Causes of the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707, and reactions?

Oct 2017
142
South Australia
I'm writing a uni essay on this topic currently, thought it would be an interesting question for discussion and might give me some inspiration (this isn't a "homework help" thread, just thought it would be a good topic and might get my own ideas flowing to discuss it)

A popular narrative has been that Scotland was "bought and sold for English gold" (Robert Burns) by bribes to prominent Unionist figures in the Scottish Parliament (the "parcel of rogues in a nation") who 'betrayed their country'. Other people argue that it was an economic necessity, especially after the disaster at Darien. What do you think?

How much popular support for the Act of Union do you think there was? It seems to me like most Scots were opposed.

I feel this is quite a pertinent topic considering Brexit and the Scottish independence movement - if you think your opinion on the Act of Union is biased by your opinion in current discussions around Scottish nationalism and independence, let us know and tell us how you think these are related.
 
Jun 2017
537
maine
I'm writing a uni essay on this topic currently, thought it would be an interesting question for discussion and might give me some inspiration (this isn't a "homework help" thread, just thought it would be a good topic and might get my own ideas flowing to discuss it)

A popular narrative has been that Scotland was "bought and sold for English gold" (Robert Burns) by bribes to prominent Unionist figures in the Scottish Parliament (the "parcel of rogues in a nation") who 'betrayed their country'. Other people argue that it was an economic necessity, especially after the disaster at Darien. What do you think?

How much popular support for the Act of Union do you think there was? It seems to me like most Scots were opposed.

I feel this is quite a pertinent topic considering Brexit and the Scottish independence movement - if you think your opinion on the Act of Union is biased by your opinion in current discussions around Scottish nationalism and independence, let us know and tell us how you think these are related.
My first reaction is to agree with Robert Burns. Scotland was long undermined by fractions of its own aristocracy. James V was right ("It cam wi' a lass and it will gang wi' a lass") --only, for Scotland, it first came with St. Margaret and went with Margaret Tudor whose connections to that terrible business in England were to be ruinous.

However there is little doubt that the Darien Scheme really made a negative difference (the loss of circa 1/5 of Scottish capital--involving both ordinary & wealthy Scots) cannot be discounted. Nor can the shame and disappointment. The Scots really needed for the scheme to work after the problems caused by the Navigation Act of 1660.

There weren't that many in the Scottish parliament that voted this in. I think that, even in this hard time, the bulk of the Scots recognized "the auld enemy". As Hamish MacPherson wrote, "it was a shabby and underhand anti-democratic deal".
 
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Jan 2013
1,072
Toronto, Canada
Most Scots were opposed; they agreed to it for lack of a better option - the only alternative king was the Catholic pretender who was unacceptable to Presbyterians and just voting no meant an absent monarch without any of the economic benefits of union. The Act of Union was the least worst option.
 
Mar 2015
1,458
Yorkshire
The Restoration is usually portrayed (in England) as the return of jolly, forgiving King Charles II, content to limit his revenge to throwing the bones of a few old Parliamentarians into the Thames.

It is far from the truth.

Nowhere was worse affected than the South West of Scotland, Dumfriesshire. Nine Years into his reign, Charles decided to rip up the Covenant and to impose Episcopacy on Scotland. This was actively opposed with dissenters leaving for the safety of the Netherlands and an uprising by peasants in the South West. This was brutally suppressed by 6000 Highlanders recruited by Charles - called the "killing time".

The resistance did not end. Support came from the Earl of Argyll, Archibald Campbell, who had been the most powerful noble in the Scotland, was arraigned for treason and executed.

Small wonder that his son, James Campbell, and the strong Campbell Clan were strong supporters of the Union with England.

Fear of a return of a vengeful Catholic Monarch in the form of the Stuarts was an important factor throughout Scotalnd.
 
Jan 2012
445
South Midlands in Britain
An argument for the Union was that the blood of The Bruce would sit on the throne of England, which was first achieved with the accession of James VI to the English throne as James the First of England. The two kingdoms began a gentle and uncomplicated integration from that point. A trend which was reinforced during the English Civil Wars when Scottish military forces acted out different roles at different times within England.

The Darien scheme broke the Scottish economy. The subsequent opportunistic influx of capital from England was what Burns was referring to. He had a point, but he was a Scots patriot. He had to be reminded later that as a Customs official he had an obligation to The Crown.

The simple truth was that in effectively taking over the busted Scottish economy the English gave the Scots access to trade with the English colonies in North America, India and the Caribbean from which they had previously been excluded. In a short space of time the Scots had become an integral part of a major trading economy which was in the process of going global.
 
Sep 2013
323
SouthWest USA
As mentioned above, the reasons for the Union where manifold: greed, corruption, self-preservation, self-interest, fear of religious persecution, etc.

It surprises me, however, that the "Seven Ill Years" (the famines in Scotland of the 1690s) are rarely mentioned as one of the destabilizing social and economic factors that played a role in the formation of the Union a decade later.


guy also known as gaius
 
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notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,780
UK
Scotland was bust. It could have been conquered by England, as part of the wars against France and the Auld Alliance.
 
Jun 2017
537
maine
Scotland was bust. It could have been conquered by England, as part of the wars against France and the Auld Alliance.
The English army might have taken the border region for a while but, with the Wade Bridges still in the future, they probably wouldn't have been able to take the Highlands. Economic distress doesn't preclude guerilla warfare.
 
Jan 2012
445
South Midlands in Britain
The English army might have taken the border region for a while but, with the Wade Bridges still in the future, they probably wouldn't have been able to take the Highlands. Economic distress doesn't preclude guerilla warfare.
An Anglo-Scottish army led by Stinking Billy managed to subdue the Highlands after the slaughter of Culloden Moor in 1746, some thirty years after a practice run in in 1715/6.
 
Jun 2017
537
maine
But the Wade Bridges went up between 1725 to 1735 and Hanoverian "pacification began in 1746. I've seen many Wade Bridges: a few span rivers but many just provide an easy way over the rough Highland topography that had thwarted previous English actvity--including service by General Wade himself in 1724.
 
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