Batte was probably born somewhere in Prince George County sometime during the 1780s. His name first appears in the 1809 tax list of that county along with "Milly's children," the residuary legatees of an unmarried white farmer, Robert Batte, who died in 1807. Milly was an unmarried African American woman, and it is possible that Archibald Batte was the son of Milly and of Robert Batte. It is also possible that he was born into slavery and gained his freedom under the provisions of Robert Batte's will. Archibald Batte acquired Robert Batte's fifty-acre farm in Prince George County and also six slaves who had probably belonged to Robert Batte.
In 1818 Batte sued a white man for breaking into his property. Batte lost the suit, but his ability to bring a case and have it seriously considered in court was evidence of how much to his benefit his respectable property ownership was. Nonetheless, as a man of mixed-race ancestry he never enjoyed all the status of a white man of similar achievement. For example, as a "free person of color," in 1822 he had to obtain formal certification from the county court of his "good character," a requirement imposed on no white man, with or without property.
Batte dated his will on February 15, 1830, and died before April 12, 1830, when the will was proved in court. Nancy Jenkins Batte died less than a year later, and not long thereafter their son moved to Pennsylvania, where he began a new life and passed for a white man, clear evidence of the family's consciousness of the barriers to advancement in the Virginia of the 1830s that no black person, however light skinned and financially successful, could surmount.
1780s - Archibald Batte is born probably in Prince George County.
1807 - Robert Batte, an unmarried white farmer in Prince George County, dies. Archibald Batte acquires his farm and six slaves.
March 2, 1815 - Archibald Batte and Nancy Jenkins, of Chesterfield County, marry.
1818 - Archibald Batte pays $300 for a half-acre lot in the town of Bermuda Hundred.
1818 - Archibald Batte sues a white man for breaking into his property but loses.
1822 - Archibald Batte obtains a formal certification from Chesterfield County that he is a free person of color of "good character."
February 15, 1830 - Archibald Batte dates his will.
April 12, 1830 - The will of Archibald Batte is proved in Chesterfield County.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Schwarz, P. J., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Archibald Batte (d. by April 12, 1830). (2018, May 25). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Batte_Archibald_d_by_April_12_1830.
- MLA Citation:
Schwarz, Philip J. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Archibald Batte (d. by April 12, 1830)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 25 May. 2018. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: March 31, 2017 | Last modified: May 25, 2018