The start of the 1700’s saw many acts of parliament coming into place, one of the last ones before the Act of Union was the Alien Act of 1705. This act sadly has nothing to do with strange green men from another planet but it is an important act in the history of Scotland and the UK.
The Alien Act was passed by the parliament of England and basically blocked Scottish imports into England and treated any Scottish nationals in England as foreign nationals, or aliens. The Act came about in response to the Scottish parliament passing the Act of Security in 1704.
When the English parliament named the House of Hanover as the successor to Queen Anne they did so without consulting with the Scottish parliament. Since the time of James VII & II the ruler of Scotland and England had been the same but they ruled two separate thrones and two separate countries. So, now the English parliament had decided the successor without asking Scotland. In response Scotland passed the Act of Secuirty which allowed the Scottish parliament to choose their own successor.
The Act of Security caused the English parliament to become concerned that the Scottish might choose a different ruler, and possibly even a Stuart Catholic ruler. Therefore, they released the Alien Act. Under this act all Scottish imports to England or English colonies would be prohibited. At a time when almost half of all the exports were destined for the English market this would put Scotland under considerable economic distress. The act would also class all Scottish people living in England as ‘aliens’ and any property they owned would be ‘alien property’. This would mean that a line of inheritance would not be guaranteed which could lead to Scottish landowners losing their estates in England.
In order to avoid the Alien Act being put into place, there was a provision that it would be suspended if Scotland began negotiations into a proposed union of Scotland and England. To sweeten the deal England also offered to help financially by refunding some of Scotland’s losses in the ill-fated Darien scheme . Ultimately, it can be viewed that the Alien Act achieved its aim as just two years later the Act of Union was in place and England and Scotland united as Great Britain.
We hope you enjoyed this little insight into one of the many acts that were put in place during the time of the Jacobite Risings. As always please comment, share, like, tweet and let us know if there are any other acts you would like us to talk about.
All the best, K & D