The Rev. George Young, A.M., D.D. (25 July 1777 - 8 May 1848)
George Young was born on 25th July 1777 to John and Jean Young, a modest and pious couple, in a farmhouse named Coxiedean in the parish of Kirk-Newton and East Calder, Scotland. He was the fourth child in a brood of ten and was born without his left hand which throughout his childhood was a cause for great concern to his parents. Unable to follow on the family business of farming his parents encouraged him to enter into education, a path which was to shape the rest of his life.
He regarded his disability in a very positive light and insisted that over the years he learned to perform everyday tasks without any trouble. At age 14 he was deeply affected by the death of his sister an experience that influenced him in regards to a life of religion.
George Young spent four years at the University of Edinburgh studying in the literary and philosophical field, and a further five years studying theology as was required by the Presbyterian Church he wished to enter. This led to him being licensed to preach the gospel in March 1801.
Following a visit to Whitby in summer 1805, George Young entered a ministry at the Cliff Lane Chapel in Whitby in January, 1806 and remained there until his death forty-two years later in May 1848.
During this period his sermons began to be published and within the next twenty-seven years a total of 15 letters, sermons, lectures, and discourses were made available.
It is reported that he was a man of spiritual generosity and was very involved with his parish taking his contemporaries to the homes of the poor and afflicted as well as the more wealthy members of the community.
George Young had a wide range of interests and this is reflected in the literary works he published. He wrote books about botany, the history of Whitby, geology, and Captain Cook. He also edited the Whitby Panorama.
In 1817 he published a two volume "History of Whitby and Streoneshalh Abbey": there was a list of subscribers who before publication subscribed for more than 840 copies. With the help of his artist friend, John Bird, then a teacher of drawing in Whitby, he published a "Geological Survey of the Yorkshire Coast". Young published a smaller volume of history in 1824 entitled "A picture of Whitby and its environs". The new discoveries in Geology prompted Young to write "Scriptural Geology" in 1838 in which he attempted to reconcile Geology and the teachings of the Bible.
As well as his published works, George Young was instrumental in establishing both the Whitby Botanic Garden (1812) and the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society (1823). He became one of the two secretaries of the Society and remained so until his death in 1848.
On the 8th of May, 1848 Rev. George Young passed away following a bout of influenza. He was buried in St. Mary's Churchyard, the ceremony being performed by his friend Dr William Scoresby junior, "amidst a grief so deep and general as to show that Whitby had lost a great benefactor".
[Biographical details by courtesy of Laura Robertson & Steve Barnard, Library volunteers]