Jenny Hamilton Patrick



Jenny Hamilton Patrick  was born on 11 February 1884 in Glasgow, the daughter of John Crawford Patrick, and his wife, Elizabeth née Hamilton.

Jane Patrick attended Garnethill School. She joined the Glasgow Anarchist Group in 1914, and became secretary in 1916, at a time when meetings required a lookout to warn of military patrols looking for deserters. In 1920 the group renamed itself the Glasgow Communist Group (GCG), hoping to unite with the growing communist movement on the basis of genuine (and, of necessity, anti-parliamentary) communism. However, in January 1921 much of the revolutionary left adopted the Comintern's pro-parliamentary strategy by uniting with the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).

To revitalize the anti-parliamentary cause, the GCG published the Red Commune in February 1921, with Jenny Patrick chairing the anonymous five-person editorial board. Its uncompromising call was to ‘work outside Parliament on the streets and in the workshops for the revolution’ and to employ the ‘Sinn Féin’ or ‘boycott of parliament’ tactic. It was immediately seized by the Glasgow police, and Jenny Patrick, along with three others, was charged with sedition. She was sentenced to three months in gaol.

Despite the arrests Easter 1921 saw the formation of the Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation (APCF). Jenny Patrick became its secretary. Throughout the 1920s she worked alongside its chief figure, Guy Aldred (1886–1963), to maintain a vigorous anarchist and anti-parliamentary presence in Glasgow. They entered a free union, at first living in a flat in Bakunin House (13 Burnbank Gardens), the headquarters of the APCF. When in 1933 Aldred left the APCF to form the United Socialist Movement (USM), they took a room at 5 Balliol Street, Glasgow, where they stayed for the rest of their lives.

In 1936 Jenny Patrick went to Spain with Ethel MacDonald at the request of the CNT–FAI (the anarchist federations). Jenny served in Madrid with the CNT–FAI's Comité de Défense, editing the English section of their paper Frente Libertario, and experiencing the siege of Madrid. In 1937 she moved to Barcelona to take charge of the CNT's English radio and bulletin. With Ethel she experienced the momentous May days.

On her return Jenny Patrick joined with Aldred, Ethel MacDonald, and John Caldwell in setting up the Strickland Press in 1939 at 104–6 George Street. Here her experience as a printer was invaluable. For twenty-five years Jenny Patrick and the others worked long wageless hours, printing socialist and anarchist literature, notably the USM's The Word. In 1945, however, Jenny Patrick and Ethel MacDonald became involved in a dispute with the Scottish Typographical Association (STA). Although a time-served compositor, Jenny Patrick was not allowed to join the STA. As the Strickland Press refused to employ additional union labour, and Jenny Patrick and Ethel MacDonald insisted on their right to work for it, deadlock ensued. The STA imposed a boycott, whereupon, unable to contract it out, Jenny Patrick and Ethel MacDonald did the typesetting themselves.

Jenny Patrick outlived Ethel MacDonald and Guy Aldred, dying on 1 September 1971 at Drumchapel Hospital, Glasgow. She was cremated at Maryhill crematorium, Glasgow. A small woman, she was respected for her dynamic personality and resolute character. She never sought the limelight, but endured poverty and hardship for the sake of her anarchist principles.

© Oxford University Press 2004–14



John T. Caldwell and Bob Jones, ‘Patrick, Jane Hamilton (1884–1971)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 11 July 2014]

Jane Hamilton Patrick (1884–1971): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/54408 

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