Mike Lawrence was born and bred in Bankfoot which explains his connection with his subject, James Wylie. Mike is also the current Chairman of the West Stormont Historical Society so his expertise in this area has been put to good use.
James Wylie was a tenant farmer at Pitlandie near Luncarty but the tragic death of his cousin in 1805 changed his life when he inherited Airleywight in the parish of Auchtergaven and set him on a different path. For thirty years he transformed the estate, created the modern farm structure, built a magnificent house, planned and developed the villages of Bankfoot and Waterloo, continued his fight for political change, and played a full part in public life.
As president of the Friends of the People in Perth he became a leading campaigner for parliamentary and burgh council reform. At this time in the early nineteenth century, reform and campaign became too French for the local authorities. Over time the people grew more radical which lead to riots and demonstrations in Perth. Many of Wylie’s friends and associates were arrested, tried on charges of sedition and transported to Botany Bay in Australia. Among those treated even more harshly was Robert Watt from Perth, who was executed for treason.
John Wylie was a son of the manse and a successful cloth merchant and haberdasher in Perth and he gained local notoriety as “the most intemperate revolutioner in Scotland”.