More About the 1820 Rebellion – Open Doors Digital Festival

Last month we drew your attention to some recent events around the Bicentenary of the 1820 Rebellion. after which three men were executed and many more deported to Australia for treason. One of them was James ‘Purlie’ Wilson :

By Elliott Simpson, CC BY-SA 2.0, WikiCommons

Since then one of our members Mary McCabe has written and featured in an excellent video about the events of 1820 for Glasgow Open Doors Digital Festival. That video then became the basis of a zoom discussion led by Mary for around the thirty of us who tuned in. One person who zoomed in was a descendant of one of the rebels who was deported to Australia!

Here is Mary’s video:


We’ll try to get hold of the discussion recording too. But from memory some of the discussion topics were:

  • In 2002 the Holyrood Parliament debated whether of not 1820 Rebellion should be included in history curriculum. No conclusion was reached. It still isn’t included in school’s curriculum. Though some individual schools – usually in areas where the uprisings happened and which suffered their after-effects – do projects and activities about what happened.
  • a couple of people from Australia zoomed in and took part in the discussion. One of them wondered how the people who were calling for such extensive political, social and economic reform back in 1820 could be so well-informed. And asked if they were university people? That led to a general discussion about the Scottish education system.
  • a retired history teacher said he thought that the most important thing to be teaching our young people was the context out of which this social unrest had evolved and its links to modern day views around political & social protest.
  • Three men were hanged and beheaded. Many more were deported to Australia. Did the brutal response by the authorities to the uprisings leave its mark on the Scottish psyche?