United into One Kingdom

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

Developing the Hanoverian state

The Act of Union of 1707 merged England and Scotland into a single state of Great Britain and created a single Parliament at Westminster.

But little thought had been given to how the Union would actually work in practice, or how Scotland would be governed in its new relationship with England. This had to be worked out in practice in the decades that followed.

Governing Scotland

Responsibility for Scottish government now lay with ministers in London. But it was soon clear that this small, distant bureaucracy was not equipped to manage either the collection of revenue, or the maintenance of internal order, in Scotland.

To make matters worse, in 1708 Parliament abolished the Scottish Privy Council, the executive body formerly responsible for overseeing government in Scotland.

Almost by default, therefore, the pre-existing, largely local structures of Scottish governance were left to look after themselves, with barely any supervision from London.

North Britain

Scotland, or North Britain as it was officially known in this period, did not adapt easily to this new relationship with England. Two key factors complicated its internal administration.

One was the prevalence of Jacobitism in the Highlands, and parts of Lowland Scotland, which posed a threat - at times grave - to the internal stability not just of Scotland, but of the British state as a whole.

Unpopular taxes

The other was the unpopularity of new taxes imposed in Scotland on basic commodities - to bring them into line with those levied in England - and the heavy-handed fashion in which revenue officials enforced them.

This led to widespread opposition, with frequent, violent attacks on customs and excise officials.

Related information

Jacobites

Supporters of the claim to the throne of James II, who abdicated in 1688, and his Stuart descendants, the ‘Old Pretender’ (his son) James Edward Stuart and the ‘Young Pretender’ (his grandson) Bonnie Prince Charlie. ‘Jacobus’ is Latin for James.