The 1707 Act of Union, (A Recap)
Although ruled by one monarch, (from 1603 – 1707) England & Scotland remained to be separate countries, each with their own Parliament’s. There continued to exist a deep seated lack of trust between the 2 Nations. The Scots were fearful, (reflecting on the fate of the Welsh Nation 400 years before) that joining with England would, (in time) bring about the demise of Scotland, rendering it a, “region” of England. Always to the forefront of their thought’s, the English were consumed by fear that the Scot’s might, once again join in an alliance with the Roman Catholic French. It was crucial that the much feared, “Scottish Army” did not join with the French.
Subsequent to his death, in exile, in France, of the Roman Catholic, Charles 11 his Roman Catholic brother James 11 inherited the throne. He was a disaster, favouring Roman Catholic over Protestant. A, “fed up” English establishment secretly invited, the Dutch warlord, William of Orange to seize the throne saving England from the, “Romans” He willingly accepted and came to England supported by a substantial Dutch force. William engaged and defeated James in battle in Ireland and was crowned King William 111.
Enjoying the confidence of the newly crowned King, the Scotsman, “William Paterson” a worldly traveller who had made a substantial fortune through trade persuaded King William to create a , “Bank” to be supported by gold held in a central vault in London. William was an astute man with a long history of plotting, duplicity and deviousness and in 1694 he issued a decree requiring all gold deposits, (held by goldsmiths) in England to be given up, in exchange for notes and coinage, to a newly formed, “Bank of England”. With the gold safely under it’s control the, “Bank of England” printed notes and minted coinage far in excess of the gold reserves. In a very short period of time the, “Bank of England” became a very powerful banking force.
Building upon his success, “William Paterson” then convinced King William and the, “Bank of England” to jointly finance settlement and colonisation of ports in the, “Indus of Panama”. A successful venture which would reduce shipping times to the financially lucrative, “Far East” market by half. Eager to be in favour of the Scot’s, King William authorised the creation and funding of the, “Company of Scotland”. The board of directors were to be equally comprised of English and Scot’s. Financial and any other risks would be borne, half by the English and Dutch the remainder by the Scot’s.
Full of confidence that all aspects of funding and support was in place, William Paterson went off to Scotland to organise the expedition. In July 1698, 5 ships, (1200 souls) set sail from Edinburgh to Panama. William Paterson led the party. Not long after the flotilla left news was released from England that King William had ordered English and Dutch elements of the, (Company of Scotland) to withdraw from the venture, leaving the Scot’s to their own devices.
The trip was an ordeal, many pioneers died from disease and only about 700 souls landed in Panama.
Over a period of some months the almost defenseless settlers were attacked by Spanish forces on numerous occasions, (with the full knowledge of King William and the English parliament who had instructed English ships that no assistance was to be provided to the Scot’s in Panama).
Malaria was rife and food scarcity resulted in malnutrition and death of a further 400. Because it was not possible to communicate with those that had gone before a further 11 ships sailed to Panama the following year. The bulk of those that travelled did not return succumbing to similar fates. Eventually 1 ship returned with a few survivors.
The collapse of the, “Darien Scheme” brought financial chaos to Scotland.
King William, (seizing the moment) briefed, (in secret) the Scottish aristocracy and sympathetic Scottish MP’s that the, (Bank of England) would provide finance replacing their losses, with the rider that they would need to vote to unite the Parliaments. Many of the, “Scottish Gentry” took the money.
Robert Burns captured the betrayal in his heartfelt poem, (Scottish MP’s were “bought and sold for English gold”).
Fareweel to a’ our Scottish fame, fareweel our ancient glory
Fareweel ev’n to the Scottish name, sSae famed in martial story
Now Sark rins over Salway sands, an’ Tweed rins to the ocean
to mark where England ‘s province stands, such a parcel of rogues in a nation
What force or guile could not subdue Thro’ many warlike ages
Is wrought now by a coward few for hireling traitor’s wages
The English steel we could disdain, secure in valour’s station
But English gold has been our bane, such a parcel of rogues in a nation
O, would, or I had seen the day that treason thus could sell us
My auld grey head had lien in clay wi’ Bruce and loyal Wallace
But pith and power, till my last hour I’ll mak this declaration
We’re bought and sold for English gold, such a parcel of rogues in a nation