Richard Yates was a clergyman, antiquary and native of Bury St Edmunds. His father had served as custodian of Bury’s Abbey for decades, and when he died in 1803 Richard began a project to consolidate and publish his father’s extensive archive of drawings and notes on the building. He received support for the venture from renowned antiquaries like Richard Gough (1735-1809), Thomas Martin (1696/7-1771) and the printer-antiquary John Nichols (1745-1826).
The first part of the publication appeared in 1805, but Yates did not live to see it finished. His friend John Bowyer Nichols (1779-1863), the son of John Nichols, attempted to revive it some years after Yates’ death, publishing a revised edition of the text with fourteen new plates and transcriptions of previously unpublished charters, in 1843. Letters written by Bower Nichols regarding this publication are held in the British Library at Egerton MS 2377.