In April 1820 a series of dramatic events exploded around Glasgow, central Scotland and Ayrshire. Demanding political reform and better living and working conditions, 60,000 weavers and other workers went on strike. Revolution was in the air.
It was the culmination of several years of unrest, which had seen huge mass meetings in Glasgow and Paisley. In Manchester in 1819, in what became known as Peterloo, drunken yeomanry with their sabres drawn infamously rode into a peaceful crowd calling for reform, killing 15 people and wounding hundreds more.
In 1820 some Scottish Radicals marched under a flag emblazoned with the words ‘Scotland Free, or Scotland a Desart’ [sic]. Others armed themselves and set off for the Carron Ironworks, seeking cannons. Intercepted by Government soldiers, a bloody skirmish took place at Bonnymuir near Falkirk. A curfew was imposed on Glasgow and Paisley.
Aiming to free Radical prisoners, a crowd in Greenock was attacked by the Port Glasgow militia. Among the dead and wounded were a 65-year-old woman and a young boy. In the recriminations that followed, three men were hanged and nineteen were transported to Australia from Scotland.
In this book Maggie Craig sets the rising into the wider social and political context of the time and paints an intense portrait of the people who were caught up in these momentous events.
One Week In April: The Scottish Radical Rising of 1820 by Maggie Craig is published on 2 April, 2020.
Find out more about the Scottish Radicals and the events of 1820 in Maggie’s Historia feature, published to coincide with this book’s release.