Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of Belfast. Robert Magill Young, the only son of ROBERT YOUNG  ROBERT YOUNG by his wife Sara, daughter of the Rev. Robert Magill, was born on 6 March 1851 in Athlone, where his father was then employed. Shortly after his birth his family returned to Belfast, where his father started to practise independently as a civil engineer. Robert Magill Young was educated privately and at Dr Reddy's school in Donegall Square and then became a student at Queen's College, Belfast.(1) In 1866 he was articled to his father. During his pupilage he also attended classes at the Government School of Art. Following the completion of his articles, he became an assistant in his father's practice, which became known as YOUNG & YOUNG & amp; MACKENZIE  MACKENZIE after Robert Young and JOHN MACKENZIE  JOHN MACKENZIE became partners in 1866 or 1867.(2) Robert Magill Young became a third partner in 1880. After the deaths of both his father and John Mackenzie in 1917, he carried on the practice under the same name with his son and partner JAMES REID YOUNG. JAMES REID YOUNG.

Robert Magill Young, who was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the Borough of Belfast in 1895, was active in the public and cultural life of the city. He was a well-known and highly regarded local historian and antiquarian. He lectured frequently and published papers regularly in the revived Ulster Journal of Archaeology, of which he was also an editor,(3) and in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.(4) He edited The Town Book of the Corporation of Belfast (1613-1816) (1892)(5) and Historical notices of old Belfast and its vicinity(1896) and was the author of Ulster in '98: episodes and anecdotes (1893) and Belfast and the province of Ulster in the 20th century (1909). In 1913 he was conferred with an honorary MA from Queen's University in recognition of his services to literature and antiquarian research. For several years he made sketching tours on the Continent. One of these tours - to Verona, Padua and Venice in 1874 - was the subject of a talk to the Belfast Architectural Association in January 1876.(6)

Young died at home from heart failure in November 1925, less than a year after the sudden death of his wife in a Belfast tramcar while she was doing her Christmas shopping the previous December.(7)   She was Eleanor, daughter of James Reid of the firm of Brown & Reid, Belfast, whom he had married in 1878.  There were two sons of the marriage - the  younger being James Reid Young - and two daughters.

Belfast Natural History & Philosophical Society:(8) hon. secretary, 1885-1911; vice-president, 1891-1892,1911-1921; presented with portrait in oils of his father, 25 October 1911, as a sign of appreciation for his having been held the post for twenty-six years.(9)
Royal Irish Academy: elected member, 1924.(10)
RSAI: elected member and fellow, 1891;(11) vice-president, 1898, 1900.(12)
Belfast Architectural Association: member from 1873 or earlier;(13) reads paper on the planning of ancient churches, 16 March 1874;(14) hon secretary, 1875;(15) reads paper on architecture of three Italian cities, 31 Jan 1876.(16)
Ulster Society of Architects:(17) vice-president, 1906, 1907; president, 1910, 1911, 1921,(18) 1923, 1924.

Addresses: Work: Callender Street, Belfast, 1868;(19) Donegall Square, 1879;(20) 16 Callender Street, 1892;(21) Scottish Provident Buildings, Donegall Square West, <=1900(212until death.(23)
Home: Rathvarna, Chichester Park, Antrim Road, Belfast. <=1898(24) until death.

For works, see under works of YOUNG & YOUNG & amp; MACKENZIE. MACKENZIE.


All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the entries on Young in his Belfast and the Province of Ulster (1909), 470, which is illustrated with a portrait photograph, Who's Who in Architecture (1923), 284, and Directory of British Architects 1834-1914 (RIBA 2001), 1092, and from his obituary in IB 67, 28 Nov 1925, 977, which is also illustrated with another portrait photograph. Other obituaries (not seen) are in in B 129, 27 Nov 1925, 766, and AJ 62, 9 Dec 1925, 880; a notice of death or obituary is in JRSAI 56 (1926), 64. These have all  been superseded by the recent and extensive illustrated account of Young's life and career in Paul Harron's definitive Architects of Ulster: Young & Mackenzie, a transformational provincial practice 1850-1960 (Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 2016), 47-54.

(1) He was awarded the BA degree of the Queen's Univeristy of Ireland in 1877.
(2) The entry in Directory of British Architects states that he 'Commenced independent practice' in 1872, but there is no other indication that he ever worked outside his father's office.
(3) IB 37, 15 Apr 1895, 100.
(4) Some of his papers and lectures were published or summarized in the Irish Builder, viz. 'The Priory of St Columba, Newtownards', IB 21, 15 Jul 1879, 211; 'The ancient records of Carrickfergus', IB 34, 1 Sep 1892, 190; 'Antiquarian notes at Bushfoot and Mallymagarry', IB 34, 15 Dec 1892, 262; 'The progress of science as applied to industry and commerce', IB 43, 1 Jan 1901, 589; 'Progress of water-colour painting in the 19th century', IB 51, 3 Apr 1909, 218; a measured drawing by Young of a Queen Anne chimneypiece in the Rookery, Stanmore Middlesex, was published in IB 19, 15 Apr 1877, 113(illus.),115.
(5) See IB 31, 15 Jun 1889, 163; 33, 1 Feb 1891, 31-32; 41, 15 Sep 1899, 123.
(6) B 34, 5 Feb 1876, 122; Architect 15, 5 Feb 1876, 83.
(7) Irish Times, 17 Dec 1924.
(8) Arthur Deane, ed., The Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society Centenary Volume, 1821-1921 (Belfast, 1924), 176-181.
(9) IB 53, 11 Nov 1911, 754; Deane, op. cit., 42 The portrait, by Henrietta Rae, is reproduced in colour in Deane, op.cit., facing p.115.
(10) IB 66, 26 Jan 1924, 58.
(11) JRSAI 24 (1894), list of members.
(12) JRSAI 30 (1900), list of members; 32 (1902), list of members.
(13) IB 15, 15 Feb 1873, 56; the minute book of the Association, which was founded in 1872, is in the Young & Mackenzie collection, PRONI, D.2194.
(14) IB 16, 1 Apr 1874, 96.
(15) IB, 15 Nov,15 Dec 1875, ?, ?.
(16) See note 6, above.
(17) From list of past office bearers in RSUA Jubilee Yearbook 1951-1952, 5, unless otherwise attributed.
(18) IB 63, 12 Feb 1921, 98; Architectural Review 53, 19 Jan 1921, 83.
(19) IB 10, 15 Nov 1868, 283.
(20) Architect 22, 23 Aug 1879, 105.
(21) Given as Robert Young's address in list of subscribers in APSD 8 (1892), p. 4.
(22) IB 42, 1 Apr 1900, 323.
(23) His address is sometimes given as 2 Wellington Place which was part of the Scottish Provident Buildngs.
(24) Records of Campbell College, Belfast, kindly supplied by Keith Haines.