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Muir, Thomas (1765–1799)

Michael T. Davis


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Thomas Muir was a Scottish political reformer and one of the first political transportees to Australia. He was born in Glasgow on August 24, 1765, the son of a Presbyterian grocer and hop merchant. Muir was well educated, beginning his adult education at Glasgow University before completing his studies in law at Edinburgh University. He was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates on November 24, 1787 and embarked on a moderately successful career as a legal practitioner. However, following the outbreak of the French Revolution , Muir's attention was diverted by radical politics. By 1792, he was a leading protagonist in the Scottish democratic movement and a driving force behind the establishment of the Association of the Friends of the People in Edinburgh, a reform society whose membership comprised mainly liberal-minded middle-class men and artisans. Muir was soon in the center of Scottish reform activity, promoting the radical cause throughout Scotland and forming links with the United Irishmen . At a convention of delegates from Scottish reform societies held in Edinburgh in December 1792, Muir was responsible for reading an address from the United Irishmen. Although the address advocated moderate political reform, alarmed authorities saw it as much more inflammatory, and Muir was arrested on charges of sedition on January 2, 1793. He was released on bail and subsequently went ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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