BEHIND THE HEADLINES
Your forebears became citizens of the Kingdom of Great Britain when England and Scotland were united.
The major events of 1700–1709
This was the culmination of a long process that had many stops and starts and not a few angry words. The monarch had worn the crowns of England and Scotland since 1603, when James VI of Scotland also became James I of England. The countries had maintained separate parliaments and commercial systems, however (England had been incorporated with Wales since the time of Henry VIII).
Each country had its own Act of Union, England in 1706 and Scotland in 1707, to put into effect the Treaty of Union that had been agreed by parliamentary commissioners in a negotiation that took place at the Cockpit Theatre in Whitehall. At first England would not yield any share in her monopoly of trade with the colonies, but in the final settlement the rights of trade were thrown open in a customs union. This increased Scottish prosperity and reduced resentment at what was seen as a loss of independence.
Anglican churchmen longed to be able to extend their influence north of the border, which Scottish Presbyterians would not countenance. One thing they both agreed on was the union’s reinforcement of a ban on Catholics ever taking the throne. Your Catholic ancestors were held in suspicion by both countries and subjected to prejudice.
Scotland retained her separate legal system, but a uniform coinage was adopted with the pound Scots ceasing to be legal tender, and the pound sterling now used throughout Great Britain.
Scottish peers were not happy, because only a ‘representative’ 16 of their number would be allowed to sit in the House of Lords under the
Your Catholic ancestors were held in suspicion by both countries
agreement. However, one peer who was more than happy with the settlement was the man largely responsible for the passage of the Union Act through the Scottish parliament before it was dissolved. This was Lord Queensberry, who received around half of the funding awarded by Westminster to pay debts and arrears due to government servants.
Commissioners present the Articles of Union to Queen Anne