Scotland and the Commonwealth: 1651-1660

Military Occupation and Early Attempts of Unification

During 1651 much of Scotland was occupied by the English armed forces under Oliver Cromwell. The Parliament of the Commonwealth of England began debating how to incorporate Scotland - initially with bills for pure and simple annexation. Before any resolution was passed, the Parliament appointed Oliver St. John, Sir Henry Vane, Richard Salwey, George Fenwick, John Lambert, Richard Deane, Robert Tichborne, and George Monck (23 Oct/2 Nov 1651) to serve as Commissioners of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England, for ordering and managing affairs in Scotland. On 28 Oct/7 Nov 1651 the Parliament enacted a "Declaration of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England, concerning the Settlement of Scotland"; this Declaration was ordered on 24 Dec 1651/3 Jan 1652 to be printed and published in Scotland.

The Commissioners arrived at Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland, on 15/25 Jan 1652 and later moved to Edinburgh, where they issued a declaration (21/31 Jan 1652) proclaiming their resolution to provide for the administration of justice and to resist any authority not derived from the Commonwealth of England. The Declaration of 28 Oct/7 Nov 1651 known as the "Tender of Union" was proclaimed "under authority of the Commonwealth of England" at the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh on 4/14 Feb 1652, and invited representatives of the shires and royal burghs of Scotland to subscribe an oath that "Scotland be incorporated and made one Commonwealth with England". For this purpose, the Tender was read to assembled representatives of the shires and burghs at Dalkeith on 13/23 Feb 1652. In anticipation of final settlement of the Scottish affairs, the Council of State of the Commonwealth of England appointed (8/18 Apr 1652) four English and three Scottish judges to form a provisional Court of Judicature for Scotland, which was established in Edinburgh on 18/28 May 1652.

By 30 Apr/10 May 1652 all the responses (of the shires and burghs responding at all) were in the hands of the Commissioners. Before that date, on 25 Mar/4 Apr 1652, a "Declaration of the Parliament of England, in order to the Uniting of Scotland into one Commonwealth with England" was enacted, and was proclaimed at the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh on 21 Apr/1 May 1652. On 13/23 Apr 1652 a bill for an "Act for incorporating Scotland into one Commonwealth with England" was given a first and a second reading in the Commons and was referred to a committee (where it remained until the dissolution of the 'Rump' Parliament on 20/30 Apr 1653). A similar bill was introduced and read in the 'Barebones' Parliament of 1653, and again failed enactment by the time of the dissolution.

The Ordinance of Union

The Instrument of Government of 16/26 Dec 1653 styled the polity "Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland", but the de iure situation of Scotland was only clarified by the "Ordinance for uniting Scotland into one Commonwealth with England" ("Ordinance of Union") issued by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell on 12/24 Apr 1654:

His Highness the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, &c., taking into consideration how much it might conduce to the glory of God and the peace and welfare of the people in this whole island, that after all those late unhappy wars and differences, the people of Scotland should be united with the people of England into one Commonwealth and under one Government, and finding that in December, 1651, the Parliament then sitting did send Commissioners into Scotland to invite the people of that nation unto such a happy Union, who proceeded so far therein that the shires and boroughs of Scotland, by their Deputies convened at Dalkeith, and again at Edinburgh, did accept of the said Union, and assent thereunto; for the completing and perfecting of which Union, be it ordained, and it is so ordained by his Highness the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging, by and with the advice and consent of his Council, that all the people of Scotland, and of the Isles of Orkney and Shetland, and of all the dominions and territories belonging unto Scotland, are and shall be, and are hereby incorporated into, constituted, established, declared and confirmed one Commonwealth with England; and in every Parliament to be held successively for the said Commonwealth, thirty persons shall be called from and serve for Scotland.

And for the more effectual preservation of this Union, and the freedom and safety of the people of this Commonwealth so united, be it ordained, and it is ordained by the authority aforesaid, that all the people of Scotland and of the Isles of Orkney and Shetland, and of all the dominions and territories belonging unto Scotland, of what degree or condition so ever, be discharged of all fealty, homage, service and allegiance, which is or shall be pretended due unto any of the issue and posterity of Charles Stuart, late King of England and Scotland, or any claiming under him; and that Charles Stuart, eldest son, and James, called Duke of York, second son, and all other the issue and posterity of the said late King, and all and every person and persons pretending title from, by or under him, are and be disabled to hold or enjoy the Crown of Scotland and other the dominions thereunto belonging, or any of them; or to have the name, title, style or dignity of King or Queen of Scotland; or to have and enjoy the power and dominion of the said kingdom and dominions, or any of them, or the honours, manors, land, tenements, possessions and hereditaments belonging or appertaining to the said Crown of Scotland, or other the dominions aforesaid, or to any of them, any law, statute, usage, ordinance or custom in Scotland to the contrary hereof in any wise notwithstanding.

And it is further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that the said office, style, dignity, power and authority of King of Scotland, and all rights of the three Estates of Scotland to convocate or assemble in any general Convocation or Parliament, and all conventional and Parliamentary authority in Scotland, as formerly established, and all laws, usages and customs, ordaining, constituting or confirming the same, shall be and are hereby and from henceforth abolished and utterly taken away and made null and void.

And that this Union may take its more full effect and intent, be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that the Arms of Scotland, viz. a cross, commonly called St. Andrew's Cross, be received into and borne, from henceforth in the Arms of this Commonwealth, as a badge of this Union; and that all the public seals, seals of office, and seals of bodies civil or corporate, in Scotland, which heretofore carried the Arms of the Kings of Scotland, shall from henceforth instead carry the Arms of this Commonwealth.

Passed 12th April, 1654. Confirmed Anno 1656. Cap. 10.

The Ordinance of Union was proclaimed by Lieutenant General George Monck (later 1st Duke of Albemarle, Earl of Torrington, Baron Monck of Potheridge, Beauchamp And Teyes) on 4/14 May 1654, as part of a series of grand ceremonies marking his entry into Edinburgh. The Ordinance was given statutory confirmation by the assent of the Protector (at the same ceremony at which the "Humble Petition and Advice" was assented to) on 26 Jun/6 Jul 1657, to "An Act and Declaration, touching several Acts and Ordinances made since the Twentieth of April 1653, and before the Third of September 1654; and others."

End of the Union

The Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, and with it the union of Scotland with England, lapsed on 7/17 May 1659 with the return of the 'Rump' Parliament, which tacitly rescinded all ordinances promulgated during the Protectorate. Notably, an Act for the Great Seal of England, passed by the Parliament on 14/24 May 1659, omitted any reference to Scotland as a part of the Commonwealth. With the unfinished process for (re-)enacting the incorporation of Scotland into "one Commonwealth with England", the 'Rump' charged a committee composed of the members of the Council of State (18/28 May 1659) "to consider of the Union between Scotland and England upon the Grounds formerly declared by this Parliament". This process remained unfinished. General Monck, when orchestrating the process leading to Restoration, refused to admit Scottish representatives into the Convention Parliament of England that sat from 25 Apr/5 May 1660, leaving Scotland in another spell of limbo. In May 1660 the Council of State appointed Commissioners in the name of the Parliament to govern Scotland. These Commissioners, Sir Thomas Morgan, Philip Twistleton, William Daniel, and Molyneux Disney, took office on 11/21 May 1660 and, with the acquiescence of Charles II governed Scotland until 23 Aug/2 Sep 1660, on which date the Committee of Estates (or what remained of it from the invasion of 1651) re-convened. On 14/24 May 1660 Charles II was proclaimed King in Edinburgh.

[1] "History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate", ed. by S.R. Gardiner, 4 vols (London, 1988 reprint).
Last updated on: 14 Mar 2010 03:58:41