The Yates family appeared in Albany after 1664 with the arrival of English-born Joseph Yates to serve in the garrison at the fort. By the 1680s, he had married New Netherland native Huybertje Marselis. Their nine children established the family in Albany and regionally for generations to come.
Joseph Yates supplemented a soldier's stipend with local appointments and contracts. He was the first of a number of American Yateses to practice the trade of the blacksmith. Elder sons Chrisoffel and Joseph followed in their father's smithy while the others left for Schenectady and New York.
By the 1760s, Christophel and Joseph Yates were dead but numerous members of the third generation of the family in America had come of age and were emerging from the working class for the first time. Cementing their ties to Albany through marriage, Yates men embraced trades and service activities to support their new families from residences on Albany's back streets. Hudson Street baker Abraham J. Yates was among them.
After mid-century, Abraham Yates, Jr., Robert Yates, and Peter W. Yates had become attorneys and took their places among the leaders of the Albany community, and, through the opportunities created by the American Revolution, at the state and even national levels as well.
The next generation produced a number of distinguished if not famous personages. John Van Ness Yates and John W. Yates were admired and profiled imtimately in Random Recollections, the classic memoir of Gorham Worth. Grandson of Abraham Yates, Jr., attorney and congressman Gerrit Yates Lansing was responsible for creating documents collections central to the early Albany story.
Beginning with the children of the first Joseph and Huybertie Marselis Yates, as many as 150 members of the family called the city of Albany their home.
Saying or writing the English name Yates was a challenge for many early Albany people. Among the most often encountered variants are: aets, jets, zets, and so on. This family is probably not related to the Abraham Eights family, although we often are confused by the Abraham Eightses and Yateses. We call all the descendants of Joseph and Huybertie Marselis "Yates."
Sources: In the course of my work on Abraham Yates, Jr., I solicited a wide range of living people I thought might know something about the subject. A wonderful core group of genealogists and family historians shared and pointed me to a healthy pile of family-based materials. Particularly gratifying was the kindness and guidance offered by Persis Boyeson and Bobbi Mc Lane. This also is a good place to begin to acknowledge the contributions of historian Stephan Wolf - author of a German language political biography of Abraham Yates, Jr. His long stay at the Project took me back thirty years to when I was researching the subject and was the same age as our young German scholar. Of course, that friendly fellow found much more material than was available in the "Dark Ages" of the 1970s! The Internet now hosts substantial material on this Yates family - not the least of it comes from our enquiry into the family of a one-time english soldier.
first posted: 5/25/00; last updated 1/12/12