John Yates (1550-1624) travelled to Brazil in 1577

John Yates SJ

John Yates was born in 1550 in Lyford, Berkshire, in the house where Edmund Campion was later captured. He left England at the age of 24 in the company of Robert Persons, and entered the Society of Jesus on 4th December 1574 in Louvain. After his novitiate in Rome, and brief studies in Coimbra, Portugal, he was sent to Brazil, arriving in December 1577. Ordained in 1581, he moved 500 miles inland, and during the next decade recorded baptising nearly 700, hearing 27,400 confessions, giving communion to 16,700, celebrating 580 marriages, anointing 520 people in extreme unction, and burying 1,560. In letters he used the alias John Vincent. He returned to England for unknown reasons in 1604, but was soon caught and imprisoned. He may have been released from his religious vows before leaving Brazil, in the (seemingly vain) hope of making his journey less hazardous. While held captive, he was noted as one living a holy life. Later, it seems, he either escaped or was released, as a Fr John Yate SJ (sic) is known to have died in the English Jesuit novitiate in Watten, Belgium, in 1624, having been received back into the Jesuit order on his deathbed.