A pint of wine

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In “Now and Then” (31 May) you mention the 1727 foundation of the Royal Bank of Scotland from a company of debenture holders of the Equivalent stock, with £111,000 capital.

The Equivalent was defined in the Acts/Treaty of Union of 1707 [Article XV] as a sum of £398,085 and 10 shillings to be paid to Scotland to compensate for Scotland, which had no national debt, accepting liability for a part of England’s national debt.

Some of this was paid, at least in the form of debentures, hence the foundation of the Royal Bank of Scotland, but it seems uncertain whether all of it was ever paid.

I have seen no discussion of whether and to what extent the relative national debts of the two countries before the Union should be taken into account in allocating debts between them on the termination of the 1707 Union.

Perhaps of interest to some, Article VII of the treaty [concerning excise duties] lets us deduce the “exchange rate” of pints of beer.

Twelve gallons Scots, before the Union, was equal to 34 gallons English.

In both cases there were eight pints to the gallon, so the Scots pint was nearly equal to three English pints.

The English measure became the Imperial one used since 1707. This may lend a fresh perspective to the old Scots song “Gae bring tae me, a pint of wine…”

David Stevenson

Blacket Place

Edinburgh

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