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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.

Next the Scottish Parliament had to agree to the Articles of Union. This turned out to be arduous and was accomplished against a background of protest, often violent, in many parts of Scotland. 

Support and opposition

The new session of the Scottish Parliament began on 3 October 1706. Its main business was to agree the Articles of Union.

Queensberry was appointed the Queen's High Commissioner for the session and was responsible for a successful outcome. Honours, appointments, pensions and even arrears of pay and other expenses were distributed to clinch support from Scottish peers and MPs.

About 100 of the 227 members of the single-chamber Scottish Parliament were court supporters - on the side of the Queen and her government - and thus in favour of union.

Extra votes

For extra votes the court was able to rely on the 25 or so members of the Squadrone Volante led by the Marquess of Montrose and the Duke of Roxburghe.

Opponents of the court, generally known as the Country party, were a loose grouping of factions and individuals. They included leading anti-unionists, such as the Duke of Hamilton, Lord Belhaven and Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, who spoke forcefully and passionately against the union.

However, as Country party members were not ordered to attend and vote as was the case with the Court party, the latter was able to maintain a steady majority over its opponents.

Approval and royal assent

The 25th and last Article was approved on 14 January 1707. The next day the draft of an act for ratifying the Articles as "enlarged, explained and amended" was introduced.

On 16 January it was ordered that the Act for guaranteeing the Presbyterian Kirk be made part of the Act of Ratification.

The Act of Ratification was then put to a vote. In effect this was a final vote on the Articles of Union. The Court-Squadrone Volante majority achieved a comfortable 110 to the Country party's 67 votes.

The Act was then touched with the royal sceptre by Queensberry, the usual manner of signifying the sovereign's approval of acts of the Scottish Parliament.


Scottish Kirk

The Church of Scotland. It is a Presbyterian assembly - governed by representatives of the congregation rather than by ministers and bishops.

Country and Court parties

Scottish Parliamentary groupings: The Court party tended to support the monarch's ministers and the Country party tended to oppose them. Parties were looser groupings than they are now.