Young Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Young Meaning
Young from the Middle English yunge generally
described the younger of two bearers of the same name, either a younger
or a son.   The early surname
spelling in England was Yonge.  A
Scottish variant has been Younger.

Young Resources on

Select Young Ancestry

England.   The
Yonges of Bristol
date from 1385 and possibly earlier.  Sir John
Yonge was courtier to Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth.
The Yonge family of Colyton in Devon is
believed to have been related to this family.  Their numbers later

  • Walter Yonge, the Devon merchant whose diaries over the
    period 1604 to
    1645 are now with the British Museum.
  • and Sir George Yonge, who was British
    Secretary at War from 1782 to 1794.

was a 17th century naval surgeon
from Devon who became Mayor of Plymouth.
The naval Young family of Plymouth was related, including
William Young who saw service during the Napoleonic wars.

Meanwhile the Yonges from
Bryn Iorcyn near Wrexham in north Wales dated from the 15th century.  Sir Richard Yonge was a courtier to James I
got lucky:

“After dinner while riding on horseback, the King’s horse
and cast His Majesty into the New river where the ice broke and he fell
in, so
that nothing but his boots was seen.  Sir
Richard Yonge following alighted and went into the water and lifted him
out.  There came out much water of his
mouth and body.”

Sir Richard Yonge was made a Knight of the Order of the Garter
and later a baronet.  Ellis Yonge of this
family was a substantial 18th century landowner in north Wales, but
left no
male heirs.

Yonge has persisted as a surname
in England, but was generally superseded during the 16th and 17th
centuries by
Young.  By the 1891 census,
Young name was mainly to be found, not in the southwest of the country
as the
Yonge name might suggest, but in the north (one third of the Youngs)
and in the
southeast (another one third).  London
and Durham had the largest concentrations

Scotland.  The Young name first surfaced in
Scotland in the 14th century and has been mainly found in the Lowlands
around Perthshire.

The Youngs were one of the Scottish border clans, not
one of the larger ones, but a clan that could possibly muster 200-400
men at
arms.  They were to be found in the Bowmont
valley and at Otterburn.  After the
Border pacification in the early 1600’s, many of these Youngs dispersed.

John Young accompanied Mary Queen of Scots as her chamberlain on her
from France to Scotland in 1561.  He
received from her the grant of Leny manor in the Trossachs.  His grandson William, however, was a Jacobite
supporter in 1715 and had to abandon these estates and flee Scotland
for the

Sir Peter Young, born in Dundee in 1544, was appointed the tutor to
Mary’s son James, later to become the Scottish and English king.  Son Patrick followed him to England in the
King’s service, son John became Dean of Winchester.
Another line via his son Peter led to the
Youngs of Auldbar
in Angus.

Ireland.  The Rev. John Young of the
Auldbar family in Scotland came to Ulster in 1615 and was granted lands
Strabane in Tyrone and Coolkeiragh in Derry.
The Youngs of Bailieborough castle in county Cavan (the Barons
Lisgar) were
descended from him.  Youngs continued in Strabane.

A Young family owned the Braid
Water spinning mill in Ballymena, county Antrim in the 19th century and
the town’s largest employer.  The family
also owned Galgorm castle and an estate of 2,000 acres.

Caribbean.  Dr. William Young
fled Scotland for Antigua in 1715 where he started a sugar plantation.  His family prospered there and his son
William, made a baronet, was the first colonial Governor of Dominica in
1770.  Two later baronets of this family
died in the Crimean War.

America.   John Youngs from Norfolk
(of Welsh Yonge roots) came with his family to Salem, Massachusetts in
1637.  They later crossed the Long Island Sound in 1640 and
Southold, the first permanent English settlement in New York.
brother Joseph followed him there in 1649.  Young descendants were
at Southold in 1900.  A branch under
Elijah Young had moved to Ohio in the 1850’s.

The lineage of Brigham Young,
who succeeded Joseph Smith as leader of the Mormon church, started with
John Young
the New England immigrant in 1629.  His descendants moved to
Hopkinton in
Middlesex county, which was where Brigham’s father John Hayden Young was born in
1763.  Brigham was his ninth
child. Brigham himself was to marry 26 times, from whence came 62

Henry Young
Scotland was shipwrecked off Cape Cod in the 1760’s.
He became the first schoolmaster on
Martha’s Vineyard

are more Youngs in America than in the UK, with names such as the Dutch
and the German Jung and Junk having been Americanized to Young.

John Young, a British seaman from Lancashire, was left in Hawaii
his American captain departed with their ship in 1790.
He became an important advisor to the King
during the early contacts with Europeans.
He lived the rest of his life in Hawaii, dying there in 1835 at
the age
of 93 and leaving a large family.


Young Miscellany

Yonges of Bristol.  The first recorded Yonge was John Yonge who was bailiff of Bristol in 1385.  He was recorded as living on Temple
Street.  His son Thomas was a prosperous
merchant in the town and was Mayor of Bristol in 1410.

One of Thomas’s sons,
John, came to London, did well and was Lord Mayor of London in 1471.  He was knighted by the king for the part he
played in resisting an attack by a Kentish mob.  Other
Yonge descendant lines were to be found
in Devon (at Colyton) and Berkshire (at Basildon).

The main Yonge line stayed in Bristol.  Thomas
Yonge was MP for Bristol from 1435 to
1451.  He later had problems with the
Yorkists.  Even so, this Yonge family had
become substantial landowners in Gloucestershire by Tudor times.  Queen Elizabeth stayed at Sir John Yonge’s
house in Bristol in 1574.  The family
later built a grander residence there, the Red
which has survived until today.  By
the time of Sir John’s death in 1589, the
Yonge spelling had become Young.  Their
monument in Bristol Cathedral, which survived until 1861, reads:

“Here lyeth the bodies of Sir John Young
knight and Dame Joan his wife.  By him
she had issue of Sir Robert, Jane and Margaret.”

Sir Robert Young
unfortunately squandered his inheritance and later had to sell the Red Lodge.

John and James Yonge.  The records of St Saviour’s church in Dartmouth showed that John Yonge married Joanna Blackaller there in 1640.  At that time Dartmouth was a boom town
because of its involvement with Newfoundland cod fishing.
This activity may have drawn John Yonge to
the town as he himself went out to Newfoundland many times with the cod

His son James was born in 1647
and, like his father, made voyages to the Newfoundland fisheries.  He later became a naval surgeon and a
prominent citizen of Plymouth.  He died in 1721 but left a journal
of his

Victorian writer Charlotte
Yonge may have been a descendant.  She
wrote in her autobiography:

tradition is that in the time of James
I, when knight’s fees were heavy, a gentleman of
Norfolk family eluded the expensive honor by fleeing into Devonshire.  His son acted as a surgeon
in the Cavalier Army.”

However, there is no other evidence for this
Norfolk connection to John Yonge.
Another speculation is that he may have come to Devon from

The Youngs of Auldbar.  Auldbar castle lay on the right bank of the South Esk river near Brechin and had been acquired by the Young family of Seton in the 17th century.  Notable Youngs of Auldbar were:

  • the
    Rev. Alexander Young who was made Bishop of Edinburgh.
  • the
    Rev. John Young who went to Ulster and was
    granted lands at Coolkeragh in Derry.
  • and
    Mary Young who fled Scotland with her husband John Lamont after the
    Lamont massacre by
    the Campbells.  They found a haven in
    Antrim in Ireland and never returned to Scotland.

Youngs held Auldbar for less than a
hundred years.  On the death of David
Young in 1743 the estate was sold to relatives, the Chalmers family.  Auldbar castle, a four-storey tower, was
demolished after a fire in 1965.

The Young Surname in the 1891 Census

Youngs (000’s) Numbers Percent
Durham    4.3     9
Yorkshire    3.8     8
Lancashire    3.8     8
Elsewhere    3.5     7
Total   15.4    32
London    7.8    16
Elsewhere    8.2    17
Total   16.0    33

Henry Young Shipwrecked Off Martha’s Vineyard.  Henry Young from Edinburgh had joined and served four years in the British Navy when his ship was wrecked off the US East Coast near
Martha’s Vineyard.  He swam ashore and
married Lydia Ross the daughter of a ship owner there in 1766.  They lived at Tisbury.  He
built and taught in the only school on
Martha’s Vineyard.  He was drafted into
the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War but was soon released
as he
was the only teacher available on the island.

the war Henry moved to Fenner near Rochester in upstate New York
in 1803.  His great grandson Alonzo Young
took the family west to Illinois in the 1850’s. 

John Hayden Young, the Father of Brigham Young.  In 1769, at the age of six, John lost his father when he was killed after being hit by a falling tree.  He and his younger brother were bound out to a neighbor in Hopkinton
who, it was said, treated them very cruelly.
John took it for five years and
then ran away and
joined the Continental Army.

War was over, John married.  In the
winter of 1801 he and his wife and their eight children set off on a
mile trek from Hopkinton, Massachusetts to Whitingham, Vermont where
they were
to construct ar new home in the wilderness.
The ninth child Brigham Young was born during their first year

His children used to relate this story about him:

“One Sunday he was
walking in the woods with one of his neighbors, when his dogs began
barking and
he found they had ‘treed’ a very large black bear. He tried in vain to
get his
neighbor to stay and keep the bear up the tree, but his neighbor
departed to
get a gun.

He then decided to cut a
hickory sapling to poke at the bear.
Down came the bear.  His dog
caught him by the end of the nose, causing him to open his mouth.  Thereupon Young pushed his sharp stick down
his throat and killed him.  When his
neighbor returned, he found to his surprise the bear nicely dressed and
for roasting.”

John later moved his family to upstate New York where
in 1831 he first heard the preachings of the prophet Joseph Smith.  Three years later he was ordained as a
patriarch of the Mormon church.  He died
in 1839.


Young Names

  • Arthur Young was a writer on rural
    affairs in England during the 18th century.
  • James Young was a 19th century Scottish chemist whose method of extracting paraffin from coal earned himself the nickname of “Paraffin” Young.
  • Brigham Young led the Mormons to Salt Lake City.
  • Cy Young was an early baseball pitcher after whom the Cy Young award in baseball is named.
  • Loretta Young was a well-known American actress.
  • Andrew Young was one of the leading civil right activists in the 1960’s.
  • Neil Young is a distinctive guitarist and singer-songwriter from Canada.

Select Young Numbers Today

  • 132,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Essex)
  • 176,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 107,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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