George Kenneth Hotson Younger (September 22, 1931January 26, 2003), titled the 4th Viscount Younger of Leckie and known to many as "Gentleman George", was a British politician whose long career as Conservative MP for Ayr (19641992) included periods as Secretary of State for Scotland from 1979 to 1986, and Secretary of State for Defence from 1986 to 1989.
Lord Younger came from a Scottish family which had been making money from brewing since the 18th century, and which entered the aristocracy in the early years of the 20th century. His great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, George Younger (baptised 1722), was the founder of the family's brewing business, George Younger and Son. This George Younger's great-great-grandson, also named George Younger (18511929), entered politics, and was created the 1st Viscount Younger of Leckie in 1923. This peerage has passed in an unbroken line from father to son ever since.
Birth and early life
Younger was the eldest of three sons of Edward George Younger (19061997), 3rd Viscount Younger of Leckie, by his wife Evelyn Margaret, nιe McClure.
He was educated at Winchester College, and at New College, Oxford, where he obtained an M.A. degree.
He was initially selected to stand for the Perth and Kinross seat in a by-election in late 1963, but agreed to stand aside to allow the new Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home the chance to enter Parliament. Following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather the 1st Viscount, Younger became Member of Parliament for Ayr in 1964. A summary of his political career follows:
19651967: Scottish Conservative Whip
19671970: Deputy-Chairman of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Association
19701974: Parliamentary Under Secretary, Scottish Office
1974: Minister of State for Defence
19741976: Chairman of the Conservative Party of Scotland (having been Deputy Chairman from 1967 to 1970)
19791986: Secretary of State for Scotland
19861989: Secretary of State for Defence
19871988: President of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations
He succeeded Michael Heseltine as Secretary of State for Defence when Heseltine resigned from the cabinet over a dispute about helicopters known as the Westland crisis.
Lord Younger quit the cabinet in 1989, and joined the Royal Bank of Scotland, being made a director in that year, and in 1992, he left life as an MP behind altogether, and became the Bank's chairman.
That same year, he was made a life peer, becoming Lord Younger of Prestwick. Upon the death of his father on June 25, 1997, he inherited the family's baronetcy and viscountcy, becoming the 4th Viscount Younger of Leckie.
He died on January 26, 2003, after a battle with cancer, at the age of 71.