Open main menu

Bateman, Hezekiah Linthicum (DNB00)

BATEMAN, HEZEKIAH LINTHICUM (1812–1875), actor and theatrical manager, was born at Baltimore in Maryland, U.S.A., on 6 Dec. 1812. His father, Henry Bateman, died during his boyhood. His mother, whose maiden name was Catherine Evans, was a strict methodist. Having had her son carefully instructed at a private school in Baltimore, she placed him in the employment of a firm of mechanical engineers. In the winter of 1832–3, he threw up this position to become an actor, and played both with Ellen Tree (afterwards Mrs. Charles Kean) and with the elder Booth (Edmund Kean's reputed rival) in what is known as the leading juvenile business. On 10 Nov. 1839, at St. Louis, in Missouri, he married Sidney Frances [q. v.], daughter of a popular English low comedian, known as Joe Cowell. Eight children were born to them, and four daughters survived them both, three of whom were brought up to the stage. When the two eldest, Kate and Ellen, were no more than seven and eight years of age, they began their theatrical career, and, as the ‘Bateman Children,’ delighted immense audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. After the year of the first great international exhibition (1851), both parents devoted themselves almost entirely to the dramatic education of their children, who achieved an extraordinary success all over the United States, in California, and throughout Great Britain and Ireland.

In 1855 Bateman became manager of the St. Louis theatre, and in 1859 removed with his family to New York. There he superintended the reappearance on the stage of his daughter Kate, who had retired to complete her education; and after her marriage to Mr. George Crowe, in 1866, acted as manager in her various engagements.

In 1870, Bateman returned to England, and took the Lyceum, selecting the best actors that he could find, and among them Mr. Henry Irving, whose future success he confidently foretold. Extraordinary pains were taken by Bateman to insure Mr. Irving's first success at the Lyceum—that won by his first appearance, on 25 Nov. 1871, as Mathias in ‘The Bells.’ ‘The Bells’ ran uninterruptedly for 151 nights; but Bateman strove by reviving the Shakespearean drama to improve public taste, and a very few days before his unexpected death he said that the success of Mr. Irving's ‘Hamlet’ realised one of the dearest wishes of his heart. He arranged for the production of Tennyson's play ‘Queen Mary.’ But before the first performance he died suddenly, of heart disease, in the sixty-third year of his age, on 22 March 1875.

[Times, 24 March 1875, p. 8; Athenæum, 27 March 1875, p. 436; Academy, same date, p. 333; Era, 28 March 1875, 4 & 11; Era Almanack for 1876, 1–7; Annual Register for 1875, vol. cxvii. part ii. 34–5.]

C. K.