On the 1st May 1707 Great Britain was born. Up until this point England (and Wales) and Scotland were separate entities sort of. England (and Wales) had a parliament in London and Scotland’s was in Edinburgh. We each had a separate monarch, sort of. It was the same person from 1603 they just had 2 crowns.
From the act of union onwards that all changed. No more separate coronations for monarchs, although Charles II was the last to really have separate coronations. Queen Anne became the first monarch of Great Britain. Also no more separate parliament. Everything was now done from London as that was where the monarch lived.
The most changes were probably seen in the border areas of England and Scotland. A lot of grey areas arose. For example the town of Berwick Upon Tweed has changed between England and Scotland loads of time. This meant that before the union they could swap sides to choose which parliament was best for them. After the union that would have changed.
The union was not popular as the Scottish wanted to remain independent but many felt the extra money that Scotland could get from England would be hugely beneficial to the country.
There had been attempts made before this. The Monarchies of England (and Wales) and Scotland had been marrying off their children to one another in order to try and exert some influence over their fellow monarchs as their grandchildren may have become monarch. In 1221 King John of England had married his daughter Joan to King Alexander II of Scotland. In this case no children were born so it didn’t work. John’s son King Henry III of England married his daughter Margaret to King Alexander III of Scotland but none of the couple’s son’s became King. Several other royal marriages between Scotland and England occurred but since 1066 the first union between the 2 royal families to produce a monarch who had an English monarch and a Scottish monarch as grandfathers was King James V of Scotland. He was the son of King James IV of Scotland and Princess Margaret Tudor, the daughter of King Henry VII of England. This was the connection that allowed James VI to take the English throne in 1603.
So what did this mean for our ancestors? Well in reality nothing. Nothing changed other than they became British rather than English, Scottish or Welsh. Although most probably still used them and we still do today.
Our Scottish ancestors did cling firmly to their Scottishness. They continued to hold on to their clan heritage and their pride in their tartans and customs. They even revolted during the Glorious Revelation in an attempt to keep King James VII (or II) on the throne of both England and Scotland. He was a Catholic and Protestants wanted him gone and replaced with his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange. After James was ousted and William III and Mary II took the throne jointly James VII grandson Charles Edward Stuart took up arms along with the Scottish Jacobite’s to put his father James Stuart,or himself on the throne. It failed.
The English hung on to their traditions as well.
So was there any impact on the Act of Union for us genealogists. Well not really when it happened. Birth, marriages and deaths were still only registered in the Church of either Scotland or England (and Wales). It wasn’t until 1837 in England and Wales and 1855 in Scotland that events had to be registered with the state.
So the Act of Union had no impact on our genealogy research or probably our ancestors but it was an important date in the history of our great country.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my Family History Ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!