Dr James (1856-1946) and Mrs Annie Younger (née Thomson Paton, 1864-1942)

Prominent 20th Century Philanthropists in St Andrews


Background: The marriage of James Younger and Annie Paton on 18th February 1886, brought together two wealthy industrial Scottish families from Alloa. James, son of James Younger and Janet McEwan, was born into the George Younger & Sons brewery dynasty; Annie Thomson Paton, daughter of John and Graeme Thomson Paton (nee Haig Lambert), was the great-granddaughter of John Paton, the founder of Kilncraigs Mill in Alloa which become one of Britain’s biggest wool- and yarn-spinning enterprises.

Image: Mount Melville House in April 2018

Shortly after their wedding, in May 1886, James and Annie moved into Arnsbrae House in Alloa. Built for them as a wedding gift, it was designed by eminent Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse. In 1901, James Younger acquired Mount Melville estate on the outskirts of St Andrews and commissioned Alfred Waterhouse’s son, Paul, to build a larger, more elaborate, mansion house and landscaped park. Completed in 1903, this became the Younger’s main residence. Following the death of Annie and James, Fife Council acquired Mount Melville House and 47 acres of land in 1947. The mansion was converted into a maternity hospital, the landscaped garden into a country park. Following its closure in 1992, the hospital was sold to the Old Course Hotel St Andrews; the building is currently empty and on Scotland’s register of Buildings at Risk. The park, Craigtoun Country Park, continues to be open to the public and is run as a partnership between Fife Council and the Friends of Craigtoun.


Image: St Gregorys Buildings

Philanthropy: James and Annie Younger are notable early 20th century philanthropists in St Andrews. The couple donated around £100,000 (ca. £6m in contemporary value) to purchase the site and finance the subsequent construction of Younger Hall. Also designed by Paul Waterhouse, Younger Hall was opened by HRH the Duchess of York, subsequently HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, on 28th June 1929. It was built to fulfil the dual purpose of acting as a graduation hall for the University of St Andrews and as a public venue for the town. Annie also provided substantial support, at least £50,000 (ca. £3m in contemporary value), for the building and endowment of All Saint’s Episcopal Church and St Gregory’s Buildings in St Andrews. Thereby, she followed in the well-documented footsteps of the Paton families (her father, for example, donated a town hall, public baths and gymnasium to Alloa (1))


Relevance for understanding philanthropy: Alongside offering an example of an influential local philanthropist and contributing to better understanding of the role of women in philanthropy, Annie’s approach to giving also provides an example of the influence of donor voice. As part of her endowment to All Saint’s church, she stipulated that the Eucharist should be the main service every Sunday, much to the chagrin of the priest. Writing in his diary, he said:

“The Bishop called today. He has very good news. Mrs Younger of Mount Melville has given £25,000 to endow All Saints Mission, St Andrews! A trust is to be formed. I tried to get off it but the bishop seemed to think I should not get out of it. So I have consented to go on. The Priest-in-Charge is bound to make the Holy Eucharist the principal service every Sunday. This is a manifestation of the drift of the times.” (2)

The giving patterns and activities of the Paton families more broadly further point to other early examples of corporate philanthropy and, indeed, mirror the giving hierarchies put forward by Andrew Carnegie in his Gospel of Wealth.



(1) Town and Factory: An Historic Building Survey of 200 Years of John Paton’s Kilncraigs Woollen Mill in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Diana Sproat, Ronan Toolis, James Hepher & Dorothy Rankin
Industrial Archaeology Review Vol. 26, Iss. 1, 2004

(2) History of All Saints’ church, St Andrews. From 1824 to present http://www.allsaints-standrews.org.uk/about/history/


Drawing on findings from our How Philanthropy shapes Scotland project, our monthly Scottish Philanthropy Snippet explores the spectrum of people, places and practices that have contributed to the history of philanthropy in Scotland.