James Henry Young

James Henry Young (15 May 1834 – 9 May 1908) was an Australian colonial businessman and politician and Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.

James Henry Young (1834-1908), NSW politician

Early life and businessEdit

Young was born at Moor Court, near Romsey, Hampshire to Martha née Druce and James Young, a farmer. At age 14 he was an apprentice with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.[1] He arrived in Sydney in August 1852 on the inaugural voyage of the Chusan, a steam ship that completed the voyage from Southampton in 80 days, a significant reduction from the usual 121-130 days.[2] He spent two years working on the gold fields, however was not successful and took employment with the Sydney & Melbourne Steam Packet Co. He settled in the Port Macquarie region in the late 1850s, working as a harbour pilot then as a shop keeper. He married Ellen Kemp on 21 July 1859 at Port Macquarie.[3] In around 1876 he established a business as a produce merchant in Sydney, with interest in coastal shipping.[1]

Political careerEdit

In 1880 Young contested the new district of Hastings and Manning which included Port Macquarie, finishing on top of the poll. He represented the district until the abolition of multi-member districts in 1894.[4] He was appointed Minister of Public Instruction in the fifth Robertson Ministry from December 1885 to February 1886.[5] He joined the Free Trade Party on its establishment in 1887 and was elected Speaker of the Assembly in March 1887, on a salary of £1,500 per year. He was a commissioner for New South Wales for the exhibition in Adelaide in 1887 and Melbourne in 1888.[1] He was re-elected speaker after the 1889 election, but rowdy members of the assembly, such as John McElhone, Adolphus Taylor, Paddy Crick and William Willis were difficult for Young to deal with. In 1890 he entered into a compromise with his creditors in which they received one quarter of the value of their debts. The matter was raised in the Assembly and the Attorney General, George Simpson QC gave an opinion that Young was not disqualified from parliament as a court had not made a sequestration order. Crick moved that Young's seat be referred to the elections and qualifications committee, however this was defeated along party lines 52 to 30.[6] The leader of the opposition, George Dibbs gave notice of a motion that would remove Young as Speaker and he resigned as Speaker on 21 October 1890.[7]

His financial position recovered and he was appointed Secretary for Public Works in the fifth Parkes ministry on 14 August 1891 and held the post until the retirement of the ministry on 22 October 1891. Multi-member electorates were abolished in 1894 and Young successfully contested the new district of The Manning.[5] He was appointed Secretary for Public Works in the Reid ministry on 3 August 1894 until a reshuffle on 3 July 1899 saw him moved to be Secretary for Lands.[5] He assisted Sydney Smith at the 1898 Hastings and Macleay by-election against Edmund Barton. Justice William Owen was subsequently appointed to conduct a Royal Commission into allegations concerning his conduct during the by-election,[8] The major allegation was that the effect of Young's statements were that he would favour Smith more than Barton in dealing with the requirements of the electorate. Justice Owen found Young had not abused the powers of his office, however rebuked him for a "grave indiscretion" in the way he spoke.[1][9]

He was defeated for The Manning at the 1901 election by John Thomson.[10] The Manning was abolished as a consequence of the 1903 New South Wales referendum,[11] and partly absorbed by Gloucester. The sitting member for Gloucester, Richard Price, did not contest the election and Young defeated John Thompson at the Gloucester at the 1904 election, however the return of Richard Price saw Young defeated at the 1907 election.[12]

Later life and deathEdit

He died of heart failure in Chatswood on 9 May 1908(1908-05-09) (aged 73), survived by his wife Ellen, six daughters and two sons.[1][13]


  1. ^ a b c d e McMinn, W G (1976). "Young, James Henry (1834 - 1908)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 16 April 2019 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  2. ^ "The Three Chusans". The old Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  3. ^ Mennell, Philip (1892). "Young, James Henry" . The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co – via Wikisource.
  4. ^ Green, Antony. "Elections for the District of Hastings and Manning". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "Mr James Henry Young (1834-1908)". Former Members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Legislative Assembly: the Speaker's position challenged". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 October 1890. p. 3. Retrieved 4 July 2021 – via Trove.
  7. ^ "Legislative Assembly: the position of the Speaker". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 October 1890. p. 5. Retrieved 4 July 2021 – via Trove.
  8. ^ "Royal Commission of Inquiry into certain allegations concerning the conduct of the Honourable James Henry Young, Secretary for Public Works, during the recent Election for the Hastings and the Macleay Electorate, and into the circumstances and proceedings". State Records. Government of New South Wales. 15 December 1898. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  9. ^ "The Hastings-Macleay election". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 December 1898. p. 7. Retrieved 5 July 2021 – via Trove.
  10. ^ Green, Antony. "Elections for the District of Manning". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  11. ^ "1904 Redistribution". Atlas of New South Wales. NSW Land & Property Information. Archived from the original on 23 June 2015.
  12. ^ Green, Antony. "Elections for the District of Gloucester". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Death of Mr J. H. Young". The Sydney Morning Herald. 11 May 1908. Retrieved 3 July 2021 – via Trove.


Parliament of New South Wales
New South Wales Legislative Assembly
Preceded by Speaker
Succeeded by
Preceded byas Member for Hastings Member for Hastings and Manning
With: Andrews / Roberts / Vivian / McKinnon
Succeeded by
as Member for Manning
Preceded by
himself & Hugh McKinnon
as Member for Hastings and Manning
Member for Manning
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member for Gloucester
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Public Instruction
December 1885 – February 1886
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary for Public Works
August 1891 – October 1891
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary for Public Works
August 1894 – July 1899
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary for Lands
July – September 1889
Succeeded by