|In September 1993 - at the 1820 SOCIETY’s
annual commemoration of the martyrs, JOHN BAIRD and ANDREW HARDIE in
Sighthill Cemetery, Glasgow - a new plaque was unveiled on their
Monument in memory of their 19 Radical comrades whose original death
sentences imposed for their participation in the 1820 insurrection and
specifically (in most cases) in the Bonnymuir incident, were commuted to
sentences of transportation to BOTANY BAY in NEW SOUTH WALES. In 1835
they were all given a ROYAL PARDON - perhaps as a consequence of
residual guilt on the part of the British (English?) Establishment at
having set them up in 1820. (For the full list of the 19 names see the
accompanying text of the inscription on the plaque.)|
Subsequently most of the 19 ‘transportees’
remained settled in Australia where, as literate men - unlike the
average group of convicts, many of them made significant contributions
to the development of the then British colony of New South Wales. Their
individual stories are told in a little book by MARGARET and ALASTAIR
MACFARLANE, entitled THE SCOTI1SH RADICALS - Tried and Transported for
Treason in 1820, first published in Australia in 1975 and re-issued in
the U.K. (by SPA Books Ltd) in 1981.
Its co-author, ALASTAIR MACFARLANE, was
himself a descendant of one of the transported Radicals, namely THOMAS
McFARLANE, a Glaswegian by birth - who in 1839, already an old man in
his late sixties, returned home to Condorrat in Dunbartonshire.
According to a report in The Stirling Observer on 30 January 1840
McFarlane was subsequently feted by the Airdie Working Men’s
Association on account not simply of his involvement in the 1820 affair
but because of his long association with Radical politics which he could
trace back to the days of ’MUIR, PALMER and GERALD‘ of the Friends
of the People and the United Scotsmen in the 1790s.
Another of the transported men who
eventually made it back to Scotland was ANDREW WHITE, a printer to
trade, who at the time of the Rising was still only in his ‘teens.
Alone among the Radical convicts he seems to have been fortunate enough
to have secured an Absolute Pardon within three years of his arrival in
New South Wales. He then accompanied his employer - a Dr. Douglass who
had engineered his Pardon - back to the United Kingdom, though not
immediately to Scotland.
It is recorded that he subsequently died
in the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, in 1872, and in accordance with his own
wishes was actually buried in Sighthill Cemetery close to his old
Radical comrades, BAIRD and HARDIE - whose remains had been transferred
there in 1847 when the Monument was erected, having previously been
interred in their original paupers grave in Stirling where they were
executed. In the mid-1980s the young White’s participation in the ‘Battle
of Bonnymuir’ was featured in a fine new banner designed for the print
union SOGAT ‘82 - which has since amalgamated with other print unions
to form the GPMU.
It is only fitting that the sufferings of
these brave men who escaped the fate of their martyred comrades should
be properly commemorated in their own country - just as, south of the
border, the sufferings of the ‘Tolpuddle Martyrs’, as pioneers of
the English Trade Unions, are aptly commemorated, though their years of
exile were limited to two.
The new plaque in their honour on the
Sighthill Monument was the brain-child of ALASTAIR MACFARLANE, the
Radical descendant arid coauthor of the only published account of their
lives. A native of Inverness, Alastair had himself settled in New South
Wales after his marriage in the 1930s, and in his later years following
the UK. publication of THE SCOTTISH RADICALS had campaigned by
correspondence from his home there for the erection of the new Sighthill
plaque. He died, aged 89, in April 1993, unfortunately without learning
that his efforts had finally been successful. In a sense the new plaque
is his memorial too.
DETAILS OF FINAL
For their part in the 1820 Rising the
following, originally sentenced to death, were transported to New South
Wales, Australia, and in 1835 were given a Royal Pardon.
William Clackson or Clarkson.
Thomas Pike or Pink