John Young was born in the village of Lilliesleaf in 1859, eldest of eight children of William Young a Minister of the Gospel and his wife Margaret Paulin.
He studied medicine at Glasgow University and in 1883, came to Earlston. 1893 saw his marriage to Miss Margaret Brownlie, whose father gave to them a house "The Thorn" as a wedding present. Medicine regularly interfered with family life - even their wedding was delayed, as Dr. Young was amputating a leg following an accident at Bridgehaugh Mill.
The Earlston practice spread into the Lammermuirs, reached by pony and trap. One of his most demanding patients was Lady John Scott of Spottiswoode, the author of "Annie Laurie". Her opinions on medicine were firmly fixed and Dr. Young said she had not moved far from a belief in witchcraft.
With no guarantee of a settled income, wealthy patients were an important consideration. Many fees were paid in kind such as a gift of a length of tweed, or a tailored suit.
"The Thorn" was never without a telephone and night calls meant often rousing a driver. Obstetrics involved lonely visits to remote farm cottages and a surgeon came down from Edinburgh to perform surgery on patients in their own homes.
Dr. Young's home "The Thorn" was at the corner of Thorn Street above.
The Young's had three children including son William Barrie Young who was killed in a flying accident in 1918, buried with full military honours in Earlston churchyard and remembered on the Earlston War Memorial.
Dr. Young was a colourful character, who was widely remembered for his warm, if sometimes irascible personality. His work was his life and he had few hobbies apart from his horses.
His sudden death in September 1934 received wide tributes.
Headline in "the Southern Reporter": 27th September 1934.
Local newspaper reported:
"The death of John Young, Earlston, while on holiday, has removed from the Border district not only a distinct personality but a typical specimen of the Scottish country doctor."
"A pall of deep gloom spread over Earlston last Thursday, when it became known that Dr John Young, The Thorn, had died suddenly, after only few days’ illness".
The Scotsman newspaper in an obituary paid tribute to his character and dedication.
Dr. Young was buried next to his son, in the graveyard at Earlston Parish Church. He was the first doctor in Earlston for whom a memorial (other than a tombstone) was erected - a drinking fountain on the wall of his former home.
With acknowledgement to "Three Centuries of Earlston Doctors"
by Dr. John Burns.