Nat Gould

His life and books

Arthur Yates 1861-1926

Arthur Yates
Born: 1861 Didsbury, Manchester
Died: 1926 Burwood, Australia
Samuel Yates 1831-1901
Mary McMullen 1832-1890
Harry Yates 1859-1941
Ellen Yates 1863-1946
William George Yates 1863-1891
Ernest Yates 1866-1947
Mary Yates 1870-1924
Percy Yates 1873-1936
Harriet Ada Yates 1874-1874
Caroline Mary Davies 1867-1916
Harold Davies Yates 1890-1955
Arthur McMullen Yates 1891-1941
Vera Yates 1894-1938
Guy Carrington Yates 1898-1953
Maud Yates 1901-1978
Philip Samuel Yates 1904-1971

Arthur Yates was born on 10 May 1861 at Stretford in Manchester, the son of Samuel Yates 1831-1901 of Manchester and his wife née Mary McMullen 1832-1890. His father was a seed merchant trading in the city.

An asthmatic with a weak chest, Arthur was sent to New Zealand for his health, arriving on 23 December 1879 in the Auckland. He worked on the land near Otago for two years before opening a small seed shop in Victoria Street West, Auckland, in 1883. He also travelled on horseback selling seeds and taking orders from farmers.

In 1886 Yates visited Australia. On his return to New Zealand he sent a commercial traveller to Sydney to take orders for seeds, and leased premises there in Sussex Street.

His younger brother Ernest Yates joined him in 1887, and Arthur Yates then moved to Sydney, where the climate suited him better. His brother managed the New Zealand business.

In 1888 Arthur Yates visited England. On 13 November 1888 he married Caroline Mary Davies 1867-1916 at Wellington in Shropshire. His bride returned with him to Australia, where they lived in a house (named after the ancestral Manchester home Didsbury) in Shaftesbury Road, Burwood, a suburb of Sydney.

They had the following children:

Harold Davies Yates. He was born in 1890 at Ryde, Sydney. He married Dollar Eva Ruth Buisson 1886-1986, and died on 28 September 1955 at Potts Point, Sydney.

Arthur McMullen Yates. Known as Max, he was born in 1891 at Burwood, Sydney. He married Nellie Rowe de Mestre 1889-1970, and died in 1941 at Mosman, Sydney. They had a daughter Helen Caroline Yates 1918-1981.

Vera Yates. She was born in 1894 at Burwood, and died in 1938 at Woolahra, Sydney.

Guy Carrington Yates. He was born in 1898 at Burwood. He married Phyllis May Balfe 1903-2008, and died in 1953 at Chatswood, Sydney.

Maud Yates. She was born in 1901 at Burwood, and died on 16 June 1978 at Double Bay, Sydney.

Philip Samuel Yates. He was born in 1904 at Burwood. He married Doreen Edeline Kershaw Bennett 1905-1998, and died on 3 March 1971 at Vaucluse, Sydney.

Medallion 1923

Medallion 1923

In 1893 their father Arthur Yates launched his profitable range of packet seeds for suburban gardeners in Australia. Two years later he wrote his book Yates' Gardening Guide for Australia and New Zealand: Hints for Amateurs. This became an annual, still published over a century later. His seed business became the largest in the colonies. He built an office and warehouse in Sussex Street in 1896, travelled to Europe in search of quality seeds and established seed farms elsewhere in Australia.

In about 1907 the two brothers decided to operate separately Arthur Yates in Australia and Ernest Yates in New Zealand. Both firms were named Arthur Yates & Co and maintained close links with their father's business in Manchester, eventually taken over by their eldest brother Harry Yates. Arthur Yates & Co Ltd was incorporated in New South Wales in 1910. His sons joined the firm, which traded as a family company until 1951. Then it became Yates Seeds Ltd and in 2001 Yates Ltd, and was bought in 2003 by Orica Australia Pty Ltd for $45 million (1).

Arthur Yates died on 30 July 1926 at his home in Burwood, and was buried in Enfield cemetery.

His wife Caroline Mary Yates née Davies had predeceased him in 1918.


(1) Article by Victor Crittenden in Australian Dictionary of Biography Supplementary Volume 2005;