Mobbings, Struggles and Strikes: Episodes in the history of the organised working class of Dumfries, 1771-1914 (2022)

Ian Gasse

Like its companion volume, Something to Build On – about the C19 Dumfries co-operative movement – this book seeks to reclaim some of the forgotten history of the organised working class of Dumfries and Maxwelltown from the long C19.

In articles ranging from late C18 ‘meal mobs’ through to the increased industrial disputes on the threshold of the 1st World War, the book traces various working-class attempts in Dumfries to secure food, acquire the vote, establish trade unions, and win better pay and working conditions, all through different kinds of collective action.

Drawing inspiration from the work of historians Eric Hobsbawm, Edward Thompson and Raymond Williams, Ian Gasse makes the case for what was a significant local C19 ‘working-class movement’ in Dumfries and Maxwelltown, a movement which took many forms – from confronting troops in Friars’ Vennel in 1771, to promoting Chartism in the 1830s, challenging farmers at the hiring markets of the 1860s, organising reform demonstrations attended by thousands in 1867 and 1884, and challenging the courts and the authorities, as well as local employers, in strike action from the 1880s to the 1910s.

In The Making of the English Working Class, Edward Thompson famously stated that he sought to “rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the ‘obsolete’ hand-loom weaver, the ‘utopian’ artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity”. This book attempts to do something similar for the equally diverse working class of C19 Dumfries and Maxwelltown, in order to try and rescue their history from the “enormous neglect” of the C21.

Hardback | Illustrated | ISBN 978 1 910 3050 4 5 | 416 pages