This chapter provides a contextual overview of the regulation of sexuality in nineteenth-century Scotland. The stark Calvinism instituted by the Scottish Reformation had created an enduring sense that moral rectitude was a distinctive feature of the nation’s identity. With the rise of Evangelicalism, Protestant values continued to permeate people’s public and private lives, with figures for religious adherence showing no appreciable decline. In a period of rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, disciplining the intimate and reproductive lives of Scotland’s citizens became a national imperative, amid fears about widespread immorality. A powerful set of norms developed around marriage, illegitimacy, prostitution and same-sex relations, policed by the ‘unco guid’, the Scots phrase for the religiously righteous. This chapter traces the operation of these norms while also delineating those who chose to defy them. Alternative moralities were in circulation in Scottish society, among the sexual progressives who form the focus of this book, but also within rural farming and fishing communities, the unrespectable urban working class and libertine bachelors.

in Sexual progressives

This chapter analyses the sexual discourse and intimate life of Patrick Geddes, the Edinburgh-based natural scientist and social reformer. Geddes was the co-author of the Evolution of Sex (1889), which asserted that sexual difference was present at the cellular level and therefore immune to modification. Yet this extreme form of biological essentialism belies the text’s utility to several contemporary feminists, due to its insistence upon sexual equality, its emphasis on altruism as a female quality and its discussion of birth control. Regarding sexual relationships, Geddes claimed that they were subject to evolutionary forces and predicted a future in which a ‘more than earthly paradise of love’ would become the daily reality for all. He attempted to realise this earthly paradise, both in his intimate relationship with his wife Anna, and in the bohemian subculture he fostered in Edinburgh, through schemes such as his Summer Meetings. Overall, this chapter argues that while Geddes was motivated by radical purposes, his life and work suggest an indecisiveness over issues such as marriage and sexual pleasure: while he encouraged the celebration of sexuality when found in nature, and decried marriages of convenience, he was rendered profoundly anxious by the sexual misdemeanours of some of his male students.

in Sexual progressives
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Reimagining intimacy in Scotland, 1880–1914

This book provides the first group portrait of the late Victorian and Edwardian feminists and socialists who campaigned against the moral conservatism of Victorian Scotland. They include Bella and Charles Bream Pearce, prominent Glasgow socialists and disciples of an American-based mystic who taught that religion needed to be ‘re-sexed’; Jane Hume Clapperton, a feminist freethinker with advanced views on birth control and women’s right to sexual pleasure; and Patrick Geddes, founder of an avant-garde Edinburgh subculture and co-author of an influential scientific book on sex. The consideration of their lives and work undertaken here forces a reappraisal of our understanding of sexual progressivism in Britain in a number of important ways. It affirms that a precondition of ‘speaking out’ about sex was the rejection of orthodox Christianity, with alternative forms of belief providing spaces in which a new morality could be fashioned. It disrupts the long-standing perception of the fin de siècle as an era of generational challenge, highlighting the importance of considering older radicalisms, such as freethought. Finally, it emphasises the regulatory role played by socialist and feminist organisations, reluctant to reinscribe past associations between political radicalism and immorality. This meant that despite their reforming zeal, Scotland’s sexual progressives often adhered to respectable norms, deferring their reimagined intimate relationships to an idealised future.

Chapter 3 demonstrates for the first time that the Adventure for Irish land, a suggestion of Richard Boyle, earl of Cork, was instigated and funded by the small circle of radical peers, politicians and merchants at the heart of the rebellion against Charles I. The core purpose of the Adventure was political and the participants’ interest in Irish land appears incidental and opportunistic. Much of the money raised was only contributed after it became apparent in July 1642 that the funds would be used to finance parliament’s forces in England. Most of the resources raised for the Adventure to Ireland were transferred to the parliamentary cause during the summer of 1642. A key argument in this chapter is that parliament prepared for war in England under the cover of its response to the rebellion in Ireland and was encouraged by the peers and merchants central to the Irish Adventure.

in Empire and enterprise
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Ireland in the early English Atlantic world

Chapter 1 is a survey of English and Irish enterprises in the Atlantic, 1620–41, that led to the emergence of the merchant oligarchy that became the leadership of the Adventure for Irish land in 1642. The emergence of Ireland, particularly Munster, as a provisioning stop for traders between Europe and the Americas is examined, as is the network of ship owners that managed the provisioning and servant trade between the two regions. A hierarchy of peers and their merchant contractors developed that was active across all of the Atlantic colonies from Newfoundland to Providence Island in the Western Caribbean.

in Empire and enterprise
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The Adventurers for Irish land applied their English war profits to colonial development and commandeered England’s great trading companies, the East India Company, Levant Company and Fellowship of Merchant Adventurers. They strengthened their grip on state finance and targeted their colonial profits towards specific loans to finance the parliamentary army, which resulted in further trading concessions. Firmly allied to the War Party in parliament, the Adventurers navigated their way through the political upheavals in England, 1647–49, and although quietly opposed to the execution of Charles I they made no attempt to oppose it.

in Empire and enterprise
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This study originally set out to identify the Adventurers for Irish land and to reconcile their unwavering support for the parliamentary cause with the settlement of their claims by the restored monarch, Charles II. It has revealed how the actions of a remarkable group of skilled and innovative individuals, fewer than twenty in number, developed and maintained a stable system of state finance in highly challenging times. They profited enormously from their efforts and left behind them both an early form of a centralised English fiscal state and the framework upon which England’s overseas empire was built. The conclusion reviews the Adventurers’ principal innovations or achievements in the many spheres in which they operated.

in Empire and enterprise
Money, power and the Adventurers for Irish land during the British Civil Wars

This book is about the transformation of England’s trade and government finances in the mid-seventeenth century, a revolution that destroyed Ireland. During the English Civil War a small group of merchants quickly achieved an iron grip over England’s trade, dictated key policies for Ireland and the colonies, and financed parliament’s war against Charles I. These merchants were the Adventurers for Irish land, who, in 1642, raised £250,000 to send a conquering army to Ireland but sent it instead to fight for parliament in England. The Adventurers elected a committee to represent their interests that met in secret at Grocers’ Hall in London, 1642–60. During that time, while amassing enormous wealth and power, the Adventurers laid the foundations for England’s empire and modern fiscal state. Although they supported Cromwell’s military campaigns, the leading Adventurers rejected his Protectorate in a dispute over their Irish land entitlements and eventually helped to restore the monarchy. Charles II rewarded the Adventurers with one million confiscated Irish acres, despite their role in deposing his father. This book explains this great paradox in Irish history for the first time and examines the background and relentless rise of the Adventurers, the remarkable scope of their trading empires and their profound political influence. It is the first book to recognise the centrality of Ireland to the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.

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Chapter 4 charts the development of English state finance and policy towards Ireland during the first English Civil War. Following the outbreak of formal hostilities in England, the Adventurers seized control over parliament’s financial and military committees, using a network centred on Grocers’ Hall. The role of Grocers’ Hall is highlighted by demonstrating the process by which the functions of parliament’s Committee for Irish Affairs were transferred to it, leaving the Adventurers in command of parliament’s policy for Ireland. The Adventurers sent a naval task force to attack royalist targets in Ireland before the outbreak of war in England and worked to undermine Charles’ attempts to broker a ceasefire with the Irish rebels.

in Empire and enterprise
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Divided into background, historiography and methodology, the introduction provides a brief description of the Adventurers for Irish land and explores the role of merchants in early modern history. Although trade transcends borders, political history frequently does not and the influence of trade on local politics can be overlooked. An overview of the current relevant literature is given and a detailed description of the primary sources used in this study.

in Empire and enterprise