Lessons in repression: the Cathkin, Cato Street, and Bonnymuir conspiracies

Gardner, John (2011) Lessons in repression: the Cathkin, Cato Street, and Bonnymuir conspiracies. In: Enlightenment, Romanticism & Nation: British Association for Romantic Studies 12th Biennial International Conference, 28-31 July 2011, University of Glasgow, UK.

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Official URL: http://www.bars.ac.uk/events/BARS%202011%20Program...


This paper examines the inter-relationship between three British 'rebellions' that took place in 1820. I examine how they intersect, how the Spy System of Sidmouth worked to entrap potential rebels, and why there were so few radical responses to them. In 1820 the British government approached the possibility of revolution in two ways: repressive legislation; and the entrapment of potential rebels. In 1820 there were three ‘rebellions’ that, to varying extents, had their roots in government fomented plots: the Cato Street Conspiracy in February; the Cathkin rebellion in April; and the Bonnymuir rising in the same month. These three 'rebellions' are linked responses to demands for reform that had become increasingly heated following the ending of the wars. The results of these 'rebellions' were three public stages of execution. Five Cato Street 'conspirators' were executed together in London in May 1820; a 69 year old weaver, identified as leader of the Cathkin rising, was hanged and beheaded in Glasgow Green in August, and two of the Bonnymuir men were executed in Stirling a month later. The killing of these men sent out a British-wide message that any rebellion would not only be detected, but also brutally crushed and it effectively put an end to the notion that a British revolution could be successful. These conspiracies revealed, as they were intended to, a strong well-organised state that was always vigilant, and always ready to deal with dissent, with methods that, though they may be morally reprehensible, were both innovative and effective.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: repression
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Repository Admin
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2012 12:45
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2019 16:04
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/229411

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