George Young (Presbyterian minister)

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George Young (15 July 1777 – 8 May 1848) was a Scottish divine, scholar and geologist.


George Young was born southwest of Edinburgh in KirkNewton to John Young and his wife Jean. George was born without a left hand and this led his parents to educate him for the ministry.[1]

At the University of Edinburgh he distinguished himself in mathematics and natural philosophy. He was a favorite student of Professor John Playfair who was, at that time, becoming the great promoter of James Hutton's uniformitarian geology. After receiving high honors upon completion of his degree in 1796, he studied theology under Dr. George Lawson at Selkirk for five years, receiving at the end of this period a licence to preach from the Presbytery of Glasgow.[2] In 1806 he became the pastor of the Cliff Street chapel in Whitby where he served for 42 years. He obtained an M.A. from the University of Edinburgh in 1819. In 1826 he married Margaret Hunter. Though married for 20 years they had no children.

Young could read and write in several languages and developed his own shorthand, which is still undecipherable. He helped established the Whitby Museum as first secretary and founding member of the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society. He procured fossil and mineral collections for the Yorkshire Philosophical Society.

Young wrote 22 books on many topics. He wrote on the history of Whitby, on the great solar eclipse of 1836, an acclaimed biography of Captain James Cook, the downfall of Napoleon and a catalog of hardy garden plants.

With John Bird he wrote A Geological Survey of the Yorkshire Coast in 1822 (second edition: 1928); it was followed by Scriptural Geology in 1838.

On 8 May 1848, two years after his wife died, he died from influenza.[3][4]


  1. ^ Smales, Gideon (1868). Whitby authors and their publications with the titles of all the books. Whitby: Horne and Son. p. 64. 
  2. ^ Smales, Gideon (1868). Whitby authors and their publications with the titles of all the books. Whitby: Horne and Son. p. 66. 
  3. ^ Smales 1867, pp. 64–71.
  4. ^ Dictionary of National Biography


  • Cleevely, R.J. (1983). World Palaeontological Collections. 
  • Simpson, Martin (1884). The Fossils of the Yorkshire Lias. 
  • Smales, Gideon (1867). Whitby Authors and Their Publications. 
  • Young, George; Bird, John (1822). A Geological Survey of the Yorkshire Coast. Whitby.  (second edition 1928)
  • Young, George (1838). Scriptural Geology. 
  • Williamson, W.C. (1884). "Biographical Notices of Eminent Geologists". Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological and Polytechnic Society VIII (3).