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Bates family papers

Call Number: MS 65

Scope and Contents

This collection contains a small amount of material concerning members of the Bates family of Springfield, Massachusetts. Included are a few items of correspondence, a journal of court cases in Springfield, and papers relating to the Yale careers of Elijah Bates (class of 1794) and Isaac C. Bates (class of 1802).

The papers were acquired through gifts from W. B. Greenough in 1944, from Gelston Hardy in 1965, and by purchase in 1968.


  • 1788-1880


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of W.B. Greenough, 1944, and of Gelston Hardy, 1965; further material purchased in 1968.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Miscellaneous papers of the Bates family of Springfield, Massachusetts. One of the two principal figures is Elijah Bates (Y.1794) with accounts of his expenses at Yale College, some notes on his reading and the text of a play in which he took part. Isaac Chapman Bates (Y.1802) is represented with a petition to the president of Yale College, two letters and an obituary notice.

Biographical / Historical

ELIJAH BATES (1770-1850), the eldest child of Captain Nathaniel and Hannah Bates, of (East) Granville, Massachusetts, and grandson of John and Edith Bates, of Durham, Connecticut, was born in Granville on July 27, 1770. His mother was a daughter of Jonathan and Abigail (White) Church. Isaac C. Bates (Yale 1802) was a first cousin.

He received his B.A. from Yale in 1794. He studied law with Judge Tapping Reeve in Litchfield, Connecticut, and also in the office of Joseph Lyman (Yale 1783), of Westfield.

He established himself in practice in Westfield with Isaac C. Bates (B.A. Yale, 1802), which adjoins his native town, but from the first indulged a passion for agricultural pursuits, which interfered seriously with his professional success.

He was one of the foremost in the enterprise of opening a good highway from Westfield to Albany, and did much of the work in his vicinity at his own expense.

As a citizen he was public spirited and enterprising; one of the kindest of neighbors and most honest of men.

He was a member of the State Senate for one or more sessions. He served in the General Court of Mass. (1808-1809), U.S. House of Reps. (1827-1935), State Legislature, (1835-1837), Governor's Counsel, U.S. Senate (1841-1845).

For many years he limited his professional labors mainly to the winter months, devoting the summer to his favorite out-of-door pursuits; and in 1825, when his elder son began law studies, he made his retirement final.

He died in Westfield on February 4, 1850, in his 80th year.

He married, on June 15, 1800, Mary (or Polly), eldest daughter of Dr. Israel Ashley (Yale 1767), of Westfield, who died on July 10, 1845, aged 75 years.

Their children were two sons and one daughter, all of whom survived their parents. The elder son graduated from Yale in 1825.

ISAAC CHAPMAN BATES (1779-1845) was a son of Colonel Jacob and Ruth Bates of Granville, Massachusetts, and a first cousin of Elijah Bates (Yale 1794). His mother was a daughter of Phineas Robinson of Granville, and widow of Isaac Chapman, who died on November, 1776. He was born in Granville on January 23, 1779, and was prepared for College by the Rev. Dr. Timothy M. Cooley (Yale 1792), who had married his half-sister. An excellent scholar in College, and distinguished as a writer and speaker, he was chosen to deliver the Valedictory Oration at graduation.

He studied law in New Haven with Seth P. Staples (Yale 1797), and afterwards with Judge Samuel Hinckley (Yale 1781), of Northampton, where he was admitted to the bar at the May term in 1805. An oration which he delivered on the fourth of July brought him at once into favorable notice, and he soon took a prominent rank among the practitioners in Western Massachusetts. His striking personal advantages, a commanding presence, a rich, silvery voice, and graceful address, joined with a power of manly and lucid argument, made him especially effective as an advocate before a jury.

He was not only much employed in professional, but also in civil life. In 1808-09, and once subsequently, he was a Representative in the General Court of Massachusetts; and in December, 1827, he took his seat as a Representative in Congress (anti-Jackson), where he was continued for eight years, and then declined a re-election. After this he served again as a member of the State Legislature, and was for two years in the Governor's Council. He served as a presidential elector in 1836 and 1840.

In January, 1841, he was elected to the Senate of the United States, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of the Hon. John Davis (Yale 1812), who had just been chosen Governor. When this term had expired, he was elected Senator for the next six years (1841-47), but did not live to finish his term. He had been much overworked in the discharge of his duties, and in February, 1845, made an able speech, opposing the admission of Texas. Though ill, he appeared in his seat for the last time on the last day of that month, and he died in Washington on March 16, in his 67th year.

His colleague in the Senate, Daniel Webster, in announcing his death, paid a high tribute to his ability and eloquence.

He married, on September 21, 1807, Martha, the eldest child of Judge Samuel Henshaw (Harvard 1773) and Martha (Hunt) Henshaw, of Boston and Northampton, who died in Northampton on November 9, 1874, in her 92d year.

They had five daughters and three sons. The eldest daughter married the Rev. Fordyce M. Hubbard (Williams Coll. 1828); the second daughter married the Hon. Samuel H. Walley (Harvard 1826); the third daughter married Lewis J. Dudly (Yale 1838); the fourth daughter married Haynes H. Chilson (Amherst Coll. 1843); and the youngest married, first, Charles F. Smith (Amherst 1838), and secondly, John A. Dana (Yale 1844). The eldest son was graduated here in 1833; the youngest died in infancy.

(F. B. Dexter, Yale Biographies and Annals, 1795-1805, pages 470-1805)

Guide to the Bates Family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Janet Elaine Gertz
July 1981
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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