The passing of the Treaty of Union by the Scots Parliament

The passing of the Treaty of Union by the Scots Parliament

The Passing of the Treaty of Union in the Scots Parliament

Process and Voting

  • The Treaty of Union was made up of 25 articles, agreed between the Commission of Scotland and England.
  • After considerable negotiations, each article was passed separately by the Scottish Parliament, and then the entire treaty was put to a vote.
  • The crucial vote in the Scottish Parliament in January 1707 was tight and contentious, passing by 106 votes for to 69 against.

Reasons for Acceptance

  • Scotland was in economic turmoil largely due to the failed Darien Scheme, and the offer from England to clear their debts (~£400,000) if they agreed to the Union was compelling. This helped tilt the Parliament in favour.
  • The promise of secured access to English and overseas markets proved to be alluring, especially for Scottish merchants and traders.
  • Presbyterianism was to become the official religion of Scotland guaranteed by law, which reassured many who feared attempts to restore a Catholic monarchy.

Opposition and Controversy

  • The process was marred by allegations of bribery and corruption. Many believed Scottish members of parliament had been ‘bought’ by English gold.
  • There was significant opposition amongst the public, with riots and protests particularly in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Many Scots felt they were losing their independence, and the treaty was a betrayal by the elite.
  • Some critics felt Scotland would be subservient to England and lose their national identity.
  • Others feared that England would dominate Scottish trade, pricing them out of business and dimming the prospect of any projected economic benefits.


  • Despite the opposition, the Act of Union was signed into law on 1 May 1707, creating the united entity of Great Britain.
  • The initial years after the union witnessed a wave of anti-union sentiment and unrest, reflecting the deep divides within Scottish society.
  • Over time, however, the economic advantages became more apparent and resistance somewhat subsided, though sentiments of Scottish nationalism remained, laying ground for the debates over Scottish independence that continue to this day.