Great Britain – the Union of 1707

In 1706, commissioners appointed on behalf of Scotland and on behalf of England met to negotiate the terms of a union between the two kingdoms. Agreement was reached swiftly and a Treaty of Union, with twenty-five Articles, was concluded on the 22nd July 1706. The Union took effect “on the first Day of May which shall be in the Year one thousand seven hundred and seven”.

The Treaty was enacted by twin Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland and then of England. The Parliament of Scotland made some amendments and clarifications before approving the Articles. The English Parliament passed the amended version. The full text of the Treaty was set out in the Acts.

The two Acts were given short titles retrospectively in the nineteenth centuries for ease of reference: “The Union with England Act 1707” and “The Union with Scotland Act 1706”. (The 1707 Act was passed before the 1706 Act; the dating is because the English legal year began on 25 March. Not until 1752 did England and the rest of the British Empire catch up with Scotland and have the year beginning on 1st January.)

The English Act is the more comprehensive, incorporating the Articles of Union and the text of two Scottish Acts, on the manner of electing Peers and Members and on the securing of the Kirk. I have given the original text of both Acts in full as they appear in the statute books.

The union of these two mediaeval kingdoms was achieved after a century of attempts. After a hundred years of harmony, it was in the heat of a sudden, unexpected breach arising between the two in which union came, but the union answered all the causes of that animosity. A good account of the troubled years leading up to the union and the circumstances in which it was achieved are found in Alexander Macrae’s book Scotland Since the Union, of which the relevant pages are reproduced on this site:

  • Extracts from Scotland Since the Union by Alexander Macrae – the story of the Treaty of Union

For a longer-term historical commentary, and a look at the turbulent years immediately leading to the union, see:

  • The Approach of the Union
  • Commentary on the Treaty of Union, article by article

For those seeking more completeness of information, I have links also to:

  • The Union with England Act in current form as amended on the Statute Law Database
  • The Union with Scotland Act in current form as amended on the Statute Law Database

Completion, with Ireland

Ninety-three years later the union was complete, with the further union between Great Britain and Ireland. For that material see ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland – 1801’