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Emeritus Professor of English Social History at the University of Exeter, Joyce Alice Youings, was arguably the most eminent historian of Devon and Exeter, after Prof W G Hoskins. Youings who was born in Barnstable, on 11 September 1922, was the eldest daughter Harold and Ruby Youings.
She appears to have been a good student while at school, and is often named in school prize lists, and as a contestant in fancy dress parades. As a young girl she was involved in the Barnstable Rotary Club. She was Miss 1935, at the Rotary Club New Year Celebration, when she arrived in a large decorated box, from which she emerged through coloured paper, to be welcomed with cheers by the assembly. She appeared in July 1940, in a Home Service programme, called ‘Pigeon Pie’, when she was cast as the daughter of the wife of a Westcountry farmer.
She declined going into the family’s wholesale tobacco business, and having passed the Higher School Examination, in December 1941, she attended King’s College, London to read mathematics. Within a week, she had changed her course to study history. Youings was a keen hockey player, and as captain of the College’s hockey team, she was selected to captain the University of London Women’s Hockey team that played against Bristol University in February 1944.
After attaining a First Class Honours degree, and then in 1951, a PhD at University College, specialising in the Tudors, she joined the Department of History at the University College of the South West. She remained with the University College, and from 1965 the University of Exeter, until she retired in 1986. She produced an outstanding list of 16th century Devon publications during her time at the University, covering monastic property, the cloth industry, municipal charters, the Western Rebellion of 1549 and her book on Tuckers Hall. She also produced the collected letters of Sir Walter Ralegh.
Youings died on 28 June 2012 at the Lodge Nursing Home, Exeter aged 88 years. She was buried in the village churchyard at Thorverton near Exeter. Many modern historians owe much to Joyce Youings, including Todd Gray and Mark Stoyle.
Source: Independant obituary 21 April 2012, Western Times and North Devon Journal.
Professor Joyce Alice Youings
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