BE­HIND THE HEAD­LINES

Your fore­bears be­came cit­i­zens of the King­dom of Great Bri­tain when Eng­land and Scot­land were united.

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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

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