George Younger, 4th Viscount Younger of Leckie

George Younger, 4th Viscount Younger of Leckie

George Kenneth Hotson Younger, 4th Viscount Younger of Leckie KT KCVO TD PC (22 September 1931 – 26 January 2003), known to many as "Gentleman George", was a Scottish politician whose long career as Conservative MP for Ayr (1964–1992) included periods as Secretary of State for Scotland from 1979 to 1986, and Secretary of State for Defence from 1986 to 1989.

Family background

Lord Younger of Leckie came from a Scottish family which had been making money from brewing since the 18th century, and which entered the aristocracy in the early years of the 20th century. His great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, George Younger (baptised 1722), was the founder of the family's brewing business, George Younger and Son. This George Younger's great-great-grandson, also named George Younger (1851–1929), entered politics, and was created Viscount Younger of Leckie in 1923. This peerage has passed in an unbroken line from father to son ever since.

Birth and early life

Younger was the eldest of three sons of Edward Younger, 3rd Viscount Younger of Leckie (1906–1997) by his wife Evelyn Margaret, "née" McClure.

He was educated at Winchester College, and at New College, Oxford, where he obtained an MA degree. He joined the British Army and served in the Korean War.

Political career

He was initially selected to stand for the Perth and Kinross seat in a by-election in late 1963, but agreed to stand aside to allow the new Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home the chance to enter Parliament. Following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather the 1st Viscount, Younger became Member of Parliament for Ayr in 1964. A summary of his political career follows:

*1965–1967: Scottish Conservative Whip
*1967–1970: Deputy-Chairman of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Association
*1970–1974: Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland
*1974: Minister of State for Defence
*1974–1976: Chairman of the Conservative Party of Scotland (having been Deputy Chairman from 1967 to 1970)
*1979–1986: Secretary of State for Scotland
*1986–1989: Secretary of State for Defence
*1987–1988: President of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations

He succeeded Michael Heseltine as Secretary of State for Defence when Heseltine resigned from the cabinet over a dispute about helicopters known as the Westland crisis.

Later years

Younger quit the cabinet in 1989, and joined the Royal Bank of Scotland, being made a director in that year, and in 1992, he left life as an MP behind altogether, and became the Bank's chairman. He was also Warden (ie. chairman of the governing body) of Winchester College.

That same year, he was made a life peer, becoming Baron Younger of Prestwick, of Ayr in the District of Kyle and Carrick. Upon the death of his father on 25 June 1997, he inherited the family's baronetcy and viscountcy, becoming the 4th Viscount Younger of Leckie.

He died on 26 January 2003, after a battle with cancer, at the age of 71.


*Torrance, David, "The Scottish Secretaries" (Birlinn 2006)
*"Burke's Peerage & Baronetage" (106th edition, 1999). Editor-in-chief: Charles Mosley; publisher: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd.

Viscount Younger of Leckie 5th- James Younger. Grand children Emily, Alice and Alexander Younger

External links

* [ Lord Younger dies after cancer battle] – BBC News article, dated Sun 26 Jan 2003
* [ Lord Younger: A career in politics] – BBC News article, dated Sun 26 Jan 2003
* [ Tribute paid to 'Gentleman George'] – BBC News article, dated Sun 26 Jan 2003

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