IAN Stuart (Letters, 7 July) complains that a previous correspondent, Colin Fox, attempted to rewrite history. If I may paraphrase Mr Stuart’s comments thus: “As is usual with Unionists they too attempt to rewrite history.”
Mr Stuart refers to “The 1707 Act of Union” as a means to secure Protestant succession to the throne. May I be allowed space to put right this and other not uncommon popular myths postulated by Unionists and non-Unionists alike as they rewrite Scottish history for their own narrow ends.
Historically there never was an Act of Union, nor was there a Union of Parliaments nor was there, nor could there ever be, a Union of Crowns in 1603.
What happened in the early part of the 17th century and the equally early part of the 18th century was this; when Queen Elizabeth of England died then King James VI of Scotland inherited the English crown from a personal legacy left to him by the late queen due to a dynastic marriage, decades previously, between the English House of Tudor and the Scottish House of Stuart. Thus, for the first time and thereafter, up to the present day, the reigning monarch simultaneously held/holds the crowns of two nation states, Scotland and England.
In 1707 there was a treaty between the then independent nation kingdom states of Scotland and England which determined that the respective national parliaments would each go into “abeyance ad interim” (where they remain to this day). The treaty of 1707 was a mutual agreement between Scotland and England to create a new parliament to serve both nations with equality where neither side had hegemony over the other nor could either side bring to the new parliament powers they did not previously have. Ergo no Union of Parliaments took place. The new parliament was defined as “The Parliament of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain”.
The Treaty of 1707 was not about securing the Protestant Hanoverian throne. When James VI inherited the English crown there was anger among English vested interests at the thought of a Scottish king holding the crown of England and there began a process of economic attacks against Scotland’s worldwide trading interests, culminating in the collapse of the Darien Scheme, aided and abetted by heavily armed Spanish and English naval warships harassing the unarmed trading ships of Scotland. Scotland lost about a quarter of its cash in the disaster.
In stepped England’s Lord Chancellor, Lord Godolphin, who bribed 23 of Scotland’s MPs (Commissioners) to the sum of £20,540, 17 shillings and 7 pence to vote through the Treaty of Union. The treaty went through without the will of the people of Scotland and riots broke out all over.
It was jealousy and greed that brought the Treaty of Union of 1707 upon us, not religion, and it was not an Act of Union. It was then and is today a “Treaty of Union in 1707”.
John JG McGill, Kilmarnock