Batey, John (1852-1925)

Northumberland Colliery Mechanics Association

Born at Backworth, a village in the Northumberland parish of Earsdon (now in Tyne and Wear), John was the son of William and Elizabeth Batey. His father was a carpenter, and John began work at the age of 11, at the pit head of the local coal mine. He became an apprentice to an engine-wright, working as a joiner at the colliery. He went on to become an engine fitter.

There was a Primitive Methodist chapel in the village where John soon began to exercise his talents. First as a Sunday School teacher, and then as a Local Preacher for 50 years.

His first wife, Elizabeth, died at the age of 26 in 1881. In 1884 he married Dorothy Ann Johnson, also a Primitive Methodist. She was the sister of  Matthew Johnson, a Primitive Methodist Minister. Another brother, John Johnson, was a Local Preacher, and became MP for Gateshead (1904-10). John and Dorothy had three sons, Edwin Johnson (1886), Frederick Charles (1888) and Herbert Dawson (1891).

Interested in Trade Unionism, he became treasurer of the Northumberland Colliery Mechanics Association, and in 1897 was appointed its part-time secretary. At this time he was still living at 33 Church Street, Backworth, a terraced house with only three rooms.

Over the next 10 years the work of the Union increased, and he was appointed to the full time post of general secretary of the Northumberland Colliery Mechanics Association. The family moved to a larger house in Newcastle upon Tyne, and he also became treasurer of the National Federation of Colliery Mechanics.

John was buried, at Jesmond on 5 February 1925, age 72, followed a week later by Dorothy, age 68.


R F Wearmouth, Methodism and the Trade Unions, Epworth, 1959, pp39-40

Comments about this page

  • Following an enquiry, further investigation suggests that Wearmouth got the wrong Dorothy! Matthew Johnson did have a half sister called Dorothy (born in 1838), but she is too old to be John Batey’s wife. Matthew was one of 12 children, with his father having two wives. The Dorothy Ann Johnson who married John Batey in 1884, was the daughter of Thomas Johnson a much older half brother of Matthew born circa 1833. (Matthew was born in 1854.) That makes John Batey’s wife a niece of Matthew Johnson (and John Johnson) albeit she was born in 1856 – the ‘same generation’. It probably didn’t help that Matthew’s father was also a Thomas (b circa 1806).

    By Jill Barber (20/01/2014)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *