Covenanters Against the Union: The Hebronites’ Declaration of 1706 #History #Scotland

‘A great many People in the South were so opposite to the Union, that they conveened in Martial Order upon the 20 Day of November 1706, and burned the Printed Articles, &c. at the Cross of Dumfries, and caused Print an account of the same in a Paper, called, The burning of the Articles of the Union, &c. which the Parliament caused be burnt, so deaf were they to all the Cries given by the Inhabitants in their Addresses, which flowed not from disloyalty, but from sad Apprehensions that their ALL was at stake.’ (Hepburn & The Hebronites, Humble Pleadings, 255.)

The Hebronites who proclaimed the declaration, below, were a faction of the post-Revolution Society people, or Covenanters. They were led by a minister, John Hepburn. They were utterly scathing about the Scots who had conducted the Union negotiations and warned Parliament of armed resistance to oppose it.

An Account of the Burning of the Articles of the Union at Dumfries,

These are to Notifie to All Concerned, what are Our Reasons for, and Designs in the Burning of the Printed Articles of the Proposed Union with England, with the Names of the Scots Commissioners, Subscribers thereof; together with the Minute of the whole Treaty, betwixt them and the English Commissioners thereanent.

We have herein no Design against Her Majesty, nor against England, or any Englishman; neither against Our present Parliament, in their Acts or Actings, for the Interest, Safety and Sovereignty of this OUR NATIVE and ANCIENT NATION; But to Testifie Our Dissent from, Discontent with, and Protestation against the Twenty five Articles of the said Union, Subscribed by the foresaid Commissioners; as being Inconsistent with, and altogether prejudicial to, and utterly Destructive of the NATION’s Independency, Crown Rights, and Our Constitute Laws, both Sacred and Civil. We shall not here Condescend upon the particular Prejudices, that do, and will Redound to this Nation, if the said Union should be carried on, according to the Printed Articles: But refers the Reader to the Variety of Addresses, given in to the present Parliament, by all Ranks, from almost all Corners of this Nation, against the said Union: Only We must say, and Profess, That the Commissioners for this Nation, have been either Simple, Ignorant, or Treacherous, if not all three; when the Minuts of the Treaty betwixt the Commissioners of both Kingdoms are duely Considered; and when we compare their Dastardly Yieldings unto the Demands an proposals of the English Commissioners; who on the contrar, have Valiantly acquit themselves for the Interest and Safety of their Nation.

We acknowledge it is in the Power of the Present Parliament to give Remissions to the Subscribers of the foresaid Articles; and we heartily wish for good Agreement amongst all the Members of the Parliament, so as it may tend to the Safety and Preservation of both CHURCH and STATE, with all the Privileges belonging thereto, within the Kingdom of SCOTLAND.

But if the Subscribers of the foresaid Treaty of Union, with their Associats in Parliament, shall presume to carry on the said Union, by a Supream Power, over the Belly of the Generality of this Nation: Then and in that case; as we Judge, that the Consent of the Generality of the same, can only Divest them of their Sacred and Civil Libertys, Purchased and maintained by Our ANCESTORS with their Blood: So we Protest, whatever Ratification of the foresaid Union may pass in Parliament, contrar to Our Fundamental LAWS, LIBERTIES & PRIVILEGES, concerning Church & State, may not be binding upon the Nation, now nor at any time to come: And particularly we Protest against the Approbation of the first Article of the said Union, before the Privileges of this Nation centain’d in the other Articles have been adjusted and Secured: And so we earnestly Require, that the Representatives in Parliament, who are for Our Nation’s Privileges, would give timeous warning to all the Corners of the Kingdom; That we and our Posterity become not Tributary and Bond slaves to our Neighbours, without acquiting our Selves, as becomes Men and Christians. And we are Confident, that the Soldiers not in Martial power, have somuch of the Spirits of SCOTS MEN; that they are not Ambitious to be Dispose of, at the pleasure of another Nation: And we hereby Declare, that we have no Design against them in this matter.

This was publickly read from the mercat-cross of Dumfries, about one of the clock in the afternoon, the 20th day of November, 1706, with great solemnity, in the audience of many thousands the fire being surrounded by double squadrons of foot and horse, in martial order: And after the burning of the said books, (which were holden up, burning on the point of a pike, to the view of all the people, giving their consent by huzzas and chearful acclamations.) A Copy hereof was left affixed on the cross, as the testimony of the south part of this nation against the proposed Union, as moulded in the printed articles thereof; this we desire to be printed, and kept on record, Ad futuram rei memoriam [i.e., For future memory].’

For detailed images of the Declaration, see here.

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Image © Copyright Dumfries & Galloway Council.

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or other social networks or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine


~ by drmarkjardine on April 17, 2016.

10 Responses to “Covenanters Against the Union: The Hebronites’ Declaration of 1706 #History #Scotland”

  1. I have always been impressed by the forward planning of the Hebronites. Rather than waiting until after their protest to have a report of it printed up, they had the report printed up in advance. In the absence of any reliable eye-witness reports of what actually happened, we are left with the Hebronites own Press Release as the first draft of what has now become history. Nine years later, the armed Hebronites were in Dumfries again- but this time to offer their support for King George and the United Kingdom against a Jacobite force which threatened the town.

    • One of the odd, well perhaps interesting things, related the swapping of sides is that the Hebronites did not put their declaration from 1706 in their Humble Pleadings of 1713. I’ll be downloading my theories on Hepburn and the origin of the Hebronites in the next few posts no doubt.

  2. […] While he was a burgh commissioner in the Scottish Parliament before the Union, John Clerk, younger of Penicuik, encountered John Hepburn and the Hebronites at Sanquhar in 1705. Clerk was an enlightened man, but like most of the elite of his time he was highly dismissive of the 3,000 to 4,000 followers of Hepburn who were ‘most of the all the Cameronians in Scotland’. The Hebronites would later publicly oppose the Union and burn the articles of it at Dumfries: […]

  3. […] publicly burnt the articles of Union, a list of the Scottish commissioners who had negotiated it and issued a declaration against the Union at the mercat cross of Dumfries. The declaration was carefully framed to have widespread appeal among the opponents of Union. […]

  4. […] Address’ to Parliament detailing their objections to the Union on 12 November. However, in their declaration at Dumfries on 20 November they had made a far broader appeal to opponents of the Union and, accompanied by 540 foot and […]

  5. […] Saturday 30 November, 1706, Parliament responded to the tumults in Glasgow, the Society people’s declaration at Dumfries and letters organising an anti-Union rebellion in Lanarkshire, by ordering a proclamation that was […]

  6. […] Hebronites’ printed declaration at Dumfries of 20 November questioned whether the rank and file soldiery were committed to the defence of […]

  7. […] of their Kingdom. The new act was squarely aimed at the Society people and their allies who had conducted armed protests against the Treaty of Union with England, which was then being voted on in Parliament, and that Scotland’s elite, with good reason based […]

  8. […] Four days later on Wednesday 20 November, armed Covenanters declared against the Union at Dumfries. […]

  9. […] the most interesting omission in Defoe’s letter is the proclamation against the Union of 540 Society people/Covenanters/Hebronites at Dumfries on 20 Novemb…. Perhaps Defoe was unaware of that action on 23 November, although news of it had surely reached […]

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