“… By the 15th article of the union, a certain sum was agreed to be paid to this kingdom, by way of equivalent for that proportion of our revenues which were to be applied to the payment of the debts of ENGLAND. Out of this equivalent 2000l. were destined to be applied annually for seven years to the promoting and encouraging our manufactures and fisheries. As it was manifest, that, in consequence of the union, our revenues would be considerably improved, it was provided, that an account of the duties arising in SCOTLAND, should be kept. in order that the precise increase of these duties might be regularly ascertained; and for such proportion of that increase as should be applied to the payment of the English debts, a further growing equivalent was to be allowed. The overplus of these several sums, after answering the uses to which they were in the first place to be applied, was also destined to the improvement of our trade and manufactures.”
– Scots Magazine, August, 1752.
“… In this delightful prospect, almost bewildered with the infinite blessings, that arise from an army of the people, there is still something wanting to make it compleat, and a something extremely disagreeable to a North-Briton. This deficiency is the want of [a citizen’s militia] establishment in that part of the island called the kingdom of Scotland. For confining the protection by a militia, within the kingdom of England; the whole country north of the Tweed, is left an easy prey to every daring and despicable enterpriser, that can find means to land upon the coast of Scotland.
This was very lately the case: when Thurot’s squadron, that pretty instrument of Gallick insolence, was known to steer a Northern course, how great was the panick in Scotland! The inhabitants, dismayed, fled from their coasts, and more than a million of poeple, as it were devoted to slaughter, durst not put themselves into a posture of defence, whilst their fellow-subjects in England were prepared against every event, defended by arms, put into the hands of labourers and mechanicks, under the command of fox and stag hunters, &c.
Such a distinction in the politicks of Great Britain, must be confessed very unaccountable. Why a people, united under one and the same King, and entitled to the same protection in their laws, religion and property, should be neglected in the distribution of arms; should not be admitted to a union of strength, should not be put upon an equal footing of defence against a foreign enemy, and against domestick riots and insurrections: should be denied that privilege, which is the grand criterion of liberty: or, why the inhabitants of South Britain are admitted to bear arms, and those in North Britain are not, is a question not to be slightly answered, and deserves the most serious attention and immediate consideration of the legislature, to prevent the hazard and injustice of so great a partiality.
Whence could such a partiality arise? there can be no objection to the military genius of the They, on all occasions have given proofs, that they yield not the least to the English, or to any other nation, for courage and conduct. No people are less addicted to the vices of the age or more respectful to their superiors: and their gentlemen have given proofs of their courage and military talents.
But they who oppose this measure, say, that a military spirit is inconsistent with the commercial interest of the nation. Hereby labour is deprived of many hands: trade and manufactures will be interrupted: that the wealth of the nation will decay in proportion to the increase of the militia. A mere sophism! can property be preserved without strength? is that contrary to our interest, which is necessary for our safety? is not that form most eligible, which is most powerful and least harmful to industry and labour? if so, a militia is preferable to a standing army; and trade and manufactures gain by the institution thereof; because, by the rotation of the militia men, we have hopes of seeing all the honest men in the nation trained to arms; who, except the few days of exercise, and when the service of the publick require them to take the field, return home and follow their occupations: whereas, those large recruits, raised chiefly out of our manufacturers, artists and labourers, for the army, are generally totally lost to their country, at the conclusion of a war. A militia man inrolled for three years only, can scarce be thought to lose sight of the trade or occupation to which he had been bred; but this will seldom be the case of a soldier after six or seven campaigns.
By extolling the use of a militia, there is no intention to degrade the soldiery. The militia is only designed for internal defence: our foreign interest and power require the arms of our regular forces: without a militia we cannot be secure; and without the additional strength of an army, we cannot be great and respectable on the continent of Europe, nor protect our settlements abroad.
Therefore, as no objection can lie against the establishment of a militia in Scotland, either from the constitution of that government, or from its commercial interest; and as its usefulness is indisputable, why were the Scots excluded from this necessary constitutional means of protection? Why do not they enjoy the benefit of the union in this important article of liberty? Can it be said that they have forfeited their right as Britons? Will not the least hesitation to the establishment of a Scottish militia, carry an imputation, either of cowardice, as if the ancient spirit of that kingdom was quite extinguished; or that it is become a province to England? How such an imputation would be relished by a people, whose ancestors, by arms alone, sustained the reputation and power of their kingdom, is more than I am willing to suggest. It is most probable, that their union with England would never have been effected, had they imagined, that the communication of all the rights, privileges, and advantages, which did then, or might thereafter belong to the subjects of either kingdom, as declared by the fourth article of the treaty of union, should empower their united brethren, the English, to deny them the privilege of arms for their own defence, in the same degree and proportion, as they themselves might at any time enjoy.
Thus [lacuna] by the dangers and fears, that daily haunt a disarmed people, exposed to the ravages of a merciless enemy; and provoked with jealousy and reproach, it is much to be apprehended, that a miscarriage of so reasonable an application to parliament, which the North-Britons are a present making, for a militia, would be productive of great discontent, and at least make them think that it had been better for Scotland, has there been no Union.
Scotland stands more in need of a militia than England. By this establishment, every shire and township would be protected; and those coasts, friths and bays, which were, last year, left naked and exposed to the violence of the enemy, by drawing the regular troops round Edinburgh, when an invasion was meditating from France, might have been secured from those dreadful apprehensions, with which the whole coast was filled, without the power of making the least resistance. Besides, it is well known, that when both kingdoms have been in danger, the fleet and army are more necessarily employed in defence of that part of the island, where wealth and empire demand their assistance.
Therefore, as there is nothing in a Scottish militia, that can be deemed unconstitutional: nothing but what the Scots have a right to by the act of union: nothing unsafe or dangerous to the present establishment: nothing to injure the commercial interest of the nation; and no more than what is necessary for its internal defence: why should any Englishman object to it? How can any as—n think it unreasonable, or what should cool the Scots r— pr—s in the support of the people’s petition for arms, in defence of their king and country?
I am, Sir, &c.
– Caledonian Mercury, Monday 31st March, 1760.
“We are desired, by several of our readers, to insert the following letters, on the subject of a Scots militia.
IT is matter of just surprise, that the people of Scotland, who are so jealous of what they call the point of national honour, should be so insensible to real indignities, and bear with so much indifference the most cutting and mortifying distinction, which can be made, to their prejudice. If the names of poverty and the itch, of dirt and barrenness of soil, are but mentioned by a drunken mechanic, we feel a wound that festers, and we fly in the face of him who pretends to touch our sores. But should we be informed, not in mere words and petulant sarcasms, not in the terms of jesting and raillery, but in the terms of law, and act of parliament, that we are an inferior class of men, not fit to be entrusted with the privilege of British subjects, not fit to maintain the honours of our country; this injurious calumny we could bear without a complaint, and submit to disgrace, as if we recognized the ground of it in our birth, or what is more probable, in our own base and dejected spirits.
Every body will understand that I point at the militia of England and the disarmed state of Scotland. The treaty of union, we are told, forbids the use of those names which of old served to distinguish the two nations: but may not our subsequent laws establish names of distinction more significant to future times, and less easily forgotten, than those of Scottish and English? the titles of Dependent and Lord, of Subdued Province and Governing People.
We hear in every company, that the term of the English militia is expired; and that, because the enemies of that establishment dare not refuse what a generous and free-minded people consider as their right, and the privilege of their birth, we are told, that the law is to be renewed either to perpetuity or for another period. But we do not hear of any such project, to provide for the safety, or maintain the honour of this province; and, what is worse, we do not hear that any among ourselves are disposed to remonstrate on this unequal treatment, or that any instructions on the subject are given to the [representatives] of our people. Nor do we ever enquire how far those gentlemen are prepared or disposed to vindicate our rights, or whether they are gone, like our drovers, to sell their [votes], as the others do their cattle, without any other object than that of making their market, when one [minister] is to be crossed, or another to be supported.
But perhaps, at this distance from the feats of government, our countrymen are ignorant of the disgrace they incur in their own persons, and suffer to be entailed on their posterity. This may be the case with a majority of the people of Scotland. But what can we plead in excuse for our judges, our lawyers, and our clergy, who know so well the road to the seats of government, when places and preferments are in question, and who by their education should be qualified to understand, and by their duty to the public, which supports them, should be ready to vindicate the rights of their country? What can we plead in excuse for our landed gentry, on whose heads the shame and ignominy of this distinction must immediately fall? Are they too ignorant of what belongs to them as men and as gentlemen? If they are, it may likewise be necessary to inform them, that about seven years ago a law was enacted by the parliament of Great Britain, to enable the civil officers in every county of England, to arm a certain number of freemen for the defence of themselves and their country: that in consequence of this law such men have been embodied: the gentlemen and the mechanics have learned their respective duties of military command and obedience; they have learned to carry a formidable and menacing air to the enemies of their country, and that country has stood secure under their protection. whilst the bowels of our province have been torn out, and our people consumed, to furnish out a ruinous war on the continent.
Our neighbours keep their people at home to defend their country, to protect their families, to rear their children, and beget more, for the preservation of the state; whilst ours are dispersed like the leaves in autumn, never to be gathered again; and the tree from which they have fallen, is not only shattered at top, it is cut at the root, and we want hands to assist our women in tilling the ground, or in propagating the race of labourers among us.
The French, and now the Spaniards, will meet with Scotsmen to oppose them in every country but Scotland, and the limits of our province will be known without the help of geography. When the pirates, who may soon infest our coasts, have passed by a country well peopled with a thriving race of men and women, a country put in posture of defence by the vigour of its own inhabitants; when they have reached a shore, whose only inhabitants are women, smoke-dried, weather-beaten, and hagged with labour, which they are obliged to perform in the absence of their husbands, their brothers, and their sons; or a shore possessed by men defenceless, spiritless, more dejected than women; they have arrived in North-Britain: and the national distinction will appear to them more plainly in the haughty carriage they have left on one side, and the dejected look they meet with on the other, than even in the bones which stare through our skins, or the tone of voice with which we grate on the ears of our happier neighbours. This distinction must grow, whilst we suffer ourselves to sink in the principal article of national dignity, the courage and public spirits of our people; and Scotsmen hereafter, who, like so many scabby pedlars, shall travel into England, may be known by their mien, without betraying their tone, or the name of their country.
Though I live at a distance from the conversation of men who could teach me to express myself in a way which they are pleased to call Genteel, which is frequently but another term for frivolity, affectation and nonsense; and though I never got much instruction how to write papers of any kind, yet I can speak the truth, and could undertake to show this matter in so true and so strong a light, as would make every Scotsman ashamed to show his head in any country but his own, where perhaps he may soon grow so familiar with disgrace, as not to be ashamed of any thing.
But what are we to do in this crisis? Address the throne; instruct our representatives; let our voice at least be heard throughout the island. If we are to be disgraced, let us show that we do not court ignominy and that we do not yet think that we deserve it. Let our representatives in the legislature bring the question of their country to a vote, that they may give some proof of their own zeal; and, if we are to be disgraced, that they may lodge the blame where it is due, even upon us, if, after a fair enquiry, we shall appear to deserve it: that is we owe our mortification to a want of confidence in the breast of our Sovereign, or to a want of inclination in our fellow-subjects of England, to share their privileges with us, we may spare no pains, by efforts of duty to the one, and vigorous appeals to the candor or the other, to remove those bars to our national union and happiness: but if we owe it to the folly and presumption of narrow-minded men, who pretend to lead factions in the state, that they may be made to stand forth, and we may know where to point our indignation and our scorn, and where the weight of an injured people should fall, when the follies or miscarriages, the errors or the crimes of such men, shall bring their reputations, their honours, or their pretensions to power, in question with the public.
The words previously censored in the Caledonian Mercury’s printing of this letter have been filled using the uncensored version in the ‘Scots Magazine’, January, 1762.
NEVER was there a nation upon earth, whose situation was more alarming, and more exasperating to a generous mind, than that of Scotland now it, and has been, since the militia bill was rejected. The warm and fertile imagination of Fletcher, chafed with opposition in the union parliament, and heated with zeal for his native country, figured many cases of violation and injury, that, in consequence of an union, might happen to the smaller state. But his imagination, bold and confined as it was, could not feign any thing like the reality, that we have beheld and suffered.
The people of England stand at this moment armed and disciplined to defend their country, rouzed and elevated with a consciousness of their own condition; while we crawl under them, disarmed, despirited, a defenceless prey, not to an enemy who comes with fleets and armies, but to a pirate, or privateer, who cruizes with a single vessel. Yet we do not seem to be in the least uneasy at our disgraceful, and deplorable condition.
If our ancestors had not been cast in a different mould from their descendants, la fierte Ecossoise, the Scottish pride, would not have been a proverb over all Europe, to the honour of our forefathers, and the reproach of their abject posterity.
Fain would I make some excuse for our luke-warmness, and find out some plausible reason to account for our tameness and submission, but I can think of none. Some people satisfy themselves with supposing that if the English militia is continued, the militia for Scotland will certainly follow. I am not sure whether it will or not: but sure I am, that it is the duty, the indispensible duty, of every member of a free state, to demand for himself and his countrymen the privileges of freedom.
We have been once refused, let us ask again, and repeat it for ever (till it is granted) our just request. The bill for the English militia was rejected more than once; but did the Advocates for it despond, despair, and submit? No; they persisted, they increased the vehemence and peremptoriness of their demand, till their adversaries durst no longer deny what was so boldly claimed. What hinders us from doing the same? Nothing but our own baseness.
‘Tis said with a sneer in the metropolis of Great Britain, that the zeal of Scots for a militia is much abated, since the great proportion given to that country in the new levies. If that is the true reason of the present languor, the symptom is mortal, and there is an end of the public in this part of the island. Those very men, who, for the sake of commissions to their relations, now abandon the militia, will, from the same motive, their own interest, abandon, and betray every right, and privilege of their country.
But I do not incline to push this argument; it leads to horrible consequences, and raises spectres before their time.
I see despotism striding over Great Britain; he musters his Janisaries; their countenances are cruel; they rejoice in the work of vengeance, in bereaving the South of that liberty, which the North had lost.
There is another supposition made use of as a pretence for inactivity, and it is this: That the attempt is vain; that the English have conspired against us, and determined to keep this country in a state of inferiority and subjection. This is the excuse of the sluggard, who says to himself there is a lion in the way. We know very well by whose influence the Scottish militia bill was rejected; by the influence of those ministers, who so long, and so strenuously opposed the English militia, and tho’ forced to yield to the torrent of a free people, retained their inveterate animosity, and endeavoured to give a stab to the militia of England through the naked side of Scotland.
This is the matter if fact without a doubt, and if the fact was doubtful, it ought in reason and candor to be thus assumed; for it bears too hard on human nature to suppose, that the opinion of any man who gave a vote in that question, was determined by national prejudices, and that the heart of one Englishman was vile enough to take advantage of the superiority of his country in the legislature, and establish so cruel and unjust a distinction to the disadvantage of the Scots.
The times are altered since that bill was rejected. Those ministers have less power than they had then, and the generous Prince who now fills the throne is a declared friend of militia, and an avowed enemy to all distinctions among his people.
We ourselves, my countrymen, are now called upon by the most urgent necessity to stand forth for the honour, and for the safety of our country. A Spanish war is unexpectedly added to all those wars we were before engaged in; the peace which was longed for is vanished; and he must possess wisdom more than human, who can foresee a period to the commotions of Europe. Is it not then full time that Scotland, bleeding at every vein, and exhausted with supplying the carnage of war in every quarter of the world, should be permitted to arm in her own defence a few of her people that yet remain.
Have you forgot how Thurot sweeped your coasts, and terrified your defenceless cities? Are you better provided for resistance now? Can the English militia march from their own country in time to save yours from the insults of an enemy? For this is the hope and confidence of some among us; we are safe, say they, under the protection of the English militia, and we ought to be thankful to the people of England, for taking upon them the expence and trouble of defending us. Surely there are some things that men would chuse to take the trouble of doing for themselves: Yet it is difficult to determine the pitch of baseness, to which human nature can descend.
There lived in the Orkneys, not many years ago, a petty tyrant, who had so effectually subdued, and crushed the souls of his tenants, that he used to visit their houses, as the Grand Turk does the apartments of his Seraglio. Once it happened, that an unfortunate man coming into his own house, found the Knight in bed with his wife. The miserable husband pulled off his bonnet, and thanked his Honour for taking the trouble of doing his work for him.
If this country remains long without a militia, the time may come, that the officers, nay the soldiers of a victorious enemy, may domineer over us in this manner, and the husbands and the fathers be compelled to suffer the violation of their wives and daughters, without daring to mutter resentment; I say, the fathers and the husbands, for there will no young men be left in this unhappy country. The young and the brave will fly from the region of servitude and shame, and carry to other countries that personal spirit and valour which cannot act nor exist in a land of slaves denied the use of arms.”
– Caledonian Mercury, Monday 25th January, 1762.
“A certain paper of this day says, that the Earl of Bute is going to be created a Peer of England, which cannot be; for, according to one of the articles of the treaty of union between England and Scotland, no Scotch Nobleman can be created a Peer of England. L. Ev.”
– Leeds Intelligencer, Tuesday 25th October, 1763.
“On the trial of Taylor, at Guildford, for the murder of Mr. Smith, the first witness produced in favour of the prosecution, was asked, “Sir, do you know how to hold a pint pot?” Yes, said the witness. Then the Council, stretching out his arm, said, “Did not you, at the Wheat-sheaf, and in company with the prisoner, hold out your arm thus, and say, Here is damnation to all the Scots, and damnation to them that will not drink it?” Being answered in the affirmative, the Judge said, “Turn that fellow out of Court; I will admit no such evidence!” This done, a woman appeared; but it being objected to her, that she had frequently sworn she would hang the prisoner, her evidence was refused likewise. Three more witnesses were examined, but as none of them swore any thing to effect the prisoner’s life, it was thought needless to bring any exculpatory proof. The Judge then summed up the evidence with candour and impartiality: he observed, ‘Reflections upon countries were really horrid in themselves, and such as he, from the bottom of his heart, detested and abhorred: there is, continued he, no Scotsman nor Englishman; we are all Britons, the subjects of the same prince. and under the protection of the same government. The inhabitants of North-Britain have fought our battles, and prevailed; let national prejudices be exploded; every Scotsman is an Englishman, and every Englishman is a Scotsman: this is the sense of the treaty of Union.’ ”
– Kentish Gazette, Tuesday 7th August, 1770.
“Yesterday when the House of Commons went into a Committee of the whole House on the Corn Exportation and Importation Bill, a great number of amendments were proposed, and several of them agreed to. – When that clause was agitated, fixing the price at which Oats were to be permitted duty-free, a very warm debate ensued, supported by several Scots Members. They contended, that as Oats in general were the chief food of much the greater part of their countrymen, the permitting the importation of oats on a small duty, when the price was at 16s. per quarter, and taking off every duty when it rose to 18s. would discourage the Farmer from growing that grain in Scotland, which was in reality discouraging the raising every species of bread Corn in that kingdom; that it would be destructive of the landed interest there, and distress the poor; that before the Treaty of Union, and since a bounty on exportation by the laws of that country was to take place at 15s. and no importation allowed till the price came to 19s. 4d. considering the decreased value of money since that period, the scale of prices now proposed, of 14s. for the bounty and 16s. for the importation, went against those former regulations which have continued since the time of Charles II.’s reign; that those prices having been settled at the Union, the innovations now proposed were a breach of that Treaty, and consequently of the constitution of the two united kingdoms; that the perfect satisfaction expressed by the Land-owners, the Consumers and Growers of Corn, in that part of the island, with the Law as it now stands, is the surest test of the benefits derived from it to each of them; and that, as Oats are not cultivated in South Britain for human food, but for horses, it would be cruel and unjust to starve their northern fellow subjects, that Gentlemen in the south may be thereby enabled to feed their horses at a cheaper rate. To these objections it was answered, that if permitting the importation at a lower price than usual would be a means of falling the price, why should not that consideration operate equally with all; that keeping up the prices on the native Consumer, purely to increase the value of land, was a policy that, however secretly pursued, ought not to be publicly avowed; that the scale of prices in William and Mary’s reign were those in force at the time of the Union in England; that the price at which importation was permitted, from that time till very lately, was, Wheat at 2l. 13s. 4d. per quarter, whereas the present Bill fixed it at 2l. 8s. and so with all other grain in proportion, so that, if there was a decrease of 1-15th in the scale established at that period in Scotland, there was 1-10th so far as the present Bill affected England; that therefore no breach of that fundamental Treaty could be pretended, in the instance now proposed, unless the Gentlemen on the other side could shew that the reduction was partial, and not proportioned. At length Mr. Pulteney proposed, that, as the Bill was to be re-committed, a Clause might be inserted on the Report, that the provisions now objected to might not extend to Scotland, as he presumed the House would agree that the Gentlemen from that country were the best judges of their own interest, which was agreed to.”
– Leeds Intelligencer, Tuesday 16th March, 1773.
“A correspondent has sent us the following exact account of the late promotions in Scotland, viz., Lord Chief Baron Ord to retire on a pension equal to the emoluments of his office. James Montgomery, Esq. to succeed Lord Chief Baron Ord. Henry Dundas, Esq. to be Lord Advocate, in the room of Mr Montgomery. Alexander Murray, Esq. (a near relation of Lord Mansfield) to be Solicitor General, in the room of Mr Dundas. John Elliot, Esq. to be General of the mint, in the room of Lord Strichen. It is said that the law promotions in Scotland were all made on account of Mr Murray.
Mr W—ll—ce has been disappointed in his expectation of succeeding Chief Baron Ord. But such is the prevailing influence of Scotch interest, that a North Briton has been appointed to succeed the Chief Baron; the first native of that country that has been entrusted with the controul over its revenues since the treaty of union. – The above place, it is said, has been promised to Mr W—ll—ce, for upwards of six years, in case of the death or resignation of the very worthy man who occupied it.”
– Newcastle Chronicle, Saturday 3rd June, 1775.
“THE House having dispatched a great deal of private business, it was preparing to rise, when Lord George Gordon rose, and made a very long speech respecting the disposition of the people of Scotland, and described them as ripe for insurrection; affirmed that the inhabitants fit to bear arms, a few Roman Catholics excepted, were ready to resist the powers of government, and had invited him to be their leader or privy counsellor.
He stated the religious constitution of Scotland as rendered scared against any law the Parliament of Great Britain might enact for its alteration. the preserving it free from any innovation whatever, unless the same was done by the joint consent of the Provincial Synods, and the people at large in their elective and corporate capacities, would be an actual breach of the fundamental conditions on which the union of the two kingdoms was entered into and confirmed; and that without such a previous consent of the people of Scotland, no power on earth was competent to interfere, or break into, or defeat, the conditions on which the union was to take effect.
This was the ground the people of Scotland took; they retained certain rights and privileges, which they deemed inherent and unalienable; such in particular was the religious establishment, and the municipal laws of that country, secured by the treaty and union. – They were an independent nation when they entered into that treaty, so was England; they had their laws and their religious establishment, which they deemed sacred; and he was certain Scotland would never submit to the arbitrary or oppressive acts of a British Parliament. They would prefer death to slavery, and perish with arms in their hands, or prevail in the contest.
He gave many instances of their bravery and love of freedom; and it could hardly be expected, that they would consent to be oppressed by any Prince, when they assisted in banishing one, and bringing another of their own royal line, the Stuarts, to the block.
He read a bundle of papers, which would fill a volume, consisting of letters, propositions, associations, proceedings of the Provincial Synods, &c. as part of his speech, in which there were many strong expressions; among the rest, a very long letter from the Secretary to a committee at Edinburgh, appointed to manage the intended opposition to any bill for giving a legal toleration to Roman Catholics in that part of the kingdom. He repeated frequently the readiness of his countrymen to take up arms; and in the course of a speech of upwards of two hours long, said a great many good things, a great many strange things, and made use of several expressions, for which in other times, as a reward for his zeal for his countrymen or fellow-subjects, he would have run a tolerable good chance to be complimented gratis with apartments in the Tower.
His Lordship at length made a motion, stating a resolution of a message delivered by Lord North from his Majesty, desiring the House to take the petition of his Scotch Roman Catholic subjects into consideration, and that the said message or communication was illegal, &c. No person appearing, however, to second it, the Speaker refused to read it, consequently no question could be put upon it.
This matter being got rid of, the order of the day was called for, and the House accordingly went into a committee of ways and means, when Lord North moved for the report of the late house tax, and then proposed the following one in its stead, which was unanimously agreed to, and is in substance as follows: “That there be laid on all inhabited houses, out-houses, yards, gardens, &c. 6d. in the pound from 5l. to 20l. rent per ann. 9d. in the pound for all houses from 20l.”
– Newcastle Chronicle, Saturday 15th May, 1779.
“COUNTY OF AYR.
October 25, 1785.
AT a meeting held here this day, in consequence of advertisements published in the news-papers, by order of the Convener, calling a meeting of the Noblemen, Gentlemen, Freeholders, and Commissioners of Supply of this county, to take under their consideration a Bill now pending in Parliament, for diminishing the number, and increasing the salaries of the Judges of the Courts of Session and Exchequer in Scotland, they came to the following Resolutions:
I. RESOLVED, That the articles of the Union between England and Scotland, cannot be infringed by the British Parliament, without the consent of the people of Scotland; because the number of members from Scotland being inconsiderable, compared with the number of members from England, those articles, upon the faith of which Scotland resigned her independency, if not immutable, would be negatory.
II. RESOLVED, That the permanency of the Court of Session, as constituted at the time of the Union, being one of those articles, the attempt to alter that constitution, without consulting the people of Scotland, was most improper and disrespectful.
III. RESOLVED, That we will not consent to a change in the number of the Judges, unless Parliament shall at the same time, grant us the privilege of a Jury in civil causes, or some other mode by which the forms of procedure may be shortened, and law-suits rendered less tedious and expensive, with the approbation of the people of Scotland.
(Signed) HUGH MONTGOMERIE, Preses.
By order of the Meeting, JOHN BOSWELL, Clk.”
– Caledonian Mercury, 29th October, 1785.
The Scots militia bill, now brought into the House of Commons by Mr Dundas, is expected to meet with little or no opposition, although all former attempts have proved ineffectual.
The last Militia Bill which was proposed for Scotland was brought into the House of Commons on May 15, 1782, by the Marquis of Grham, now Duke of Montrose. His speech was embellished with all the chastity of native taste and classic erudition. We shall here give a few of his observations. He said he was supported in bringing in this bill by the unanimous voice of the representatives of the Commons of Scotland. The militia was deemed by Englishmen one of the greatest bulwarks of the people’s freedom. It was composed of men taken from the middle ranks of like, at once qualified to awe the licentiousness of a giddy rabble, and check the insolence and domineering spirit of an assuming aristocracy. He trusted what was considered constitutional for South Britain would not lose its value in passing to the North.
It is confessed on all hands, that a militia is the most constitutional force of a free country. Scotland is without that force. I must therefore rely upon it, said the Marquis, that until Scotland can be proved to be less free than Great Britain it has a right to the protection I demand for it. If Parliament will not give it, I dread to look forward. A wretch of the meanest understanding may excite the fury of the populace. Let me therefore adjure the House, by all those ties which ought to bind together the interests of a great empire, to give due attention to the motion which I am now to submit to their consideration. I have discharged my duty. I trust they will discharge theirs. He then moved “that leave be given to bring in a bill for the better regulation of the militia of that part of Great Britain called Scotland.”
Lord Maitland (Now Lord Lauderdale) seconded the motion, and made a very able speech to support it.
Sir Charles Turner objected to the motion. He said it would be a revival of that barbarous feudal system which was almost abolished in Scotland. The Scots were undoubtedly a brave people, but the Highlanders carried that bravery to savage ferocity. They were not men whose violent passions ought to be trusted with arms; even in appearance they carried terror with them. Let one instance satisfy gentlemen;- In the rebellion 1745, three ragged Highlanders without breeches, frightened a whole English village out of their senses. If the empire is to be armed, I am for no partial armament – Let every man, without distinction, take his firelock – I hate that badge of slavery the red coat – Let every citizen have the means of defending his own fire-side – I am for no standing armies of any kind – A militia is a standing army, and a Highland militia the worst of standing army.
A few more gentlemen spoke; after which the motion was agreed to
The bill was afterwards brought in, and read a first time.
Upon the 20th of June following, a motion being made for the second reading.
The Secretary of War moved, “That it be an instruction to the Committee, that they so make provision in the said bill for enabling persons who have been sworn and inrolled to serve in the said militia, to enlist into other forces.”
The Marquis of Graham declared his amazement at a clause of this kind being introduced when a Scots Militia was proposed. Was there ever such a measure proposed in regard to the English? Then why should the Scots submit to such an insult? Were they in having a Militia, to be used only as recruiting serjeants for the army? Let the English first set them the example, and I pledge myself the Scots will not be averse to follow it. That they stand in need of a Militia, no man will deny. If any man has a doubt of it, let him but consider for a moment how their coasts have been insulted by every petty privateer, and their towns attacked, without being able to defend themselves, and he will at once be convinced. If then the necessity is allowed, what shadow of a right has England to stand on better grounds than Scotland. He thought long ere this all invidious distinctions had ceased; should the bill be clogged with this filthy clause, he was certain Scotland would rather never have a Militia.
General Conway supported the clause. The motion was then put. For the clause 41, against it 37. Majority 4.
The Marquis of Graham declared, since the bill was saddled with so disgraceful a clause, he should be the last person to see a militia established in Scotland. he therefore moved, that the bill be committed on this day three months, which was agreed to.”
– Caledonian Mercury, 7th January, 1793.
“The Lord Advocate denied that too much power was lodged in the Judges and Juries of Scotland, a power which would degenerate into tyranny, and could not fail of entailing such evils as long since would have called for redress. He took an accurate and comprehensive view of the administration of criminal justice in Scotland, on the discretionary power of Judges, the right and limitation of Juries, the forms of Indictments, and the privileges of prisoners. The indulgencies in cases of criminal prosecutions were similar to those of England, except where the prisoner was not suffered capriciously to object to a juror without shewing cause of objection, and this was submitted to the discretion of the Court. He disapproved of the intended alteration in the Laws of Scotland on English ideas, and English principles; and insisted, that when the Treaty of Union was made, it pledged the national faith that the civil and criminal jurisprudence should remain unalterably the same. The present plan of reform was in the teeth of this treaty, and at a time too when the affection, interests, and feelings of the Scotch were on the side of their own laws and institutions. In answer to those insinuations which were thrown at the Judges, in the case of the late trials, he had to observe, that those men, who had excited sedition in their country, and who, from conscious guilt, had first fled from justice, that those men had a fair trial, by a jury of landed men and of shopkeepers, and that the verdict was unanimously given against every other offender, who, for similar bad practices, had been brought to justice during these eighteen months in Scotland.”
– Hereford Journal, Wednesday 2nd April, 1794.
“COUNTY OF ROSS.
IN a Meeting of the Freeholders, Justices of the Peace, and Commissioners of Supply, of the County of Ross, held at TAIN on the 14th of October current, being the anniversary of their Michaelmas Head Court, the Act passed in the last Session of Parliament, for raising a certain number of men in the several Counties, Royal Burghs, &c. in Scotland, was brought under their consideration, and the following Resolutions being adopted, were ordered by a majority of the Meeting, to be published in the Caledonian Mercury, and Edinburgh Evening Courant.
I. RESOLVED, That this County, in the prosecution of the present just and necessary war, will chearfully contribute to its just and equal proportion of such extraordinary public aids, whether in men or money, as may be required from Scotland at large, on the principle of a general levy or assessment; to be distributed internally, according to any established constitutional rule, or otherwise manifested to be in the spirit of fair equalization, ascertained on grounds of recent authentic enquiry, locally made, into the actual population and pecuniary resources of the county.
II. RESOLVED, That the late Naval Requisition of Men from this County, or equivalent bounty money for the number deficient, has virtually, if not altogether in form, operated in the nature of the annual Land Tax, and must ever continue to do so, under the actual circumstances of a Highland District, wholly destitute of manufactures, and possessing only a very limited commerce, with infant fisheries, and under the natural dislike of its inhabitants to a seafaring like, while such enthusiasts in embracing the military, as to occasion, as well in the present as in former wars, an inconvenient deficiency of hands in performing the necessary labour of husbandry.
III. RESOLVED, That in raising a Land Assessment, in whatever shape, on the united kingdom, the Act of Union in 1707, expressly restricts the proportion to be exacted from Scotland; while the repartition of such proportion, in terms and form of a monthly cess, throughout this great division of Britain among its several County and Borough sub-divisions, had, in fact, been constitutionally fixed by the prior Act of 1690, soon after the Revolution, and invariably recognised since to the present time, as the only established rule in distributing [lacuna] laid on the Landholders.
IV. RESOLVED, That the said Requisition considered and found to be essentially a Land Tax, appears to be not only a manifest violation of the Treaty of Union, as exceeding the stipulated proportion exigible from Scotland, but deviates in an alarming degree, to the great disadvantage of this and other Highland Counties, from the constitutional rate of equal internal division, established by the Act of Supply in 1690, without our being able to discover any well-founded reasonable ground or principle for such deviation.
V. RESOLVED, That in a War of great and sudden emergencies, such as the present, in which every member of the empire is equally interested, however expedient it may have been to wave the stipulations of the Act of Union in settling the quota of Scotland, we cannot suppose it to have been the intention of the Legislature to introduce any other scheme of repartition of that quota among the county and borough sub-divisions of the country, either arbitrarily, unequally, or oppressively; though such in fact has been the experienced consequence felt throughout this district, in making up the pecuniary equivalent for deficient men, recently required for the navy; but on the contrary, that the internal distribution in question, might have passed into a temporary law through inadvertance, on the suggestion of the framer of the bill, on which the law proceeded, being unopposed, by petition or otherwise, in the rapidity of its course through both Houses of Parliament, though eventually only by reason of the remoteness of our local situation.
VI. RESOLVED, That accordingly, and in obedience to the expressed will of the Legislature, this county, not only completed, timeously and without hesitation, the equivalent thus exacted, and greatly exceeding in amount it proportion of the annual Land Tax, when men for the navy could not be raised under the temptation of the highest offered bounties; but took on itself by unanimous concurrence of the Land-holders, acting separately, the full burden of the moiety authorised to be levied, by way of relief, from its small and numerous tenantry, and that in consideration of the circumstances of their situation, unused, and perhaps unable, by reason of the comparative poverty of a Highland district, to pay any such direct contribution to Government.
VII. RESOLVED, That though the Law, thus involving a matter of serious grievance to this and other Highland counties, be now no longer in existance, yet if suffered to pass unnoticed, may, hereafter, on a familiar occasion, and under like circumstances, recur on us in the way of precedent or otherwise, with tenfold inequality and rigour.
VIII. RESOLVED, therefore, That the Member for this County be instructed from the tenor of the proceeding Resolutions, to guard against the establishment of so alarming a precedent in future, and strenuously oppose every scheme of internal repartition of a general levy in Scotland, whether in men or money, and ultimately and essentially operating as a Land Assessment, which hath not for its basis the Constitutional Act of 1690, or should otherwise proceed on arbitrary, unknown, and unequal principles of taxation.
IX. RESOLVED, That these Resolutions be published in the Caledonian Mercury, and Edinburgh Evening Courant, and that the Clerk of the Meeting be appointed to cause them to be published accordingly.
CH. ROSS, Preses.
Extracted from the Minutes, by
GEO. MACKENZIE, Clerk.”
– Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 29th October, 1795.