Allan Barbour Murchie, a Blacksmith in Glasgow, was originally sentenced to death, but this was subsequently commuted to transportation to New South Wales, along with 19 others for their part in the in the so-called "Radical War" or "Scottish Insurrection " of 1820. Murchie was found guilty of treason and sentenced for the term of his natural life, 'enacted to the contractor for 7 years'. On 22 December 1820, the Radicals left Scotland from Sheerness on the Speke (second voyage) and arrived at Botany Bay on 18 May 1821. Allan wrote verses about his experiences and his thoughts, including "Bonnymuir" (tune: Johnny Cope).
The Scottish Australian Heritage Council commemorates the Scottish Radicals with two events
1. Scottish Radicals Ceilidh
When: 21 May 2011, 8pm
Where: Abraham Mott Hall, Argyle Street, The Rocks, Sydney
Cost of tickets: $25
Contact: Nea MacCulloch, email [email protected]
2. The first commemoration in Australia of the 1820 Scottish Radicals
When: Sunday 11 September 2011, time to be advised.
Where: Hyde Park Barrakcs, Macquarie St, Sydney
Contact: Nea MacCulloch, email [email protected]
Glenda Mason, email [email protected]
Sunday 11 September coincides with the commemoration being held at the Sighthill Memorial in Glasgow. The commemoration is held every year on the Sunday closest to 8 September 1820, on which day two of the leaders of the Radical War, John Baird and Andrew Hardie, were hanged and beheaded.
Seeking Allan Murchie's descendents
The Scottish Australian Heritage Council is seeking information about the descendents of Allan Murchie. Please contact:
Nea MacCulloch, email [email protected] or phone 0408 990 412
Glenda Mason, email [email protected] or phone (02) 9823 9450.
Allan and Elizabeth Murchie's family
On 12 February 1822, Allan applied to have his fiancee, Elizabeth Marshall of Glasgow, be sent to Sydney. She arrived on the Jupiter in 1823. They married on 22 March 1824 at St James Church, Sydney. They had seven children:
- Jane Oxley, b. 13 Oct 1824, Sydney; m. 1. James McKay, 2. John Smith, dec. 10 Mar 1895, Newtown, Sydney
- William, b. 7 Apr 1826, Sydney; dec. 29 May 1855, New Zealand
- Elizabeth, b. 28 Apr 1828, Sydney, dec. 12 May 1840, Sydney
- Margaret, b. 1831, Sydney, m. 1853 Robert Thomson, dec. 1877, Newtown, Sydney
- Ellen M, b. 1834, Sydney, m. 1857 James Blundell, dec. 7 Dec 1861, Sydney
- Flora Macdonald, b. 1837, Sydney, m. 1. John O'Donnell, 2. Thomas Griffin, 3. William Doorley, dec. 20 Dec 1876, Rockhampton, Queensland
- Maria Powell, b. 1840, Sydney, m. 1871 John Paterson, dec. 18 Apr 1873, Sydney.
Allan Barbour, b. 11 Apr1797, Dunfermline, Scotland, dec. 1842 (age 49), Sydney.
Elizabeth, b. abt 1799, Scotland; dec. 29 Jul 1873 (age 74), Newtown, Sydney.
What is the relationship to Clan Buchanan?
The surname Murchie is considered to be an affiliated name (sept) of the Clan Buchanan.
Background to the Radical War and Bonnymuir
The insurrection was a week of strikes and unrest, the culmination of radical demands for reform in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, through establishment of a provisional government, separation of Scotland from England, and restoration of a Scottish Parliament. Their demands had their roots in earlier activism from the 1790s, and had become prominent in the early years of the French Revolution, but had then been repressed during the long Napoleonic Wars, and fermented with the economic downturn in the post war period. Artisan workers, particularly weavers in Scotland, sought action to reform an uncaring government. The gentry and the government, fearing revolutionary horrors recruited militia and deployed spies, informers and agents provocateurs to stamp out the movement. It became evident that government agents had actively provoke the unrest to bring the radicals into the open.
A Committee of Organisation for Forming a Provisional Government put placards around the streets of Glasgow late on Saturday 1 April 1820, calling for an immediate national strike. On Monday 3 April a strike of some 60,000 workers occurred mainly in the west and central of Scotland. The Carron Ironworks, Bonnymuir, was besieged by 40 Radicals with the intention of obtaining armaments. They were subsequently joined by reinforcements from Stirling. On 5 April, after a skirmish at Bonnymuir (the Battle of Bonnymuir), Scottish troops of the 10th Hussars and the Kilsyth Yeomanry captured the Radicals.
Another small group from Strathaven marched to meet a rumoured larger force, but were warned of an ambush and dispersed on 5 April. The Militia taking prisoners to Greenock jail were attacked by local people and the prisoners released. James Wilson of Strathaven was singled out as a leader of the march there and was executed by hanging, then decapitated at Glasgow on 30 August. Of those seized by the British army at Bonnymuir, John Baird and Andrew Hardie were similarly executed at Stirling after making short defiant speeches on 8 September.
Twenty Radicals were sentenced to penal transportation to Australia:
Name Occupation Town Sentence
John Anderson Weaver Camelon Life
John Barr Weaver Condorrat 14 years
William Clackson or Clarkson Shoemaker Glasgow 14 years
James Clelland Blacksmith Glasgow Life
Andrew Dawson Nailer Camelon Life
Robert Gray Weaver Glasgow Life
Alexander Hart Cabinet-maker Glasgow 14 years
Alexander Johnston Weaver Glasgow 14 years
Alexander Latimer Weaver Glasgow 14 years
Thomas McCulloch Stocking-Weaver Glasgow 14 years
Thomas McFarlane Weaver Condorrat Life
John McMillan Nailer Camelon Life
Benjamin Moir Labourer Glasgow 14 years
Allan Murchie Blacksmith Glasgow Life
Thomas Pike or Pink Muslin Slinger Glasgow 14 years
William Smith Weaver Glasgow 14 years
David Thompson Weaver Glasgow 14 years
Andrew White Bookbinder Glasgow 14 years
James Wright Tailor Glasgow 14 Years.
Eventually, on 10 August 1835 King George granted an absolute pardon to the Radicals.
Mac a'Ghobhainn, Seumas; Ellis, Peter Berresford (2001), The Scottish insurrection of 1820, Edinburgh: John Donald
Macfarlane, Margaret; Macfarlane, Alastair (1975, revised 1981) The Scottish Radicals - Tried and transported to Australia for Treason in 1820, Stevenage, Hertfordshire: Spa Books, 1981
http://www.electricscotland.com/history/1820/index.htm, Halliday, James (1993) The 1820 Rising: The Radical War