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Yates, Giles Fonda

"The task of writing a sketch of the life of Giles Fonda Yates is accompanied with a feeling of melancholy," says Doctor Mackey, " because it brings to my mind the recollections of years, now passed forever, in which I enjoyed the intimate friendship of that amiable man and zealous Freemason and scholar. His gentle mien won the love, his virtuous life the esteem, and his profound but unobtrusive scholarship the respect of all who knew him."

Giles Fonda Yates was born in 1796, in what was then the village of Schenectady, in the State of New York. After acquiring at the ordinary schools of the period a preliminary liberal education, he entered Union College, and graduated with distinction, receiving in due time the Degree of Master of Arts. He subsequently commenced the study of the law, and, having been admitted to the bar, was, while yet young, appointed Judge of Probate in Schenectady, the duties of which office he discharged with great ability and fidelity.

Being blessed with a sufficient competency of the World's goods (although in the latter years of his life he became poor), Brother Yates did not find it necessary to pursue the practice of the legal profession as a source of livelihood. At an early period he was attracted, by the bent of his mind, to the study not only of general literature, but especially to that of archeology, philosophy, and the occult sciences, of all of which he became an ardent investigator.

These studies led him naturally to the Masonic Institution, into which he was initiated in the year 1817, receiving the Degrees of Symbolic Freemasonry in Saint George's Lodge, No. 6, at Schenectady, New York. In 1821 he affiliated with Morton Lodge, No. 87, of the same place, and was shortly afterward elected its Senior Warden. Returning subsequently to the Lodge of his adoption, he was chosen as its Master in 1844. He had in the meantime been admitted into a Chapter of the Royal Arch and an Encampment of Knights Templar; but his predilections being for Scottish Freemasonry, he paid little attention to these high Degrees of the American Rite.

He held several important positions in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, being elected Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council in 1851, but soon resigned. He died December 13, 1859. A fine address by Brother Yates, an exposition of the laws, objects, and the history of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, is in Doctor Mackey's revised History of Freemasonry (volume vi, pages 1888-1905).

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