Young, William, Sir

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Young, William, Sir

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1799-1887

History

William Young was a Nova Scotia businessman, lawyer and politician. He was born in 1799 in Falkirk, Scotland, to John Young and Agnes Renny. In 1814 he moved with his family to Nova Scotia, where he helped to establish John Young and Company, a wholesale dry goods business. He acted as his father’s agent in Halifax and New York. In 1815 he formed a partnership with James Cogswell to operate an auction and commission business that lasted until 1820.

Young began an apprenticeship in 1820 with the Halifax law firm of Charles Rufus and Samuel Prescott Fairbanks. The relationship ended in 1823 when Young was accused of sharing Fairbanks' campaign information with his father during John Young's failed bid against Charles Fairbanks in a Halifax by-election. In 1824 he managed his father’s successful campaign in a Sydney by-election. He became an attorney in 1825 and a barrister in 1826. In 1834 he and his brother, George, established an insurance business that lasted into the 1850s. He married Anne Tobin in 1830.

In 1832 Young won his first seat in the provincial assembly. The election results were invalidated because of interference from his brother, George. In the election of 1836 he ran and won in Inverness County, a seat he held for twenty years. Young was active in the assembly, working with reformers and supporting responsible government. He was a member of a delegation to Quebec City for constitutional discussions with Lord Durham in 1828 and served as speaker of the assembly for many years and as attorney general from 1854–1857. In 1859 he ran and won in Cumberland County and served briefly as premier before being appointed chief justice, a position he held until his retirement in 1881.

Young was actively involved in many aspects of Halifax society. He donated books and money to the Citizen’s Free Library. He was instrumental in negotiating the land lease for Point Pleasant Park, contributed financially to Dalhousie College and served as chairman of the college’s Board of Governors for 36 years (1848-1884). William Young died in Halifax on 8 May 1887.

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