The Treaty of Union is approved by the Scottish Parliament

On this day in Scottish History

treaty of union
Articles of Union

On 16th January 1707, the Scottish Parliament ratified the Treaty of Union. TheUnion with England Act’ which approved the Treaty of Union is passed by a majority of 110 votes to 69. The English Parliament had approved the ‘Union with Scotland Act’ the previous year. The treaty contained twenty-five articles and each one had been voted on and approved before the final vote. The union would take effect on 1st May 1707.

The union was an economic necessity for Scotland after years of failed harvests and near bankruptcy due to the fiasco of the Darien Scheme (1698-1700). For England, the union was a political and strategic safeguard, essentially securing its back door.

Scotland kept its independence with respect to its legal and religious systems, however, coinage, taxation, sovereignty, trade, parliament, flag and armed forces became one.

There were widespread protests against the union in Scotland, with riots and major disorder in many towns across the country, the worst being in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dumfries. Outside parliament in Edinburgh, crowds burned copies of the treaty. The signed documents were sent south under military protection. Ironically it was Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dumfries that – among many other places – greatly benefited from the union and, in time, became places where the union was widely supported.

Queen Anne gave royal assent on 6th March. The English Parliament ratified the treaty on 16th March. The Scottish Parliament met for the last time on 25th March and was dissolved on 28th April. The union went into effect on 1st May 1707 with the first formal meeting of the Parliament of Great Britain taking place on 23rd October 1707.

The twenty-five articles in the Treaty of Union were:

1: “That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain.”

2: The succession to the throne of Great Britain will pass to the Protestant heirs of Princess Sophia of Hanover and all Papists shall be excluded from the Crown of Great Britain.

3: The United Kingdom will be represented by one and the same Parliament to be called the Parliament of Great Britain.

4: All subjects of Great Britain will have freedom of trade within the United Kingdom and with her colonies.

5: All trading ships will be registered with Customs Officers in Great Britain.

6: Great Britain will operate the same trade regulations and be liable for the same customs and duties on imports and exports.

7: The level of excise duty on liquor set across England will operate throughout Great Britain.

8-14: Tax and Duties

A new land tax

New taxes on salt and malt from 1710

Duties on windows and lights, and on coal, culm and cinders from 1710

Scotland will be exempt from duties on stamped paper, vellum and parchment.

15: Scotland will receive the sum of £398,085 10s sterling, known as the Equivalent.

To reimburse Scottish investors for their losses in the Darien colony

To close the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies

To pay overdue salaries to Scottish government officials

To invest in promoting the fishing industry, the manufacture of coarse wool and other industries in Scotland

To help Scotland pay new taxes due in the future from the British Parliament

16: Great Britain will use the same currency. Coins minted in Scotland will have the same value as those minted in England.

17: Great Britain will use the same form of weights and measures. The Scottish system will be abolished and replaced with the English system.

18-19: Scotland will keep its own separate laws, legal system and courts of law.

20-21: The Royal Burghs of Scotland and those holding heritable jurisdictions i.e. posts and offices granted for life, will have their rights and privileges preserved after union.

22-23: Scotland will be represented by 16 peers in the House of Lords and 45 members of Parliament in the House of Commons in the first Parliament of Great Britain. Scottish peers will have the same privileges as English peers.

24: After the Union, there will be one Great Seal for Great Britain but Scotland will retain use of the Great Seal of Scotland for matters relating to private rights or grants. The Scottish Crown, Sceptre and Sword of State and all Scottish public and private records will be kept and will remain in Scotland.

25: The final article revokes all previous acts that might operate against the union and confirms the full authority of law in passing the Act of Union.

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