Professor Gordon Pentland (M.A. (Oxon), M.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.Hist.S, FHEA.)

Professor of Political History


A native of Edinburgh, I graduated from the University of Oxford in 1999 and immediately took the high road back north to indulge a continuing interest in historical research. After completing an M.Sc. in 2000 and a Ph.D. in 2004 I worked for eighteen months as a lecturer in European history at the University of York. I returned to Edinburgh in 2006 to take up a two-year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship followed by a lectureship in history. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2011, to Reader in 2013, and to Professor in 2019.

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Appointed to editorial board of History of Parliament, 2016-
  • Appointed member of AHRC Peer Review College, June 2014-
  • Appointed to editorial board of British History Online, 2014-
  • Appointed member of Royal Society Young Academy of Scotland, 2011-16
  • Appointed editor of the Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, 2010-14
  • Historical consultant on the BBC network series A History of Scotland, 2008-9
  • Elected a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, 2008-
  • Elected a council member of the Scottish History Society, 2007-11

Undergraduate teaching

  • British Politics in an Age of Revolutions, 1783-1832 (4MA)
  • The French Revolution, 1789-1799  (Option)
  • Scottish Politics since 1906 (Option)
  • Introduction to Historiography
  • Britain, Ireland, and Empire, 1800-2000
  • The History of Edinburgh: From Din Eidyn to Festival City

Postgraduate teaching

  • Currents of Radicalism, 1776-1848
  • Approaches to Modern British Political History

Areas of interest for supervision

Name - Degree - Thesis topic - Supervision type - Link

  • Angus, Sonny - PhD - 'The Material Culture of Mass Politics in Scotland, c. 1815-c.1914' - Primary -
  •       - PhD - Listening for Slavery's Defenders: Debating Slavery in England at the turn of the 19th Century - Primary -
  • Griggs, Michael - PhD - Scottish Covenanters 'theology of politics' and their later influence on the American Revolution, specifically in North Carolina through the pamphlets and sermons of various Presbyterian ministers - Secondary - link
  •       - PhD - Politics of the people in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, 1707-c. 1785 - Secondary -
  • Masaki, Keisuke - PhD -      - Primary -
  • Mason, Richard - MScR - Free Church of Scotland in Italy 1848-1880 - Primary -
  • Musgrave, Kendall - MScR - William Benbow and the Constitutional Association - Primary -
  •       - PhD - A Study of Whig Political Propaganda in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries - Primary -
  • Saarinen, Iida - PhD - ‘Belonging’ in a Roman Catholic Seminary in the Nineteenth Century – A Prosopographical Study of Students and Social Identities at ‘Scots College Paris’, 1793-1878 - Secondary - link
  • Thompson, Kyle - PhD - Edinburgh Politics: 1885 - 1910 - Joint -

Current PhD students supervised

Name - Degree - Thesis topic - Supervision type - Completion year - Link

  • Johnston, Robert - MScR - ‘The Union in peril: Disunity, home rule and oil, 1979-1977’ - Primary - 2017 -

Research summary


  • Britain & Ireland
  • Scotland


  • Ideas
  • Language & Literature
  • Material Culture
  • Politics
  • Religion


  • Eighteenth Century
  • Nineteenth Century
  • Twentieth Century & After

Research interests

My major interest is the political history of Scotland and Britain since the eighteenth century. My first two monographs provided a comprehensive analysis of two periods of dramatic political crisis and change in the nineteenth century and I have published work dealing with Scottish politics in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Part of my work has involved thinking seriously about how political historians can engage with material culture and my research draws on political prints and images, monuments, flags and banners. I have additional interests in the French Revolution, Australian history, and how different constituencies responded and reacted to assassinations and assassination attempts in the British world.


(Edited with Michael T. Davis and Emma Macleod), Political Trials in an Age of Revolutions: Britain and the North Atlantic, 1793-1848 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

(Edited with David Brown and Robert Crowcroft), The Oxford Handbook of Modern British Political History, 1800-2000 (Oxford University Press, 2018).

The Autobiography of Arthur Woodburn (1890-1978): Living with History (Scottish History Society, Boydell, 2017).

(Edited with Michael T. Davis), Liberty, Property and Popular Politics: England and Scotland, 1688 – 1815. Essays in Honour of H. T. Dickinson (Edinburgh University Press, 2015).

The Spirit of the Union: Popular Politics in Scotland, 1815-1820 (Pickering & Chatto, Enlightenment World series, 2011).

Radicalism, Reform and National Identity in Scotland, 1820-1833 (Royal Historical Society Studies in History, Boydell, 2008). Winner of the Hume Brown Senior Prize 2010 for ‘the best first book on any aspect of Scottish history’.


Articles in Refereed Journals

‘The Freethinkers’ Zetetic Society: An Edinburgh Radical Underworld in the 1820s’, Historical Research , 91:252 (May 2018), 314-32.

‘Edward Heath, the Declaration of Perth and the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, 1966-1970’, Twentieth Century British History, 26:2 (June 2015), 249-73.

‘The Indignant Nation: Australian Responses to the Attempted Assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh in 1868’, English Historical Review, 130:542 (February 2015), 57-88.

(with Mark Nixon and Matthew Roberts), ‘The Material Culture of Scottish Reform Politics, c. 1820 – c. 1884’, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, 32:1 (May 2012), 28-49.

“Now the great Man in the Parliament House is dead, we shall have a big Loaf!” Responses to the Assassination of Spencer Perceval, Journal of British Studies, 51:2 (April 2012), 340-63.

“We Speak for the Ready”: Images of Scots in Political Prints, 1707-1832, Scottish Historical Review, 90:1 (April 2011), 64-95.

‘Radical Returns in an Age of Revolutions: Maurice Margarot, Thomas McFarlane and Andrew White’, Études Écossaises, 13 (2010), 92-101.

‘“Betrayed by infamous spies”? The Commemoration of Scotland’s ‘Radical War’ of 1820’, Past & Present, 201 (November 2008), 141-73. Winner of RHS David Berry Prize 2008 for ‘the best published scholarly journal article or essay on a subject dealing with Scottish history’.

‘Hogarth’s Scots’, Review of Scottish Culture, 20 (2008), 27-42.

‘The debate on Scottish parliamentary reform, 1830-32’, Scottish Historical Review, 85:1 (April 2006), 102-32.

‘Scotland and the creation of a national reform movement, 1830-32’, Historical Journal, 48:4 (December 2005), 999-1023.

‘Patriotism, universalism and the Scottish conventions, 1792-1794’, History, 89 no. 295, (July 2004), 340-60.


Chapters and Essays

'Viscount Goderich' in The Prime Ministers: Three Hundred Years of Political Leadership, ed. Iain Dale (Hodder & Stoughton, 2020), pp. 139-44.

'Scottish Political Leadership and Anglo-Scottish Union in the Long Nineteenth Century' in Union and Disunion in the Nineteenth Century, ed. James Gregory and Daniel J.R. Grey (Routledge, 2019), pp. 104-23.

‘State Trials, Whig Lawyers and the Press in Early Nineteenth-Century Scotland’ in Political Trials in an Age of Revolutions: Britain and the North Atlantic, 1793-1848, ed. Michael T. Davis, Emma Macleod and Gordon Pentland (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), pp. 213-36.

'Espace, lieu et reconstitution dans le radicalisme écossais du XIXe siècle' in Les mondes britanniques: une communauté des destins?, ed. Jean Francois Dunyach and Alban Gautier (Presses Universitaires des Rennes, 2018), pp. 159-71.

'Parliamentary Reform' in The Oxford Handbook of Modern British Political History, 1800-2000,  ed. David Brown, Robert Crowcroft and Gordon Pentland (Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 383-99.

‘Thomas Muir and the Constitution' in Thomas Muir of Huntershill: Essays for the Twenty-First Century, ed. Gerrard Carruthers and Don Martin (Humming Earth, 2016), pp. 185-201.

'Douglas Young' in Scottish National Party Leaders, ed. Gerry Hassan and James Mitchell (Biteback Publishing, 2016), pp. 145-64.

'Edinburgh City', 'Edinburghshire', 'William Gibson-Craig', 'John Hamilton Dalrymple', 'William Ramsay Ramsay', '6th Duke of Buccleuch' and 'Sir John Hope'  (total c. 17000 words) in History of Parliament: House of Commons, 1832-1868 (forthcoming online and in print, Cambridge University Press).

‘The Posthumous Lives of Thomas Muir' in Liberty, Property and Popular Politics: England and Scotland, 1688 – 1815. Essays in Honour of H. T. Dickinson, ed. Gordon Pentland and Michael T. Davis (Edinburgh University Press, 2015), pp. 207-23.

‘‘Militarization and Collective Action in Great Britain, 1815-1820’ in Crowd Actions in Britain and France from the Middle Ages to the Modern World, ed. Michael T. Davis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 179-92.

‘William Cobbett’s Scotophobia’ in Celts and their Cultures at Home and Abroad: A Festschrift for Malcolm Broun, ed. Anders Ahlqvist and Pamela O’Neill (University of Sydney Celtic Studies Foundation, Sydney, 2013), pp. 251-65.

‘By-elections and the Peculiarities of Scottish Politics, 1832-1900 in By-elections in Britain, 1832-1914, ed. Paul Readman and Thomas Otte (Boydell, 2013), pp. 273-92.

(with Katie Stevenson) ‘The Battle of Flodden and its Commemoration, 1513-2013’ in England and Scotland at War, c. 1296 – c. 1513, ed. Andy King and David Simpkin (Brill, 2012), pp. 355-80.

‘The Challenge of Radicalism’ in Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History, ed. T. M. Devine and J. Wormald (Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 439-54.

‘Pamphlet wars in the 1790s’ in The Edinburgh history of the book in Scotland: volume II, 1707-1800, ed. Stephen W. Brown and Warren McDougall (Edinburgh University Press, 2011), pp. 390-8.

‘“Like Jews they Spread, And as Infection Fly”: Scots and Jews in English Political Culture, c.1750 – c.1830’ in Écosse: l’identité nationale en question, ed. Bernard Sellin, Annie Thiec and Pierre Carboni (Centre de Recherche sur les Identités Nationales et l’Interculturalité, Nantes, 2009), pp. 89-97.

Entries on ‘Reform Acts, 1832, Britain and Ireland’, ‘Glasgow General Strike, 1820, Scotland’ and ‘Charles James Fox’ in International Encyclopaedia of World Protest and Revolution: 1500 to the Present, ed. Immanuel Ness (7 vols. and online, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).

‘The French Revolution, Scottish radicalism and “people who were called Jacobins”’ in Reactions to revolutions: the 1790s and their aftermath, ed. Ulrich Broich, H. T. Dickinson, Eckhart Hellmuth, Martin Schmidt (LIT Verlag, 2007), pp. 85-108.