Peter Waldron Yates (1747-1826) was an American lawyer and statesman from Albany, New York. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1786.
Peter was born on August 23, 1747, the son of John G. and Rebecca Waldron Yates. His father was a blacksmith in Albany, but also owned a farm in Rensselaerswyck (in what is today the town of Bethlehem). Despite his background as one child in a large working class family, Peter acquired an education, and read for the law. In 1767 he was admitted to the bar and married Ann Margarita Helms of New York City.
In 1768 Yates opened a law practice in Albany. His practice was very successful for over thirty years, even though interrupted by the Revolutionary War. In its later years he trained a number of young men in the law. His political career began in 1772 when he was elected to the Albany city council. He would be reelected annually for several years until the last council meeting under the colonial government in March of 1776.
The revolution was a difficult time for Yates. He had been elected to the Committee of Correspondence for Albany in 1775 but resigned after only two months. He wrote an essay that expressed doubts over the direction of the revolution. When asked to rejoin the revolutionary committee, he declined and was never again entirely trusted by the rebels. He had close connections with the colonial establishment and ties to the landed interests. He took several steps to counter this. He left the Anglican Church and joined the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany. Peter even served about two years in late 1775-1776 as an officer with the Albany County militia, and even saw action around Lake Champlain. He continued to expand his law practice throughout the revolution.
When the active fighting in the revolution ended, Peter again entered politics. A long-time Freemason he became an officer in the Albany lodge. Then in 1784 he ran for the state assembly. He represented Albany there in 1784 and 1785. In 1786 they sent him to New York City as a delegate in the Continental Congress. This would be his last major office. During the debate over ratification of the United States Constitution has was an active Anti-Federalist.
Now removed from politics, his practice and investments thrived. He became one of the most prosperous men in Albany. In 1794 his wife died, and in 1798 he re-married, this time to Mary Terbush (Ter Boss). He would have three more children with Mary, bringing his large family up to eleven children. He built a mansion on the south side of town, and only the Philip Schuyler house was more impressive.
In 1808 he was made a state judge for the western district of New York. In 1810 he moved to Montgomery County, New York, living on another property that he owned. He died there in Caughnawaga (now Fonda, New York) on March 9, 1826.