Conference: Histories of Scottish Politics in the Age of Union, c.1700-1945


Join us from 23-24 July 2024 for this two-day conference at Durham University. The conference aims to stimulate discussion about the place of politics and the meaning of the political in Scottish history, covering a period of massive political, constitutional, economic, religious and social change in Scotland, the UK and the empire. It also seeks to emphasise the importance of Scottish politics, formal and quotidian, to ‘British’ political history.

The conference is free to attend, and is hybrid (in-person and online via Zoom). Registration opens in May, via the conference website:

The programme is as follows:


9.45AM – 10.20AM Registration (Lobby) and refreshments (Boardroom)

10.20AM – 12PM Panel Session 1

Panel 1.A (Room A) Courtroom politics

Kajsa Varjonen, ‘Politics in the courtroom: The prosecution of rioters after the 1725 Malt Tax crisis’

Emma Macleod, ‘Enlightenment justice: the Scottish trials for sedition and treason in comparative context, 1793-98’

Valerie Wallace, ‘William Macao and the politics of subjecthood in the courts’

Rachel Bennett and Lauren Darwin, ‘This trial is no trivial matter. It affects me, but it affects the country more’: The Scottish Martyrs, Scots law and convict transportation to the Australian colonies’

Panel 1.B (Room B) The politics of abolition

Matthew Lee, ‘The Haitian Revolution, abolitionism and pro-slavery thought in the Scottish public sphere, 1791-92’

Stephen Mullen, ‘The West India interest’s takeover of the Scottish political system in the abolition era, 1807-34’

Frankie Aird, ‘“A Manifest Violation of Justice and Humanity”: The campaigns against British and American slavery in nineteenth-century Perthshire’

James Wylie, ‘Tartan and slavery: surveying the evidence’

12PM – 12.40PM Lunch (Boardroom)

12.40PM – 2.20PM Panel Session 2

Panel 2.A (Room A) Land and environment

Grace Wright, ‘“Damn the fellow”: the organisation and prevention of land agitation in the social networks of Dugald MacLachlan during the Crofters’ War’

Annie Tindley, ‘The politics of the Scottish land market: from Lloyd George’s Land Campaign to community ownership’

Graeme Morton, ‘Patronage and politics within Scotland’s climate science, 1820-1921’

Sarah Leith, ‘Beauty and the Hydro-Electric Board: Revisiting “use and delight” in mid-twentieth-century Scotland’

Panel 2.B (Room B) Women in politics

Natalee Garrett, ‘Fashionably Scottish: The Duchess of Gordon and Scottish identity in British high society, c.1770-1810’

Hannah Speed, ‘Lifelong political identities in the autobiographies of Scottish women’s suffrage campaigners’

Lisa Berry-Waite, ‘The Duchess of Atholl: Scotland’s first woman MP’

Katie McCrossan, ‘Un-co-operative parties? The Scottish Co-operative Women’s Guild and Labour Politics’

2.20PM – 2.40PM Refreshments (Boardroom)

2.40PM – 4PM Panel session 3

Panel 3.A (Room A) Friendship and feeling

Michael Fraser, ‘The Public face of the Argathelian regime: The image of John Campbell, Second Duke of Argyll, c.1704-1733’

Brendan Tam, ‘Henry Dundas, “The Friends of Mr. Pitt” and Networks of Political Friendship, 1783-1811’

Nicholas Barone, ‘“I used to…think about Scotland in my hours of bitterness”: Pessimism, decline and patriotic anxiety in Scottish political thought, 1800-1850’

Panel 3.B (Room B) Political faith

Edwin Sheffield, ‘Clan MacKenzie and Ross-shire politics after Union, c.1708-1715’

Myles Smith, ‘“Sour Saints and Bad Subjects”: Scottish presbyterian dissent and the British state, 1775-1815’

Joshua Smith, ‘Politics in the Presbytery: political participation and reaction in the Presbytery of Dunblane, 1790-1832

4PM – 4.20PM Refreshments (Boardroom)

NB: During this break rooms A and B will be joined to make Penthouse Suite Room A/B

4.20PM – 5.30PM Keynote talk (Penthouse Suite Room A/B)

Ewen Cameron, ‘Where did the nineteenth century go?’

5.30PM – 6.45PM Drinks reception (Boardroom)

Co-sponsored by Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies and History of Parliament Trust


8.45AM – 9.15 AM Registration (Lobby) and refreshments (Boardroom)

9.15AM – 10.35AM Panel session 4

Panel 4.A (Room A) Twentieth-century politics

Jim Tomlinson, ‘From a globalised economy to national economy? The economic foundations of a new national politics in Scotland, 1914-45’

Sarah Moxey, ‘All quiet on the political front? Politics in Second World War Scotland’

Matthew Nicolson, ‘Island politics and the Liberal Party’s revival in Orkney and Shetland, 1945-50’

Panel 4.B (Room B) Popular politics

Karin Bowie, ‘Scottish petitioning in a British context from the Revolution of 1688-90’

Colin Kidd, ‘The contours of modern Scottish republicanism’

Richard Huzzey and Henry Miller, ‘And Your Petitioners: Scottish petitions, subscriptional communities and petitioning, 1780-1918’

10.35AM – 10.55AM Refreshments (Boardroom)

10.55AM – 12.15PM Panel session 5

Panel 5.A (Room A) Constituency and parliamentary politics

Gary D. Hutchison, ‘The Scottish Conservative Party outwith Scotland, 1832-68’

Martin Spychal, ‘Surveying Scottish county politics in the constituencies and at Westminster, 1832-68’

Kyle Thompson, ‘The Young Scots and English carpetbaggers’

Panel 5.B (Room B) Spaces and places

Thomas Archambaud, ‘Scotland’s imperial meridian: the politics of James and John Macpherson in London, Madras and Calcutta, 1764-87’

Petra Johana Poncarová, Ruaraidh Erskine’s Gaelic magazines: nationalism, language and faith in the early twentieth century’

Oli Betts, ‘“On Historic Ground”: The politics of building and running railways in Scotland, 1844-1923’

12.15PM – 12.55PM Lunch (Boardroom)

12.55PM – 2.15PM Panel session 6

Panel 6.A (Room A) Radical politics

Dominic Barron-Carter, ‘After Orbitson: Retracing “rank and file” experiences of early cooperative communities in nineteenth-century socialism’

Sonny Angus, ‘“Working Men Cling to Your Text”: Christian Chartism in Scotland’

Dave Steele, ‘The 1838 Chartist meting on Glasgow Green: Triumph or damp-squib’

Panel 6.B (Room B) Constitutional politics

Laura Stewart, ‘The (re-)imagining of the Scottish constitution before 1707’

Stuart Neave, ‘Bryce, Argyll and the “forces” underlying the British constitution’

David Torrance, ‘Dreaming of Stormont: Northern Ireland as a model for Scottish devolution’

2.15PM – 2.30PM Refreshments (Boardroom)

NB: During this break rooms A and B will be joined to make Penthouse Suite Room A/B

2.30PM – 3.30PM Roundtable (Penthouse Suite Room A/B)

The future of Scottish political history?

Ewen Cameron, Colin Kidd, Emma Macleod, Naomi Lloyd-Jones, Malcolm Petrie, Valerie Wallace

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