Batts, Robert Lynn (1864–1935)

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 1, 1994

Robert Lynn Batts, attorney, judge, and University of Texas regent, was born in Bastrop, Texas, on November 1, 1864, the son of Andrew Jackson and Julia Priscilla (Rice) Batts. He studied law at the University of Texas and served as editor of the university's first student publication, a magazine called The Texas University; he received his law degree in 1886. Batts married Harriet Fiquet Boak of Austin on November 12, 1889, and they became the parents of three children.

Batts practiced law in Bastrop until 1892, when he became assistant Texas attorney general in the administration of Charles A. Culberson. His most significant victory in this position was the recovery of 920,000 acres of land for the public school fund in Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railway Company v. Texas. In 1893 Batts resigned to become professor of law at the University of Texas, but he returned to private practice in Austin in 1901. As a member of the firm Gregory and Batts, he served as Texas counsel in the Waters-Pierce Case. In 1914 he became special assistant attorney general of the United States. In March 1917 President Woodrow Wilson appointed him judge of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Batts resigned from the court in 1919 to become general counsel for the Gulf Petroleum Company (see GULF OIL CORPORATION). He lived in New York and Pittsburgh until 1923, when he returned to Texas.

Batts was a member of the board of regents of the University of Texas from 1927 to 1933. He served as chairman during the last three years of his appointment; in this role he was largely responsible for the financing and planning of the university's building program. He wrote several legal texts, including Annotated Revised Civil Statutes of Texas (1897–99) and The Law of Corporations in Texas (1902). He was made an honorary member of the Texas Alpha chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1915. Batts died in Austin on May 19, 1935, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Batts Hall at the University of Texas was dedicated to him in April 1953.

Austin American, May 20, 1935. Dictionary of American Biography. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 1.
  • Education
  • Educators
  • Law and Business
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Batts, Robert Lynn,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 08, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994