Act of Union 1707: Overview

Here we look at the relationship between the two independent kingdoms of England and Scotland in the 16th and 17th centuries. We explore the critical period leading up to the passing of Acts of Union by both the English and Scottish parliaments in 1707. Finally, we look at the aftermath of the Union, and the development over many years of a 'British' identity.

Union of the Crowns

union flag

Until the early 17th century England and Scotland were two entirely independent kingdoms.

Revolution and civil war

In March 1625 James VI and I died and was succeeded by his son Charles I.

Restoration

On 14 May 1660 Charles II was formally restored to his kingdoms and proclaimed King of Great Britain and Ireland.

Union between Scotland and England?

The idea of a union between England and Scotland was aired in February and March 1689 during the deliberations of the Convention Parliament in Edinburgh.

Negotiations for Union 1702 - 03

In February 1702 William III sent a message to both houses at Westminster urging consideration of "a firm and intire union" - a union of the two kingdoms with a single parliament.

The Scottish Parliament in revolt 1703

The union commission in London was adjourned in February 1703 with plans to resume in October. But with the rise of anti-English feeling in the Scottish Parliament they had to be abandoned.

Westminster passes the Alien Act 1705

Rumours of a plot to restore the Stuarts in Scotland had increased English nervousness of an independent, Jacobite and possibly Francophile Scotland.

Negotiating the Articles of Union 1705 - 1706

The Scottish Parliament assembled in Edinburgh on 28 June 1705, but for nearly a month did nothing to consider the question.

The 1706 negotiations

Negotiations between the English and Scottish commissioners were held at the Cockpit, one of the government buildings at Whitehall in London.

The Articles, constitution and trade

There were 25 Articles of Union which formed the basis of the two separate Acts of Union passed by the parliaments at Westminster and in Edinburgh.

Ratification, October 1706 - March 1707

In contrast to the abortive negotiations for union of 1702-3, the English this time had gone out of their way to accommodate Scottish demands, particularly over access to English trade.

Westminster debates the Articles

On 28 January 1707, 12 days after Edinburgh ratified the Articles of Union, the Queen formally presented them for ratification to Parliament at Westminster.

Mob unrest and disorder for Scotland

Before 1706 reports of unrest and public protest against union were rare.

End of the old Scottish Parliament

By agreeing to the Union the Scottish Parliament had also voted for its own extinction.

Thanksgiving and lament

On 1 May 1707, after years of discussion and debate, England and Scotland became a single state - the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

United into One Kingdom

England and Scotland were now, as described in the Act, "United into One Kingdom".

The 1715 rebellion

In the next few years, discontent with the Union rankled at all levels of Scottish society. Mainly because of its adverse political and economic effects on Scotland.

The 1745 rebellion

After the 1715 Rebellion most of Lowland Scotland, like England, accepted the Hanoverian dynasty.

Britain and the wider world

By the late 18th century a British identity had been forged in the wider world.

Also in this section

Follow the key dates in the history of union between Scotland and England

External links