Radicalism and Reform in Scotland, 1820-1833
Pentland, Gordon Neil
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This thesis investigates radicalism and reform in Scotland, from the collapse of the post- 1815 popular movement for parliamentary reform in 1820, to the achievement of parliamentary reform in 1832, and burgh reform in 1833. It focuses on the ideologies and languages that were used in contesting issues of political reform, both by elites and by popular movements. One of its aims is to explore the debate over the position of Scotland within Britain that was facilitated by the reform of political institutions and the system of representation. Chapter one examines the broad critique of Scottish institutions and society that had developed from the 1790s, and particularly following the end of the Napoleonic Wars. This was apparent in parliament, in three attempts to amend various aspects of Scotland's system of representation, and outside parliament, in numerous reform campaigns with both political and religious objectives. Chapter two investigates the political context of the 182Os, focusing on the reaction in Scotland to the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in 1828. Catholic Emancipation in 1829 and the revolution in France in 1830. Chapter three provides a narrative of the drafting and passing of the Reform Act (Scotland), and of the popular movement outside parliament. It identifies the key stages in the development of the legislation, and the various problems its architects had to surmount. Chapter four looks at the debate on reform among Scotland's political elites and, in particular how this debate was prosecuted in parliament. Chapter five investigates the popular movement for reform in Scotland, briefly considering the functional factors that contributed to its creation and the maintenance of unity. It argues that while reformers and radicals made claims using a number of different languages, the reform movement after 1830 was characterised by the appeal to 'popular constitutionalism'. This language provided a coherent and flexible critique of the unreformed political system and allowed the reform movement to monopolise the language of patriotism and loyalty. The final chapter considers the consequences of parliamentary reform. It had a major influence on the languages and strategies used to contest issues in Scottish politics, and the patriotic consensus that had been achieved between 1830 and 1832 began to deteriorate. Finally, the consequences of parliamentary reform were sectarian as well as political. Changes made in the constitution and the state bolstered calls for changes to be made in the church. Movements calling for the end of religious establishments, or for their improvement, emerged during and after the agitation for parliamentary reform, and the 'Ten Years' Conflict' and the Disruption of the Church of Scotland in 1843 should be seen in the context of the reforms of 1829 to 1833.