23 Scots were tried for high treason and sedition and sentenced to death by hanging and many innocents were murdered in the 1820 radical war of independence

The 1820 Scottish Uprising

James Wilson, Andrew Hardie & John Baird (all weavers) were accused by the Crown of being leaders of the “1820 Rising”, a group of Scots campaigning for universal male suffrage, better working conditions and a Scottish parliament.

They, together with 19 others, mostly weavers: Thomas M’Culloch, Benjamin Moir, Alex Latimer, Alex Johnstone, Andrew White, David Thomson, James Wright, William Clackson, Thomas Pink, Alex Hart, John Barr, William Smith, Thomas M’Farlane, John Anderson, John M’Millan, Andrew Dawson, Allen Murchie, Robert Gray, William Crawford and James Cleland were tried for the crime of ” high treason” at Stirling high court on 14 July 1820.

All 23 were found guilty as charged and on 4 August 1820  were sentenced to death by hanging.

Martyrs Monument Glasgow

The Executions of James Wilson, Andrew Hardie, and John Baird

James Wilson was executed on 4 August 1820 in Glasgow. On mounting the cart that was to take him to the scaffold, the headsman was seated before him, cloaked in black, his face covered, holding a large axe in his right hand and a knife in his left. “Did you ever see sic a crowd as this?” Wilson remarked casually to his executioner. 

At five minutes to three, he mounted the scaffold and several minutes later his body was convulsing on the end of a rope, where it remained for half an hour, before being lowered and decapitated by the masked executioner, who held the bloody head aloft and proclaimed: “This is the head of a traitor.” The crowd jeered and repied with shouts of,  “It is false, he has bled for his country”!!! 

Barely a week later, on 8th September 1820, Andrew Hardie, from Glasgow, who told the spectators, (‘I die a martyr to the cause of truth and injustice’) and John Baird, from Condorrat, met the same fate in Stirling.

The death sentence on the other 19 was changed to penal servitude for life and on 15 August 1820 they were transported to the colony of New South Wales in Australia.

Westminster Government Conspiracy

It later transpired that the Westminster government, through the double-dealing of spies, actually incited the rising in the first place.

But why would a government, gripped by fear of a popular revolution, incite a general strike in Scotland?

To answer this question, we must unearth the roots of the 1820 Rising.

In 1795, following the public stoning of King George III’s carriage as it travelled to Westminster, parliament completely redrew the laws for treason, with the effect that holding public meetings in support of reform could lead to the stiffest penalties that the courts were at liberty to dispense.

The period following the American Revolution was a time in Scotland when groups including enlightened aristocrats, members of the rising middle classes, professional people, calling themselves “Friends of the People” pushed gently for reform.

The weavers in Scotland were skilled and literate people who traditionally worked to commission, chose their own hours, and managed their own lives in a way that was denied to many factory workers and along with other skilled artisans, they formed an aristocracy of labour and were proud, independent, and increasingly radical in their outlook.

After the Battle of Waterloo, a wicked recession gripped the UK and 1816 was a particularly black year for Glasgow, resulting in major bankruptcies across the city and its environs.

This sparked a gathering of tens of thousands at Thrushgrove near Glasgow, demanding but not gaining reform and the situation worsened over the next four years so that by 1820 the stage was set for the rising that would result in the deaths of James Wilson, Andrew Hardie and John Baird and penal servitude for 19 other Scottish martyrs.

The Committee for Organising a Provisional Scottish Government

There existed in Scotland a covert group called  “the Committee for Organising a Provisional government,” which consisted of committed radicals, elected by their respective unions, who would assume responsibility of organizing the new social structure of Scotland in the aftermath of a successful rising.

However, it became clear in retrospect that the committee had been infiltrated by Westminster government spies, who were rife at the time, being one of the government’s most important defences against underground radical activities.

The committee had the misfortune to convene in Marshall’s Tavern in Glasgow’s Gallowgate on March 21, 1820, in the presence of a spy. John King, a weaver from Anderston left the meeting minutes before the entire committee was arrested and detained in secret by the authorities.

This is a vital point in relation to the events that unfolded over the next few weeks, because the organizing committee, the body of people who would be the centre of any radical rising, were off the streets and obviously not able to organize very much from their prison cells.

1820 Scottish Rising - Scots Betrayed By Westminster ...

King and Other Unionist Spy’s Activate the Rising

The very next day, King was present at another meeting of important radicals in Anderston in Glasgow. It was also attended by another three men, also government spies: John Craig, a weaver, Duncan Turner, a tin-smith, and Robert Lees, described only as “the Englishman.” King took the initiative at this meeting and reported that a large-scale rising was imminent and that all those present should make themselves ready for armed conflict.

The Scottish Radical Rising of 1820 - Historia Magazine


The 1820 Proclamation

The following day, on March 23, the spy, Duncan Turner, unveiled plans for a provisional government and revealed a draft of a proclamation, inciting widespread revolt, that was to be posted around the city for the public’s attention. This proclamation is pivotal to the whole history of the rising, and, given that the real “Committee for Establishing a Provisional Government” was in jail, the proclamation was later identified as the work of government agents, and part of a larger plan to sink the radical movement in Scotland once and for all. The events that transpired provides the evidence against King and his associates, all pointing in the direction of the Westminster government treachery and entrapment.

The Rising

On April 1, 1820, the citizens of Glasgow awoke to find the proclamation posted around the city, urging them all “to desist from their labour from and after this day…and attend wholly to the recovery of their Rights.” 

The proclamation opened with a rousing ideological plea for liberty: “Equality of Rights (not of property) is the object for which we contend, and which we consider as the only security for our Liberties and Lives.” 

The plea continues to the soldiery, asking if they could really, “plunge…Bayonets into the Bosoms of Fathers and Brothers at the unrelenting Orders of a Cruel Faction.” Strong words, and if the proclamation had been a government plan to draw underground radicals out into the open, they would have perhaps been shocked at the level of response from ordinary people and workers all over West and Central Scotland. 

The following Monday, people from many different trades, but especially weaving, stopped work. They were not only refusing to work, but were in many cases preparing for war. 

Reports flooded in of groups of men engaged in military drills, and making weapons such as pikes from any material that could be obtained. Revolt was in the air. 

On Tuesday 4 April, the spy, Duncan Turner, the issuer of the proclamation, was mustering a group of about 60 men in Germiston, and using all his arts of persuasion to convince the men to march to the Carron Works in Falkirk, where they could obtain arms for the coming battles.

Not all were convinced, but he rallied those that would go with promises of meeting more men on the way to help them in their mission. He himself would be engaged in organizing other initiatives and wouldn’t accompany them on their long march.

The leader of the group was the ill-fated Andrew Hardie, and Turner gave him half a card, which, he assured him, would match exactly with another half card held by a man waiting for him in Condorrat; a man at the head of another group of fighters. In this way the group would grow, swelling its ranks until it arrived at Carron.

The Carronshore Ambush

Waiting in Condorrat was John Baird, at the head of five men, holding the half card that had been given to him by none other than John King in one of his many guises.

Both Hardie and Baird were no doubt expecting to unite with a small army when they matched their cards, and were obviously disappointed when they did match cards in the early hours of the morning.

However, John King promised more support before they reached Carron, and he himself would ride ahead to rally these supporters. It is known that by this time the army already knew of the plot to take Carron, as a Lt. Hodgson had set off from Perth to protect Carron from an attack expected that day, Wednesday 5th April.

Also, the band of radicals was spotted and reported twice following their departure from Condorrat, confirming for the authorities that trouble was afoot.

The next time the band met King, they had been marching all night, and King told them to leave the road and wait at Bonnymuir while he mustered support from Camelon.

This was the last the group was to see of King. Nor did they see more armed men rallying to their cause: instead they were shortly to meet opposing troops, with Lt Hodgson at their head, who had also left the road and incredibly found their way straight to Hardie and Baird’s band on Bonnymuir.

The ensuing battle was nothing more than a skirmish, whereby Hodgson’s force of 32 soldiers, after a volley of shots from the radicals, easily overpowered them with a cavalry charge.

Two soldiers and four radicals were wounded. In total, 19 of the radicals were taken prisoner and sent to Stirling Castle. The event in itself hardly constitutes a major rising, but other isolated disturbances were taking place across West and Central Scotland, and the journey of Hardie and Baird showed that at the fore of radical thinking was union with other groups in different parts of the country.

However, the government seemed always to be one step ahead of the radicals, with inside knowledge at every step and the core organizers had been in jail since March 21st, without public knowledge, and some very suspicious men were acting on their behalf.

The whole event was a plot hatched by Westminster government agent provocateurs in order to draw the radicals into open battle. On the fateful day of April 5th, troops took up position all over Glasgow, and although radical movements were reported all day, no attack was forthcoming.

Image result for Martyrs monument glasgow

Betrayal of James Wilson

Also on April 5th, the awful fate of James Wilson was starting to unfold. Again, one of the spies was involved, this time the “Englishman” Lees, who sent a message to the Strathaven radicals that the rising had started. 

Wilson left with a small force of 25 the following morning, carrying a banner that declared “Scotland Free or a Desert.”

By the time they neared East Kilbride, they were tipped off that an army ambush lay between them and their destination at Cathkin.

Wilson returned to Strathaven, while his men avoided the ambush and reached their destination to find no action at all at Cathkin.

By the following evening, the authorities had discovered the identity of 10 of the group, including Wilson, and held them under lock and key.

English Soldiers Massacre Citizens of Greenock

The worst violence against civilians occurred on Saturday 8th April when the authorities tried to move a group of prisoners from Paisley to Greenock. 

The citizens of Greenock attacked the soldiers who had been ordered to move the prisoners. Even after they had completed their task, the soldiers still had to fight their way back out of the town as the crowd pelted them with stones. 

The army opened fire, killing eight people, including an eight-year-old child, and wounding 10 others.

The government’s retribution was harsh, examples were to be made, and they took the form of the executions of Wilson, Hardie and Baird and the transportation to the colony’s of 19 others. 

The rising was over. There are some who regard the tragic events of 1820 as minor and of little historical importance in comparison to other Scottish rebellions. But they marked an intensification of the desire of Scots for human rights reform and their own government and the martyrs, James Wilson, Andrew Hardie, and John Baird serve as examples to those who feared that nothing can be done in the face of such a powerful centralized state as Westminster governance.

Further reading, BBC Archives:


Mr American President, what did your nuclear submarines leave at the bottom of the Holy Loch that needs to be left undisturbed forever?


2017: CIA files: US & Soviet nuclear submarines’ collision off the coast of Scotland nearly sparked a global war

Newly declassified CIA files indicate that a US submarine laden with 160 warheads collided with a Soviet vessel off the coast of Scotland in 1974. Experts say it could easily have caused nuclear war. The files seem to confirm the long-rumoured Cold War incident occurred near Holy Loch, Argyll, where the US once had a permanent nuclear base. Chillingly, the crash took place just 30 miles (48 km) off the coast of Glasgow. While the US never officially confirmed the crash had taken place, the documents show it was reported at the highest levels at the time in a memo to Henry Kissinger – then Secretary of State to President Gerald Ford – on November 3, 1974.

Two nuclear subs CRASHED off UK coast during cold war ...


The memo told Kissinger: “Have just received word from the Pentagon that one of our Poseidon submarines has just collided with a Soviet submarine.

The SSBN James Madison was departing Holy Loch to take up station when it collided with a Soviet submarine waiting outside the port to take up trail.

Both submarines surfaced and the Soviet boat subsequently submerged again. There is no report yet of the extent of damage. Will keep you posted,” the message assured Kissinger.

Experts said that in the confusion of the collision it is perfectly feasible a war could have been sparked.

The James Madison was a ballistic missile submarine armed with 16 Poseidon missiles with 160 nuclear warheads,” nuclear weapons expert Hans Kristensen told the Times.

In the worst case scenario, the collision could have triggered explosions that ignited the ballistic missile fuel and ejected or destroyed the warheads, said Kristensen.

There was also a clear possibility for a war “if the crew on one of the submarines had misinterpreted the collision as an attack and decided to defend itself and sink the other submarine,” he added.

The revelation comes just days after it emerged a British test-fired Trident missile veered off course towards Florida during an exercise in June 2016.


The Holy Loch A Local Reports On The UK Government  Red Herring

The Scottish press advised the public that resources would be deployed, (long after the US navy had gone)  to clear debris left on the bottom of the loch by US nuclear submarine maintenance.  

But they were looking for something else in the Holy Loch and they soon found it. Their fleet of cleaning ships left suddenly after a few days.

Earlier, in the course of a conversation with the local media a previous US base commander had strongly advised that they should support calls for the sea bed to be left alone after the US submarines had gone.

Some time after all shellfish in or around the Holy Loch died suddenly for no apparent reason. Strangely the sea bed in Rothesay Bay is probably more of a midden than the Holy Loch due to the many years it was a naval base but there has never been a suggestion that it needed cleaning up. The incidence of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and other leukaemia’s and cancers around the Holy Loch in the last two decades is reported to be three times the national incidence. The BBC made a film called “Tin Fish” starring Emma Thompson on the Holy Loch (written I think by Paul Murton from this area whose brother died very young of leukaemia) which dealt with the cancer threat of nuclear submarine bases but the the entire political content of the film was edited out before it was broadcast. I know. all of this because the hotel I owned was the base used for the film  


Is there a Sunken Nuclear Submarine or Some Other Nuclear Debris Resting at the bottom of the Holy Loch?

A frightening thought. One wonders what is lying at the bottom of the lochs near hand the Clyde. I used to visit Rothesay as a young lad. My memories are of a paradise. The water was a clear blue, and we played happily in it for many hours in the course of the day. A walk along the shore was an adventure, there was an abundance of sea life to wonder at and collect for eating later. Today the island is a very sad place, having been on the receiving end of a constant battering for the last 50 years. The environment might never recover from the excesses of the military occupation of the lochs and ports. What is sad is that the Scottish public will not exercise their vote and bring about independence, and it is only that which will guarantee our children a future free of the aftermath of nuclear weaponry, even it remains unused.  


November 1985 Hansard: Nuclear Defence Installations: Cancer Incidences

Question: To ask Her Majesty’s Government: Whether they are aware of reports that:

(i) in the vicinity of the US submarine base at Holy Loch, the cancer rate among under 25s is three times the Scottish average.

(ii) in the vicinity of Rosyth where Polaris submarines are refitted, leukaemia in under 15s is three times the Scottish average

(iii) there is an exceptionally high rate of cleft palate and hare lip among children of crewmen of the first Polaris submarine “Resolution”; and whether they will initiate public inquiries in any of these cases.

Answer: The Government are aware of the reports to which the noble Lord has referred and will consider any relevant information put to them relating to the incidence of cancer or hereditary conditions in these areas


Incidences of note

In 1978 high levels of Cobalt-60 were discovered in the Holy Loch.

In October 1985 two lorries carrying Polaris warheads collided at Helensburgh.

There is a high incidence of fires and mishaps at both Coulport and Faslane and the frequent use of fire engines and other emergency vehicles.

There are known leaks of radiation from working submarines (for instance from a Polaris submarine on patrol in June 1994) and there are the known accidents, leaks and routine venting of radioactive materials that occurs in the nuclear reactors that provide materials for the subs, for instance the tritium discharges at Chapelcross.

There are many incidents of bombs being dropped whilst being hoisted into position. In 1981 at the Holy Loch, a Poseidon missile containing 10 warheads was being winched into the submarine USS Holland when the winch ran free and the missile fell 17 feet and smashed into the side of the USS Los Angeles. Detonation of the warhead trigger system, which very luckily did not occur this time, could have dispersed plutonium dust as far as the centre of Glasgow. (

Holy Loch 5

Nuclear Link That Radiates Real Fear

Near the US nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, it has been found that at Dunoon and the loch-side villages the death rate from cancer among people under 25 is three times the Scottish average, and the death rate from leukaemia among children under 15 is over five times the Scottish average. Another survey conducted among the families of officers and men who had served on nuclear submarines found an unusually high proportion of children borne by their wives after such service had a cleft palate or hare-lip.

Radiation kills, maims, and causes unquantifiable genetic damage. It is impossible for the nuclear industry or the Government to sustain any longer their claim that child cancers around nuclear sites is just coincidence. And, for that reason alone, the extension of nuclear power is an unacceptable price to pay in damaging and painfully killing increasing numbers of people. (Michael Meacher Minister of State, Labour).


Why did 2 modern nuclear submarines collide in 2009? - YouTube