Joseph Batchelor was born in Kilburn, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Eliza) Batchelor. Joseph senior was employed as a coal porter and he and Eliza had five children. In 1900 the family moved to Hertfordshire and Joseph senior, who was a coal porter, died that year, aged 38.
Eliza and her five children settled at 10 Oxhey Street, now part of Oxhey Avenue, and Joseph, who had just left school, worked as an assistant to an ironmonger to help provide for the family.
In 1905 Eliza married William Henry Woodstock, who already had a family, and moved to 42 Tucker Street, just off Watford Lower High Street.
In 1913 Joseph married an Agnes G V Blythe (registered in Watford district) and moved to London.