Prof John Young FRSE (1747–1820) was an 18th/19th century professor of Greek at Glasgow University from 1774 to 1820 (listing many figures of the Scottish Enlightenment amongst his students), and joint founder of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was affectionately known as Cocky Bung.
He matriculated in Glasgow University in 1764, graduating M.A. in 1769. He became assistant to Prof James Moor immediately thereafter. He succeeded Moor as professor of Greek in 1774 aged only 27. He was Clerk of the University Senate from 1779 and Curator of the College Chambers from 1781.
On 9 June 1774 he was installed professor of Greek in Glasgow University, and proved a very efficient and popular teacher. Thomas Campbell (1777–1844) remembered him as "a man of great humour", ready to laugh heartily with his students over the whimsicalities of Lucian and Aristophanes (Beattie, Life and Letters of Campbell, i. 159). Captain Hamilton eulogises his scholarship and oratory, comparing his energetic sympathy with that of Burke (Cyril Thornton, chap. vii.). Wilson dedicated to Young and his colleague George Jardine "The Isle of Palms and other Poems", 1812, and, writing of "Homer and his Translators", he recalls how Young's reading of the Iliad "gave life to every line" (Wilson, Works, viii. 36). A large portion of Letter lxviii. in "Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk", vol. iii., is a eulogy of Young, with whose reading of Greek and his enthusiasm over the value of a particle or the sublimity of a poetical passage the writer was deeply impressed. A similar tribute occurs in Gleig's "Quarterly" article on Lockhart's "Life of Scott" (see Quarterly Review, lxxxv. 37, and Lang, Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart, i. 22). Young was devoted to the classical stage and an admirer of Edmund Kean.
After filling his chair for nearly half a century, Young died in Glasgow on 18 November 1820.
On 25 Sept. 1780 Young married Jean Lamont, daughter of Colin Lamont of Knockdow, Argyleshire, who survived him with seven children.
Their eldest son, John (1781–1852), received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Glasgow in 1810; was for a time chaplain of the East India Company; and died rector of Newdigate, Surrey, on 13 May 1852 (Gent. Mag. 1852, ii. 105). Charles, the fourth son (1796–1822), a classical scholar of great promise, died at Glasgow on 17 December 1822 (Foster, Alumni Oxon.; Gent. Mag. 1823, pt. i.).
Although Young's ripe scholarship was mainly utilised in his class-room, he contributed some valuable notes to Dalziel's "Collectanea Græca Majora" (1820). His metrical translation of the "Odes" of Tyrtæus, and his jeu d'esprit after Dr. Johnson on Gray's "Elegy", are not of much account.
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This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Bayne, Thomas Wilson (1900). "Young, John (1750?-1820)". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 63. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 380.