Radicalism in Paisley, 1830-1848 and its Economic, Political, Cultural Background

Leitch, Archibald (1993) Radicalism in Paisley, 1830-1848 and its Economic, Political, Cultural Background. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This work looks at events in Paisley, one of Scotland's major towns, between the years 1830 and 1848. It is an examination of the Parliamentary Reform agitation, the Movement for Repeal of the Corn Laws and Chartism in the town against the background of Paisley's political tradition and economic development. It is set within the context of the current debates in British historiography on the Industrial and French Revolutionary periods. The study arose from a Project on Chartism in Paisley for a Fourth Level Arts Course at the Open University. The emphasis in that Project was on the sources and bibliography for the history of Chartism both locally and nationally. The main topic for debate was the division of the Chartist Movement over the question of Moral or Physical Force as the most effective means of obtaining the Six Points of the People's Charter. During the Chartist years Paisley experienced devastating economic problems but nevertheless was considered by historians to have been firmly in the Moral Force camp under the leadership of the Rev. Patrick Brewster, This placed the town generally within the mainstream of Scottish Chartism which traditionally has been portrayed as a Moral Force Movement which did not pose any revolutionary threat. To ascertain if this was an accurate assessment, and if it was, to understand the reasons for this, given the serious economic depression in the town, called for a deeper study than the Project on Chartist historiography, A more thorough far reaching study of Chartism in the town was required and other Reform activities at the time also needed to be studied. The period 1830-1848 was decided upon for several reasons. Approximately 1830 marked the commencement of the agitation for Parliamentary Reform which culminated in the Act of 1832 and it was also the beginning of the period of Whig hegemony. At the other end, 1848, approximately marked the conclusion of the Chartist agitation although it lingered in a changed and weakened form for a few more years. In addition to the Parliamentary reform agitation and Chartism the period also embraced the Movement for Repeal of the Corn Lawa which was achieved in 1846, However, the town's political tradition and economic development cannot be fully understood by restricting study to the given period so a brief account of earlier events in the town has first to be made. This introductory section deals with the reform Movements which appeared in the closing years of the eighteenth century and immediately following the French Wars, Secondly it considers the particular economic development of Paisley, Historians, who are sceptical about the Moral Force interpretation, feel that insufficient attention has been paid to these earlier years of the town's history. The growth of Paisley during the first phase of the Industrial Revolution was so rapid that the town was sometimes referred to as the Manchester of Scotland. Late eighteenth and nineteenth century Paisley was therefore a place which is worthy of study in its own right but some knowledge of earlier events is necessary for a proper understanding of the various reform Movements which arose between 1830 and 1848. The bulk of the work, however, comprises a study of the reform agitations in the town between c. 1829-1832, the Anti-Corn Law Movement and Chartism. As a contribution to the study of Radicalism in Scotland, the work examines the extent of the town's involvement in reform activities, the classes of townspeople who participated, the motivation for their actions and the threat, if any, that was thereby posed to the constituted authorities. As a contribution to Scottish history the study will be placed in the context of the current debate between historians about this period. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: John McCaffrey
Keywords: European history
Date of Award: 1993
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1993-75486
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 19:39
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 19:39
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/75486

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