Claim of Right Act 1689
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|Long title||The Declaration of the Estates of the Kingdom of Scotland containing the Claim of Right and the offer of the Croune to the King and Queen of England.|
|Citation||1689 c. 28|
|Territorial extent||Kingdom of Scotland|
Status: Current legislation
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Revised text of statute as amended|
In the Glorious Revolution, William of Orange landed with his army in England on 5 November 1688. King James VII of Scotland, who was also King of England and Ireland as James II, attempted to resist the invasion. He then sent representatives to negotiate, and he finally fled England on 23 December 1688.
Whilst the Convention Parliament in England declared that James, as King of England, had abdicated the Government, and issued an English Bill of Rights on 13 February 1689 offering the Crown of England to William and Mary, the Scots found themselves facing a more difficult constitutional problem. As James had not been present in Scotland during the crisis and had not fled from Scottish territory in December, it would be highly dubious to claim that he had 'abdicated' the Scottish throne.
Therefore, a Convention of the Scottish Estates met to consider letters received on 16 March 1689 from the two contenders for the Crown. On 4 April they voted to remove James VII from office, drawing on George Buchanan's argument on the contractual nature of monarchy.
Later that month, the Convention adopted the Claim of Right and the Article of Grievances, enumerating what they saw as the contemporary requirements of Scottish constitutional law. It also declared that, because of his actions in violation of these laws, James had forfeited the Scottish throne. The effect of the Claim of Right was to "bolster the position of parliament within the Scottish constitution at the expense of the royal prerogative".
The Convention proceeded to offer the crown on the basis of these documents to William and Mary, who accepted it on 11 May 1689, and were proclaimed King and Queen of the Scots as William II and Mary II, though with subsequent controversy over whether the Claim of Right articles against Episcopacy were fully accepted by the new monarchy.