Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Young, William (1749-1815)

YOUNG, Sir William, second baronet (1749–1815), colonial governor, born at Charlton in Kent in December 1749, was the eldest son of Sir William Young, first baronet (d. 8 April 1788), governor of Dominica, by his second wife, Elizabeth (d. 12 July 1801), only child of Brook Taylor [q. v.] In 1787 he was entered at Clare Hall, Cambridge, but, some difference arising, he was removed and matriculated from University College, Oxford, on 26 Nov. 1768. He subsequently travelled in France, Italy, and Sicily. Ten copies of an account of part of his journeys, entitled ‘A Journal of a Summer's Excursion by the Road of Montecasino to Naples,’ were privately printed by him about 1774. In 1777 he published ‘The Spirit of Athens, being a Political and Philosophical Investigation of the History of that Republic,’ a work which brought him some fame. A German translation was published at Leipzig in the same year, and nine years later, after careful revision, he issued a second edition, entitled ‘The History of Athens, politically and philosophically considered’ (London, 4to). A third edition appeared in 1807 (London, 8vo).

On the signature of the preliminaries of peace with France and the United States in 1782, Young was deputed by the proprietors of Tobago to negotiate their interests at the French court. On 19 June 1784 he was returned to parliament for St. Mawes in Cornwall. He was a follower of Pitt until 1801, when he joined the ranks of his patron Grenville. He retained this seat until 1806, when he was returned for the town of Buckingham. On 15 June 1786 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and on 2 June 1791 a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. In 1788 he assailed in parliament the proposals of Thomas Gilbert (1720–1798) [q. v.] for the reform of the poor laws in a pamphlet entitled ‘Observations Preliminary to a Proposed Amendment of the Poor Laws’ (London, 8vo). As a proprietor of West Indian estates he opposed the sudden prohibition of the slave trade, and a speech on the subject delivered by him in the House of Commons was published in 1791. In that year he visited the West Indies and wrote an account of his travels, entitled ‘A Tour through the Windward Islands.’ In 1801 it was first published as an appendix to the second edition of ‘An Historical Survey of the Island of Saint Domingo,’ by Bryan Edwards [q. v.], the whole work being edited by Young. Some of the copies were issued with a different title-page as a third volume of Edwards's ‘History of the British Colonies in the West Indies.’

Young took a keen interest in exploration and travel. In 1798 he edited the ‘Journal of Samuel Holmes during Lord Macartney's Embassy to China and Tartary’ (London, 8vo). He was for some years secretary to the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa, and in 1802 edited for the second volume of their ‘Proceedings’ the ‘Journal of F[riedrich Conrad] Hornemann's Travels from Cairo to Mourzouk, the Capital of the Kingdom of Fezzan.’ The journal was separately published in the same year (London, 8vo), and a German edition appeared at Weimar.

In 1807 Young was appointed governor of Tobago, a post which he retained until his death at the government house at Tobago in January 1815. He was twice married: first, on 22 July 1777, to Sarah, daughter and coheiress of Charles Lawrence. By her he had four sons—William Lawrence, Brook Harry, Charles, and George—and two daughters: Sarah Elizabeth, married to Sir Richard Ottley, chief justice of Ceylon; and Caroline, married to Thomas Robson of Holtby House, Yorkshire. Young married, secondly, on 21 April 1793, Barbara (d. 1 Feb. 1830), daughter of Richard Talbot of Malahide Castle, co. Dublin. A portrait of Young was engraved by Thomas Holloway for the ‘European Magazine.’

Besides the works already mentioned Young was the author of:

  1. ‘The Rights of Englishmen, or the British Constitution of Government compared with that of a Democratic Republic,’ London, 1793, 8vo.
  2. ‘An Account of the Black Charaibs in the Island of St. Vincent,’ compiled from the papers of the first baronet, London, 1795, 8vo.
  3. ‘Considerations on Poorhouses and Workhouses: their Pernicious Tendency,’ London, 1796, 8vo.
  4. ‘Instructions for the Armed Yeomanry,’ London, 1797, 8vo.
  5. ‘Corn Trade: an Examination of certain Commercial Principles in their Application to Agriculture and the Corn Trade, in the Fourth Book of Mr. Adam Smith's “Wealth of Nations.” With Proposals for the Revival of the Statutes against Forestalling,’ London, 1800, 8vo.
  6. ‘The West Indian Commonplace Book,’ London, 1807, 4to; a work marred by many inaccuracies (cf. Edinburgh Review, 1707, xi. 145–6).
  7. ‘A few Poems written at different Periods of my Life,’ Barbados [1814], 8vo (privately printed). Some verses by Young appeared in the ‘Annual Register’ (1804 pp. 927, 928, 1805 pp. 972–9), and a parody of Gray's ‘Elegy’ by him, entitled ‘The Camp,’ was printed in 1862 in ‘Notes and Queries’ (3rd ser. i. 432–3).

He also wrote a sketch of the life of his grandfather, Brook Taylor, which was prefixed to Taylor's ‘Contemplatio Philosophica,’ first printed by Young in 1793.

[Foster's Baronetage and Knightage; Gent. Mag. 1811 ii. 90, 1815 i. 373, 1816 ii. 632; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; European Mag. 1787, i. 59; Ann. Reg. 1793 i. 28, 85, 159, 1794 i. 213, 1797 i. 258, 1798 i. 174, 235, 1799 i. 180, 1800 i. 132, 1802 p. 156, 1804 pp. 23, 31, 1805 p. 45; Georgian Era, 1834, iv. 466; Official Return of Members of Parliament; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.; Spence's Radical Cause of the Present Distresses of West India Planters pointed out, 1807.]

E. I. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.287
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
400 ii 15 Young, Sir William (1749-1815): omit in the whig interest
16 after Cornwall. insert He was a follower of Pitt until 1801, when he joined the ranks of his patron Grenville.