Sunday, October 13, 2013

Robert Arthur Young

Arthur Young was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1863. His father was a merchant and shipbuilder. He attended the University of Glasgow graduating with a masters degree in 1883 and obtained a law degree in 1887. He was also very athletic and was the captain of the rugby team and played in intercity rugby matches for Glasgow.

“Young had plans to move to Edinburgh to practice law when he began exhibiting the first signs of deafness, a condition that would grow progressively worse. Heeding the advice of his doctor, who suggested that he find a less stressful profession, Young left Scotland. He spent some time in Switzerland and then traveled to the warmer climate of Algiers. There he met an American businessman, George Bennett, who encouraged him to immigrate to the United States. (Chicago Portraits, by June Skinner Sawyers, page.278.)

Arthur Young came to America in 1890, stopping for a while in New York City where he worked for a banking firm that was run by fellow Scots. (I don’t know the name.) Four years later he moved to Chicago and here he started an accounting firm with Charles W. Stuart. They opened a small office in the Monadnock Building. He became one of the first certified public accountants in Illinois. His brother Stanley was also involved, but I could find no information about Stanley Young.

In 1906, Arthur Young & Company was formed with offices in the Borland Building on LaSalle Street. “Since accounting was such a new profession in the United States, Young felt he had no alternative but to recruit accountants in Scotland.” (The Scots of Chicago, page 96)

The firm had a very impressive list of clients: Swift and Company, William Wrigley, Jr., Montgomery Ward and Company, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Rand McNally to name a few. In 1989, the Arthur Young company merged with Ernst and Whitney to form a Ernst & Young and & became the top–ranking firm in Chicago.

Arthur Young was very active in the Illinois Saint Andrew Society. He served on the board of governors and many of the old audited reports have “Arthur Young & Company” on the cover.

It has been very difficult to trace the life of Arthur Young given the resources I have available. I did find this on the Internet from Aiken County, South Carolina: “once the center of a cotton plantation that included more than 300 acres, Crossways is thought to have been built around 1815 by John E. Marley. In the 1890s it was the home of South Carolina Gov. John Gary Evans, and its balcony was the location of his inaugural speech in 1894. It was the winter home of Arthur Young, Scottish-born founder of the internationally renowned accounting firm from 1927 until his death in 1948. It is now a commercial property.”

His obituary was published in the Chicago Tribune, April 5, 1948 and was apparently copied from a New York paper: “Arthur Young, founder and senior partner of Arthur Young & Company, accountants and auditors, died yesterday at his winter residence in Aiken, S. C. He was 85. Born in Scotland, Young came to this country in 1890 after receiving master of arts and bachelor of laws degrees from Glasgow University. In 1894, he began the practice of public accounting in Chicago, in partnership with C. W. Stuart under the firm name of Stuart &Young. In 1908 the name was changed to Arthur Young & Co. A pioneer public accountant in Illinois, Young helped secure the passage in 1903 of that state’s first CPA law.”

Apparently Arthur Young never married. Perhaps, some of our readers can help fill in additional details.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society

We get a lot of interesting emails. Here is one example:

Dear Mr. Rethford:

My name is Alan Nicholson. I have been doing genealogy research recently on the Scottish side of my family, and made a connection to Thomas Nicholson (1847-1920) who apparently was my 1st cousin, three times removed. I'm in the process of fleshing out my material, including getting obituaries, etc. I came across the website for the Scottish American History Club, which mentions Thomas, and thought I'd say "Hi". Perhaps luckily, I live in the San Francisco bay area, and the UC Berkeley Doe Library has most of the Chicago Trib on microfilm, so I can head over there to get research done.

Best -

Alan Nicholson

Thomas Nicholson owned the construction company that built the Scottish Home in 1910. (Another example of Scots working with Scots.) His picture is in the museum at the Scottish Home. You can see it by going to the History Club website ( and then click on museum. Then click on PastPerfect website and type in Thomas Nicholson.

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