Thomas Young

Some years ago I tried to discover more about Thomas Young, director of the L&BR and sometime member of the Board Works Committee. Here. He gave his name to Young Street in Wolverton.

There were many Thomas Youngs, some very prominent, but this Thomas Young was relatively obscure. I am therefore very grateful to David Hodgkins for sharing his research on this little known railway man.

He began life as the son of a small farmer in Nairn in Scotland and therefore did not have a grand background. He served in the Navy and then worked in India, where he made money. On his return to England he was spotted by William Lamb, Lord Melbourne, and taken into his service as his private secretary. His relatively humble origins were of some use to Melbourne who could then gauge how the “lower orders” were inclined to think. But Young was a very industrious and able man and he was constantly running errands for Melbourne.

After 10 years in Melbourne’s service the lord found him employment as Receiver General of the Post Office at an annual salary of £800. In 1836 this was a huge income. Around this time he also became a member of the L&BR Board, most likely because of his connection to Lord Melbourne, who was a very influential minister. He does not appear himself to have been a major investor in the railway project as he only held share to the value of £1000. He did make the transition to the Board of the LNWR in 1845 but it seems that his lack of substantial investment in the company disqualified him from a directorship in 1850.

He continued with his position at the Post Office until 1854 and died in 1864 at the age of 74. His estate was worth £30,000.

Who was Thomas Young?

Answer. I don’t know. Thomas Young was a director of the London & Birmingham Railway and also of the London and South Western Railway. He was a man with some money and he probably made a lot of money out of his investments.

Unfortunately there were (and still are) many Thomas Youngs and there were several well-to-do families named Young prospering in the 19th century. Any one of several could have produced our Thomas Young and he remains a shadowy figure.

Young Street, a single row of terraced houses was built in Wolverton in the 1840s and lasted 120 years until it was pulled down in the 1960s. There is now no trace of it, rather like the man it was named after.