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Ireland, Radicalism, and the Scottish Highlands, c.1870-1912

Andrew Newby


This book focuses on the leading figures in radical politics in Ireland and Scottish highlands and explores the links between them. It deals with topics that have been at the centre of recent discussions on the Highland land question, the politics of the Irish community in Scotland, and the development of the labour movement in Scotland. The author argues that the Irish activists in the Scottish Highlands and in urban Scotland should be seen as adherents to notions of social and economic reform, such as land nationalisation, and not as Irish nationalists or Home Rulers. This leads him to make radical reassessments of the contributions of individuals such as John Ferguson, Michael Davitt and Edward McHugh. Andrew Newby looks closely at the political activities and ambitions of the Crofter MPs showing them to be a widely influential but diverse group: he reveals, for example, the extensive links between Angus Sutherland, the most radical of the Highland MPs, and John Ferguson's groupings of Irish political activists of urban Scotland. This is a balanced and vivid account of a turbulent period of modern Scottish history.


1. INTRODUCTION: The Land Question in Nineteenth Century Scotland and Ireland.
2. "A FENIAN CONCLAVE IN THE COUNTRY"? The development of a Scottish Land Agitation, c. 1860-1877.
3. "BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO EXPECT LITTLE, FOR THEY SHALL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED" Alleged and Actual Irish involvement in the development of the 'Crofters' War'.
4. "AN OBSCURE HALL IN EAST NILE STREET" Urban Radicalism and the
'Crofters' War', 1881-1882.
5. "A VORTEX OF ALL-SWALLOWING SOCIALISM" Strands of land and social reform in Ireland and the Highlands.
6. "A SCOTCH PARNELLITE PARTY" Land, Home Rule and the Third Reform Act.
7. "TWO TRIBES WHICH SPRANG FROM THE SAME STOCK" Celtic Solidarity and Political Realignment in the Highlands, 1885-1895.
8. "THE HIGHLANDS HAVE REAPED WHAT MICHAEL DAVITT HAS SOWN" - Legislation and Agitation to the Great War.

About the Author

Andrew Newby is a Lecturer in Scottish History at the University of Edinburgh. He is a graduate of the University of St Andrews, where he took a degree in History and completed a Master’s dissertation on the Highland Clearances from the Hebridean Island of Barra. His 2001 University of Edinburgh PhD, on which this book is based, examined the Irish impact on the Highland Land Wars of the 1880s. Between 1999 to 2004 he lectured at the University of Helsinki on Scottish and Irish History and contemporary British and Irish politics. In 2004 he returned to Edinburgh where he is a lecturer in Scottish history and responsible for the Scottish Studies MSc. Programme under the auspices of the Research Institute for the Culture, Historiography and Ethnology of Scotland. His book, The Life and Times of Edward McHugh (1853-1915), Land Reformer, Trade Unionist and Labour Activist was published by the Edwin Mellen Press in 2004.


... a welcome addition to the study of land politics, British radicalism and Scottish-Irish relations in the later Victorian period.
- Adam Pole, University of Windsor, Victorian Studies excellent contextual survey, which ranges over the politics of land and social reform in Ireland, Britain and Irish-America
- Emmet O'Connor, University of Ulster, International Review of Scottish Studies
… an important interrogation of the complex dynamics of the Crofters’ War and its relationship with events occurring, not only in the Highlands, but across Scotland, Ireland and Britain.
- Iain C. Hutchison, University of Stirling, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies
…breaks new ground and provides by far the most thorough and sophisticated analysis yet attempted of any aspect of the Crofters’ War.
- Malcolm Bangor Jones
Newby’s pioneering study of the interplay between agrarian and social radicals in Ireland and Scotland… should be read by all students of the Land War in Ireland and, more broadly, by all those interested in the history of social radicalism on these islands.
- Fintan Lane
Andrew G. Newby’s impressive study shows that the Scottish Highlands were also an arena in which the influence of Irish politics was very keenly felt.
- Kevin James, University of Guelph, Scottish Historical Review
Newby has written an excellent book on a vital subject... The book is the product of impressive scholarship. It is clearly written and constructed.
- Michael Hopkinson, University of Stirling, History Scotland
Newby’s book is a well-written, well-theorized, important contribution to the burgeoning literature on land reform and radicalism in the nineteenth-century… he decenters the traditional narrative of radicalism in nineteenth-century Britain, with its emphasis on the English and on Parliament.
- Jamie L. Bronstein, New Mexico University , American Historical Review
…provides an important new anatomy of these otherwise confusing movements… the main story is now mush less tangled, and Newby has notably disengaged the Irish elements from the mystery of the crofter resurgence in the late nineteenth-century Highlands.
- Eric Richards, Flinders University, Journal of British Studies
This book unquestionably breaks new ground and provides by far the most thorough and sophisticated analysis yet attempted of any aspect of the Crofters' War.
- Malcolm Bangor-Jones, Agricultural History Review

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