Joshua Bates (1788-1864) was a senior partner of Barings from the late 1820s until his death. He was a Bostonian who, in particular, managed the firm's American business.
Bates was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts. He trained in Boston and came to London in 1816 as agent for several ship-owners. He became a close friend of PC Labouchère who, as a partner of Hope & Co of Amsterdam, was also close to Barings. Through Labouchère, Bates met John Baring and they set up business together in 1826. Two years later Bates became a partner of Baring Brothers & Co.
Bates managed Barings’ credit and merchanting business and under his leadership there was a resurgence in Barings’ business as a house of trade. He was also responsible for maintaining Barings' role as the most important "American" house in London and he was reckoned to be the leading United States citizen resident in London.
Throughout his life, Bates maintained close links with Boston, in particular providing funds for the building of Boston Public Library and, between 1856 and 1859, giving the library almost 30,000 books. Bates Hall in the library was consequently named after him.
His abilities and personality were the perfect complement to those of his fellow partner Thomas Baring. According to Samuel Ward, “His tone was dry, his words few.” He was noted for his attention to detail and his application to work. Within the bank itself Bates was responsible for improving administration and management. It is largely thanks to him that so much nineteenth century material survives in The Baring Archive.
Bates and his wife, Lucretia Sturgis, had a son, who died in an accident at a young age, and a daughter who married Jean Sylvain Van de Weyer, the Belgian minister in London. Bates owned several properties, including a mansion on Arlington Street on the edge of Green Park.