Vice-Admiral William Young


O'Byrne's Naval Biography

(Auckland Public Library - SS 923.5 014, pps 1339 & 1340)


(Vice-Admiral of the Blue, 1846. f-p 41: h-p 29)

WILLIAM YOUNG was born, 27 Aug. 1761, at Borrowstoness, N.B., and died 11 Feb. 1847 at Denmark Hill, Camberwell, co. Surrey.  He was second son of David Young, Esq., whose nephew, Wm. Young, Lieut-Governor of Dominica (ancestor of the present Sir Wm. Norris Young, of Marlow Park, co. Bucks), was created a Baronet 3 May, 1769; and he was the ninth, in direct male descent, from Sir John Young, Kt., of Leny, N.B. who accompanied Mary Queen of Scots from France to Scotland, as Chamberlain, in 1561.  The estates of the latter gentleman were enjoyed by his descendants until 1715, when they were confiscated, in consequence of David Young, who had succeeded to the representation of the family, having taken part in the movement made in favour of Charles Stuart.

      This officer entered the Navy, 16 May 1777, as A.B., on board the PORTLAND 50, Capt. Thos. Dumaresq, bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral Jas. Young in the Leeward Islands, where he soon attained the rating of Midshipman, and contributed to the capture, while serving in the TARTAR tender, under the orders of Mr.  Geo Fred. Ryves, of upwards of 50 vessels, some of which were privateers of superior force.  In May, 1779, after he had been for a brief period attached to the CANADA 74, commanded at Chatham by Capt. Hugh Dalrymple, he rejoined Capt. Dumaresq, as Master's Mate, on board the ULYSSES armee-en-flute, employed on the Home and West India stations.  Being eventually, 5 Feb. 1781, promoted, from the RUBY 64, flag-ship at Jamaica of Sir Peter Parker, to an Acting-Lieutenancy in the GRATTON 50, he continued to serve in that ship, and in the NESTOR, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Joshua Rowley, and FOX 32, Capts. Hon. Thos. Windsor, Robt. Montagu, and Geo. Stoney, until confirmed by commission dated 3 July, 1783.  While in the latter frigate he was sent to Jamaica in charge of a Spanish privateer, one of two simultaneously taken near St. Domingo; and in the early part of 1783 he participated in a severe action of four hours, which terminated in the capture, by the FOX, of the Santa Catalina, a Spanish frigate that had been sent from the Havana for the express purpose of herself making prize of the British ship.  In Dec. 1794, Mr. Young (who had been recently employed, with the approbation of the Admiralty, in raising upwards of 1000 seamen, by means of voluntary subscriptions from the merchants, bankers, and others of the city of London) entered the Transport department of the Navy; his indefatigable conduct in which service, as Principal Agent, at the embarkation of the troops and inhabitants during the evacuation of Port-au-Prince in May, 1798, procured his immediate promotion, on the strong recommendation of Brigadier-General Hon. Thos. Maitland, to the rank of Acting-Commander, and the official sanction to his advancement 3 July following.*  In Oct. 1799 Capt. Young was selected, from the peculiar importance of the mission, to proceed to the Texel with all the transports then in the Downs or at Ramsgate, and for his conduct during the service, which was of a very arduous nature, he received the full approval of the Transport Board.  He was next, in compliment to his uncommon activity and superior intelligence, ordered to superintend the embarkation of the troops destined to be employed on the Ferrol expedition in July, 1800, and then directed, from his great experience, to accompany it as Principal Agent. On 17 Nov. 1800 we find him appointed by Lord Keith to his flag-ship, the FOUDROYANT, for the purpose of conducting, as Captain of the Mediterranean fleet, the detailed duties of the shipping, consisting of nearly 100 sail, then under his lordship's orders at Port Mahon, and on the eve of proceeding on the expedition to Egypt, whence he was ultimately compelled, from repeated bilious attacks, to invalid, in June, 1801.  In consideration of his unremitting devotion to the execution of the duties with which he had been there entrusted, of the favourable manner in which he had also attracted the notice of Sir Ralph Abercromby, and of the earnest recommendation of Lord Keith, he was promoted by the Admiralty to Post-rank 29 April, 1802.  He further obtained the gold medal of the Turkish Order of the Crescent, and was presented by the Masters of the different ships that had been under his orders with a handsome sword, as a token of their gratitude and esteem.  On the renewal of hostilities, in 1803, he was despatched by Lord St. Vincent to Hanover on a secret service of the utmost importance (that of rendering escort to their Royal Highnesses the Dukes of Cambridge and Gloucester), which he performed with great credit to himself and advantage to his Sovereign.  He appears likewise, at the close of the same year and the commencement of the next, to have been engaged under Rear-Admiral Jas. Hawkins Whitshed in superintending the equipment of some gun-vessels at Dublin, the embarkation of troops at Cork, and the erection of signal-posts on the south-west coast of Ireland, on account of the threatened invasion of Buonaparte.  Capt. Young afterwards, for the long period of nearly 25 years (from Oct. 1805 until Feb. 1830) discharged the duties of Inspecting Agent for Transports on the river Thames; on his resignation of which office he was presented, by the different Transport-Lieutenants who had been under his orders, with a magnificent silver vase.  He was placed on the list of Retired Rear-Admirals 10 Jan. 1837; was transferred to the Active list 17 Aug. 1840; and was advanced to the rank of Vice-Admiral 9 Nov. 1846.

      Vice-Admiral Young was honoured during his public career with the friendship of his late Majesty and of their Royal Highnesses the Dukes of Kent, Gloucester, and Cambridge.  He married, 15 Feb. 1789, Ann Spencer, eldest daughter of Robt. Curling, Esq, of Camberwell, and by that lady had issue 13 children, nine of whom (five sons and four daughters) survive.  His eldest son, Wm. Hall a Midshipman in the R.N. died at Plymouth in Oct. 1809, on his return from the West Indies; and his next, Geo. Frederick, was the late M.P. for Tynemouth. 


 *After reporting the evacuation of the towns of Port-au-Prince and St. Marc's, together with their dependencies and the parish of Areshaye, Brigadier-General Maitland concludes his public letter to the Right Hon. Hen. Dundas thus - "Lieut. Young, of the Navy, Chief Agent of Transports, conducted himself in the execution of this arduous task in such a manner that I should neglect a very material, though pleasant part of my duty, were I not to seize this opportunity to commend him in the strongest manner to your notice.  He is a very old officer, but his length of services has neither impaired his zeal nor diminished his activity." - Vade Gaz. 1798, p 571.