Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Save our Campus Campaign - Parts 1, 2 , 3 and 4.

Part 1.
Just sent ( see below) e-mail to eminent Scottish historian Prof T.C. Smout + copies to Profs. Chris Whately, Tom Devine, Ian Whyte and Graeme Morton who have all expressed interest in / support for my Galloway Levellers research.

Part 2.
Will follow up with most recent Update of Galloway Levellers research project sent to above plus as many local politicians (Councillors, MSPs, MPs) + Chair and Chief Exec. of Scottish Funding Council + members of Crichton Foundation + Chief Exec of D and G Council and Director of Education and Community services as I can manage.

Part 3.
Inform via Press Release local and national media ( press, radio, tv ) that I have done above.

Part 4.
Seek support of fellow post-grads etc for Campaign e.g. this from from Ruari McNeill:

One suggestion I have is that a letter be sent to the Scotsman, Herald, all local papers and the Guardian signed by all the post graduates students along the lines that we have all benefited from the establishment of the Glasgow University Crichton Campus and that the experience has greatly enriched our lives. We have also seen the benefit that it has brought to other students and to the region and thus can speak with some authority on the subject. Perhaps the letter should also go to the Observer and Sunday Times Scottish Edition ns.

From participation in Castle Douglas anti-Tesco Campaign (2004/5)I have useful practical media experience and contacts which can be used.

E-mail sent to Prof.Smout...

Dear Professor Smout,

I am a local historian based in Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway. When I learnt that Professor Ted Cowan had been appointed as Director of Glasgow University’s Crichton (Dumfries) Campus, I contacted him to discuss ways in which I could place my work upon a more academic footing. Professor Cowan suggested I should focus my research on the Galloway Levellers Uprising of 1724. With the additional support and encouragement of Professors Chris Whatley, Tom Devine and Ian Whyte, this I have done.

I discovered that, apart from research carried out by J. Leopold ( encouraged by yourself) which was published in the Scottish Labour History Journal in 1980, an article by A. S. Morton in the Transaction of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society in 1936 remains the most detailed study of the Levellers. I have since found that the bulk of Morton’s article was based on research notes made circa 1820/1830 by local (Kirkcudbright) publisher and historian John Nicholson. I found Nicholson’s notes in the Hornel Library of the National Trust for Scotland’s Broughton House in Kirkcudbright. Nicholson’s research notes include a unique account by John Martin (1710-1801) of his active participation in the Levellers’ Uprising.

In researching the background to the Levellers Uprising, I have found another very useful source in the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds (1623-1700).These deeds were found in the 1930s in Kirkcudbright Tolbooth . They were then transcribed and published. Amongst the 6000 entries included in these Deeds, I found 350 tacks covering 250 farms and crofts which provide an invaluable insight into the patterns of local farming. Other entries cast light on the background of key participants in the events of 1724. Through cross-referencing with other local sources, I have begun to build up a very detailed picture of the Levellers, of heir supporters and sympathisers and of their opponents.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to briefly summarise my findings. The best I can do is add as an attachment an article I wrote originally for the Auchencairn History Society Newsletter which has just been published by the Galloway Gazette newspaper. Tom Devine was sufficiently intrigued by this to discuss it with me and suggest some sources on the Irish Cattle Trade aspect to follow up.

Unfortunately , it now appears that I will be unable to develop my research along formal, academic lines. With Professor Cowan’s encouragement, I have begun an M.Litt. Scottish Cultural Heritage course at the Crichton (Dumfries) Campus of Glasgow University. The intention being that this would facilitate the development of my Galloway Levellers research from amateur and local status to academic and national status.

However, due to problems with Scottish Funding Council, it appears that Glasgow University may have to pull out of Dumfries. In which case, the development of my research will not be possible.

Alistair Livingston
6 Merrick Road
Castle Douglas

01556 504429


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