Record

CodeNA9385
Dates1868-1964
Person NameMuirhead; Roland Eugene (1868-1964); Scottish nationalist and socialist
SurnameMuirhead
ForenamesRoland Eugene
EpithetScottish nationalist and socialist
ActivityRoland Eugene Muirhead (1868-1964), Scottish nationalist and socialist, was born on 24 July 1868 at Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, the son of Andrew Muirhead and Isabella. He was educated at Garnethill school, Glasgow, and Glasgow High School. He was apprentice tanner to his father. In 1887 aged 19 he emigrated to South America and worked on an Argentinian cattle ranch for two years. He lived for a time on an Owenite Colony in Washington, USA, which was a community based on mutual cooperation and partnership. He also visited Paraguat in 1890. Muirhead's uncle Dr Henry Muirhead formed a trust for the university education of women in medicine. His sister Alice Margaret Muirhead was a campaigner for women's suffrage and his brother Robert Franklin was a member of the Socialist League. Through Robert, Roland met prominent Scottish socialists such as Kier Hardie, R.B. Cunninghame Graham and Prince Kropotkin. From 1891-1897 Muirhead worked in London with a co-operative tannery and subsequently returned to Scotland. In 1894 he sat on the Houston Parish Council, Renfrewshire. Next, he became managing director of the family business and transformed it into a cooperative whereby workers took a share in the ownership and became partners in the business. He also introduced a fourty hour week and developed the company's export trade. In 1906 he became a director of and provided financial support for the new Socialist weekly journal 'Forward'. In additon, he contributed several articles concerning Scottish self-government. In 1901 he had joined the Young Scots Society in support of Scottish Home Rule and in 1912 was involved in the establishment of the Scottish Home Rule Council. In 1918 he became a member of the Independent Labour Party and was subsequently elected secretary of the Lochwinnoch Independent Labour Party, Renfrewshire. In 1918 he revived the Scottish Home Rule Association. In 1928 he resigned from the Independent Labour Party and formed the Provisional Committee of the National Party of Scotland and became the party's first chairman. In 1934 he was one of the founder members of the Scottish National Party, formed from by the merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party. In 1936 he was elected honourary president. In 1946 'Forward' came under English ownershop in London. Consequently, Muirhead published 'Forward Scotland' from 1950. In 1926 he had established the Scottish Secretariat, a nationalist information and propaganda office maintaining party political neutrality. News on Scottish politcs was disseminated from head office in Glasgow to London, Frankfurt and South America. From 1946 Muirhead was editor of the Scottish National Party newspaper 'Scots Independent'. In 1952 he established the Scottish National Congress. This radical splinter group went on to produce a 'Constitution for Scotland' in 1962. In 1957 Muirhead joined the National Council for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapon Tests and headed a protest march against the Polaris Submarine base in Scotland. He died on 2 August 1964 aged 96.
Add to My Items