Lambing Flat Folk Museum (Young, NSW)

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History Blog

How Young got its Name

Posted on April 28, 2016 at 6:50 PM

How did the town of Young get its name? Why did the people in authority at the time not call it Burrowmunditroy or Burrangong which were the local Wiradjuri names for the area? It could have been called Spring Creek, Chance Gully , Blackguard Gully, or even Lambing Flat.


Apparently at one time the suggested name was Albert Town, to honour Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert.


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Special Correspondent on March 18th 1861 stated, “The Government district surveyor has been engaged during the past week surveying the Lambing Flat, for the township, which, I understand is to be called Albert Town. The appearance of the place is greatly improved of late; some fine buildings are going up rapidly; several public houses are now nearly completed, and are large and commodious places. Lambing Flat or Albert Town is the place for all commercial transactions, and the centre of the Government offices. The Oriental Bank Corporation are building compact and spacious premises for their offices here… There is at present one day school on Lambing Flat, but only a small number of pupils attend.”


The Government surveyor selected James White’s Lambing Flat as the site for a village and the first pencil sketch was transmitted to Sydney to the Surveyor General on April 18th 1861. Northern tracks were shown to Burrangong station and to Bathurst; southward to the Spring Creek diggings and to Robert’s Currawong station, and eastwards to Burrowa.


On Saturday April 20th the first land sale for town allotments at Lambing Flat in the County of Monteagle and Parish of Young were advertised for sale on May 28th at an upset price of £20 per acre. Twenty seven lots were offered.


The Miner reported with some scepticism that, “Our township has received the name Young in honour of His Excellency the Administrator of the Government. Its brevity classifies well with Hay and Yass but it is inappropriate for the capital of Burrangong.”


Sir John Young (1807-1876) was born on 31st August 1807 in Bombay, India, eldest son of Sir William Young, 1st Baronet and East India Company director. He was educated at Eton and Corpus Christie College, Oxford.


On 18th January 1861 he was appointed to succeed Sir William Denison as governor of NSW; because of inter-colonial jealousy he was not given the title governor-general, borne by his two predecessors. He arrived in Sydney in March 1861 and immediately plunged into an angry and complicated political crisis. With the five year term of the Legislative Council due to expire he accepted Sir Charles Cowper’s proposal that the council should be made elective. Young conditionally approved Cowper’s nomination of twenty one new members, but they were never sworn in as other members of the council resigned and deprived the council of a quorum. Two government bills regarding Sir John Robertson’s land bills were also rejected. Young had to face other problems affecting relations between his office and the cabinet.


Unlike some of his successors, Young had little trouble over his exercise of the royal prerogative of pardon. Except in capital cases, he dealt with pardons without reference to his ministers; most of the colony’s leading men preferred the prerogative to be beyond the reach of political interference. In 1863 he overruled his Executive Council and commuted the bushranger John Bow’s sentence to life imprisonment.


Unwilling to leave his ministers unsupervised in Sydney, Young did not travel widely or frequently in the colony, but he and his wife were keenly aware of the responsibilities of Government House and were active in good causes. He worked diligently for the Sydney Ragged Schools, the Society for the Relief of Destitute Children, the Sydney Female Refuge Society, the Female School of Industry and the House of the Good Shepherd. A devout Evangelical Anglican, he appealed for non-sectarian sympathy and tolerance, raising the ire of some Protestants when he chaired a meeting in 1865 to organise the rebuilding of the burnt St. Mary’s cathedral.


It is hard to find any reference to the reason the town of Young was given its somewhat strange name. But it is generally accepted that the powers to be, probably Charles Cowper, wanted to remove the name Lambing Flat from the map as the riots and disturbances were a sad reflection on the Government of the day.


Sourced from Old Young, Ross Maroney; Rich Earth, William Bayley; Australian Dictionary of Biography, John Ward.


Young Historical Society – Brian James.


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