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John Young

Birthdate: (91)
Birthplace: Great Crosby, Lancashire, Great Britain
Death: December 16, 1835 (91)
Kawaihae, Hawaii, United States
Place of Burial: Pohukaina, Honolulu, Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert YOUNG and Grace
Husband of Namokuelua and Kaoanaeha "Mele" YOUNG
Father of Robert YOUNG; James Kanehoa YOUNG; Fanny "Pane" "Kakela" Kakelaokalani NA'EA; John Kaleipaihala YOUNG; Jane Lahilahi KAEO and 3 others

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Immediate Family

About John Young

John Young (c. 1742–1835) was a British subject who became an important military advisor to Kamehameha I during the formation of the Kingdom of Hawaii. He was left behind by Simon Metcalfe, captain of the American ship Eleanora, and along with a Welshmen Isaac Davis became a friend and advisor to Kamehameha. He brought knowledge of the western world, including naval and land battle strategies, to Kamehameha, and a strong voice on affairs of state for the Hawaiian Kingdom. He played a big role during Hawaii's first contacts with the European powers. He spent the rest of his life in Hawaiʻi. Between 1802-1812, John Young ruled as Royal Governor of Hawaii Island while King Kamehameha was away on other islands. He organized the construction of the fort at Honolulu Harbor. The Hawaiians gave him the name ʻOlohana based on Young's typical command "All hands".


According to his tombstone, he was born in 1742 in Crosby, Lancashire, England. Other sources give his birth as March 17, 1744. His father was Robert Young, of Crosby, Lancashire, and mother Grace. He had two brothers: Peter and James. The Youngs were of Scottish descent. After his death, two families from Massachusetts and Connecticut claimed that Young was American and part of a member of their family, but all contemporary sources seems to indicate he was British.

Young served as boatswain on the Eleanora, an American ship captained by Simon Metcalfe, engaged in the maritime fur trade between the Pacific Northwest and China. Sailing from Cape Cod in 1789,[citation needed] the Eleanora put in at Kealakekua Bay on the island of Hawaii in February 1790. In March Young went ashore to investigate, and he was detained because Kamehameha did not want Metcalfe to learn of an attack on the Eleanora's companion ship, the Fair American. Metcalfe waited for two days, but eventually sailed without Young.

In battles such as the Battle of Nuʻuanu, when the army of Kamehameha conquered Oʻahu, Young had charge of the cannon. He is credited with firing the shot that put an end to Kaʻiana, who had seceded from the invading army en route, and joined fortunes with Kalanikupule, king of Oʻahu and Maui. At the close of this contest, when Kamehameha was called back to Hawaiʻi island to suppress the rebellion of Namakaeha, Young was left on Oʻahu to adjust the new regime affairs, then with a number of foreigners who also joined Kamehameha at Hawaiʻi island. Beginning about 1800 or 1802, he was appointed as the Royal Governor of Hawaii island after chief Mokuhia, whom Kamehameha had picked, was murdered by a rival. This included his superintendency of tax gatherings when he returned to Kawaihae.

Young acted as interpreter for many English speaking visitors, and sowed the seeds of Christianity in Hawaii. When Captain Vancouver visited the island during the Vancouver Expedition in 1793, he offered to take Young and Davis back to Britain. But they were already content with their island life and refused the offer. Naturalist Archibald Menzies left seeds and plants such as citrus fruit in his care. He helped mediate a treaty with Britain in 1794, and coordinated the building of the first large European-style ships.

In 1803, Richard Cleveland, of the American ship Lelia Byrd, left a mare with foal with Young in Kawaihae. This was the first horse ever seen in the islands, and led eventually to the establishment of Parker Ranch. He took the first horses and cattle to Honolulu in 1809.

Young lived near Kealakekua Bay probably until about 1819, when Kamehameha I died.

Young built the first European-style house on the island of Hawaiʻi, and its ruins are still to be seen at the Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site near the town of Kawaihae. It was made of stone and Young had no tools but a hatchet and a wooden trowel. He made the door with a hatchet, hewing it out of a koa tree slab. He whitewashed the house with lime made from white coral fished from the sea.

Lucy Goodale Thurston, in her story of her life as a missionary in Hawaii, described John Young:

"He had long been a rare example in that degenerate age, of building a hedge about his family and standing in the gap thereof. When occasion offered, he spoke with energy and decision, giving no uncertain sound, well understood by his children and by strangers. By marriage, by deeds and by counsel, he had justly risen to the eminence of a peer with the chiefs of the nation. Saxon blood flowed in his veins. He was Mr. Young, the noble grandfather of our most noble Queen Emma. His descendants all had the blood of chiefs flowing in their veins, for his wives were women of high rank."

He was one of the few close friends to be at Kamehameha's side when he died in 1819 at Kamakahonu.


After the wars, Young returned to Kawaihae on the Big Island and expanded his compound, including building a small European-style fort. There he and wives raised a family and entertained both Hawaiian and western visitors.

His first marriage, in 1795, was to the chiefess Namokuelua of Oahu aristocracy. Their son, James Kānehoa, was an influential member of the court of Kamehameha II. On the king's 1823 visit to England, Kānehoa was entrusted with the official letters of introduction and served as translator. Kamehameha II, his queen and three other chiefs contracted the measles and died abroad. Another son was Robert Young who was born in 1796, sent to school in America, fought for the American side in the War of 1812 and went missing.

About 1805, Kamehameha's niece, the Princess Kaʻōanāʻeha, the daughter of his favorite brother, became the second wife of John Young. This marriage brought him increased recognition and prestige.

Four children were born to John Young's second marriage. Fanny Kekelaokalani Young, his eldest daughter married George Naʻea and gave birth to a daughter, Emma, who would later married King Kamehameha IV. Grace Kamaʻikuʻi Young married Thomas Charles Byde Rooke and adopted her niece Emma. John Kalaipaihala Young Jr. known as Keoni Ana married Alapai and would become one of the only two males to hold the title of Kuhina Nui. Jane Lahilahi Young married Joshua Kaʻeo and gave birth to Peter Kaʻeo, a member of the House of Nobles. Jane also mothered an illegitimate son by Kamehameha III, Albert Kunuiakea who might be the last direct descendant of Kamehameha I. His line is believe to have gone extinct.

In 1810, Young adopted the children of his murdered companion Isaac Davis. They were Sally, thirteen years of age; George, 2 or 10 years old; and Betty, seven years of age.

Family Tree

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John Young's Timeline

March 17, 1744
Great Crosby, Lancashire, Great Britain
February 14, 1796
Age 51
Kawaihae, HI, USA
August 7, 1797
Age 53
July 21, 1804
Age 60
September 8, 1806
Age 62
March 12, 1810
Age 65
Kawaihae, Hawaii, Hawaii, United States
May 1813
Age 69
December 16, 1835
Age 91
Kawaihae, Hawaii, United States
December 18, 1835
Age 91
Pohukaina, Honolulu, Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States