The Treaty of Union of 1707 in Scottish History

James VIII

There is frequent reference to the Treaty of Union of 1707 in the Scottish Independence debate at the present time. This is twinned with repeated mention of the economic reasons for it but there is remarkably little comment about the primary reason for the making of this treaty  It was in reality an agreement made between the two Whig(Radical) parties in Scotland and England which centred on the major political problem of the period namely  the disputed succession to both the kingdoms of England and Scotland.  The monarch of the time, Queen Anne,daughter of the deposed King James VII(II) was childless and was not expected to survive for any length of time and the increasingly urgent political question of the period was who was to succeed her on the thrones of both England and Scotland. The main claimant was the son of the exiled King James VII(died 1701) who his supporters, known as Jacobites, from the latin for James, Jacobus called King James VIII(III). However he was a Catholic who refused to accept the Revolutionary Settlement of 1688 which meant the Whig party in England turning to George, Elector of Hanover. There was an added complication in that England was involved in the War of the Spanish Succession 1702 – 13 which meant France would back James’s attempt to regain the thrones for the Stewart (now renamed to Stuart) dynasty which made it imperative for the English Parliament to get the Act of Succession adopted by the Scottish Parliament thus barring the Stewart kings return. The Scottish Parliament used this lever to force concessions from England and the Treaty of Union of !707 between the two Whig parties emerged. The supporters of the exiled King James strongly opposed this agreement and thereafter sought to undo the 1707 treaty and insure the Succession of James to the thrones of both kingdoms through repeated Jacobite Rebellions of which that in 1745 is the best known.