Memorable Manitobans: William John Battley (1879-1947)
Born at Ipswich, England in 1879, he came to Manitoba in 1893. He worked on a farm near Holmfield for seven years and began preaching at the age of 18, first in the Hazeldell School and later at Cartwright. He moved to Winnipeg in 1900 where he became known as “the pioneer advocate of sex education in the west”.
A forceful speaker who won medals in oratory, he began lecturing on social reform. In 1911, he accepted a position with the provincial civil service and, three years later, was appointed Morality Inspector. He resigned this position in 1916 to devote his time to the Social Hygiene Association of Manitoba, Saskatchewa and Alberta, which he had founded and served as General Secretary. He helped to establish clinics for venereal diseases, gave lectures and staged exhibits. In 1922, he published the book White and Black dealing with sex and moral issues.
He was married twice, first to Annie Young (c1881-1909) with whom he had three children: Clifford Ballington Battley (1904-1980), Priscilla Annie Battley (1905-?, wife of Cecil Parker and ? Shane), and Florence May Battley (1908-1986, wife of Louis Flockton). On 12 October 1910, he married Mary Agnes Harvey (c1889-1975) at Swan River and they had three more children: Phyllis Bertha Battley (1912-1987, wife of George Ernest Clifford Bradley), Winston James Battley (1916-1993), and Gladys Battley (?-?, wife of ? Winch).
He died at his Winnipeg home on 9 February 1947 and was buried in the Brookside Cemetery.
Marriage registration [William John Battley, Mary Agnes Harvey], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Birth registrations [Clifford Ballington Battley, Priscilla Annie Battley, Florence May Battley, Phyllis Bertha Battley, Winston James Battley], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Death registration [Annie Battley], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Marriage registration [Priscilla Anne Battley, Cecil Parker], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Marriage registration [Phyllis Bertha Battley, George Ernest Clifford Bradley], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“W. J. Battley, social hygiene leader, is dead,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 February 1947. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B9]
“W. J. Battley, social hygiene pioneer, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 February 1947, page 38.
Obituary [Mary Agnes Sproule], Winnipeg Free Press, 6 January 1975, page 27.
Obituary [Clifford Ballington Battley], Winnipeg Free Press, 27 December 1980, page 43.
Obituary [Florence M. Flockton], Winnipeg Free Press, 7 January 1986, page 37.
Obituary [Phyllis Bertha Bradley], Winnipeg Free Press, 16 April 1987, page 59.
Obituary [Winston James Battley], Winnipeg Free Press, 1 April 1993, page 44.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 6 June 2022