Item 2 - Letter from James Young to Mary Ann Young

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Reference code

GB 249 T-MIN/36/2

Title

Letter from James Young to Mary Ann Young

Date(s)

  • 1864 (Creation)

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1 letter

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Name of creator

(1811-1883)

Biographical history

James Young was born in Glasgow in 1811. He attended Professor Thomas Graham's chemistry lectures at Anderson's University in 1830, became Graham's assistant in 1832 and followed him to University College, London in 1837. He became manager of the chemical works of James Muspratt, St Helens, Lancashire in 1838, and moved to Tennants, Clow & Co of Ardwick, Manchester in 1844. In 1848, Young established an oil refinery at Alfreton, Derbyshire with James Oakes, and in 1850 he was granted a 14 year patent for a process to extract oil from cannel coal. He subsequently entered into partnership with Edward Binney and Edward Meldrum for the manufacture of oils from Boghead cannel coal at Bathgate, West Lothian, and began the sale of paraffin. Young embarked on considerable litigation against other companies who had attempted to infringe his patent. In 1865, Young bought out his business partners and a year later established Young's Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company, with new works at Addiewell, Bathgate. He also patented other industrial processes.

James Young was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1861 and of the Royal Society in 1873. From 1868-1877 he was President of Anderson's University, and a great benefactor to the University. He founded the Young Chair of Technical Chemistry in 1869. He was a lifelong friend of David Livingstone, who had been a medical student at Anderson's University in the 1830s, and funded Livingstone's African expeditions. He was a keen yachtsman and made long voyages with family and friends on his yacht, 'Nyanza'. Young continued his scientific experiments in retirement, notably on the velocity of light, with Professor George Forbes of Anderson's University. In 1879, Young was awarded the degree of LLD of St Andrews University.

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Letter from James Young to his daughter Mary Ann, dated at the Victoria Hotel, Euston Square [London], 16 April 1864. Young describes his recent visit to the Crystal Palace to see Garibaldi and the enthusiastic reception given by the assembled crowd, advising that when Garibaldi comes to Edinburgh, 'you must get James to take you all to see him'.

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Open

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  • English

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