Sir George Young - Early Years

Visit these pages for different aspects of my life, family and career:

Early Years Into Politics Into Parliament:
 'The Bicycling Baronet'
On (and off) The Front Bench Member for North West Hampshire Active Backbencher
Aurelia
(Lady Young)
The Young Family Summary Profile

George's parents

Gerry Young was a diplomat who met his future wife Elizabeth - the daughter of Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen - in Peking in 1935, where Sir Hughe was Ambassador. They marrried in 1939, and had three children - George born in 1941, Charles in 1943 and Helen in 1947.

Sadly, both parents died young - Elizabeth in 1957 and Gerry in 1960, while he was Minister in Paris.
Aged 18, George inherited the Baronetcy, which had been created in 1813 when the first Sir George's
services as an Admiral at the same time as Nelson were recognised. .

george the toddler

The Young George

Home for the young George was wherever his father was posted - Beirut, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and Paris.

During occasional postings in the UK, the Youngs lived in the family home in Cookham. This has been in the family for over 200 years, though the orginal estate of several hundred acres and three large houses has been whittled down to one house and 13 acres on the banks of the Thames opposite Cliveden. Stanley Spencer, Cookham's best known resident, was a friend of the family.

There were some political genes in the family; George's paternal grandfather stood unsuccessfully as Labour candidate in South Bucks in the 1930's, and his maternal grandfather was a Conservative County Councillor in Kent, after he retired from the Diplomatic Service. His great-uncle, Hilton Young, was a Liberal and then a Conservative MP, who became the first Lord Kennet. Some literary genes were also around; through his maternal grandfather he is descended from Jane Austen's brother, Edward Knight. By a quirk of fate, George was to become the MP for Jane Austen's birthplace - Steventon in Hampshire; and to hold the same Ministerial post as Hilton Young had once held - Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

With brother Charles at Eton

Although his parents were based overseas for most of his youth - the first school he went to was a French school in Beirut in 1944 - George went to Prep School in Sussex , spending the holidays either with his parents abroad or with friends and relatives in England. He was at Eton from 1954 to 1959. With him in the same House - RJN Parr's - were Jonathan Aitken and Douglas Hogg, both of whom went on with George to Christ Church, the House of Commons and John Major's administration. Also in the House were Sir Ranulph Fiennes - the explorer - the Duke of Hamilton, David Gore-Booth and David Hart - later special adviser to Michael Portillo.

george and charles at Eton

On leaving Eton

He was Captain of his House, a keen squash player and a moderately proficient footballer. Life at Eton has changed in the past forty years - no more Early School at 7.30am, and boys are allowed telephones, playing cards and radios - banned in the 1950's.

After leaving Eton, George travelled around Europe, working in a bank in Hamburg, going to the Institut de la Touraine in France and picking hops in Kent.


At Oxford

In September 1960, George went to Christ Church, Oxford where he had won an Open Exhibition in Modern Languages. He was there from 1960 to 1963, and read Politics, Philosophy and Economics. His tutors included Lord Blake, Sir Roy Harrod and Peter Pulzer. He dabbled in Student politics, holding various offices with the Oxford University Conservative Association and being elected to the Standing Committee of the Oxford Union for several terms. His contemporaries included Michael Beloff - who later became godfather to daughter Sophia - Tariq Ali and Paul Foot.

After graduating from Oxford,  George worked in the City for merchant bank Hill Samuel, and then for the National Economic Development Office from 1966 to 1967. He then spent two years as Kobler Research Fellow at the University of Surrey, where he was awarded an M Phil. He published a thesis Accommodation Services in Britain 1970-1980  (250,000 words) and wrote a book for Pelican, Tourism; Blessing or Blight? - now a text book for University students reading Tourism.

From 1969 to 1974, he was Economic Adviser to the Post Office Corporation, resigning in February to contest the General Election.

Other Biographical Pages:

Into Politics  -  Into Parliament - 'The Bicycling Baronet'
On (and off) The Front Bench  -  Active Backbencher  -  Member for North West Hampshire
Aurelia (Lady Young)  -  The Young Family

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