Covenanters Against the Union: Act against all Musters and Rendezvouses of 1706 #History #Scotland
On 30 November, 1706, most of the members of the Scottish Parliament voted to strike down a law under which armed, Protestant Scots could legally muster for the defence 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 on intelligence, feared were about to mount a rising to raise Parliament and prevent Union.
This act cut the legal basis for popular resistance to the Union and declared those who took up arms in defence of Scottish sovereignty as “traitors”.
‘Act against all Musters and Rendezvouses during the present Session of Parliament [without her Majesty’s special command]
OUR Sovereign Lady, considering, that by the 3d act of the 2d session of this Parliament intituled, “Act for Security of the Kingdom,” it is statute and enacted, that the whole Protestant Heretors, and all the Burghs within the same, shall forthwith provide themselves with Fire-arms for all the Fencible-men, who are Protestants, within their respective Bounds; and the said Heretors and Burghs are thereby empowered and ordained, to discipline and exercise their Fencible-men once in the month at least; and also considering that the disorderly and seditious meetings and tumults, in some places in the country [i.e., in Dumfries, Glasgow etc.], do[es] make it necessary at this occasion to suspend the effect of the foresaid clause, during this Session of Parliament allennarly [i.e., only]:
Therefore, Her Majesty, with advice and consent of the Estates of Parliament, doth hereby suspend the effect of the foresaid clause, and that during this Session of Parliament allennarly [i.e., only].
And further her Majesty, with advice and consent foresaid, discharges and strictly prohibits the subjects of this Kingdom to meet and assemble together in arms after the publication hereof, upon any pretence whatsoever, during the space foresaid, without her Majesty’s special command, or express licence had or obtained thereto:
And requires and commands all the subjects of this Kingdom to retire to their own habitations and lawful employments; certifying such as shall do in the contrary that they shall be liable to the pains of High Treason, conform[ing] to the Laws and Acts of Parliament made against unlawful convocations risings in arms.’ (Printed in Defoe, History of the Union, 661; RPS, 1706/10/112.)
The act was followed by a proclamation at the mercat crosses of Dumfries, Lanark and Glasgow that was designed to make the point.
In the last session of the Scottish Parliament in early 1707, the period for the enforcement of this act was was extended on 21 February until 1 January 1708. (RPS, 1706/10/316.)
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