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Treaty of Union 1707

There are few more controversial episodes in the history of Scotland than the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, precisely because it continues to affect our lives today. We should note here that there has often been a tendency to refer to the Treaty of Union quite incorrectly as the ‘Act of Union’. In fact, the Act of Union refers only to the union that took place between the UK and Ireland in 1800.

England and Scotland had shared a monarchy during the period 1603-49, and again from 1660, but had remained separate kingdoms. But the king and his ministers had exerted close control over the Scottish government in the late 17th century, until, in 1689, a new situation allowed the Scottish parliament to act with more independence. This led to friction with the English government whose policies often differed from Scotland. Scots complained of English wars against Scotland’s trading partners (such as France and the Netherlands), at a time of crop failure and dearth, and were angered by English obstruction of the attempt by Scotland to establish a trading colony in Panama, known as the Darien venture. 

However, English attempts to regulate the royal succession, without consulting Scotland, and the renewal of war with France, led to a crisis in their relationship. Fearful that Scotland might side with France, or restore the exiled Stewart dynasty, English ministers sought a political union which would neutralise Scotland as a threat to English foreign policy. Two sets of commissioners were appointed by Queen Anne on the advice of her English cabinet to negotiate a union, with hints of war if they failed. A Treaty was agreed in 1706, ratified in 1707.

Public opinion in Scotland was against the Treaty, fearful that Scotland would be dominated by English interests, outvoted, weighed down by new taxes, and her Presbyterian church threatened. 

The author of the 1706 pamphlet (see PDF below) repeated all of these fears, which, as it happened, turned out to be correct. The pamphlet is written in the style of a letter addressed to a member of the Scottish parliament, making an argument against any political union with England.  In the PDF document you will find the original text accompanied by background and language notes.