Sarah Frances Bateman Before marriage
Dublin and/or County Cork ca 1849-1871
There is really very little known about Sarah Frances Bateman’s childhood. As yet I have been unable to ascertain when or where she was born. The only documentation I have is her marriage certificate, the 1881 census, a record of her death and a few words in her daughter’s memoirs. However, as always we can guess.
Her father was Charles Lum Bateman, Esq. The fact that he calls himself Esquire to me implies a certain status - no profession to speak of, so presumably independently wealthy somehow. I now think he may have been some kind of lawyer but am not sure why I think this. It's just an idea that I have not documented properly. Wealthy anyway - and her future husband certainly came from a well-to-do family so it is unlikely that she grew up poor. Much more likely is it that she was like one of the privileged, maybe even spoilt, children in the portraits shown on this page. Because I know nothing about her parents, I also do not know how many brothers and sisters she had, but it really is most unlikely that there were none. So let us assume that she came from the kind of respectable family, painted in front of a church, in the portrait above. Pets seem to feature in many of these portraits and imply a pampered sort of existence - pets are definitely surplus to most people’s requirements. She would have been educated too - most likely by governesses and there would have been servants to assist with family duties. Whether this meant that she therefore had lots of time with her mother, or whether she was simply handed over to the servants we have no idea.
I am guessing she was born in Dublin, but County Cork is also a distinct possibility - there were several Batemans there - and also Nasons, and let’s be honest, she could have been born anywhere really - even England. Eventually, no doubt, we shall turn up more information but in the meantime this is all we know.
No doubt, as in Jane Austen’s novels, the most important thing was to make a good marriage, and to this end she would have mixed socially with Dublin’s high society - attended tea parties and dances, promenaded along the better streets, always in company with some sort of chaperone and generally been groomed in good manners, etiquette and the social niceties, as well as a little bit of household management, though it is doubtful that this included practical skills like cooking and washing. Genteel sewing and other arts and crafts might have been included though. Much more likely would be lessons in managing servants.