James Nehemiah Bate was born on 6th May 1832 in the New Kent Road, Newington, London to Thomas Bate, a baker, and his wife Elizabeth Sugg. Apart from the last few years of his life, he lived and worked within a few miles of his birth place for over 70 years.
James married Elizabeth A. P. Watts in St. Mary’s Church, Newington in September 1855 and the couple were to celebrate 66 years of marriage during which Elizabeth gave birth to 10 children. Sadly only 5 of them made it to old age.
James built up a very successful business as a tobacconist and cigar manufacturer, employing at its peak 30 men and 20 boys. He had business premises in Denmark Hill and High Street, Peckham, as well as numerous houses around London which he rented out.
James was a very active freemason. He was initiated into Royal Jubilee Lodge on 5th April 1875 and Passed and Raised in the following two months. He was Worshipful Master of both Royal Jubilee Lodge and United Pilgrims No. 507 in 1883, as well as serving as our Director of Ceremonies for a number of years. He was a member of Royal Jubilee Chapter into which he was Exalted in 1892, as well as a regular attendee of other lodges and associated meetings, including the Board of Benevolence.
James died a few months short of his 90th birthday, while Elizabeth lived to 87. They died within 2 months of each other in early 1922 at their home in Bournemouth, where their son Ernest lived.
Interestingly one of his sons, Frederick William Bate (1862-1899), was also a member of the lodge, having been Initiated on 2nd March 1891. His membership lasted just over two years and he resigned in October 1893. He was nevertheless a Past Master of Crescent Lodge No. 788 (another Middlesex lodge) and of Prince of Wales Lodge of Mark Masters No. 4, into which he was Advanced in May 1893, as well as being a member of the Holy Royal Arch . Frederick died on 31st December 1899, not quite making it into the new century.
Photographs courtesy of Pamela Stewart Panting, great great granddaughter of James Bate and great granddaughter of Frederick William Bate.