Yates, Richard (1769-1834) (DNB00)

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YATES, RICHARD (1769–1834), divine and antiquary, born in July 1769 at Bury St. Edmunds, was the son of Richard Yates (1741–1803). He was educated at the Bury grammar school, but left it at the age of fifteen to take a post as usher in a school at Linton, Cambridgeshire. In 1789 he was a teacher in the Chelmsford grammar school, and in 1792 at a school in Hammersmith. In September 1796 he was ordained deacon, and preached his first sermon as curate of the Chelsea Hospital on 2 Oct. 1796. In January 1797 he was ordained priest, and in March 1798 he was appointed one of the chaplains of the hospital, with which he remained connected until his death. While at the Chelsea Hospital he acquired considerable reputation as a popular preacher.

On 28 April 1803 his father died at Bury after a residence of thirty-seven years within the walls of the abbey ruins, of which he was custodian. He had made an extensive series of drawings and notes on the history of the abbey, and this collection his son undertook to edit (Gent. Mag. 1803, i. 484). The first part was published in 1805 under the title of ‘Monastic Remains of the Town and Abbey of St. Edmunds Bury.’ It gave a chronological history of the abbey, and Yates's intention was to follow it up with a second part, in which the antiquities of the town were to be described in detail. The first chapter of this second part, describing the western gate of the abbey, and a large number of the plates with which it was intended that the second part should be illustrated, were published as specimens at the end of part i. (1805). The first thirty-two pages of the appendix, containing a transcript of a number of Bury charters, were similarly published. In 1819 Yates stated in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (ii. 194) ‘that the second part was in great forwardness, that thirteen plates were engraved, and a considerable part of every chapter prepared’ (ib. ii. 386). The second part, however, did not appear until 1843, nine years after Yates's death, when a ‘second edition’ of the history was published through the efforts of John Bowyer Nichols [q. v.], a personal friend of Yates. It contained fourteen additional plates belonging to part ii., and a selection from Dr. Yates's manuscript collections to accompany them.

In May 1804 Yates was appointed to the rectory of Ashen in Essex. In 1805 he took the degree of B.D., and subsequently (1818) of D.D. at Cambridge, and associated himself with Jesus College. He lived chiefly in London, where he was in great request as a preacher at the fashionable chapels. He interested himself in the conduct and management of many public charities, and acted as secretary of the asylum for the deaf and dumb. In 1805 he was elected one of the treasurers of the Literary Fund, a post which he continued to hold till his death nearly thirty years later.

Yates published a number of his sermons, but beyond his ‘History of Bury Abbey’ his only important contribution to literature was a pamphlet called ‘The Church in Danger: a Statement of the Cause, and of the probable Means of averting that Danger, attempted in a Letter to the Earl of Liverpool’ (1815). This pamphlet, which pointed out the deficiency of places of public worship, was commended by Vansittart, the chancellor of the exchequer, when advocating parliamentary grants for the erection of new churches and chapels in the metropolis and other populous places. Yates's popularity as a London preacher, and his independent means (derived from his marriage in 1810 with the only daughter of Patrick Telfer of Gower Street), led him to decline offers of the livings of Blackburn in Lancashire, and of Hilgay in Norfolk. During the last five or six years of his life he was an invalid, and he died at Penshurst in Kent on 24 Aug. 1834. He left a family of three children.

A portrait engraved ‘from an original painting by S. Drummond, esq., A.R.A.,’ is given in the ‘European Magazine’ for July 1818. An engraving of a second portrait by Tannock, a Scottish artist, was prefixed to the second edition (1843) of the ‘History of the Abbey of St. Edmund's Bury.’ A copy of Tannock's picture, painted by desire of the Literary Fund, is now at their house in Adelphi Terrace.

[Gent. Mag. 1803 i. 484, 492, 1819 ii. 194, 386, 1834 ii. 437–8 (obituary notice); Memoir in European Magazine, 1818, lxxiv. 1–8; Memoir (apparently by J. B. Nichols) prefixed to the 1843 edition of the History of Bury Abbey.]

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