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Treaty of Union, 1707

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Treaty of Union, 1707

This article is about the treaty creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain. For the treaty creating the United States of Belgium, see Treaty of Union (United States of Belgium).

Documents relevant to personal
and legislative unions of the
countries of the United Kingdom
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
Alien Act 1705
Treaty of Union 1706
Acts of Union 1707
Wales and Berwick Act 1746
Irish Constitution 1782
Acts of Union 1800
Government of Ireland Act 1920
Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921
Royal and Parliamentary Titles 1927
Ireland Act 1949
N. Ireland (Temporary Provisions) 1972
N. Ireland Assembly Act 1973
N. Ireland Constitution Act 1973
Northern Ireland Act 1998
Government of Wales Act 1998
Scotland Act 1998
Government of Wales Act 2006
Scotland Act 2012
Edinburgh Agreement 2012

The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain,[1][2][3][4] 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.[5] The English had foreseen the political problems and refused to provide financial support, which meant that Scotland was forced to fund the venture alone.

Treaty negotiations

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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] 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!"[9] Some recent historians, however, have emphasized the legitimacy of the vote.[10]

Details of the Treaty

The Treaty consisted of 25 articles.[11]

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 2 provided for the succession of the House of Hanover, and for Protestant succession as set out in the English Act of Settlement.

Article 3 provide for the creation of the one, unified, parliament of Great Britain.

Articles 4 gave subjects of Great Britain freedom of trade and navigation within the kingdom and "the Dominions and Plantations thereunto belonging".

Articles 5 to 18 dealt with aspects of trade, movement, taxes, regulation etc., to ensure equal treatment for all subjects of the new kingdom.

Article 16 required the introduction of a common currency for Great Britain, subsequently effected through the 1707–1710 Scottish recoinage.

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 22 provided for Scotland representation in the Parliament of Great Britain to be 16 Lords and 45 MPs.

Article 23 provided for Scotland's peers to have the same rights as English peers in any trials of peers.

Article 24 provided for the creation of a new Great Seal for Great Britain, different from those of England and Scotland, and that the English Great Seal could be used until this had been created.

Article 25 provides 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:

Kingdom of England[12]

Kingdom of Scotland


Further reading

  • Ferguson, William. Scotland's Relations with England: a survey to 1707 (1994)
  • Fry, Michael. The Union: England, Scotland and the Treaty of 1707 (2006)
  • Harris, Bob. "The Anglo Scottish Treaty of Union, 1707 in 2007: Defending the Revolution, Defeating the Jacobites," Journal of British Studies Jan. 2010, Vol. 49, No. 1: 28-46. in JSTOR Historiography
  • Macinnes, Allan I. "Treaty of Union: Voting Patterns and Political Influence," Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung (1989) 14#3 pp. 53–61 in JSTOR, statistical analysis

External links

  • Scottish Parliament
  • Text of Union with England Act
  • Text of Union with Scotland Actfr:Acte d'Union (1707)
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