Matthew Young

1750-1800; b. Co. Roscommon; ed. TCD; fellow, 1775; appt. Prof. of Natural Philosophy, c.1795; Bishop of Clonfert; founding mbr. of the Dublin Philosophical Society, afterwards the Royal Irish Academy [RIA]; remained Junior Fellow for 20 years due to autocracy of Hely-Hutchinson, and issued a memoranddum contesting the right of Provosts to control promotion, as State of the Case, respecting the right of the Provost [...] to exercise a controlling negative at the College Board (1792); thereafter advanced to Snr. Fellow;
issued Phenomena of Sounds and of Musical Strings (1784); also Ancient Gaelic Poems respecting the Race of the Fians, collected in the Highlands of Scotland in the year 1784 [RIA Trans., Vol. I (1786) p. 3. pp.43-119]; issued Analysis of the Principles of Natural Philosophy (1800), from his lectures; translated the Psalms from Syriac, his last endeavour; also wrote on The Force of Testimony; The Number of Prismatic Colours in Solar Light; On the Precession of the Equinoxes; consec. Bishop of Clonfert, 1799, being preferred by Cornwallis as Lord Lieutenant; he suffered from an ulcer of the tongue and died from it in Whitworth, Lancashire, having travelled there for medical help, 28 Nov. 1800. RAF


State of the case, respecting the right of the Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, to exercise a controlling negative at the college board. With the opinions of counsel thereon (Dublin: George Bonham 1792), 82pp., 8vo.


Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies, Vol.II [of 2] (London & Dublin 1821), pp.645-47 [see copy - as attached]; James Wills, The Irish Nation Its History & Its Biography, 4 vols. (London 1871) [see extract].

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Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies, Vol.II [of 2] (London & Dublin 1821)

In 1766 he was admitted of Trinity college, Dublin; and in 1775, was elected a fellow of the college, and took orders. He became early an enthusiastic admirer of the Newtonian philosophy, and even at his examination for his fellowship, displayed an unexampled knowledge and comprehension of it; but although it was his favourite subject, his active mind, in rapid succession, embraced the most dissimilar objects; and these he pursued with unceasing ardour, amidst his various duties as a fellow and tutor, and the freest intercourse with society, which he was formed at once to delight and instruct. His love of literary conversation, and the advantages he experienced from it in the pursuit of science, led him early to engage in forming a society whose chief object was the improvement of its members in theological learning. It consisted of a small number of his most intimate college friends, and continued to exist for a series of years, with equal reputation and advantage. Out of this association grew another, somewhat more extensive, whose labours were directed to philosophical researches, and in the formation of which, Dr. Young was also actively engaged: and this itself became the germ of the Royal Irish Academy, which owes its existence to the zeal and exertions of the members of that society, among whom Dr. Young was particularly distinguished. In the intervals of his severer studies, he applied himself to modern languages: and the result of his labours may be seen in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, to which he also contributed largely on mathematical and philosophical subjects. [...]
See full copy in RICORSO > Library > Criticism > History > Legacy - via index, or as attached.

James Wills, The Irish Nation Its History & Its Biography, 4 vols. (London 1871): [...] On his appointment to the chair of natural philosophy he [Matthew Young] devoted himself to its duties. A new and improved system of philosophical instruments gave aid to his lectures, which were soon raised to a reputation till then unknown.   To the firmness and independent spirit of Dr Young is primarily due one of the most important benefits to the university, conferred in the abatement of a flagitious and destructive abuse. For a long succession of years anterior to 1791, the provosts of the university had been accumulating an unconstitutional control the natural effect, perhaps, of the influence of station and authority when acting on a very narrow compass. The fellowship, according to the statutes, and to the practice before and since, was the attainment of successful competition, awarded by the majority of the senior fellows; but, for some time, the provost had asserted a right of nomination. On all other questions a veto was pretended to. The consequences need not be detailed. Dr Young drew up a memorial on the subject [1786], which, Dr Magee has remarked, would do honour to “the ablest and best-informed legal understanding.” The attention of the university was thus awakened; and the next year the question was formally brought before the visitors. Happily, the vice-chancellor of that day was a man of the most uncompromising firmness and integrity of principle Lord Fitzgibbon; himself one of the most distinguished students in the undergraduate course the university ever produced; and these abuses were put a final stop to by a judicial decision.’ (p.378.)

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International League of Antiquarian Books [ILAB] lists State of the case, respecting the right of the Provost of Trinity College, Dublin [1792], with notice: ‘This pamphlet is part of a dispute over the right of John Hely Hutchinson, as provost, to overrule the election of fellows of Trinity College against a clear majority of the electors. Matthew Young, in 1774, had himself been denied a fellowship under identical circumstances; he was by all accounts a gifted man, as a scientist, theologian, linguist, and landscape painter. A very good uncut copy. The ESTC lists a fair number of copies in Ireland, but only four in North America (CLU, CSmH, CSt, MoU).’ [Online; accessed 16.11.2009.]

Alfred Webb, Compendium of Irish Biography (Dublin: 1878): notice on Young includes a quotation from the Gentleman's Magazine: ‘The versatility of his talents, the acuteness of his intellect, and his intense application to study were happily blended with a native unassuming modesty, a simplicity of manners, unaffected, and infinitely engaging; a cheerfulness and vivacity; ... a firm and inflexible spirit of honour and integrity.’ Also the information that he the bishopric of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh was most unexpectedly conferred upon him by Lord Cornwallis in 1798 [sic]. Note that the date of his Analysis is erron. given as 1803.

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