Politics of the people in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, 1707-c. 1785
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This thesis analyses the political development and the growth of popular political awareness in Glasgow and the west of Scotland from the Union with England of 1707 to the burgh reform movement in the mid-1780s, examining political disputes among the urban elite as well as the activities, arguments, and ideology of ordinary people. Through the rapid growth of Atlantic trade and manufacturing industries, Glasgow and the west of Scotland in this period experienced social and economic changes which had significant implications for the ways that political control was contested and political opinions were expressed. The region also possessed a distinctive tradition of orthodox presbyterianism and loyal support for the Revolution Settlement and the Hanoverian Succession, both of which underpinned the growth of popular political awareness in the mid- and later eighteenth century. By taking these social and economic changes as well as traditional religious and political characteristics of the region into account, this thesis establishes a dynamic picture of eighteenth-century Scottish politics which has in the past been overshadowed by an image of its stability. Chapter One outlines the conditions, structure, and operation of urban and popular politics in eighteenth-century Glasgow. Chapters Two and Three demonstrate the existence of challenges to the political management by the great landowners and point out the popular dimension of these struggles. Chapter Four analyses how and why popular political consciousness developed in the age of the American Revolution, which led to the emergence of the burgh reform movement. Chapter Five examines popular disturbances, revealing the agency and vibrancy of the politics of the people. Chapter Six explores popular political ideology, focusing on the widespread appreciation of the British constitution and a distinctive Scottishness in the concept of liberty. This thesis concludes by asserting the importance of understanding politics in its broadest sense and also of incorporating the popular element as an integral part of any understanding of eighteenth-century Scottish politics.