Skip to main content

Maclean, John (revolutionary socialist)



  • Existence: 1879 - 1923


John Maclean (d.1923) was born in Pollockshaws, Glasgow in August 1879. He graduated in 1900 from the Free Church Teacher Training College and began his teaching career whilst also completing an MA at the University of Glasgow, which he attained in 1904. A committed Marxist who fervently opposed capitalism and imperialism, Maclean became an active member of the trade union and co-operative movements in Glasgow. He joined the Social Democratic Federation and the Glasgow Teacher's Socialist Society, but later left the former to join the Socialist Labour Party. In 1915, alongside a group of fellow socialists, including William Gallacher, he helped establish the Clyde Workers' Committee, dedicated to pursuing the rights of workers against the Munitions Act. Maclean was also a passionate educator outside of the classroom, offering free evening classes on marxist economics and history for trade unionists, workers, and activists. A fervent advocate for the anti-war movement in 1914-1918, Maclean produced a journal called The Vanguard to campaign against conscription. It was for such activity, alongside his lectures, that he was first charged with sedition and imprisoned for over a year in 1915. This conviction resulted in the loss of his teaching role. Although released in 1916, Maclean would go on to be arrested and imprisoned for sedition on several other occasions between 1916-1922, the most infamous being in April 1918, when he was sentenced to five years in Peterhead Prison. It was during this time that he began a hunger strike. Following a campaign of public support he was released in December 1918. Although close with colleagues in the Socialist Labour Party, he did not join them in supporting the Communist Party of Great Britain. Instead, he formed the Scottish Workers Republican Party (SWRP). Maclean was arrested and imprisoned for sedition for the final time in September 1921, this time being released in 1922. He later stood unsuccessfully in a Glasgow Municipal Election of 1923, representing the SWRP. As a result of failing health and the impact of his time in prison, Maclean died in November 1923. He had married Agnes Wood, a nurse, in 1909 and the couple had two daughters, Jean (b.1911) and Nan (b.1913). [Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography]

Found in 9 Collections and/or Records:

John Maclean Collection, circa 1918-2008.

Identifier: Acc.14114 Special Collections 1/27
Scope and Contents From the Sub-Fonds: The WGMLA Special Collections comprise over 60 collections relating to notable individuals, organisations, and themes in the Scottish labour, trade union, and suffrage movements. In a number of cases, collections do not contain the personal papers of the named individuals or organisations but rather comprise of primary or secondary materials collected by WGML librarian Audrey Canning, or third parties, relating to that individual or organisation and collated for public research purposes....
Dates: circa 1918-2008.

Photographs and leaflets of John Maclean.

Identifier: Dep.96- is now Acc.4335.

Photographs and photocopies of press cuttings, concerning the career of John Maclean.

Identifier: Acc.7508
Scope and Contents

Used in the 1979 NLS exhibition "John Maclean of Clydeside".

Dates: 20th century.

Reel-to-reel sound recording of a broadcast programme, "Current account" produced by the BBC concerning John Maclean.

Identifier: Acc.6011
Scope and Contents

The reel is accompanied by a letter from the BBC confirming that the recording concerns John Maclean but that an interview with Emanuel Shinwell has not been included.

Dates: 1973.

Additional filters:

Browse Resources 8
Archival Object 1
Press cuttings. Information artifacts. 3
Biographies. 2
Broadcasts. Events. 2
Correspondence. 2
Obituaries. 2