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Union, Act of (Scotland)

Union, Act of (Scotland), 1707. United England and Scotland and established the kingdom of Great Britain. In 1603 there was a union of crowns when James VI of Scotland became James I of England but, despite the king's wish the two countries remained independent states until 1707 (except for a brief legislative union during the Interregnum). After 1688 William III was anxious to promote union and in 1700 the House of Lords approved a bill authorizing the appointment of commissioners to negotiate, but the Commons did not agree. The process was restarted on the accession of Anne in 1702, but commissioners did not meet until April 1706, as there was much opposition or indifference in both countries. The English government was driven to seek a union when in 1705, to try to extract economic concessions, the Scottish Parliament passed an act allowing Scotland to choose a successor to the Scottish crown on Anne's death, putting the prospect of the Hanoverian succession in jeopardy. The articles of union negotiated by the commissioners formed the basis of the Acts passed by both the English and Scottish Parliaments.

The unitary state of Great Britain was established on 12 May 1707 with Anne as queen, and the succession guaranteed in the house of Hanover. The Scottish Parliament was abolished, and Scottish representation in the British parliament consisted of 45 MPs and 16 representative peers (the numbers based on the respective sizes of the two economies). Free trade between North Britain (Scotland) and South Britain (England) was established, and England's colonies were open to the Scots on an equal footing. The Scots retained their own legal system (though the House of Lords soon established its position as the highest court of appeal from the Scottish courts), as well as their own Privy Council (this, however, was abolished in 1708). The established churches were to remain the same: Anglican in England and presbyterian in Scotland.

The Union did not settle the problem of mistrust between the two nations, and though England secured immediately the succession and thus her northern frontier (one of her main objectives), Scotland's chief expectation of economic benefit was several decades in coming.

Clyve Jones

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"Union, Act of (Scotland)." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Union, Act of (Scotland)." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/union-act-scotland

"Union, Act of (Scotland)." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/union-act-scotland

Union, Act of (Wales)

Union, Act of (Wales). A 20th-cent. term applied to two Acts of Parliament (1536, 1542/3) in which Wales was declared ‘incorporated, united and annexed’ to the English realm. The 1536 Act laid down principles ‘for laws and justice to be administered in Wales in like form as it is in this realm’; the Act of 1542/3 contained further details. This legislation completed social, administrative, and judicial developments in the principality and marcher lordships of Wales since Edward I's reign. It sprang from the circumstances of the 1530s: Henry VIII's divorce and the breach with Rome, royal supremacy over the church, and associated problems, and order and defence. It was also part of an attempt to bring uniformity and control to provincial government, by attacking franchises; it expressed ideas about royal sovereignty and reflected the bureaucratic genius of Thomas Cromwell. The 1536 Act created five shires (Monmouth, Brecon, Radnor, Denbigh, and Montgomery) in addition to the six of the old principality (Carmarthen, Cardigan, Anglesey, Caernarfon, Merioneth, and Flint) and existing counties palatine, Pembroke and Glamorgan. Equality at law was granted to the Welsh, and English law, which had made great advances in Wales, became official usage. Each Welsh county had one MP (prosperous Monmouth two), and each county town had one parliamentary burgess (except poor Harlech), with ‘contributory’ boroughs providing support. The 1542/3 Act created the Court of Great Sessions, with twelve shires grouped in four circuits and Monmouth joining the Oxford circuit, an anomaly that created uncertainty as to whether Monmouthshire was or was not Welsh. The Council in the Marches received statutory recognition with supervisory judicial powers. The English language, which had made considerable inroads, was the language of administration and justice, a sore point later on. The measures were welcomed by influential Welshmen and were regarded as a boon for long after; the growth of Welsh nationalism in the 20th cent. modifed this view.

Ralph Alan Griffiths

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"Union, Act of (Wales)." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/union-act-wales

Union, Act of (Ireland)

Union, Act of (Ireland), 1801. United the parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland, abolished the Irish Parliament in Dublin, and ended Irish legislative independence granted in 1782. The Act originated from Britain's difficulties in governing Ireland especially after the Irish rising of 1798, and was designed to strengthen British security against France. The first bill in 1799 failed because of the opposition of powerful protestant interests which dominated the Irish Parliament. They were bought off by bribery and lavish promises of honours and titles and the Act came into force on 1 January 1801. In place of her own House of Commons of 300 members, Ireland was given 100 MPs at Westminster, drawn from the counties and larger boroughs, while 28 Irish peers were elected for life by the whole Irish peerage to represent them in the Lords. Four bishops of the Church of Ireland, serving in rotation, also entered the Lords. The Act was intended to pave the way for catholic emancipation in Ireland but George III refused to consent and Pitt, the prime minister, resigned. The Act was always unpopular in Ireland, Daniel O'Connell and later Charles Stewart Parnell leading the agitation for repeal, but it lasted until 1920.

E. A. Smith

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Union, Acts of

Union, Acts of Series of acts uniting England with Wales (1536) and Scotland (1707), and Britain with Ireland (1800). In addition, the 1841 Act of Union united French-speaking Lower Canada and English-speaking Upper Canada. The Welsh Acts incorporated Wales within the kingdom of England, provided Welsh parliamentary representation and made English the official language. The Scottish Act united the Kingdoms of England and Scotland to form Great Britain. Scotland retained its legal system and Presbyterian Church. In accordance with the Irish Act, the Irish legislature was abolished, and Ireland was given 32 peers and 100 seats in the British Parliament. The established Churches of the two countries were united, and free trade was introduced. The Canadian Act led to the establishment of a Parliament for the province.

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Union, Act of

Act of Union: For the union of England and Scotland (1707), see Great Britain; for the union of Ireland (1800) with Great Britain, see Ireland.

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Act of Union

Act of Union See Union

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