Treaty of Union
|Treaty of Windsor||1175|
|Treaty of York||1237|
|Treaty of Perth||1266|
|Treaty of Montgomery||1267|
|Treaty of Aberconwy||1277|
|Statute of Rhuddlan||1284|
|Treaty of Edinburgh–N'hampton||1328|
|Treaty of Berwick||1357|
|Laws in Wales Acts||1535–1542|
|Crown of Ireland Act||1542|
|Treaty of Edinburgh||1560|
|Union of the Crowns||1603|
|Union of England and Scotland Act||1603|
|Act of Settlement||1701|
|Act of Security||1704|
|Treaty of Union||1706|
|Acts of Union||1707|
|Wales and Berwick Act||1746|
|Acts of Union||1800|
|Government of Ireland Act||1920|
|Royal and Parliamentary Titles||1927|
|N. Ireland (Temporary Provisions)||1972|
|N. Ireland Assembly Act||1973|
|N. Ireland Constitution Act||1973|
|Northern Ireland Act||1998|
|Government of Wales Act||1998|
|Government of Wales Act||2006|
The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England (which included Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland, which took effect on 1 May 1707. The details of the Treaty were agreed on 22 July 1706, and separate Acts of Union were then passed by the parliaments of England and Scotland to ratify the Treaty.
The idea of uniting the two sovereign states had been widely discussed 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. Fear of Scottish cooperation with France or in a French invasion was a constant concern in England. Three previous attempts to unite the two countries by Acts of Parliament, in 1606, 1667, and 1689 were unsuccessful, although the political and economic circumstances at the start of the 18th century were such that the Scottish political establishment, many of whom had lost large sums of money in the ill-fated Darién scheme which had failed due to administrative incompetence and military opposition from Spain, supported the idea, despite its being deeply unpopular among the Scottish population at large. English entrepreneurs had foreseen the political problems and refused to provide financial support, which meant that the Scottish entrepreneurs were forced to fund the venture alone.
Deeper political integration had been a key policy of Queen Anne ever since 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. The Scottish Parliament had originally begun to organise an election of the commissioners they would have nominated to negotiate on behalf of Scotland. However, in September 1705, the leader of the opposition Country Party, the Duke of Hamilton, after having attempted to obstruct the negotiation of a treaty, proposed that the Scottish commissioners be nominated by the Queen. The commissioners were nominated on the advice of the Duke of Queensberry and the Duke of Argyll.
Of the 31 Scottish commissioners who were appointed, 29 were members of the government Court Party and one was a member of the Squadron Volante. At the head of the list was Queensberry, and the Lord Chancellor of Scotland, the Earl of Seafield. George Lockhart of Carnwath, a member of the opposition Cavalier Party, was the only commissioner opposed to union. The 31 English commissioners, including government ministers and officers of state, such as 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.
Negotiations between the English and Scottish commissioners began on 16 April 1706 at the Cockpit in London. The sessions opened with speeches from William Cowper, the English Lord Keeper, and Lord Seafield, the Scottish Lord Chancellor, each describing the significance of the task. The commissioners did not carry out their negotiations face to face, but in separate rooms. They communicated their proposals and counter-proposals to each other in writing and there was a blackout on news from the negotiations. 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.
After the negotiations ended on 22 July 1706, the acts had to be ratified by both Parliaments. Scottish proponents of union believed that failure to agree to the treaty would result in the imposition of union under less favourable terms, and English troops were stationed just south of the border and in Ireland as an "encouragement". Months of fierce debate in both capital cities and throughout both kingdoms followed. In Scotland, the debate on occasion dissolved into civil disorder, most notably by the notorious 'Edinburgh Mob'. The prospect of a union of the kingdoms was deeply unpopular among the Scottish population at large, and talk of an uprising was widespread. However the Treaty was signed and the documents were rushed south with a large military escort.
The united Kingdom of Great Britain was born on 1 May 1707, shortly after the parliaments of Scotland and England had ratified the Treaty of Union by each approving Acts of Union combining the two parliaments and the two royal titles. Scotland's crown, sceptre, and sword of state remained at Edinburgh Castle. Queen Anne (already Queen of both England and Scotland) formally became the first occupant of the unified British throne, with Scotland sending forty-five Members to the new House of Commons of Great Britain, as well as representative peers to the House of Lords.
Significant financial payoffs to Scottish parliamentarians were later referred to by Robert Burns when he wrote "We're bought and sold for English gold, Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation!" Some recent historians, however, have emphasized the legitimacy of the vote.
Details of the Treaty
The Treaty consisted of 25 articles.
Article 1 states "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."
Article 3 provide for the creation of the one, unified, parliament of Great Britain.
Article 4 gave subjects of Great Britain freedom of trade and navigation within the kingdom and "the Dominions and Plantations thereunto belonging".
Articles 5 to 15, 17 & 18 dealt with aspects of trade, movement, taxes, regulation etc., to ensure equal treatment for all subjects of the new kingdom.
Article 19 provided for the continuation of Scotland's separate legal system.
Article 20 provided for the protection of heritable offices, superiorities, heritable jurisdictions, offices for life, and jurisdictions for life after the union.
Article 21 provided for the protection of the rights of royal burghs.
Article 23 provided for Scotland's peers to have the same rights as English peers in any trial of peers.
Article 24 provided for the creation of a new Great Seal for Great Britain, different from those of England and Scotland, but also provided that the English Great Seal could be used until this had been created.
Article 25 provided that all laws of either kingdom that may be inconsistent with the Articles in the Treaty are to be declared void.
The following commissioners were appointed to negotiate the Treaty of Union:
- Acts of Union 1707 parliament.uk, accessed 31 December 2010
- Uniting the kingdom? nationalarchives.gov.uk, accessed 31 December 2010
- Making the Act of Union 1707 scottish.parliament.uk, accessed 31 December 2010
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- Scottish Referendums BBC News, accessed 23 October 2008
- The commissioners, UK Parliament website.
- The course of negotiations, UK Parliament website.
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