George S Young was the grandson of his namesake George Shields Young and Hannah Halliday, through their oldest son Thomas Halliday Young and his wife Margaret J Thompson. Born in Bradford, Yorkshire, in 1893, he was the second of three children, with an older sister Margaret and a younger sister Helen.
His father Thomas was a merchant’s cashier who seemed to have done quite well. Maybe George inherited a talent for figures as after seven years at Bradford School for Boys he won a scholarship for the Queen’s College, Oxford where he read Mathematics.
While I knew of George when researching his grandmother’s story, I hadn’t intended to research his life in any depth as I thought he may have children still alive, and I don’t generally dig down more than one generation as it sometimes feels a bit intrusive.
I discovered his story by accident when trying to find a date of death for his uncle (also a George Shields Young, his dad’s younger brother). The search engines flagged up a military record and I checked it out. I did a bit more work then found an obituary which named his parents – and found out they were Thomas and Margaret rather than the expected Hannah and George.
The obituary mentioned that ‘my’ George had received a BA from Queen’s College. I was amazed and really pleased for him. His well-educated family must have been so proud of him, the first in the family to go to university.
It seemed so unfair to find out about his greatest achievement whilst reading about his family’s greatest loss that it really made me angry. It was strange, feeling anger and grief for someone I’d only ‘met’ less than 2 days before.
After graduation George had gone back to Bradford and enlisted into the Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment), 6th Battalion, as a Private. He was posted to France where he died, less than 18 months after graduating, on 29 November 1916 of his wounds. He’s buried in Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty, France.
I was curious about George’s time at University so I googled Queen’s College Oxford war records and discovered their Roll of Service which gave me some information:
“1911 Young,* G. S., B.A. (June 21, 1915). Pte. 6th W. Yorkshire Regt. France. Died on Nov. 29, 1916, of wounds received in action.” The asterisk denotes membership of the University Contingent of the Officers’ Training Corps prior to 1915.
After that I looked up Queen’s home page and discovered they have an archivist, Michael Riordan, for St. John’s and The Queen’s Colleges. We spoke on the phone and he was kind enough to look up the subject of George’s BA for me. He checked George’s biography in their Liber Vitae Reginensium which also included a portrait of George (above).
He also discovered some notes written shortly after George started at Queen’s:
“Young, George Shields.
born 9th April 1893 at Bradford.
Son of T.H. Young of 1 Ambleside Avenue, Bradford.
Educated at Bradford Grammar School 7 years.
Entered College October 1911.
Hastings Exhibitioner (Honorary Scholar) (Mathematics); elected December 1910.
Hon. Mods & Greats. I.C.S. Prob Physics & Mod Langs.
Knows a little Fr. & German. Will row, but light, q.2. 2nd 15, no cricket
Has joined Terrs. Plays a little but doesn’t sing. Congregationalist.”
Michael explained that ICS was the Indian Civil Service and this almost certainly means that this was his intended career, which was a popular choice amongst graduates at this time.
But it was not to be.
This week there was an email from FindMyPast about adding membership of Lives of World War One to the subscription package. I have tried it to search for George, but didn’t find it particularly easy or intuitive to use. However I will go back and fill in the information for George. I think I’ll also complete the profiles, if I can find them, for three other Queen’s graduates, Warren, Wolfe and Collins, whose information was also on the same page of the Liber Vitae Reginensium as George, and were lost in action or to illness.
First published 27 September 2014: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/george-s-young/