THEY were some of the most magnificent words ever spoken in Scottish political history, and it was supremely fitting that they came from the mouth of Winnie Ewing, Madame Ecosse herself…

“The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on the 25th day of March in the year 1707, is hereby reconvened.”

As the “Mother of the House” – the oldest MSP elected in 1999 – it fell to Ewing to make that historic announcement which formally opened the devolved Scottish Parliament.

Far be it from me to question a political heroine of mine but Ewing was being a trifle disingenuous, for the Parliament that did indeed adjourn 316 years ago this week was a full national Parliament of a sovereign country while as we all now know for certain after the judgement of the UK Supreme Court – its very existence a palpable breach of the Acts of Union – that the present Scottish Parliament is a creature of Westminster that exists only at the whim of the UK Parliament.

I am often asked about the Union and why Scotland gave up its sovereignty to join this new state, this United Kingdom. My answer is simple and always the same: the landed and moneyed classes imposed the Union on both countries when the majority of citizens, Scottish and English, did not want it, largely because the upper class thought it would make the wealthy wealthier through increased trade and would guarantee the continued existence of the Protestant monarchy.

I don’t think we nowadays realise how important that Protestant monarchy was to those who brought about the Union. It was the main motivation of Queen Anne in bringing forward the Union, and it was only achieved once an Act was passed to guarantee the supremacy of the Church of Scotland as the Scottish state religion.

I am pretty certain that only a small percentage of the people of Scotland have ever fully read the Act of Union finally passed by the Scottish Parliament on January 16, 1707, and which still governs our Scottish nation to this day – for instance, for all our talk of the sovereignty of the people, we can’t choose our monarch and he or she cannot be a Roman Catholic. Institutional sectarianism, as I have previously called it.

So to mark Saturday’s 316th anniversary of the adjournment of the Scottish Parliament, on your behalf I have been looking at that historic day and the events immediately leading up to it. My findings may surprise you.

I further suspect that most Scots couldn’t name a dozen of the “Parcel of Rogues”, as Robert Burns so witheringly called them in his poem of the same name, who voted the sovereign nation of Scotland’s polity out of existence – so, for the first time in any newspaper that I can recall, I am going to name all of the Parcel of Rogues.

The records of the former Scottish Parliament are available online and contain the names of the 110 men who voted to approve the Act of Union. They are listed under the “nobility”, named by rank, and the “barons” and “burghs”.

Of the Nobility: James Ogilvy, Earl of Seafield, the Lord Chancellor (whose vote did not count and who did not need to have his name recorded but insisted on Parliament noting his support for the Union); James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, president of the secret council (the Queen’s placemen); and John Campbell, Duke of Argyll.

The next rank was the marquises: John Hay, Marquis of Tweeddale; William Kerr, Marquis of Lothian.

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Then came the earls: John Erskine, Earl of Mar, the Secretary of State; John Gordon, Earl of Sutherland; John Hamilton/Leslie, Earl of Rothes; James Douglas, Earl of Morton; William Cunningham, Earl of Glencairn; James Hamilton, Earl of Abercorn; John Ker, Earl of Roxburghe; Thomas Hamilton, Earl of Haddington; John Maitland, Earl of Lauderdale; David Wemyss, Earl of Wemyss; William Ramsay, Earl of Dalhousie; James Ogilvy, Earl of Findlater; David Leslie/Melville, Earl of Leven; David Carnegie, Earl of Northesk; Colin Lindsay, Earl of Balcarres; Archibald Douglas, Earl of Forfar; William Boyd, Earl of Kilmarnock; John Keith, Earl of Kintore; Patrick Hume, Earl of Marchmont; George MacKenzie, Earl of Cromarty; Archibald Primrose, Earl of Rosebery; David Boyle, Earl of Glasgow, the treasurer depute; Charles Hope, Earl of Hopetoun; Henry Scott, Earl of Delorain; Archibald Campbell, Earl of Islay.

There was just one viscount, Thomas Hay, Viscount of Dupplin, before the Lordships were then named: William Forbes, John Elphinstone, William Ross, James Sandilands (Lord Torphichen), Charles Fraser, George Ogilvy (Lord Banff), Alexander Murray (Lord Elibank), Kenneth Sutherland (Lord Duffus), Robert Rollo.

Two lords from the courts were named: Sir James Murray of Philiphaugh, the Lord Register, and Adam Cockburn of Ormiston, the Lord Justice Clerk.

The following barons were all voters for the Union: Sir Robert Dickson of Inveresk; William Nisbet of Dirleton; John Cockburn (younger) of Ormiston; Sir John Swinton of that ilk; Sir Alexander (Home) Campbell of Cessnock; Sir William Kerr of Greenhead; Archibald Douglas of Cavers; William Bennett of Grubbet; John Murray of Bowhill; John Pringle of Haining; William Morrison of Prestongrange; Alexander Horsburgh of that ilk; George Baillie of Jerviswood; Sir John Johnston of Westerhall; William Douglas of Dornock; William Stewart of Castle Stewart; John Stewart of Sorbie; Francis Montgomery of Giffen; William Dalrymple of Glenmure; Robert Stewart of Tillicoultry; Sir Robert Pollok of that ilk; John Montgomery of Wrae; John Haldane of Gleneagles; Mungo Graham of Gorthie; Sir Thomas Burnett of Leys; William Seton (younger) of Pitmedden; Alexander Grant (younger) of that ilk; Sir Kenneth MacKenzie of Cromarty; Aeneas MacLeod of Cadboll; John Campbell of Mamore; Sir James Campbell of Auchinbreck; James Campbell (younger) of Ardkinglas; Sir William Anstruther of that ilk; James Haliburton of Pitcur; Alexander Abercrombie of Glasshaugh; James Dunbar (younger) of Hempriggs; Alexander Douglas of Egilsay and John Bruce of Kinross.

The National:

The MPs for the Burghs are named – where possible I have shown which area they represented: John Scrimgeour of Kirkton; Lieutenant Colonel John Erskine; John Muir; James Scott of Logie; Sir John Erskine of Alva; James Spittall of Leuchat; Patrick Moncrieff of Reidie; Sir Andrew Home of Kimmerghame; Sir Peter Halkett of Pitfirrane; Sir James Smollett of Stainflett and Bonhill; William Carmichael of Skirling; William Sutherland; Captain Daniel MacLeod of Geanies; Sir David Dalrymple of Hailes; Sir Alexander Ogilvie of Forglen; John Clerk of Penicuik; John Rose of Newck; Sir Hugh Dalrymple of North Berwick; Patrick Ogilvie of Cairnbulg; George Allardyce of that ilk; William Alves; James Beaton of Balfour; Roderick MacKenzie of Prestonhall; John Urquhart of Meldrum; Daniel Campbell of Shawfield; Sir Robert Forbes of Learney; Robert Douglas; Alexander Maitland; George Dalrymple of Dalmahoy; Charles Campbell.

There were 67 opponents of the Union, whose number included James Douglas, the Duke of Hamilton; William Johnston, the Marquis of Annandale; Charles Hay, the Earl of Errol; William Keith, the Earl Marischal; James Stewart, the Earl of Galloway; William Livingstone, Viscount of Kilsyth; John Elphinstone, Lord Balmerino; Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto; Sir Humphrey Colquhoun of Luss and Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, known as “The Patriot” for his outspoken opposition to the Union.

Notice all those lords and sirs? If you read through the list you will see many names that continue to be used by the descendants of the MPs who voted for and against the Union. Many of the titles have disappeared, but a fair number of descendants of those MPs flourished in the British Empire – Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto was the ancestor of a family who gave distinguished diplomatic service, while I somewhat doubt whether the current incumbent at Luss, Sir Malcolm Colquhoun, shares the same view of the Union as his ancestor Humphrey.

But it was all so long ago… aye, right. Yet the effects of that vote continue now.

The months leading up to that January meeting were fraught with feverish debate and no little danger to the Scottish Parliament’s members. There really were riots in the streets, particularly in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but in plenty of other places, too, by people who were convinced that the very name of Scotland was about to be erased. Contingents of cavalry and troopers from English regiments stood by as the crucial final vote came near.

When it was passed on January 16, 1707 most of the proponents named above skulked away to hide, but a people’s uprising never happened, due mainly to the threat of military force. Instead the Scottish lords and Parliament members were paid large sums of money for their support. The 2nd Duke of Queensberry, for example, was made the Duke of Dover and given a pension of £3000 per annum.

THERE remained only one formality and that was the closing down of the Scottish Parliament at its final meeting on March 25, 1707, in a short and simple ceremony. That is the accepted version of events but the truth is different – quite incredibly, the Scottish Parliament went on making laws on its final day. Acts were passed covering

the payment of debts and the management of burghs up and down the country, and issues such as the establishment of a hospital in Edinburgh were discussed and approved.

Two acts were passed to naturalise as Scottish citizens a number of foreign men and their families, mostly from France – the last gasp of the Auld Alliance? Interestingly, citizenship remains a reserved matter for the UK Parliament to this day, another difference between that old Parliament and Holyrood.

So, it was to the last a living, breathing Parliament – not some desiccated establishment. The last speech spoken in the Scottish Parliamentgiven was made by the Queen’s Lord High Commissioner, James Douglas, the 2nd Duke of Queensberry, who was, as we have seen, one of the main well-rewarded agitators for the Union. Among other things he bought Queensberry House in Edinburgh, now part of the Scottish Parliament’s estate

– oh, the irony.

He said: “The public business of this session being now over it is full time to put an end to it.

“I am persuaded that we and our posterity will reap the benefit of the union of the two kingdoms, and I doubt not that as this parliament has had the honour to conclude it, you will, in your several stations, recommend to the people of this nation a grateful sense of her majesty’s goodness and great care for the welfare of her subjects in bringing this important affair to perfection, and that you will promote a universal desire in this kingdom to become one in hearts and affections as we are inseparably joined in interest with our neighbouring nation.”

You will note that word “inseparably”. For those who had brought about the Union, there was no thought whatsoever of the restoration of Scottish and English independence at any time. It was meant to be a permanent union and if you bother to read the Acts of Union passed by the English and Scottish Parliaments you will find

no reference whatsoever to any means of resiling from the Union

by either nation.

The minutes from March 25, 1707, contain one mystery. They state: “The queen’s majesty declares this parliament current and adjourns the same to 22 April next to come, ordaining all members of parliament, noblemen, commissioners from shires and burghs, and all others having interest, to attend at Edinburgh that day at 10 o’clock, and that there be no new elections in shires or burghs, except upon the death of any of the present commissioners.”

That meeting didn’t happen. Instead, with the Queen’s approval, the final Scottish Parliament was dissolved by royal decree just three days after that final meeting.

The Union was brought about on May 1, 1707, by deceit, dishonesty, and bribery. Perhaps this week someone, somewhere can find out how we end it, because I can’t see it.