Bate, Charles Spence (DNB01)

BATE, CHARLES SPENCE (1819–1889), scientific writer, born at Trenick House, in the parish of St. Clement, near Truro, on 16 March 1819, was the eldest son of Charles Bate (1789-1872), a Truro dentist, who married, at St. Clement, Harriet Spence (1788-1879). He was educated at Truro grammar school from 1829 to 1837, and, after being in the surgery of Mr. Blewett for two years, devoted himself to dentistry under his father's instruction. When qualified he established himself at Swansea in 1841.

In this Welsh seaport Bate made the acquaintance of many scientific students, and took up the study of natural history. On the visit of the British Association to Swansea in 1848 he became a member of the society, and on more than one subsequent occasion was the president of a section. He was mainly instrumental in procuring its visit to Plymouth in 1877, and was a vice-president of the meeting.

Bate left Swansea in 1851, and settled at 8 Mulgrave Place, Plymouth, whither his father had long since migrated from Truro. He succeeded to his father's practice as a dentist, and rose to be the leading member of the profession outside London, receiving the license of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1860. He was elected a member of the Odontological Society in 1856, and acted as its vice-president from 1860 to 1862, and as its president in 1885, being the first dentist in the provinces to fill that office. The dental section of the international medical congress, held in London in 1881, secured his services as vice-president, and in 1883 he was the president of the British Dental Association.

All the institutions connected with Plymouth benefited by Bate's enthusiasm. He was elected a member of the Plymouth Institution in 1852, served as secretary from 1854 to 1860, president in 1861-2 and 1869-1870, and member of the council from 1853 to 1883. He was a curator of the museum and the editor of the 'Transactions' of the society from 1 869 to 1883, and in nearly every year from 1853 to 1882 he lectured before its members. Bate was one of the founders of the Devonshire Association, senior general secretary in 1862, and president in 1863, contributing many papers to its 'Transactions,' especially on the antiquities of Dartmoor, a district very familiar to him.

Bate was universally recognised as the greatest living authority on Crustacea. He corresponded with Thomas Edward [q. v.] about them from 1856, and between 1861 and 1865 received from Edward 'multitudes of bottles' containing specimens. Their correspondence shows him 'a thoroughly kind and good-hearted man' (Smiles, Thomas Edward, pp. 292-350). He was elected F.L.S. on 18 April 1854, contributed to the second volume of the 'Proceedings,' and to the third volume (Zoology) of the 'Journal,' but afterwards resigned. On 6 June 1861 he was elected F.R.S. He partly withdrew from practice as a dentist about 1887, but was attending to his profession up to 9 July 1889, when he was seized with illness at his house in Lockyer Street, Plymouth.

Bate died at The Rock, South Brent, Devonshire, on 29 July 1889, and was buried with his first wife at Plymouth cemetery. He had married at Little Hempston church, near Totnes, on 17 June 1847, Emily Amelia, daughter of John Hele and sister of the Rev. Henry Hele, the rector; she died on 4 April 1884, leaving two sons and a daughter. Bate married for a second time in October 1887.

Bate drew up for the trustees of the British Museum a 'Catalogue of the Specimens of the Amphipodous Crustacea' in their collection, which was published in 1862. To insure its accuracy he examined the typical specimens in the Jardin des Plantes at Paris, at the College of Surgeons, and in many private collections. 'The History of the British Sessile-eyed Crustacea,' by him and John Obadiah Westwood [q. v.], was published in two volumes (1868-8). His 'Report on the Crustacea Macrura dredged by H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873 and 1876' formed vol. xxiv., published in 1888, of the set of reports edited by Sir Charles Wyville Thomson [q. v.] and (Sir) John Murray. There are about two thousand specimens, and its preparation took him over ten years.

Bate contributed many papers on dentistry to the 'British Journal of Dental Science,' the 'Transactions of the Odontological Society,' and the 'Medical Gazette.' The titles of these and of his scientific and antiquarian articles in a variety of 'Transactions' and periodicals are set out in detail in the 'Bibliotheca Cornubiensis.'

[Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. i. 15–17, iii. 10567; Boase's Collect. Cornub. pp. 57, 846, 1467; Western Morning News, 30 July 1889 (p. 5), 1 Aug. (p. 5); Transactions Devon Association, 1889, pp. 60–64; Dental Record, 1889, p. 428.]

W. P. C.