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William Bates, who resided in Coventry, Rhode Island, married Mary Hopkins. To this union were born twelve children, of whom Ambrose H. is the subject of this sketch. His birth occurred February 21st, 1832, in Coventry, where he resided until his eighteenth year. He enjoyed but limited opportunities for acquiring an education, but in later years by careful and intelligent reading of the best literature, in a measure made amends for the want of early advantages, and thus possessed a well-stored and disciplined mind.
At the age of eighteen he entered the whaling service and for twenty years followed a seafaring life, cruising in various parts of the world on extended voyages. On abandoning his vocation he settled in Oneco, in the town of Sterling, and began, a mercantile career as the proprietor of a country store. Mr. Pates continued thus employed for five years, and after an interval of of leisure again engaged in business as an undertaker, establishing a large and increasing patronage, which was maintained until his death on the 21st of February, 1885, in his fifty-third year. He enjoyed an extended acquaintance among public men throughout the state, was a man of progressive ideas, and active in the promotion of various useful enterprises. A democrat in his political views, he filled a number of local offices and in 1877 represented his town in the Connecticut legislature. Mr. Bates was also identified with the Masonic fraternity, in which he occupied a leading position.
He was, August 12th, 1861, married to Diana E., daughter of Orren Kenyon, of Coventry, Rhode Island. He was a man of strong personality, an indomitable will and rare natural gifts, and had he been possessed of the advantages of early education would have risen to a high position in the state. Mr. Bates during his life traveled over the greater part of the world. He spent several seasons in the Arctic regions, many times “rounded Cape Horn,” and at various times lived in the Hawaiian Islands. Entering the whaling service, as he did, in 1850, at the time when it was most lucrative, as well as the most dangerous, his life was an extended series of adventure and peril. From the very bottom of the ladder he rose in a few years to the highest position in the service, that of owner and master of a vessel-a thing which rarely occurred.