The Kingdom of Great Britain

Map of England

On the 24thMarch 1603, Queen Elizabeth I of the House of Tudor died, leaving no heir to the English throne.  King James VI of Scotland, son of Mary, Queen of Scots and great-grandson of Mary Tudor, became King James I of England.

Since 1603, when England and Scotland had been ruled by the same King, many attempts had been undertaken to unite the kingdoms into one voice.

On the 1stMay 1707, the “Kingdom of Great Britain,” came into force, with the “Treaty of Union,” binding two ancient kingdoms into one; England and Scotland. This new kingdom, had a new flag, comprising of the crosses of St.George and St.Andrew.

English and Scottish Parliaments were abolished, only to be replaced by the “Parliament of Great Britain. The English held 513 seats plus 196 in the Lords, whilst the Scots held 45 seats plus 16 in the Lords.  As the Scots held the smaller number of seats, they only paid a fortieth of the British Tax bill, as they were now part of the British Tax System.

Scottish taxes north of the border had been relatively low, compared with those in the south.  Now they had to pay their share of England’s eighteen million pond debt, which sent uproar across the land.

With the Scots up in arms, and the ink on the agreement; union of the two countries barely dry. Something had to be done to sweeten the deal.  So it was the English Exchequer granted a tax concession on salt and malt, along with a payment just short of £400,000 pounds.  In August of 1707, the promised payment arrived by wagons, and only one quarter was paid in gold and silver ingots.  The balance was paid in paper money, Scotland was not happy by any means.

Towards the end of 1707, the Scottish Privy Council was abolished, and a new Treason Act for Scotland was introduced in 1709, based on English forms of law.  This was in clear breach of the treaty, and Scottish nobles felt betrayed.

One case in breach of the treaty: In 1711, an Anglican Clergyman was convicted for using the English Prayer Book, and had his sentence overturned by the House of Lords.  By 1715 London’s interference into how Scotland was run, led to conflict among its people.

After Scotland’s union with England in 1707, trade with France went on the decline, but the Scots still had a yearning for the finer things in life; French Brandy and Silks. Higher customs duties led to a rise in smuggling.

In 1713, a bill was put forward, calling for the abolishment of the Union, by an unhappy Scotland, but was defeated in the House of Lords by only four votes.

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