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James ('Purlie') Wilson, 1760 - 1820. Radical Reformer

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James ('Purlie') Wilson, 1760 - 1820. Radical Reformer About 1810


  • Scottish Art
Wilson was one of three ‘Radical Martyrs’ executed for their part in the Scottish insurrection of 1820. Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, economic depression and unemployment caused great unrest in Scotland and fuelled ideas of a rebellion against the British Government. As a result the government decided to flush out the radicals by spreading word of an uprising near Falkirk. On hearing this Wilson marched north with twenty-two men but was intercepted by the British army. Overall eighty-eight radicals were arrested across Scotland and tried for high treason. Wilson, along with nineteen others, was found guilty and sentenced to death. While the rest of the condemned men were spared and transported to Australia - Wilson, John Baird and Andrew Hardie were publicly hanged.

Glossary Open

Napoleonic Wars

A series of wars from 1803 to 1815 instigated by the aim of Napoleon I of France to conquer all of Europe. His planned invasion of Britain ended with Admiral Nelson's victory at Trafalgar, and his invasion of Russia resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of his men. Napoleon's campaign was finally ended by British and Prussian forces at Waterloo.

Napoleonic Wars


  • Acc. No. PG 3361
  • Medium Oil on panel
  • Size
  • Credit Purchased 2003