Scottish-English Connections in British Radicalism in the 1790s

Bob Harris

in Anglo-Scottish Relations from 1603 to 1900

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263303
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734137 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Scottish-English Connections in British Radicalism in the 1790s

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter discusses the frame for radical co-operation in the age of the Friends of the People and later. The links to radicalism south of the Border have tended to be relegated to the margins of historical debate. Through the agency of Thomas Muir, links with the leading Irish radical society, the United Irishmen, were established at a relatively early stage, although the precise nature of these remains obscure. The emphasis on the Scots-Irish connection reflects the formative affect on Irish presbyterian radicals of an education provided by the Scottish universities. The influence of the English reform movement on the emergence of an organised campaign for parliamentary reform in Scotland in the 1790s has not always been fully appreciated, although it appears to have been a significant one. Correspondence and personal contacts across national boundaries were intermittent; the flow of print, in both ways, was continual. During the 1790s, union was a crucial element of radical strategy and tactics in Britain.

Keywords: British radicalism; Friends of the People; English reform movement; United Irishmen; parliamentary reform; Thomas Muir

Chapter.  11730 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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