Thomas Yeates was born in London on 9 October 1768, son of John Yeates, woodturner. Proving more adept at Latin and Hebrew than woodturning, he was allowed to pursue his studies after a short apprenticeship to his father. Having professed a desire to translate the New Testament into Hebrew, Yeates was awarded a Bible clerkship at All Soul's Oxford under the tutelage of Joseph White. Yeates matriculated but never graduated.
Between 1808 and 1815 Yeates worked in Cambridge cataloguing Claudius Buchanan's oriental manuscripts. Here he also acquired work from the Bible society, editing their psalter and Syriac New Testament. From 1823 to 1839 he was assistant in the printed books department of the British Museum.
As well as translating biblical works, Yeates was interested in biblical and church history, writing, inter alia, on the antiquity of the pyramids and the Church in India. He also wrote on aids to navigation at sea. Yeates died in 1839.