Act of 1707 and 1801 Union Summary

Summary of Act of Union of 1707

What was the Reason for the Act of Union of 1707?

England and Scotland were two independent nations until the early 17th century. Chaos was created with the sudden death of Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1603 who left no heir as she was unmarried. Now the English Crown was given to her next heir who was James VI, her nearest cousin. James VI was already King of Scotland at that time. This gave rise to the Union of Crown means England and Scotland shared the same emperor.

However, James wanted a union that could bring these two kingdoms together into a single, larger, unites states. So in 1603, he presented the issue for the Union of England and Scotland in their parliaments but was rejected very soon.

Later three other attempts were made in 1606, 1667 and 1689 to make a union of these two kingdoms through the Acts of Parliaments.

The Two Perspectives  of Union

The English government wished that Scotland always stays under their monarchy as they feared that if Scotland becomes an independent nation and had a different king, they would make another alliance and would stand up against England. At that time they needed political protection against the attacks of French and also the restoration of Jacobite and the purpose would be fully served by Scotland merger.

 As Scotland’s Act of Security that was passed in 1704 stated that any Catholic Monarch can also be chosen and that was against the wish of England who wanted a Protestant as a Royal Succession.  However, the Act of Settlement of 1701 ensured that a Protestant would be the King of England even after their Union.

Scotland was much into the union as they assumed that they would recover from their financial losses that were caused due to the Darien Scheme. The measures to lift them from these losses was placed in the Alien Act and this forced the government of Scotland to compel with the Act of Settlement.

As many Scottish governments officials had invested a large amount in the Darien Scheme and their main aim was to recover this, they were greatly in the favor of Union. But the People of Scotland heavily opposed this union. Many petitions that were set to Scotland were initially rejected as there were huge protests going on in Edinburg and many other cities of Scotland.

Emblem of Acts of Union
Emblem of Acts of Union

What was The Treaty of Union?

Later after much settlement, the Treaty of the union was negotiated and passed between two countries after which the bills were drawn that later became the acts of 1706 and 1707. The Act was effective on May 1, 1707. On this day the parliament of Great Britain was formed after the merger of  English and Scottish Parliament. Their house was the Palace of Westminster in London which was previously the house of the English Parliament.  This Act later came to be known as the Union of Parliaments.

From this union, both the countries were benefitted.  The economy of Scotland thrived up while the people of Scotland helped the British Empire to govern in a better way. The result was a society where people were highly skilled and educated too.

Summary of the Act of the Union of 1801

What was the Reason for the Act of Union of 1801?

The French Revolution began in 1789 and the war of France against Britain was declared in 1793. Irish people were delighted by the ideas of liberty, democracy, fraternity which were the result of the French Revolution.

 France abandoned the religious inequality and set up a new democratic government and Irish people especially Catholics were in favor of that. Also, parliamentary reform was demanded by Irish Protestants.

However many Irish Politician also wanted that Ireland should be supporting England in their crisis apart from their demands of  Parliamentary Reforms and Catholic Emancipation. they wanted to preserve their connections with Britain. Also, there was a continuous fear that Ireland might rebel once again or would support the new invasion of the French.

Hence in 1799, Prime Minister William Pitt represented a bill in the Irish Parliament that states to unite Ireland and Great Britain as a single Kingdom. However, the main point he clarified while introducing the bill was to outlaw any Catholics to become a parliament member and from other important positions. This was stated in the last two Penal Laws.

The bill was rejected as many Irish parliament members were in denial of the union.

The Union Articles
The Union Articles

How the Act of Union of 1801 Came into Existence?

Later Pitt had to reform the bill which had the emancipation of Catholics. Because of this reason, the Protestant members of parliament rejected the bill earlier. The first attempt to this bill failed in 1799.

But Pitt did not give up and tried putting efforts to win the trust of Irish parliament members along with Lord Cornwallis, the Viceroy Castlereagh, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and the Chief Secretary. They also offered bribes and financing to a large scale.

 Their efforts were successful on January 1800, and later the bill was passed by a majority of 60 members of the Irish parliament. The Union was then approved by the parliament of British and the two kingdoms united together to become The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on January 1801.

The Irish Parliament then dissolved. 100 Mp’s of Irish Parliament and 32 Irish Peers had reserved their seats in the House of Parliament in London. An agreement was then made in 1921 that Ireland would be part of this treaty until the introduction of the Anglo-Irish Agreement which will bring the war of Independence to an end.

The Union of Act of 1801

The Union of the Act of 1801 stated that

  • “Ireland was to be joined to Great Britain into a single kingdom which was called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.”
  • ” The parliament of Dublin was abolished. Ireland was to be represented at Westminster by 100 MPs, 4 Lords Spiritual and 28 Lords Temporal.”
  • “There was to be free trade between Ireland and Britain.”
  • “The Anglican Church was to be recognized as the Official Church of Ireland.”
  • “Ireland kept its own Courts of Justice and Civil services.”
  • “No Catholics were to be allowed to hold public office.”
  • “No Catholics were to be allowed to hold public office.”
  • “There was to be no Catholic Emancipation.”

The act, however, did not solve anything by ruling Ireland from Westminster, it just increased the grievance sense for the people of Ireland. Instead of becoming an asset, the act took the form of liability.

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