in which he resided. He was a man respected and admired for a manly, honest-spoken opinion, which always commanded attention. His death is a loss to the community, which can ill afford to lose such an upright and loyal citizen.

The history of Mr. Bateman's life in Western Australia is really a record of the progress of the State, for with the increased prosperity of the land of his birth his business connections correspondingly rose. Born in Fremantle in 1852, he was the eldest son of Mr. John Bateman, shipowner and pioneer, who in the early days of Western Australia was interested in the whaling industry, in lightering, and in the coastal, Singapore, Chinese, and Mauritius trades. Mr. Bateman, senior, who survives the deceased, sent his son to school in Fremantle, and later on to Bishop Hale's School. In his younger days Mr. J. W. Bateman was passionately fond of the more arduous forms of sport. In the early sixties the firm of J. and W. Bateman was formed, and carried on an extensive trade along the coast and to Singapore, China, and Mauritius, a greater portion of the shipping from this country to those lands being in their hands. The deceased ultimately entered his father's firm, and early evinced that keen business ability and foresight which in later years stood him in good stead, and was chiefly responsible for his successful career. In 1880 he married Mary, daughter of Adam Armstrong, an old colonist. The demands of the business, which came more and more under his direct control, did not prevent him from interesting himself in the welfare of the State and of Fremantle in particular. He was the founder of the W.A. Shipping Association, and was chairman of directors of that body for many years. For over five years he presided over the affairs of the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce. Under his guidance the firm, of which at the time of his death he was the sole member, extended its operations over the whole of the State. As chairman of the Fremantle Citizens League and member of several other bodies, he came into close contact with the people of the Port, by whom he was held in deep respect, a fact which was emphasised last week by the half-masting of all flags. Mr. Bateman was attended from the commencement of his fortnights illness by Dr. Martin, who called in other medical practitioners in consultation. Deceased leaves a widow, a daughter, and seven, sons, the two eldest of whom have been engaged in their father's firm for some years.

Seldom in the history of Fremantle has a funeral approached the dimensions of that of the late Mr. John Wesley Bateman, which took place on Saturday afternoon from the residence, "Sydenham," Lukin-street, North Fremantle. It was a marked tribute to the high position held by Mr. Bateman as a public man, a leader of the mercantile community, and a respected resident of Fremantle, a town in which he had practically resided all his life. Prior to the cortege leaving "Sydenham," a short and deeply impressive service was conducted by the Rev. E. Davies, of Johnston Memorial Congregational Church, at which the deceased had been a regular attendant. There were present about 40 of his relatives. Afterwards the funeral procession started for Fremantle Cemetery, and ere it reached the entrance there were no fewer than 150 vehicles following the hearse. The route taken was along Swan-street to the North Fremantle Bridge, along East-street and High-street to the Cemetery gates. It was close on 5 o'clock before the service began. The coffin was of massive oak, with carved mouldings and solid brass mountings, with brass breast-plate, on which was engraved, "John Wesley Bateman, died 17th May, 1907, aged 54 years." The following gentlemen acted as pall-bearers:—Captain T. E. Shaw, Captain Rickers, Mr. Barrymore, Mr. G. F. Moore, Mr. T. L. Harbutt, Mr. E. F. Duffield, Mr. W. Paterson, and Mr. A. G. Leeds. The coffin was placed by the side of the grave, and the service was then commenced by the Rev. E. Davies. It is estimated that about 2,000 people were around the grave. The chief mourners were Messrs. John Bateman, sen (father), John W. Bateman, Louis L. Bateman, Herbert P. Bateman, Guy Vernon Bateman, William Bateman, and Charles Bateman (sons), William A. Bateman, Louis Bateman, and Samuel Bateman (brothers), F. Hollis, J. Higham, H. Higham, H. Stirling, F. W. Koeppe, W. Armstrong and A. Armstrong (brothers-in-law), F. Bateman, M. Bateman, H. B. Higham, A. E. Higham, F. G. Higham, E. A. Higham, N. Higham, W. Higham, E. H. Stirling, A. Stirling, Thos. Hicks, Richard Hicks, W. Hicks, L. D. Hicks, H. D. Hicks. H. Wilson, V. Wilson, Louis Konoop, and Geo. Forsyth (cousins).

The following public bodies were represented:—Fremantle Town Council (Mr. Macmillan, Town Clerk, in the unavoidable absence of the Mayor); North Fremantle and East Fremantle Councils; Fremantle Chamber of Commerce, by Messrs. W. D. Gilfillan (president), and Allnutt, Hudson, and Feely (vice-presidents); Fremantle and District Citizens' League, by Mr. W. Fisher Beard (vice-president); the Wholesale Grocers and Traders' Association, by Mr. S. Lodge, of G. Wood Son and Co. (chairman); Fremantle District Traders' Association, by Messrs. P. J. Press and J. A. Hicks (vice-presidents); National Political League, by Mr. F. W. Green (secretary); the shipowners by Messrs. Ridley, Salmon, Downer, King, Buzolich, and Syme; Commercial Travellers' Association, by Mr. L. Alexander (president); Perth Chamber of Commerce, by Mr. F. Conigrave (secretary); Trinity Congregational Church, Perth, by Mr. C. A. Hall (deacon): W.A.S.A., Ltd., by Cr. F. Nicholas (secretary); Fremantle Cemetery Board, Fremantle Hospital Board, and Fremantle Tramway Board, by Mr. E. Solomon (chairman); Fremantle Harbour Trust, by Mr. F. Stevens (secretary); Captain Irvine (Chief Harbour-master) and Captain Morrison (Deputy Harbour-master); the Police Department, by Inspector McKenna, and other bodies. Among those who attended to pay their last token of respect to the deceased were Mr. Jas. Price (Minister for Works), Mr. D. Forrest. Mr. R. Fairbairn, R.M., Mr. W. A. Murphy, J.P., Mr. W. Mills, Mr. E. Craik, Mr. T. Carter, Mr. J. Humble. Mr. A. E. Davies, M.L.A., Messrs. J and F. Gallop, Cr. R. Holmes, Mr. George Holmes, and the members of the Fremantle Masonic Lodge No. 2, to which the late Mr. Bateman had belonged. Over 100 employees of the firm of Messrs. J. and W. Bateman walked from "Sydenham" to the Cemetery behind the chief mourning coaches.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Empire (Fremantle, WA), 18 May 1907, p 3
  • is seriously ill, Phillips River Times (Ravensthorpe, WA), 18 May 1907, p 3

Citation details

'Bateman, John Wesley (1852–1907)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


17 June, 1852
Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia


17 May, 1907 (aged 54)
Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia

Cause of Death

food poisoning

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations