Once Scottish MPs had agreed to commence negotiations for union, they obtained assurance from Queen Anne that the Aliens Act would be repealed before negotiations began. This act threatened to withdraw trading and land ownership rights from Scots unless Scotland agreed to the Hanoverian succession by 25 December 1705. The Act was repealed at Westminster by late December 1705.
- Hanoverian succession
The arrangement whereby the throne should pass to Sophia, the Dowager Electress of Hanover, and after her, her son George, the Elector of Hanover, on the death of Queen Anne.
- Secretary of State
Senior minister in the government. In the early 18th century there were two secretaries, both responsible for domestic and diplomatic affairs. The secretary for the 'southern department' dealt with the catholic powers of southern Europe, as well as southern England, Wales, Ireland, and the American colonies. The secretary for the 'northern department' handled matters concerning the protestant powers of northern Europe, including northern England and Scotland. In 1782 these posts became Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary.
- Whig Junto
Group of aristocratic Whig leaders who were trying to make their way into Godolphin's mainly Tory government.
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Family tree of the English and Scottish royal dynasties.
• © National Portrait Gallery, London www.npg.org.uk
The Scottish commissioners were formally nominated by the Queen on 27 February 1706. The list of 31 commissioners was settled mainly by the Dukes of Queensberry and Argyll. Most were allies of one or other Duke and could be depended on to favour union. About half of them were Government ministers, Treasury deputies and officials, Scottish judges and other officials.
At the head of the list was Queensberry himself, and his chief adviser in Scotland, the Lord Chancellor of Scotland, the Earl of Seafield. Argyll was not included as he was away on campaign in Flanders with the Duke of Marlborough.
Trading and fiscal issues were going to be critical in the negotiations. Commissioners with relevant expertise included an industrialist (William Morrison, owner of saltworks and a glassworks), a leading Glasgow merchant (Daniel Campbell), two directors of the Bank of Scotland (the earls of Leven and Glasgow), and a director of the Company of Scotland (Francis Montgomery, one of several commissioners who had been investors) which had funded the disastrous Darien scheme. There were also several who could be expected speak for the burghs and their trading interests (such as Sir James Smollet, Dumbarton, and Sir Patrick Johnston, the provost of Edinburgh).
As was to be expected, the Scottish Parliament was also well-represented.
An equivalent number of English commissioners were formally nominated on 10 April. They were government ministers and officers of state - including Godolphin, and the two secretaries of state, Sir Charles Hedges and Robert Harley - plus the Whig Junto leaders and a number of their close associates. The large number of Whigs on the commission underlined Godolphin's need for the Whigs to support union. The Tories, who were not in favour of union, were not represented on the commission.
The Commission's job
Now they were appointed, the commissioners needed to draw up the union agreement. The agreement was composed of paragraphs called 'articles'. The commissioners' task was to draw up a set of articles that both Parliaments could approve.