Skip to main content

Thanksgiving and lament

On 1 May 1707, after years of discussion and debate, England and Scotland became a single state - a united kingdom called “Great Britain”.

Celebrations in London

In London the occasion was marked by splendour and celebration. Like the Duke of Marlborough's recent victories in Europe, the Union was seen as a further achievement in the preservation of Britain from its enemies.

Londoners turned out to witness the magnificent pageantry of the Queen's procession to St Paul's Cathedral for a service of thanksgiving.

No rejoicing in Edinburgh

In Scotland's capital the mood was very different and no celebrations were held. When it was announced in March that 1 May would be a day of public thanksgiving in England and Ireland, it was decided not to press a similar celebration on the Scots.

First Parliament of Great Britain

On 30 April 1707 peers in the House of Lords summoned MPs from the Commons, to hear a proclamation read in the Queen's name declaring that the Parliament of Great Britain had come into being.

On 5 June a further proclamation was published declaring that the first Parliament of Great Britain would meet at Westminster on 23 October 1707.

Those who were chosen to represent Scotland in the new Parliament were almost all men who had strongly supported the Union in the old Scottish Parliament.

Most of them were also supporters of the Court, and a third of the 45 MPs followers of Queensberry. The 16 representative peers were headed by Queensberry himself, and the Dukes of Montrose and Roxburghe, whose support as leaders of the squadrone, had been critical.

Short honeymoon

When the new parliamentary session began on 23 October, English parliamentarians warmly welcomed their new Scottish colleagues in the Lords and Commons.

The honeymoon was short, however. Scots MPs had to accustom themselves to a cut-and-thrust style of debate in the Commons which was very different from the slow formality to which they had been accustomed in Edinburgh.

In her speech to parliament on 6 November, the Queen made no mention of the Union, until she had given a long account of the state of the war against France. This highlighted the main reason why England had wanted Union.


Squadrone Volante

Italian term meaning 'flying squadron', used to refer to the small group of young Presbyterian whig nobles and their supporters - known also as the New party - who were keen to dissociate themselves from the main opposition.

In Scottish parliamentary politics they held the central ground between the Court and Country parties.


The Speaker of the House of Commons is the Member of Parliament who chairs the parliamentary sessions.