The making of an Irishman: John Ferguson (1836-1906) and the politics of identity in Victorian Glasgow

Elaine W. McFarland

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John Ferguson dominated Irish Home Rule politics in Scotland for over 30 years. As an Irish Protestant leading a predominantly Catholic nationalist movement, the construction of his personal identity was an active and continuous process, paralleling the attempts of the Irish migrant community to claim its own stake in Scottish society and politics. This essay examines some of the main forces shaping Ferguson's career, considering not only his immediate family and educational antecedents, but also the political context of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century - a highly volatile environment fuelled not only by constitutional demands but by issues such as land reform and the democratisation of the franchise. Here Ferguson would serve as a personal junction point between Irish nationalism and British radical politics, although the dictates and divisions of the Irish Parliamentary Party and the internecine bitterness of local community politics frequently combined to restrict his practical freedom of manoeuvre.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-211
Number of pages18
JournalImmigrants and Minorities
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • politics
  • Scottish history
  • John Ferguson


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