Acts of Union 1707

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Union with Scotland Act 1706 [1]
Act of Parliament
Coat of Arms of England (1702-1707).svg
Long title An Act for a Union of the Two Kingdoms of England and Scotland
Citation 1706 c. 11
Territorial extent Kingdom of England (inc. Wales); subsequently, United Kingdom
Commencement 1 May 1707
Status: Current legislation
Revised text of statute as amended
Union with England Act 1707
Act of Parliament
Coat of Arms of Scotland (1660-1689).svg
Long title Act Ratifying and Approving the Treaty of Union of the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England
Citation 1707 c. 7
Territorial extent Kingdom of Scotland; subsequently, United Kingdom
Commencement 1 May 1707
Status: Current legislation
Revised text of statute as amended
Constitutional documents and events relevant to the status of the United Kingdom and its constituent countries
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Treaty of Union 1706
Acts of Union 1707
Wales and Berwick Act 1746
Irish Constitution 1782
Acts of Union 1800
Parliament Act 1911
Government of Ireland Act 1920
Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921
Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927
Statute of Westminster 1931
United Nations Act 1946
Parliament Act 1949
EC Treaty of Accession 1972
NI (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972
European Communities Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973
NI Border Poll 1973
NI Constitution Act 1973
Referendum Act 1975
EC Membership Referendum 1975
Scotland Act 1978
Wales Act 1978
Scottish Devolution Referendum 1979
Welsh Devolution Referendum 1979
Local Government (Wales) Act 1994
Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994
Referendums (Scotland & Wales) Act 1997
Scottish Devolution Referendum 1997
Welsh Devolution Referendum 1997
Good Friday Agreement 1998
Northern Ireland Act 1998
Government of Wales Act 1998
Human Rights Act 1998
Scotland Act 1998
Government of Wales Act 2006
Northern Ireland Act 2009
Welsh Devolution Referendum 2011
European Union Act 2011
Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011
Scotland Act 2012
Edinburgh Agreement 2012
Scottish Independence Referendum 2014
Wales Act 2014
European Union Referendum Act 2015
EU Membership Referendum 2016
Scotland Act 2016
Wales Act 2017
EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017
Invocation of Article 50 2017
European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
EU (Withdrawal) Act 2019

The Acts of Union were two Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland. They put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706, following negotiation between commissioners representing the parliaments of the two countries. By the two Acts, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland which at the time were separate states with separate legislatures, but with the same monarch were, in the words of the Treaty, "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". [2]

An act of parliament, also called primary legislation, are statutes passed by a parliament (legislature). Act of the Oireachtas is an equivalent term used in the Republic of Ireland where the legislature is commonly known by its Irish name, Oireachtas. It is also comparable to an Act of Congress in the United States.

Parliament of England historic legislature of the Kingdom of England

The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England, existing from the early 13th century until 1707, when it merged with the Parliament of Scotland to become the Parliament of Great Britain after the political union of England and Scotland created the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Parliament of Scotland legislature of the Kingdom of Scotland

The Parliament of Scotland was the legislature of the Kingdom of Scotland. The parliament, like other such institutions, evolved during the Middle Ages from the king's council of bishops and earls. It is first identifiable as a parliament in 1235, during the reign of Alexander II, when it was described as a "colloquium" and already possessed a political and judicial role. By the early fourteenth century, the attendance of knights and freeholders had become important, and from 1326 commissioners from the burghs attended. Consisting of the "three estates" of clergy, nobility and the burghs sitting in a single chamber, the parliament gave consent for the raising of taxation and played an important role in the administration of justice, foreign policy, war, and all manner of other legislation. Parliamentary business was also carried out by "sister" institutions, such as General Councils or Convention of Estates. These could carry out much business also dealt with by parliament – taxation, legislation and policy-making – but lacked the ultimate authority of a full parliament.


The two countries had shared a monarch since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne from his double first cousin twice removed, Queen Elizabeth I. Although described as a Union of Crowns, until 1707 there were in fact two separate Crowns resting on the same head (as opposed to the implied creation of a single Crown and a single Kingdom, exemplified by the later Kingdom of Great Britain). Prior to the Acts of Union there had been three previous attempts (in 1606, 1667, and 1689) to unite the two countries by Acts of Parliament, but it was not until the early 18th century that both political establishments came to support the idea, albeit for different reasons.

The Union of the Crowns was the accession of James VI of Scotland to the thrones of England and Ireland, and the consequential unification for some purposes of the three realms under a single monarch on 24 March 1603. The Union of Crowns followed the death of Elizabeth I of England, the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty, who was James's unmarried and childless first cousin twice removed.

Kingdom of Great Britain constitutional monarchy in Western Europe between 1707–1801

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

The Acts took effect on 1 May 1707. On this date, the Scottish Parliament and the English Parliament united to form the Parliament of Great Britain, based in the Palace of Westminster in London, the home of the English Parliament. [3] Hence, the Acts are referred to as the Union of the Parliaments. On the Union, the historian Simon Schama said "What began as a hostile merger, would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going concern in the world ... it was one of the most astonishing transformations in European history." [4]

Parliament of Great Britain parliament from 1714 to 1800

The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts created a new unified Kingdom of Great Britain and dissolved the separate English and Scottish parliaments in favour of a single parliament, located in the former home of the English parliament in the Palace of Westminster, near the City of London. This lasted nearly a century, until the Acts of Union 1800 merged the separate British and Irish Parliaments into a single Parliament of the United Kingdom with effect from 1 January 1801.

Palace of Westminster Meeting place of the Parliament of the United Kingdom,

The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London, England.

Simon Schama British historian

Sir Simon Michael Schama is an English historian specialising in art history, Dutch history, Jewish history and French history. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University, New York.

Historical background

The first Union flag, created by James VI and I. A separate version was used in Scotland during the 17th century. Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg
The first Union flag, created by James VI and I. A separate version was used in Scotland during the 17th century.

Pre-1707 attempts at Union

Despite attempts by Edward I to conquer Scotland in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, the two countries were entirely separate. However, when Elizabeth I became Queen of England in 1558, a union became increasingly likely as she neither married nor had children. From 1558 onwards, her heir was her Catholic cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, who pledged herself to a peaceful union between the two kingdoms. [5] In 1567, Mary was forced to abdicate as Queen of Scots and replaced by her infant son James VI, who was brought up as a Protestant and became heir to the English throne. After Elizabeth died in 1603, the two Crowns were held in personal union by James, now also James I of England, and his Stuart successors, but England and Scotland remained separate kingdoms.

Edward I of England 13th and 14th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Edward I, also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. Before his accession to the throne, he was commonly referred to as The Lord Edward. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved from an early age in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons. In 1259, he briefly sided with a baronial reform movement, supporting the Provisions of Oxford. After reconciliation with his father, however, he remained loyal throughout the subsequent armed conflict, known as the Second Barons' War. After the Battle of Lewes, Edward was hostage to the rebellious barons, but escaped after a few months and joined the fight against Simon de Montfort. Montfort was defeated at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, and within two years the rebellion was extinguished. With England pacified, Edward joined the Ninth Crusade to the Holy Land. The crusade accomplished little, and Edward was on his way home in 1272 when he was informed that his father had died. Making a slow return, he reached England in 1274 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 19 August.

Scotland Country in Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and the North Channel to the southwest. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Elizabeth I of England Queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until 24 March 1603

Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.


When James became King of England in 1603, the creation of a unified Church of Scotland and England governed by bishops was the first step in his vision of a centralised, Unionist state. [6] On his accession, he announced his intention to unite the two realms so he would not be "guilty of bigamy;" he used the royal prerogative to take the title "King of Great Britain" [7] and give a British character to his court and person. [8]

Royal prerogative in the United Kingdom Privileges and immunities of the British monarch

The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity attached to the British Monarch, recognised in the United Kingdom. The monarch is regarded internally as the absolute authority, or "sole prerogative", and prerogative the source of many of the executive powers of the British government.

Scottish opposition to Stuart attempts to impose religious union led to the 1638 National Covenant The Signing of the National Covenant in Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh.jpg
Scottish opposition to Stuart attempts to impose religious union led to the 1638 National Covenant

The 1603 Union of England and Scotland Act established a joint Commission to agree terms but the English Parliament was concerned this would lead to the imposition of an absolutist structure similar to that of Scotland. [9] James dropped his policy of a speedy union, the topic disappeared from the legislative agenda while attempts to revive it in 1610 were met with hostility. [10]

The Union of England and Scotland Act 1603, full title An Act authorizing certain Commissioners of the realm of England, was an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of England enacted during the reign of King James I. It appointed a commission led by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Ellesmere, to meet and negotiate with a commission which would be appointed by the Parliament of Scotland. The aim of the discussions was to look into the possibility of arranging a formal political union between England and Scotland, going beyond the existing Union of Crowns, and to report back to Parliament. The commission was not effective, however, and similar subsequent proposals also fell flat. The two kingdoms were eventually united over a century later, by the Acts of Union 1707. The Act was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863, being by this point entirely obsolete.

Absolute monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme authority and where that authority is not restricted by any written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monarchies. In contrast, in constitutional monarchies, the head of state's authority derives from and is legally bounded or restricted by a constitution or legislature.

This did not mean James abandoned the idea; 17th-century religion and politics were closely linked and he viewed a unified Church of Scotland and England as the first step towards a centralised, Unionist state. [11] The problem was that the two churches were very different in both structure and doctrine; Scottish bishops presided over Presbyterian structures but were doctrinal Calvinists who viewed many Church of England practices as little better than Catholicism. [12] The religious policies followed by James and his son Charles I were intended as precursors to political union; resistance to this concept led to the 1638 National Covenant in Scotland and the 1639-1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms.


The 1643 Solemn League and Covenant between England and Scotland The Solemn League And Covenant.jpg
The 1643 Solemn League and Covenant between England and Scotland

The 1639–1640 Bishops' Wars confirmed the primacy of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland or kirk and established a Covenanter government in Scotland. The Scots remained neutral when the First English Civil War began in 1642, but grew concerned as to the impact of Royalist victory on Scotland after Parliamentary defeats in the first year of the war. [13] Religious union with England was also seen as the best way to preserve a Presbyterian kirk. [14] The 1643 Solemn League and Covenant provided Scottish military support for the English Parliament in return for a religious union between the Church of England and the kirk. While it referred repeatedly to 'union' between England, Scotland, and Ireland, it did not explicitly commit to political union which had little support even among their English supporters.

Battle of Dunbar (1650); Scotland was incorporated into the Commonwealth after defeat in the Anglo-Scots War. Cromwell at Dunbar Andrew Carrick Gow.jpg
Battle of Dunbar (1650); Scotland was incorporated into the Commonwealth after defeat in the Anglo-Scots War.

Even religious union was fiercely opposed by the Episcopalian majority in the Church of England and Independents like Oliver Cromwell. The Scots and English Presbyterians came to see the Independents who dominated the New Model Army as a bigger threat than the Royalists and when Charles I surrendered in 1646, they agreed to restore him to the English throne. Both Royalists and Covenanters agreed the institution of monarchy was divinely ordered but disagreed on the nature and extent of Royal authority versus that of the church. [15]

Commonwealth-era flag depicting the union between England and Scotland Flag of The Commonwealth.svg
Commonwealth-era flag depicting the union between England and Scotland

After defeat in the 1647–1648 Second English Civil War, Scotland was occupied by English troops which were withdrawn once the so-called Engagers whom Cromwell held responsible for the war had been replaced by the Kirk Party. In December 1648, Pride's Purge confirmed Cromwell's political control in England by removing Presbyterian MPs from Parliament and executing Charles in January 1649. Despite this, in February, the Kirk Party proclaimed Charles II King of Scotland and Great Britain; and agreed to restore him to the English throne.

Defeat in the 1649–1651 Third English Civil War or Anglo-Scottish War resulted in Scotland's incorporation into the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, largely driven by Cromwell's determination to break the power of the kirk, which he held responsible for the Anglo-Scottish War. [16] The 1652 Tender of Union was followed on 12 April 1654 by An Ordinance by the Protector for the Union of England and Scotland, creating the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. [17] It was ratified by the Second Protectorate Parliament on 26 June 1657, creating a single Parliament in Westminster, with 30 representatives each from Scotland and Ireland added to the existing English members. [18]

While it established free trade within the Commonwealth, the economic benefits were diminished by the heavy taxation needed to fund the army. [19] In Scotland, Union was associated with military occupation, in England with heavy taxes and had little popular support in either country. It was dissolved by the 1660 Restoration of Charles II despite a petition by Scottish members of the Commonwealth Parliament for its continuance.

The Scottish economy was badly damaged by the English Navigation Acts of 1660 and 1663 and wars with the Dutch Republic, its major export market. An Anglo-Scots Trade Commission was set up in January 1668 but the English had no interest in making concessions, as the Scots had little to offer in return. In 1669, Charles II revived talks on political union; his motives were to weaken Scotland's commercial and political links with the Dutch, still seen as an enemy and complete the work of his grandfather James I. [20] Continued opposition in both England and Scotland meant that by the end of 1669, negotiations between Commissioners ground to a halt. [21]


Following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, a Scottish Convention met in Edinburgh in April 1689 to agree a new constitutional settlement; during which the Scottish Bishops backed a proposed union in an attempt to preserve Episcopalian control of the kirk. William and Mary were supportive of the idea but it was opposed both by the Presbyterian majority in Scotland and the English Parliament. [22] Episcopacy in Scotland was abolished in 1690, alienating a significant part of the political class; it was this element that later formed the bedrock of opposition to Union. [23]

The 1690s were a time of economic hardship in Europe as a whole and Scotland in particular, a period now known as the Seven ill years which led to strained relations with England. [24] In 1698, the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies received a charter to raise capital through public subscription. [25] The Company invested in the Darién scheme, an ambitious plan funded almost entirely by Scottish investors to build a colony on the Isthmus of Panama for trade with East Asia. [26] The scheme was a disaster; the losses of over £150,000 severely impacted the Scottish commercial system. [27] The financial losses incurred have often been suggested as one of the drivers behind Union.

Treaty and passage of the Acts of 1707

"Articles of Union otherwise known as Treaty of Union", 1707 Articles of Union 1707.jpg
"Articles of Union otherwise known as Treaty of Union", 1707

Deeper political integration had been a key policy of Queen Anne from the time she acceded to the throne in 1702. Under the aegis of the Queen and her ministers in both kingdoms, the parliaments of England and Scotland agreed to participate in fresh negotiations for a union treaty in 1705.

Both countries appointed 31 commissioners to conduct the negotiations. Most of the Scottish commissioners favoured union, and about half were government ministers and other officials. At the head of the list was Queensberry, and the Lord Chancellor of Scotland, the Earl of Seafield. [28] The English commissioners included the Lord High Treasurer, the Earl of Godolphin, the Lord Keeper, Baron Cowper, and a large number of Whigs who supported union. Tories were not in favour of union and only one was represented among the commissioners. [28]

Negotiations between the English and Scottish commissioners took place between 16 April and 22 July 1706 at the Cockpit in London. Each side had its own particular concerns. Within a few days, England gained a guarantee that the Hanoverian dynasty would succeed Queen Anne to the Scottish crown, and Scotland received a guarantee of access to colonial markets, in the hope that they would be placed on an equal footing in terms of trade. [29]

After negotiations ended in July 1706, the acts had to be ratified by both Parliaments. In Scotland, about 100 of the 227 members of the Parliament of Scotland were supportive of the Court Party. For extra votes the pro-court side could rely on about 25 members of the Squadrone Volante, led by the Marquess of Montrose and the Duke of Roxburghe. Opponents of the court were generally known as the Country party, and included various factions and individuals such as the Duke of Hamilton, Lord Belhaven and Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, who spoke forcefully and passionately against the union. The Court party enjoyed significant funding from England and the Treasury and included many who had accumulated debts following the Darien Disaster. [30]

In Scotland, the Duke of Queensberry was largely responsible for the successful passage of the Union act by the Scottish Parliament. In Scotland, he received much criticism from local residents, but in England he was cheered for his action. He had received around half of the funding awarded by the Westminster treasury for himself. In April 1707, he travelled to London to attend celebrations at the royal court, and was greeted by groups of noblemen and gentry lined along the road. From Barnet, the route was lined with crowds of cheering people, and once he reached London a huge crowd had formed. On 17 April, the Duke was gratefully received by the Queen at Kensington Palace. [31]

Political motivations

Queen Anne in 1702, the year she became queen, from the school of John Closterman QueenAnne1702.jpg
Queen Anne in 1702, the year she became queen, from the school of John Closterman

The Acts of Union should be seen within a wider European context of increasing state centralisation during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. This included the monarchies of France, Sweden, Denmark and Spain. While there were exceptions such as the Dutch Republic or the Republic of Venice, the trend was clear. [32]

However, this can be disputed by pointing out the simple fact that an essential part of the Act of Union was restatement of the Act of Settlement 1701 and the ban on Roman Catholics from taking the throne. It is impossible to ignore or dismiss the importance of sectarianism.

The dangers of the monarch using one Parliament against the other became apparent in the wars of 1647 and 1651 and resurfaced during the Exclusion Crisis. English resistance to the Catholic James succeeding his brother Charles resulted in his being sent to Edinburgh in 1681 as Lord High Commissioner. In August, the Scottish Parliament passed the Succession Act, confirming the divine right of kings, the rights of the natural heir 'regardless of religion,' the duty of all to swear allegiance to that king and the independence of the Scottish Crown. It then went beyond ensuring James's succession to the Scottish throne by explicitly stating the aim was to make his exclusion from the English throne impossible without '...the fatall and dreadfull consequences of a civil war.' [33]

The issue reappeared during the 1688 Glorious Revolution. Contrary to what is often assumed, the English Parliament generally supported the replacement of James with his Protestant daughter Mary II but strongly resisted making her Dutch husband William III & II joint ruler. They only gave way when he threatened to return to the Netherlands and Mary refused to rule without him. [34]

In Scotland, conflict over control of the kirk between Presbyterians and Episcopalians and William's position as a fellow Calvinist put him in a much stronger position. Originally, William insisted on retaining Episcopacy in the kirk and the Committee of the Articles, an unelected body that controlled what legislation Parliament could debate. Both of these would have given the Crown far greater control than in England but he withdrew his demands due to the 1689-1692 Jacobite Rising. [35]

English perspective

The English purpose was to ensure that Scotland would not choose a monarch different from the one on the English throne. The two countries had shared a king for much of the previous century, but the English were concerned that an independent Scotland with a different king, even if he were a Protestant, might make alliances against England. The English succession was provided for by the English Act of Settlement 1701, which ensured that the monarch of England would be a Protestant member of the House of Hanover. Until the Union of Parliaments, the Scottish throne might be inherited by a different successor after Queen Anne: the Scottish Act of Security 1704 granted parliament the right to choose a successor and explicitly required a choice different from the English monarch unless the English were to grant free trade and navigation. Many people in England were unhappy about the prospect, however. English overseas possessions made England wealthy in comparison to Scotland and had many times the number of Members of Parliament than Scotland, thus able to pass any legislation over Scottish objections. This made unification a markedly unequal relationship, much to England's advantage.

Scottish perspective

In Scotland, some claimed that union would enable Scotland to recover from the financial disaster wrought by the Darien scheme through English assistance and the lifting of measures put in place through the Alien Act to force the Scottish Parliament into compliance with the Act of Settlement. [36]

The combined votes of the Court party with a majority of the Squadrone Volante were sufficient to ensure the final passage of the treaty through the House.

Personal financial interests were also allegedly involved. Many Commissioners had invested heavily in the Darien scheme and they believed that they would receive compensation for their losses; Article 15 granted £398,085 10s sterling to Scotland, a sum known as The Equivalent, to offset future liability towards the English national debt. In essence it was also used as a means of compensation for investors in the Company of Scotland's Darien scheme, as 58.6% was allocated to its shareholders and creditors. [37]

18th-century French illustration of an opening of the Scottish Parliament Downsitting of the Scottish Parliament detail.JPG
18th-century French illustration of an opening of the Scottish Parliament

Even more direct bribery was a factor. [38] £20,000 (£240,000 Scots) was dispatched to Scotland for distribution by the Earl of Glasgow. James Douglas, 2nd Duke of Queensberry, the Queen's Commissioner in Parliament, received £12,325, more than 60% of the funding. Robert Burns referred to this:

We're bought and sold for English Gold,
Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation.

Some of the money was used to hire spies, such as Daniel Defoe; his first reports were of vivid descriptions of violent demonstrations against the Union. "A Scots rabble is the worst of its kind," he reported, "for every Scot in favour there is 99 against". Years later, Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, originally a leading Unionist, wrote in his memoirs that Defoe "was a spy among us, but not known as such, otherwise the Mob of Edinburgh would pull him to pieces."

The Treaty was hated in Scotland at the time. Riots occurred in Edinburgh, as well as substantial riots in Glasgow. The people of Edinburgh demonstrated against the treaty, and their apparent leader in opposition to the Unionists was James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton. However, Hamilton was actually on the side of the English Government. Demonstrators in Edinburgh were opposed to the Union for many reasons: they feared the Kirk would be Anglicised; that Anglicisation would remove democracy from the only really elementally democratic part of the Kingdom; and they feared that tax rises would come. [39]

Sir George Lockhart of Carnwath, the only member of the Scottish negotiating team against union, noted that "The whole nation appears against the Union" [40] and even Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, an ardent pro-unionist and Union negotiator, observed that the treaty was "contrary to the inclinations of at least three-fourths of the Kingdom". [40] Public opinion against the Treaty as it passed through the Scottish Parliament was voiced through petitions from shires, burghs, presbyteries and parishes. The Convention of Royal Burghs also petitioned against the Union as proposed:

That it is our indispensable duty to signify to your grace that, as we are not against an honourable and safe union with England far less can we expect to have the condition of the people of Scotland, with relation to these great concerns, made better and improved without a Scots Parliament. [41]

Not one petition in favour of an incorporating union was received by Parliament. On the day the treaty was signed, the carilloner in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, rang the bells in the tune Why should I be so sad on my wedding day? [42] Threats of widespread civil unrest resulted in Parliament imposing martial law.

Provisions of the Acts

Heraldic badge of Queen Anne, depicting the Tudor rose and the Scottish thistle growing from the same stem. Floral Badge of Great Britain.svg
Heraldic badge of Queen Anne, depicting the Tudor rose and the Scottish thistle growing from the same stem.

The Treaty of Union, agreed between representatives of the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland in 1706, consisted of 25 articles, 15 of which were economic in nature. In Scotland, each article was voted on separately and several clauses in articles were delegated to specialised subcommittees. Article 1 of the treaty was based on the political principle of an incorporating union and this was secured by a majority of 116 votes to 83 on 4 November 1706. To minimise the opposition of the Church of Scotland, an Act was also passed to secure the Presbyterian establishment of the Church, after which the Church stopped its open opposition, although hostility remained at lower levels of the clergy. The treaty as a whole was finally ratified on 16 January 1707 by a majority of 110 votes to 69. [43]

The two Acts incorporated provisions for Scotland to send representative peers from the Peerage of Scotland to sit in the House of Lords. It guaranteed that the Church of Scotland would remain the established church in Scotland, that the Court of Session would "remain in all time coming within Scotland", and that Scots law would "remain in the same force as before". Other provisions included the restatement of the Act of Settlement 1701 and the ban on Roman Catholics from taking the throne. It also created a customs union and monetary union.

The Act provided that any "laws and statutes" that were "contrary to or inconsistent with the terms" of the Act would "cease and become void".

The Scottish Parliament also passed the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Act 1707 guaranteeing the status of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The English Parliament passed a similar Act, 6 Anne c.8.

Soon after the Union, the Act 6 Anne c.40later named the Union with Scotland (Amendment) Act 1707 united the English and Scottish Privy Councils and decentralised Scottish administration by appointing justices of the peace in each shire to carry out administration. In effect it took the day-to-day government of Scotland out of the hands of politicians and into those of the College of Justice.

In the year following the Union, the Treason Act 1708 abolished the Scottish law of treason and extended the corresponding English law across Great Britain.


Scotland benefited, says historian G.N. Clark, gaining "freedom of trade with England and the colonies" as well as "a great expansion of markets". The agreement guaranteed the permanent status of the Presbyterian church in Scotland, and the separate system of laws and courts in Scotland. Clark argued that in exchange for the financial benefits and bribes that England bestowed, what it gained was

of inestimable value. Scotland accepted the Hanoverian succession and gave up her power of threatening England's military security and complicating her commercial relations ... The sweeping successes of the eighteenth-century wars owed much to the new unity of the two nations. [44]

By the time Samuel Johnson and James Boswell made their tour in 1773, recorded in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland , Johnson noted that Scotland was "a nation of which the commerce is hourly extending, and the wealth increasing" and in particular that Glasgow had become one of the greatest cities of Britain. [45]

300th anniversary

The PS2 coin issued in the United Kingdom in 2007 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Acts of Union 2007PS2union.jpg
The £2 coin issued in the United Kingdom in 2007 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Acts of Union

A commemorative two-pound coin was issued to mark the tercentennial—300th anniversary—of the Union, which occurred two days before the Scottish Parliament general election on 3 May 2007. [46]

The Scottish Government held a number of commemorative events through the year including an education project led by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, an exhibition of Union-related objects and documents at the National Museums of Scotland and an exhibition of portraits of people associated with the Union at the National Galleries of Scotland. [47]

Scottish voting records

Map of commissioner voting on the ratification of the Treaty of Union.

All (or sole) Commissioners absent
All Commissioners present voting for Union
Majority of Commissioners present voting for Union
Equal number of Commissioners voting for and against
Majority of Commissioners present voting against Union
All Commissioners present voting against Union Map of Scottish Commissioner voting on the ratification of the Treaty of Union.svg
Map of commissioner voting on the ratification of the Treaty of Union.
  All (or sole) Commissioners absent
  All Commissioners present voting for Union
  Majority of Commissioners present voting for Union
  Equal number of Commissioners voting for and against
  Majority of Commissioners present voting against Union
  All Commissioners present voting against Union
Voting Records for 16 January 1707 ratification of the Treaty of Union
James Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose Lord President of the Council of Scotland/Stirlingshire Court PartyYes
John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll Court PartyYes
John Hay, 2nd Marquess of Tweeddale Squadrone Volante Yes
William Kerr, 2nd Marquess of Lothian Court PartyYes
John Erskine, Earl of Mar Court PartyYes
John Gordon, 16th Earl of Sutherland Court PartyYes
John Hamilton-Leslie, 9th Earl of Rothes Squadrone Volante Yes
James Douglas, 11th Earl of Morton Yes
William Cunningham, 12th Earl of Glencairn Yes
James Hamilton, 6th Earl of Abercorn Yes
John Ker, 1st Duke of Roxburghe Squadrone Volante Yes
Thomas Hamilton, 6th Earl of Haddington Yes
John Maitland, 5th Earl of Lauderdale Yes
David Wemyss, 4th Earl of Wemyss Yes
William Ramsay, 5th Earl of Dalhousie Yes
James Ogilvy, 4th Earl of Findlater Banffshire Yes
David Leslie, 3rd Earl of Leven Yes
David Carnegie, 4th Earl of Northesk Yes
Earl of Belcarras Yes
Archibald Douglas, 1st Earl of Forfar Yes
William Boyd, 3rd Earl of Kilmarnock Yes
John Keith, 1st Earl of Kintore Yes
Patrick Hume, 1st Earl of Marchmont Squadrone Volante Yes
George Mackenzie, 1st Earl of Cromartie Yes
Archibald Primrose, 1st Earl of Rosebery Yes
David Boyle, 1st Earl of Glasgow Yes
Charles Hope, 1st Earl of Hopetoun likely Linlithgowshire Yes
Henry Scott, 1st Earl of Deloraine Yes
Archibald Campbell, Earl of Illay Yes
William Hay, Viscount Dupplin Yes
William Forbes, 12th Lord Forbes Yes
John Elphinstone, 8th Lord Elphinstone Yes
William Ross, 12th Lord Ross Yes
James Sandilands, 7th Lord Torphichen Yes
Lord Fraser Yes
George Ogilvy, 3rd Lord Banff Yes
Alexander Murray, 4th Lord Elibank Yes
Kenneth Sutherland, 3rd Lord Duffus Yes
Robert Rollo, 4th Lord Rollo Stirlingshire Yes
James Murray, Lord Philiphaugh Lord Clerk Register/Selkirkshire Yes
Adam Cockburn, Lord Ormiston Lord Justice Clerk Yes
Sir Robert Dickson of Inverask Edinburghshire Yes
William Nisbet of Dirletoun Haddingtonshire Squadrone Volante Yes
John Cockburn, younger, of Ormestoun Haddingtonshire Squadrone Volante Yes
Sir John Swintoun of that ilk Berwickshire Court PartyYes
Sir Alexander Campbell of Cessnock Berwickshire Yes
Sir William Kerr of Greenhead Roxburghshire Squadrone Volante Yes
Archibald Douglas of Cavers Roxburghshire Court PartyYes
William Bennet of Grubbet Roxburghshire Court PartyYes
Mr John Murray of Bowhill Selkirkshire Court PartyYes
Mr John Pringle of Haining Selkirkshire Court PartyYes
William Morison of Prestongrange Peeblesshire Court PartyYes
Alexander Horseburgh of that ilk Peeblesshire Yes
George Baylie of Jerviswood Lanarkshire Squadrone Volante Yes
Sir John Johnstoun of Westerhall Dumfriesshire Court PartyYes
William Dowglass of Dornock Dumfriesshire Yes
Mr William Stewart of Castlestewart Wigtownshire Yes
Mr John Stewart of Sorbie Wigtownshire Court PartyYes
Mr Francis Montgomery of Giffan Ayrshire Court PartyYes
Mr William Dalrymple of Glenmuir Ayrshire Court PartyYes
Mr Robert Stewart of Tillicultrie Buteshire Yes
Sir Robert Pollock of that ilk Renfrewshire Court PartyYes
Mr John Montgomery of Wrae Linlithgowshire Yes
John Halden of Glenagies Perthshire Squadrone Volante Yes
Mongo Graham of Gorthie Perthshire Squadrone Volante Yes
Sir Thomas Burnet of Leyes Kincardineshire Court PartyYes
William Seton, younger, of Pitmedden Aberdeenshire Squadrone Volante Yes
Alexander Grant, younger, of that ilk Inverness-shire Court PartyYes
Sir William Mackenzie Yes
Mr Aeneas McLeod of Cadboll Cromartyshire Yes
Mr John Campbell of Mammore Argyllshire Court PartyYes
Sir James Campbell of Auchinbreck Argyllshire Court PartyYes
James Campbell, younger, of Ardkinglass Argyllshire Court PartyYes
Sir William Anstruther of that ilk Fife Yes
James Halyburton of Pitcurr Forfarshire Squadrone Volante Yes
Alexander Abercrombie of Glassoch Banffshire Court PartyYes
Mr James Dunbarr, younger, of Hemprigs Caithness Yes
Alexander Douglas of Eagleshay Orkney and Shetland Court PartyYes
Sir John Bruce, 2nd Baronet Kinross-shire Squadrone Volante Yes
John Scrimsour Dundee Yes
Lieutenant Colonel John AreskineYes
John MureLikely Ayr Yes
James Scott Montrose Court PartyYes
Sir John Anstruther, 1st Baronet, of Anstruther Anstruther Easter Yes
James Spittle Inverkeithing Yes
Mr Patrick Moncrieff Kinghorn Court PartyYes
Sir Andrew Home Kirkcudbright Squadrone Volante Yes
Sir Peter Halket Dunfermline Squadrone Volante Yes
Sir James Smollet Dumbarton Court PartyYes
Mr William Carmichell Lanark Yes
Mr William Sutherland Elgin Yes
Captain Daniel McLeod Tain Yes
Sir David Dalrymple, 1st Baronet Culross Court PartyYes
Sir Alexander Ogilvie Banff Yes
Mr John Clerk Whithorn Court PartyYes
John RossYes
Hew Dalrymple, Lord North Berwick North Berwick Yes
Mr Patrick Ogilvie Cullen Court PartyYes
George Allardyce Kintore Court PartyYes
William AvisYes
Mr James Bethun Kilrenny Yes
Mr Roderick McKenzie Fortrose Yes
John Urquhart Dornoch Yes
Daniel Campbell Inveraray Court PartyYes
Sir Robert Forbes Inverurie Yes
Mr Robert Dowglass Kirkwall Yes
Mr Alexander Maitland Inverbervie Court PartyYes
Mr George Dalrymple Stranraer Yes
Mr Charles Campbell Campbeltown Yes
Total Ayes106
James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton No
William Johnstone, 1st Marquess of Annandale Annan No
Charles Hay, 13th Earl of Erroll No
William Keith, 9th Earl Marischal No
David Erskine, 9th Earl of Buchan No
Alexander Sinclair, 9th Earl of Caithness No
John Fleming, 6th Earl of Wigtown No
James Stewart, 5th Earl of Galloway No
David Murray, 5th Viscount of Stormont No
William Livingston, 3rd Viscount of Kilsyth No
William Fraser, 12th Lord Saltoun No
Francis Sempill, 10th Lord Sempill No
Charles Oliphant, 7th Lord Oliphant No
John Elphinstone, 4th Lord Balmerino No
Walter Stuart, 6th Lord Blantyre Linlithgow No
William Hamilton, 3rd Lord Bargany Queensferry No
John Hamilton, 2nd Lord Belhaven and Stenton No
Lord Colvill No
Patrick Kinnaird, 3rd Lord Kinnaird No
Sir John Lawder of Fountainhall Haddingtonshire No
Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun Haddingtonshire No
Sir Robert Sinclair, 3rd Baronet Berwickshire No
Sir Patrick Home of Rentoun Berwickshire No
Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto Roxburghshire No
William Bayllie of Lamingtoun Lanarkshire No
John Sinclair, younger, of Stevensone Lanarkshire No
James Hamilton of Aikenhead Lanarkshire No
Mr Alexander Fergusson of Isle Dumfriesshire No
Sir Hugh Cathcart of Carletoun Ayrshire No
John Brisbane, younger, of Bishoptoun Ayrshire No
Mr William Cochrane of Kilmaronock Dumbartonshire No
Sir Humphray Colquhoun of Luss Dumbartonshire No
Sir John Houstoun of that ilk Renfrewshire No
Robert Rollo of Powhouse No
Thomas Sharp of Houstoun Linlithgowshire No
John Murray of Strowan No
Alexander Gordon of Pitlurg Aberdeenshire No
John Forbes of Colloden Nairnshire No
David Bethun of Balfour Fife No
Major Henry Balfour of Dunboog Fife No
Mr Thomas Hope of Rankeillor No
Mr Patrick Lyon of Auchterhouse Forfarshire No
Mr James Carnagie of Phinhaven Forfarshire No
David Graham, younger, of Fintrie Forfarshire No
William Maxwell of Cardines Kirkcudbrightshire No
Alexander McKye of Palgown Kirkcudbrightshire No
James Sinclair of Stempster Caithness No
Sir Henry Innes, younger, of that ilk Elginshire No
Mr George McKenzie of Inchcoulter Ross-shire No
Robert Inglis Edinburgh No
Alexander Robertson Perth No
Walter StewartNo
Hugh Montgomery Glasgow Court PartyNo
Alexander Edgar Haddington No
Alexander Duff Banffshire No
Francis Molison Brechin No
Walter Scott Jedburgh No
Robert Scott Selkirk No
Robert Kellie Dunbar No
John Hutchesone Arbroath No
Archibald Scheills Peebles No
Mr John Lyon Forfar No
George Brodie Forres No
George Spens Rutherglen No
Sir David Cuningham Lauder No
Mr John Carruthers Lochmaben No
George Home New Galloway No
John Bayne Dingwall No
Mr Robert Fraser Wick No
Total Noes69
Total Votes175
Sources: Records of the Parliament of Scotland, Parliamentary Register, p.598

See also


  1. The citation of this Act by this short title was authorised by section 1 of, and Schedule 1 to, the Short Titles Act 1896. Due to the repeal of those provisions, it is now authorised by section 19(2) of the Interpretation Act 1978.
  2. Article I of the Treaty of Union
  3. Act of Union 1707, Article 3
  4. Simon Schama (presenter) (22 May 2001). "Britannia Incorporated". A History of Britain. Episode 10. 3 minutes in. BBC One.
  6. Stephen, Jeffrey (January 2010). "Scottish Nationalism and Stuart Unionism". Journal of British Studies. 49 (1, Scottish Special): 55–58.
  7. Larkin, James F.; Hughes, Paul L., eds. (1973). Stuart Royal Proclamations: Volume I. Clarendon Press. p. 19.
  8. Lockyer, R. (1998). James VI and I. London: Addison Wesley Longman. pp. 51–52. ISBN   978-0-582-27962-9.
  9. Lockyer, op. cit., pp. 54–59
  10. Lockyer, op. cit., p.59
  11. Stephen, Jeffrey (January 2010). "Scottish Nationalism and Stuart Unionism". Journal of British Studies. 49 (1, Scottish Special): 55–58.
  12. McDonald, Alan (1998). The Jacobean Kirk, 1567–1625: Sovereignty, Polity and Liturgy. Routledge. pp. 75–76. ISBN   978-1859283738.
  13. Kaplan, Lawrence (May 1970). "Steps to War: The Scots and Parliament, 1642-1643". Journal of British Studies. 9 (2): 50–70. JSTOR   175155.
  14. Robertson, Barry (2014). Royalists at War in Scotland and Ireland, 1638–1650. Routledge. p. 125. ISBN   978-1317061069.
  15. Harris, Tim (2015). Rebellion: Britain's First Stuart Kings, 1567-1642. OUP Oxford. pp. 53–54. ISBN   978-0198743118.
  16. Morrill, John (1990). Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution. Longman. p. 162. ISBN   978-0582016750.
  18. The 1657 Act's long title was An Act and Declaration touching several Acts and Ordinances made since 20 April 1653, and before 3 September 1654, and other Acts
  19. Archived 12 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  20. MacIntosh, Gillian (2007). Scottish Parliament under Charles II, 1660-1685. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 79–87 passim. ISBN   978-0748624577.
  21. C. Whatley, op. cit., p.95
  22. Lynch, Michael (1992). Scotland: a New History. Pimlico Publishing. p. 305. ISBN   978-0712698931.
  23. Harris, Tim (2007). Revolution: The Great Crisis of the British Monarchy, 1685-1720. Penguin. pp. 404–406. ISBN   978-0141016528.
  24. Whatley, C. (2006). The Scots and the Union. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 91. ISBN   978-0-7486-1685-5.
  25. Mitchison, Rosalind (2002). A History of Scotland (3rd ed.). Routledge. pp. 301–2. ISBN   978-0415278805.
  26. E. Richards, Britannia's Children: Emigration from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland since 1600 (Continuum, 2004), ISBN   1852854413, p. 79.
  27. Mitchison, Rosalind (2002). A History of Scotland (3rd ed.). Routledge. p. 314. ISBN   978-0415278805.
  28. 1 2 "The commissioners". UK Parliament website. 2007. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  29. "The course of negotiations". UK Parliament website. 2007. Archived from the original on 21 July 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  30. "Ratification". UK parliament website. 2007. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  31. "1 May 1707 – the Union comes into effect". UK Parliament website. 2007. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  32. Munck, Thomas (2005). Seventeenth-Century Europe: State, Conflict and Social Order in Europe 1598-1700. Palgrave. pp. 429–431. ISBN   978-1403936196.
  33. Jackson, Clare (2003). Restoration Scotland, 1660-1690: Royalist Politics, Religion and Ideas. Boydell Press. pp. 38–54. ISBN   978-0851159300.
  34. Horwitz, Henry (1986). Parliament, Policy and Politics in the Reign of William III. MUP. pp. 10–11. ISBN   978-0719006616.
  35. Lynch, Michael (1992). Scotland, A New History. Vintage. pp. 300–303. ISBN   978-0712698931.
  36. Whatley, C. A. (2001). Bought and sold for English Gold? Explaining the Union of 1707. East Linton: Tuckwell Press. p. 48. ISBN   978-1-86232-140-3.
  37. Watt, Douglas. The Price of Scotland: Darien, Union and the wealth of nations. Luath Press 2007.
  38. Archived 25 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  39. Bambery, Chris (2014). A People's History of Scotland. Verso.
  40. 1 2 "Scottish Referendums". BBC. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  41. The Humble Address of the Commissioners to the General Convention of the Royal Burrows of this Ancient Kingdom Convened the Twenty-Ninth of October 1706, at Edinburgh
  42. Notes by John Purser to CD Scotland's Music, Facts about Edinburgh.
  43. Riley, P. J. W. (1969). "The Union of 1707 as an Episode in English Politics". The English Historical Review. 84 (332): 498–527 [pp. 523–524]. doi:10.1093/ehr/lxxxiv.cccxxxii.498. JSTOR   562482.
  44. G.N. Clark, The Later Stuarts, 1660–1714 (2nd ed. 1956) pp 290–93.
  45. Gordon Brown (2014). My Scotland, Our Britain: A Future Worth Sharing. Simon & Schuster UK. p. 150. ISBN   9781471137518.
  46. House of Lords – Written answers, 6 November 2006,
  47. Announced by the Scottish Culture Minister, Patricia Ferguson, 9 November 2006

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