Act of Union (Scotland)

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The Act of Union (Scotland) (1707) officially established the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Since 1603 when James VI of Scotland became James I of England the crowns of the two countries had been unified but the countries themselves remained independent with separate Parliaments. James himself had wished national union, but it was not until 1700 that any action was taken. In 1702, with the accession of Queen Anne, commissioners were appointed to negotiate.

A sticking point was Scotland’s reluctance to accept Hanoverian succession, but the commissioners managed to negotiate an agreement that formed the basis for the Acts of Union in both parliaments to be passed. On 12 May 1707, Anne became queen of Great Britain, the Scottish Parliament was abolished and a number of Scottish Members of Parliament and Peers – commensurate with the relative populations of the two countries – were given representation in the British Parliament in London.

Free trade was established between the two, Scots were given equal rights in the colonies, and the Scottish legal system was retained - although the highest court of appeal became the House of Lords. The two “established” churches – Anglican and Presbyterian would remain.

There was still mistrust of course (there still is in some quarters and, in September 2014, there will be a referendum to decide if Scots want to remain in the Union) but the Union - once the problems caused by Stuart unwillingness had been settled - gave England a secure northern border for the first time in its history, and economic benefits began to filter northward, albeit slowly at first, but with increasing energy as Scots became major partners in driving the Industrial Revolution.

References

"The Oxford Companion to British History", 1997, p.944
"Select Documents in English Constitutional History", 1937, p.481