Clan Young

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Clan Young
Region Scottish Borders
District Roxburghshire Kincardineshire Angus
Clan Young has no chief, and is an armigerous clan

The clan held lands in East Roxburgh on the Scottish Border with England. Other prominent Youngs, however, held large estates and castles other Lowland areas of Scotland, particularly in the historic Northeast counties or shires of Angus and Kincardine.[1]

Clan profile[edit]

  • Crest: A demi-lion rampant gules with sword in dexter paw proper.
  • Motto: Robore Prudentia Praestat. (Prudence excels strength)

The Historic Clan Young[edit]

Although the name Young was common in other areas, there is nowhere we find a greater concentration of Youngs than in East Roxburgh. They were especially numerous in the Bowmont Valley, south of Yetholm, where they hailed from eight or more estates on both sides of the Bowmont Water. They also held a number of nearby bastle houses, keeps, or peel towers as they were called. These included the structures of Otterburn, Barnhills, Hoselaw, Waterside and Moss Tower. This is the only place in Scotland where the Youngs were gathered in sufficient numbers to be considered a clan. The Youngs may not have been a large clan, but some estimates show they could muster between 200-400 armed men at times.

The first written record of a Young on the Border dates from the year 1335 when Roger Yung, “a Scottish gentleman”, was released by the English from the Tower of Berwick. Moneypenny's Chronicle published in 1597 and 1603 clearly lists the Youngs as one of the Border Clans of Scotland. According to George MacDonald Fraser, in his Steel Bonnets, the Youngs were engaged in blood feuds with the English Border Wardens, such as Sir Robert Carey, as well as the English families of Selby, Heron, Ogle, and Collingwood. In 1596, Carey wrote of his greatest challenge, "This country has become almost slaves to the Scots, and dare do nothing displeasing to them. If the country rise upon them when they are stealing in England, and either kill one by chance, or take him ‘with the bloody hand,’ delivering him to the officer for execution, ‘if they be but foote lownes and men of no esteame amongst them,’ it may pass unrevenged: but if he is of a surname, ‘as Davyson, a Younge, a Burne, a Pringle or Hall or any thei make accompt of,’ then he who killed or took him is sure himself, and all his friends (specially those of his name) is like, ‘dearly to by yt,’ for they will have his life or of 2 or 3 of his nearest kinsmen, in revenge of their friends so killed or taken stealing here. ..."

The chiefs or “chief riders” of the Youngs are first recorded in the Bowmont, probably in Blakedean or Attonburn, but shortly after the Kerrs acquired Cessford Castle in the mid-1400s, the chief family of the Youngs moved to the estate of Otterburn, just east of Cessford Castle. By the first of the 1600s the chief riders of the Youngs had again moved back to the estates in the Bowmont. Their leading men included Roger, George, William and James of Otterburn, Blackhall Jock of Attonburn, Wattye of Cessford (leading raids for the chief of the Kerrs), and Dande of Moss Tower.

In the early 1600s, after the union of Crowns, King James came down hard on the lawless Borderers and many of the clans were scattered. The Youngs of Otterburn, for example, were outlawed in the year 1605. Other leading riders from Barnhills, the Cove and Blakedean were outlawed as well. Many Borderers signed up or were impressed into military service for King James I (VI). Others left for the colonies in Northern Ireland or the Americas. Still more left for the cities such as Glasgow or Edinburgh. The once common name of Young on the Borders slowly began to decline, as did many of the other names. In fact the Borders were depopulated and cleared, much like the Highlands were to be at a later time period. Entire villages disappeared into history and the Bowmont Valley, which at one time was the home of more than 500 inhabitants, dropped to less than 50.[2]Template:Published by Stewart Publishing and Printing, Markham, Ontario, 2000



Clan Young claims five tartans: Christina Young, Modern, Weathered, Rare and Ancient, and 'Young in Australia'.

  • The Youngs in Australia Tartan (STA ref: 10241) was designed by Robert Young in 2010. This tartan is based on the Christina Young tartan, with the Australian colours of green & gold on a base colour of cream/light/pale yellow to represent the Young Scottish ancestry.[3]

Youngs through History[edit]

Although some Youngs originated in England, Ireland, Wales, France and Germany, there is no where in the world with higher concentrations of Youngs than in Scotland. Most estimates state that between one third and one half of all Young families in North America originated in Scotland.

The first Young recorded in history was Wilferd the Young who was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles as having died in 744 after being the Bishop of York for the past 30 years. At that time York was a part of the Kingdom of Northumbria, an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom which stretched from Humber River in the south, north to the Firth of Forth in Scotland.

By the 1200s, the Youngs were recorded in Scotland where they appear to have risen to positions of prominence. Two brothers, Malmor and Ade, for instance, were appointed as "assizers" (court officials) in Dunbarton in 1271. William Young was recorded as a monk who was the "confessor" to the knights who were garrisoned in Edinburgh Castle in the year 1300. In 1325, John Young was a Laird of Strachan, in Kincardineshire. His son, Alexander, married the daughter of Sir Henry Maule of Panmure. Henry had been knighted by King Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn. How many years the Youngs were in Scotland before this time is uncertain. Many of the written records of the time period were destroyed during the Scottish War of Independence which raged on and off from the late 1200s to the early 1300s.

One of the earliest documented occurrence of the name was a John Young in Dingwall who witnessed a charter by the Earl of Ross in 1342 and a Symone Yong (sic) was a burgess of Elgin in Moray around the same time. Alexander Young was a chaplain to the House of the Holy Trinity in 1439 and Sir Peter Young (born in Dundee in 1544) was a tutor to the three-year-old King James VI on the recommendation of the Regent Moray. He was a Scottish ambassador to Denmark and a member of the Privy Council. He accompanied the now King James 1 to London in 1605 and was knighted after the Union of the Crowns.

James Young (1811-1883) was a chemist who developed a method of extracting paraffin from shale and coal - earning himself the nickname "Paraffin Young" in the process. James became the wealthiest self made man in Scotland and helped with the finances of David Livingstone's African expeditions.

It should be of interest to know that the Christina Young tartan is the largest and oldest example of tartan to survive the post Culloden banning of tartans that can be identified with a specific surname.

Today it is estimated that the surname Young is the 15th most common surname in all of Scotland. In Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, it is the 13th most common surname, and it is estimated that one out of every 185 residents bears this surname. Edinburgh has the highest concentrations of Youngs of any city in the world and it is closely followed by Glasgow.[2][self-published source?]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Young, Douglas A. L. (2000). Youngs of Scotland: "For He Loved His Surname Best in All Scotland". Stewart Publishing and Printing, Markham, Ontario. ISBN 9780981355504. 
  3. ^

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