Some years ago no figure was more familiar in our town than that of Mr. Ralph Yates – a short, thick set man, with strong face nearly covered by a white beard still bearing traces of its original rich brown colour. He was blunt of speech shrewd of character, and thrifty in habit. These traits are all illustrated by the story that once Mr. Yates was observed to pick up a rusty "nut", eye it carefully and then say slowly "Why I've been seeking this nut for years. Are there any more of 'em down there? pointing with his finger to the pebbly ground where a lad had found the relic.
Occasionally, feelings of thrift ran away with him, as when he saw some of his apprentice lads "larking," and immediately ordered one of them to drive him to the Union, for they would beggar him in no time! Greatly to his astonishment the youth addressed seized hold of the reins of the pony and shouted out, "Jump in, Mr. Yates." Many masters would have reprimanded such a servant, or dismissed him on the spot. Not so Mr. Yates. He gave the lad a shilling with the remark, "You are the first who has ever done what I have told him to do. Drive me home!
The mention of driving reminds me of the many times I have seen Mr Yates in his little phaeton driving between Malton and Whitehall. Malton was the centre of our townsman's very successful work as I ironfounder and implement maker, whilst Whitehall (once so closely associated with the fame of John Scott) was the scene of his agricultural labours, and it would be hard to say of which department of work he was the more proud.
Mr. Yates was a self-made man. He began business in a very humble way in Carpenter's-yard about 1850, when the Buxton's foundry was still in existence. Presently he invited the assistance of his two brothers. Then he quickly extended his premises over the site of "Cool Dock" where barges used to be repaired, and at last became established in the excellent premises in Railway-st., familiar to multitudes of Yorkshiremen today. He was the first to introduce the Massey Harris reaper into these parts - an action which brought about almost a revolution in farming. The value of this part of his work, as well as its wide influence, was witnessed to by the fact that at Mr. Yate's funeral members of the leading implement firms were present to pay their last tribute of respect to the dead manufacturer. In the trade of Malton and the whole of the large district of which this town is the centre he played a leading if publicly inconspicuous part.
Mr. Yates died at Langton-rd., in December, 1906, aged 75 years. He left four sons, who now carry on the business in a progressive manner, and five daughters.
SPECTATOR Bygone Maltonians, No VII, Yorkshire Gazette, 11 November 1911
Mr. James Yorke, who will be remembered by many Maltonians, served several years in the army, and his military experiences were various and exciting. In 1871, on giving over a soldier’s life, he purchased the shoeing and general business of the late Mr. John Snarry, veterinary surgeon, in Yorkersgate, Malton, and carried this on till his death in March 1891.
Mr. Yorke was born in Norton in 1825 and after serving his apprenticeship with Mr. Shilton, blacksmith, of Church-st., walked to York and enlisted into the 5th Dragoon Guards. In 1852 he married the second daughter of Daniel MacManus, who was serving in the regiment, and the following year went out to the Crimea, leaving his wife and baby girl with the former’s parents in Ireland. On one occasion his regiment (of the Heavy Brigade, under General Scarlett) was sent to support the Light Brigade, whose famous Balaclava charge ended so disastrously. In this charge, Mr. Yorke had two horses shot under him. He was also present at the Battle of Inkerman and the Siege of Sebastopol.
In 1856 Mr. Yorke’s regiment left the Crimea, and on arriving at Aldershot Camp, was reviewed by the late Queen Victoria, on which occasion Mr. Yorke received the Crimean and Turkish medals and clasps from Balaclava, Inkerman and Sebastopol. His regiment then marched to Edinburgh. In December, 1856, Mr. Yorke and his wife arrived in Malton on leave, and his fellow-towns-men and friends presented him with a beautiful gold watch. His son, Farrier Sidney Yorke, on his return from South Africa, had the same honour conferred upon him. In December, 1871, Mr. Yorke took his discharge with the rank of Farrier Sergeant and pension after twenty-four years’ service.
It is interesting to know that five of this veteran soldier’s seven daughters married into the Army. Three of his sons out of six served respectively 24, 21 and 15 years (two still serving); four grandsons and one grandson-in-law are now serving, and the total number of serving years of the family reach over three hundred.
When Maltonians pass by the Crimean trophy at the top of Yorkersgate they should give a thought to those of their fellow-citizens who took part in that terrible war over half a century ago. At that time it was said that “Generals January and February” slew more soldiers than did the Russian army; and history will records that the only bright element in the whole sad campaign was the roll of generous deeds done in the field and in the camp, at the head of which stands the self-sacrificing work of Florence Nightingale.
Spectator , Maltonians of a Bygone Age, XX, Yorkshire Gazette, 25th March 1911
The memory of Dr. Young is of special interest to Maltonians in view of the fact that his son, the Rev. Dinsdale T. Young, is now a prominent minister of the Wesleyan Church. How much of his success is due to the training given to him by his parents during the days he lived in Malton, it is impossible to say, but it has been stated in print that “Methodism has to thank the Doctor for much of the ability and grace, as well as the evangelistic work of his son.” Several of us have memories of the old house in Castlegate (now occupied by Dr. De Merrimonde): of the courteous welcome accorded to us by Dr. Young; the kindness of his wife; and the mental energy of his son.
Dr. Young was the first medical officer of health under the new Sanitary Act (1873). Mr. Charles Marshall was made nuisance inspector at the same time – a fact which seems to carry us fairly back in the history of our town. His work covered what are now the Urban and Rural Authorities, and lasted until his death on 16 May, 1891. The drainage of the town and other important matters were completed during his rule. He was one of the most conscientious officers we have ever had, but perhaps a trifle too retiring for an important public position.
Dr. Young was a steady supporter of his own religious body, the Wesleyan Methodists, and of philanthropic work in general. One of his greatest interests was the Workhouse, and for many years he conducted a service every Sunday morning in the Vagrant Ward.
This service was of an informal character. Dr. Young would speak simple words of cheer to the poor fellows in the ward, and would sing hymns to them. Often, too, he would distribute small sums of money, for which he was sometimes called to account. In the Life-story of Thomas Langton, Mr. Watson says that the superintendent of the police thought that this custom attracted vagrants to the Malton ward every Saturday. On the other hand, there was evidence that the Doctor used some discrimination in giving, and that very helpful results followed his benevolence. One day, Thomas Langton said, a tall, smart gentleman called to see the Doctor – none other than a young man who had been present one particular Sunday at the early morning Workhouse service, and had confided to the conductor his need of heavenly help.
“He did not know our names, but came on purpose to seek us out. He inquired of one of the officials for the gentleman who went every Sunday to the vagrant ward. ‘Oh! That will be Dr. Young.’ Was the reply, followed by instructions for finding the house. The Doctor was in when he called, but failed to recognise the vagrant in one so smart.
“He very soon made himself known, and told how that when he was in Malton before he was a veritable ‘Prodigal.’ His family was very well-to-do, almost aristocratic, and had borne with his waywardness as long as human nature could, and at last had cast him off completely. On his conversion in the vagrant ward that Sunday, he wrote next day to his father, giving a full account of it all, and asked if he would again receive him into the old home. Promptly came a favourable reply, and he was received with open arms and full forgiveness. He went on to say that he had kept right and steady, and praised God for ever bringing him to Malton on that eventful Saturday night. He was living with his parents, and now, on his way to Scarborough, had, out of sheer gratitude to God and those two men who led him to God, stopped off at Malton to thank them”
This recital converted the superintendent of police, who said that he would never utter another word against Doctor Young’s Workhouse work.
Dr. Young was a native of South Shields, being a son of Captain Thomas’ Young of that town. He removed to Malton from Corbridge-on-Tyne, and had resided among us for twenty-two years when he died in 1891, aged only fifty-nine years.
SPECTATOR Maltonians of Bygone Days, XIX, Yorkshire Gazette, 11th March 1911
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