Collection of Charles Waddie, AKA Thistledown’s, Correspondence

[Treaty of Union Articles Contents]

As ‘Thistledown’ with Responses;

There were lots of notices of the publication of a book entitled ‘The Treaty of Union Between Scotland and England: With an Historical Introduction by Thistledown’ from March of 1883. I am entirely unable to find an extant copy to purchase. It is, however, cited as a source in other books, e.g., such as here in ‘The Two Unions: Ireland, Scotland and the Survival of the United Kingdom, 1707-2007’ by Alvin Jackson (2011). This is very strange to me. If anyone knows of a copy that exists, please let me know so I know there wasn’t some concerted effort to eradicate them from people’s bookshelves.



Edinburgh: Waddie & Co.  

   Messrs Waddie & Co. have done a real service to Scotchmen at the present time by publishing in pamphlet form the exact terms of the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland. There is the same disposition now in some quarters as there was at the period of the Union to override the wishes and interests of the people of the smaller kingdom, and it behoves the latter to contend earnestly for their rights, for upon no other condition are they likely to secure them. Scotchmen have been patient and long-suffering under much neglect, but there is now a spirit abroad among them which is likely to go on developing and increasing until the management of their affairs is put on a much more satisfactory footing than at present. Every effort to advance this good work should be hailed with satisfaction, and we therefore welcome the publishing of the ‘Treaty of Union’ and ‘Thistledown’s’ historical introduction as being in this direction. ‘Thistledown’ brings to our recollection the bitter feeling that pervaded the minds of the English people against the Scotch immediately previous to the Treaty, as evinced by their determined hostility to the African or Indian Company and the Darien Scheme, started by Scottish merchants and others, and to the warlike attitude England assumed when the Scots, indignant at the treatment they had received, showed a disposition to again take up an independent position as a nation. England, at that time, fitted out twenty-four men-of-war to prevent the Scotch trade with France – almost the only trade they possessed – and declared the Scots in England aliens. It was at this crisis that the East Indiamen ‘Worcester,’ of London, having run into the Firth of Forth for shelter, was confiscated at the suit of the Scotch African Company, as a reprisal on the English; and it having likewise transpired that Captain Green had made a prize of a Scottish ship he had met with in the Eastern seas, murdering her captain (Drummond) and all the crew, the English captain and his officers were arrested by the Scots, tried by a jury, found guilty, and executed. From this incident it is evident the blood of the nation was up, and things were tending to an open rupture between the two countries, when fortunately a change of Ministry took place in England, and the election of a Parliament more favourable to the Scots. The union desired by the Scottish nation at this time was a federal one, and when it was found that their Commissioners had departed from that understanding, the indignation of the country knew no bounds, and open revolt was shown in some places; but the thing was done, and after a time the bitter feeling of the Scots quieted down. That the terms of the Treaty were not according to what the people were prepared to contend for was a palpable fact; but a ‘mechanical majority’ in the Scottish Parliament, whose interests lay in having the Treaty approved, carried its point against the wish of the nation. That the Treaty has been of benefit to both countries cannot be doubted, but that all the prosperity of Scotland is due to it, as some would assert, is far from being the case. ‘Thistledown’ does well to remark:- “It was the invention of the steam engine and steamboat, both the outcome of Scotch genius, that gave her that marvellous start and brought about her present prosperity, which has been shared by the rest of the civilised world… Scotland has simply thriven because the English have let her alone, and she has been amind to attend to her own business and make the best of present circumstances.’ ‘Thistledown’ considers that a Minister for Scotland, while a good thing, is not sufficient for our needs; the evils are too deeply rooted to be removed by any minister, however able. His suggestion is that the House of Commons should be divided into three equal divisions, sitting simultaneously in London, Dublin, and Edinburgh, and re-uniting in the after-part of the session in London to give their exclusive attention to Imperial affairs; but how this suggestion could be worked out he does not condescend to specify. Whatever the proper remedy may be to put the legislative affairs of Scotland on a proper footing, there can be little doubt some radical reform is needed. Is it reasonable or fair that pressing legislation for Scotland should be year after year prevented because English Tory and Irish Obstructives block the way in the Imperial Legislature? Many questions of importance for the Nothern Kingdom are awaiting solution, and had the Scottish people only to deal with their own representatives it would not be long before that solution was obtained. Some of the fears entertained by many of our forefathers as to the evil effects likely to flow from the Treaty of Union have been proved to be groundless, but the one arising from the swamping of Scotland’s members in the Imperial Parliament has not been of the number, for, though we have received fifteen additional representatives since the Union, that remains as palpable as ever. We do not send Tory Obstructives to Parliament, neither as a nation have we any quarrel to settle with Ireland; why then should we be punished for other people’s sins? Let Scotland therefore demand with united voice that the present state of things must cease, and that in the future means must be provided by which we must have much greater control over those matters that affect ourselves as a nation.” 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Monday 2nd April, 1883.

A case, brought before the courts, Orr Ewing vs Ewing, brought to light the way in which Scottish court jurisdiction was being overshadowed and subverted by English Courts who, as per the Treaty of Union, has no jurisdiction within Scotland or on Scottish affairs whatsoever. This led to calls for enquiry into the situation which was more widespread than just this one case. The financial amount in this specific case was, of course, what highlighted it. The case itself is elaborated upon in the ‘London Evening Standard’ report of December 8th, 1883.


Edinburgh, December 3, 1883.  

   SIR, – There are very few Scotsmen who have read your article on the Orr-Ewing case this morning but must feel grateful to you. In the rather dreary outlook for our national independence, it is no small comfort to see our leading journal standing up so manfully for the rights of our country. If you will pardon me saying a few words on this subject I will feel obliged. It seems to me that Scotsmen who go to London to defend cases brought against them by Englishmen commit a grave error of judgment. In the 19th article of the Treaty of Union are these words – ‘And that no causes in Scotland be cognoscible by the Court of Chancery, Queen’s Bench, Common Pleas, or any other Court in Westminster Hall; and that the said Courts, or any other of the like nature, after the Union shall have no power to cognosce, review, or alter the acts or sentences of the Judicature within Scotland, or stop the execution of the same.’ The Lord Chancellor of England has done what is here distinctly forbidden. But, in the name of common sense, why do Scotsmen not seek the protection of their own Courts? No Act of the British Parliament can set aside their rights; they are secured to them by solemn engagement, and it would be an act of treason to the Constitution to try and set them aside. 

   Unless Scotsmen are prepared to stand up for their rights our nationality will be snuffed out, and a country that survives its honour will have nothing left worth living for. The English Government, listening to the advice of that meanest thing that crawls, your Anglified Scot, have set themselves deliberately to extinguish our separate national existence. The process has been going on for years, but they will find they have to reckon with the people of Scotland, and it is not unknown in our past history that our worst enemies have been our own unworthy sons. 

   There is a dangerous habit crept into our land, and which, if not checked, will eat out the heart of the country, and that is the appeal to the House of Lords. At the time of the Union the appeal to the House of Lords was retained, because no one would go to London, and it would stop vexatious litigation. In ancient times, when Scotland had a separate Parliament, the appeal from the Court of Session to the Lords was an appeal to our highest Court – our own Lords; but as it is now managed in London, the appeal is from Scottish Judges to English – to Judges who know nothing of our law, and very little of our country. Every case is looked at through English spectacles; and our decisions are set aside, and English law imported into Scotland. In this Orr-Ewing case, the same English Judges will sit as a Scottish Court of Appeal from the Court of Session. Will they be likely to set aside their own judgment? If English lawyers had any modesty or sense of fair play, they would leave Scottish cases to Scotsmen; but they must dip their fingers into our dish and extract all the sweets out of it. Let the readers of ‘Bleak House’ think what they may expect, if Scotsmen are to be subjected to the Court of Chancery. That, and worse, will follow, unless Scotsmen speak out. – I am, &c. 


– The Scotsman, Tuesday 4th December, 1883.


December 5, 1883.  

   SIR, – I am sure all true Scotsmen will thank your correspondent ‘Thistledown’ for his letter, which appeared in your columns on Tuesday last, on the jurisdiction of English Courts over Scotsmen. If ‘Nemo,’ who writes as an Anglo-Scot in your columns of to-day, would buy ‘Thistledown’s’ pamphlet on the Treaty of Union he might get his eyes opened. 

   I don’t know what right the English Lords have to overrule any decision of the Court of Session (the highest Court in this country.) If they have the right, it has been given to them by such men as ‘Thistledown’ calls ‘the meanest thing that crawls’ – viz., Anglo-Scotsmen. I have met them both at home and abroad – men who, when they get on among Englishmen, are ashamed of the land of Bruce and Wallace, and even some of our law Lords when they get an English Judgeship in the Court of Appeal forget that they should be Scotsmen first, instead of sitting on an English bench like dummies – witness the report in your columns of the Orr-Ewing case. 

   The Irish teach us a lesson in nationalism. – I am, &c. 



“Perth Road, Dundee, December 6, 1883.  

   SIR, – I have read with pleasure the letters of your correspondent ‘Thistledown’ and others in yesterday’s Scotsman. It is quite clear that by the Treaty of Union, English Courts were never intended to have any jurisdiction in Scotland, and it is an open question whether any appeal to the House of Lords from the Supreme Courts in Scotland should be tolerated. 

   It would seem that our Scottish Courts are, however, not altogether free from blame, for the best method of testing the jurisdiction of the English Courts would have been to refuse to enforce their decrees, and this would have brought matters to a crisis. The whole matter of the relations of Scotland, England, and Ireland requires a thorough overhaul. The fact is, London is to a certain extent a huge sponge, sucking the life-blood of both Scotland and Ireland; and no other country in Europe, excepting, perhaps, France, is so cursed with centralisation as the British Islands; and to its shame be it said, the present Government has not been altogether free from blame, as it has not set its face against centralisation as it ought. If England thinks, however, that she can reduce Scotland to the condition of a province like Wales, she is greatly mistaken, and also if she thinks that Scotland will submit to become a mere milch cow for Courts of Chancery and needy London lawyers. Rather than that this should occur, we will agitate for a repeal of the present form of a Union, and the substitution of a Federal one. 

   The present form of Union has not been so beneficial to Scotland as some Englishmen would have us believe; but our prosperity is due entirely to our own industry, and had we had a Federal Union instead of the present, a great deal of Scottish money at present flowing into London would remain at home. Should an agitation for a repeal of the Union arise here, it will be a most serious affair for the English – more so than in Ireland, as it will be conducted in a different manner, Scotland having greater wealth than Ireland to conduct and carry on an agitation; and Scotsmen abroad will join in the movement also. And should we join hands with Ireland, we will bring England to her senses. 

   Should Scotland be, therefore, driven into returning Scottish Home Rule members of Parliament, the English will have themselves to blame, as they are stirring up towards themselves in Scotland a feeling similar to what exists in Ireland. 

   It is to be hoped that the national meeting to be held in Edinburgh in January will convince them that Scotland is in no mood to be trifled with. – I am, &c. 


– The Scotsman, Friday 7th December 1883.

“Edinburgh, Dec. 7, 1883.  

   SIR, – I would like to endorse the suggestion of ‘Progress’ with this addition, that the Deans of the Procurators throughout Scotland might call a meeting of their members and enter their earnest protest against the judgment of the Lord Chancellor. This would strengthen the hands of our excellent friend the Lord Advocate. Public bodies, such as Town Councils, Chambers of Commerce, and Trades Councils might also approach Mr Gladstone, the head of the Government, and a Scotch member, and point out to him that the English Judges have trampled upon the Constitution, invaded our liberties, and grievously insulted the people of Scotland. 

   It may be interesting to some of your readers to remind them that what has now happened was foreseen by our ancestors, who said that, being a poor people, with only a handful of members in the British Parliament, their liberties would continually be liable to invasion from their great and powerful neighbours the English, to which Defoe, the historian of the Union, replied that, ‘As the Parliament of Great Britain was founded, not upon the original rights of the peoples, as the separate Parliaments of England and Scotland were before, but upon the Treaty which is prior to the said Parliament, and consequently superior, so, for that reason, it cannot have power to alter its own foundation, or act against the power which formed it, since all constituted power is subordinate and inferior to the power constituting.’ 

   This is true. The British Parliament have not the power to alter the Treaty, much less English Judges. How, then, is it done? By setting the Constitution at defiance. Your correspondent ‘Angus’ speaks of a federal union. That is the union that our ancestors wished; and the present Treaty was thrust down our throats in spite of the earnest protest of the whole people of Scotland. It will be an evil day for the United Kingdom if the old animosity between the English and Scots is revived. That English lawyers seem bent upon reviving the old feuds, or at least reckless whether that happens or not, seems painfully evident. 

   To ‘Nemo’ I have only to say that the Anglified Scot is an historical character – a canker in our flesh, which must just be endured. I wish no angry correspondence with him. – I am, &c., 




Newton-Grange House, Newbattle,  

December 8, 1883.  

   SIR, – Might I suggest, as there is at present a very general awakening as to what is really Scotland’s legal position according to the terms of the Treaty of Union, that some patriotic lawyer would publish in cheap-pamphlet form the Act itself as passed by the Scottish Parliament, and also show all the alterations, repeals, &c., which have since been made upon it by the British Parliament? It is marvellous the ignorance that exists as to this document. I hold that, next to the Ten Commandments, it is the most important rule of faith and works for every Scotsman, and yet I meet daily with well-informed men, even public teachers, who never read it. 

   It should be spread broadcast over the entire country previous to the meeting of the National Convention to be held in Edinburgh during next January. – I am, &c. 


   [‘Thistledown’ published the Treaty of Union many months ago.]”

– The Scotsman, Monday 10th December, 1883.


Edinburgh, December 24, 1883.  

   SIR, – I think, after your leaders and the letters of a ‘Barrister’ and ‘A Chancery Lawyer,’ very few of your readers but will be fully aware of the gravity and importance of the Orr-Ewing case. But as some of them may be inclined to say this is a rich man’s affair, and the rich are well able to look after themselves, I would like to point out that it is a lawsuit in which every Scotsman is interested, be he rich or poor, the working man as well as the millionaire. There is a distinct conflict between England and Scotland as to our Constitution. The former claims jurisdiction over all Scotsmen; the latter denies this right, and points to the terms of the agreement between the two countries, as well as the usages of international law. Admit the claims of England in this case, and where will they end? If the civil law of Scotland is to be set aside, will the criminal law of Scotland not also be abolished? and how this would affect every Scotsman we will see. 

   Slander in Scotland is a civil offence. The party libelled can claim damages by an action at law – nothing more. Slander in England is a criminal offence, punishable at the discretion of the Judge, I believe, to the extent of penal servitude – at any rate, one or two years’ imprisonment with hard labour can be given. Now, suppose a domiciled Scotsman slanders an Englishman, or he thinks he is slandered, he may have the Scotsman arrested, put in jail, and tried for a criminal offence in England, contrary to the laws of his own country. You must also bear in mind that in England there is no Public Prosecutor like our Procurator-Fiscal, but every man avenges his own quarrel; so that an Englishman might be able to inflict untold misery upon our countryman before he could clear himself from the clutches of the law, and his only remedy for this would be an expensive action in England for malicious prosecution. No Scotsman, be he rich or poor, would be free from this danger, if we allow England to overmaster our laws. 

   It is well known that all classes of Scotsmen have been afflicted of late years with English lawsuits. I myself some months ago was asked to serve an English writ upon a Leith merchant, but declined; and the amount of loss in money and anxiety, as well as time, it would be impossible to calculate. Now, as all this infliction is contrary to the Constitution, I would like to ask, Is there no redress? Surely English Courts will not be permitted to affect us, and we to have no remedy. If the meeting of the 16th January would take up this question, and get the parties wronged to send in a note of their expenses, they would have a constitutional right to have them returned by the Treasury. No other plan, in my opinion, would bring the matter so vividly before the conscience of Englishmen or put so quick a stop to the usurpation of their Courts. – I am, &. 



“December 22, 1883.  

   SIR, – I observed in your columns of to-day Mr Justice Chitty’s remarks (on Lord Fraser’s judgment) in the Orr-Ewing case in the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice in London. He appears to be astonished at Lord Fraser’s decision; but if he knew the law of Scotland perhaps he might not be so surprised, Englishmen as a rule being ignorant of Scottish affairs in general. Perhaps Mr Justice Chitty may be more astonished yet. I would like to ask him by what right English Courts presume to dictate to the highest Court in our country? Not by the Treaty of Union certainly. We don’t want English law in Scotland, any more than Englishmen would wish Scottish law in England. 

   England would like to sink Scotland as a country, and make her a mere province of her own; but that will never be, I sincerely hope, as long as we have such men as Lord Rosebery and your valued correspondent ‘Thistledown.’ We want the down of the thistle blown all over Scotland just now, and for all good and true Scotsmen to demand their rights, not from England, but from the Parliament of Great Britain – rights which have too long been neglected and trodden underfoot – rights which Anglicised Scots have done their best to hand over to our Southern neighbour – rights for which our forefathers fought and bled and won, until the thin edge of the wedge was inserted by English gold at the signing and completion of the Treaty of Union. 

   You kindly inserted my last letter, which makes me hope you may also insert this. – I am, &c. 


– The Scotsman, Tuesday 25th December, 1883.

“Edinburgh, December 27, 1883.  

   SIR, – I have read over twice with the deepest interest the letters of ‘A Scotch Advocate’ and ‘W.S.;’ and while agreeing with all that has been written, would like to point out a danger to which some of your correspondents are leading us. The assumption of powers over domiciled Scotsmen by the English Courts, constituting, as it does, a real grievance, they call out for legislation to remedy the evil. Now let us see what this amounts to. There is a conflict between English and Scottish law, and a bill is introduced into the British Parliament to settle the dispute. But in the House of Commons England has 489 members, Scotland 60; there are from 30 to 40 English lawyers in the House, Scotland has only three or four. The English members, although they are well enough disposed towards Scotland will be guided by their own lawyers, and we would simply be borne down by numbers. But what good could come of such a bill? Language cannot be found stronger than the 19th Article of the Treaty of Union, which forbids the English Courts interfering in our law. But they do interfere, says your correspondent, to our serious loss. What then? The remedy in my opinion is an appeal to the Government to restrain the English Judges from breaking the Constitution – it is simply intolerable for them to be permitted to do so. I cannot conceive it possible that Mr Gladstone would permit this iniquity to go on if it were formally brought before him. 

   Perhaps it may be considered rash in me to differ from so able a lawyer as ‘W.S.’ on the transfer of Government stock; but to my mind he made a great mistake in going to Chancery, when the Bank of England refused to transfer the Government stock on the order of the Court of Session, The Government stock being British, in as much under the Courts of Scotland as England; and when the Bank refused to transfer, he should have complained to the Home Secretary, or brought an action against the Crown in the Court of Session. It is this weak submission to the English Courts that has brought about our present trouble. – I am, &c. 


– The Scotsman, Saturday 29th December, 1883.


St Stephen’s Works, Edinburgh, December 5, 1884.  

   SIR, – Your correspondent ‘A Scotch Liberal’ seems to think Berwick-on-Tweed is a Scottish town. If he inquires into the matter, however, he will find that it is an English town, under the English law, and in no way connected with Scotland but in sentiment. His reference to the Treaty of Union I don’t understand. Perhaps it would be as wise to say as little on that subject as possible, as under the Treaty we are only entitled to forty-five members. 

   I hear so many strange references to the Treaty of Union that I rub my eyes and wonder if I have ever read that precious document. It is not a treaty that the Scots have much reason to be proud of, but it would be well for the people of Scotland if they studied it a little more, if for no other reason than that it would prevent some people from referring to a page of history they have never read. 

   Public opinion is slowly but surely awakening in Scotland to the fact that Scotland cannot be governed properly from London. The latest exposure of the educational muddle is opening our eyes to the ignorance, arrogance, and conceit of our Cockney rulers. May each loyal Scot earnestly pray that the rule of such blockheads may soon come to a close. – I am, &c. 


– The Scotsman, Saturday 6th December, 1884.

As Charles Waddie, Hon. Sec. for Scottish Home-Rule Association;


Edinburgh, February 12, 1886.  

   SIR, – Having in my former letters discussed some of the general bearings of this great question, it may not be amiss now to consider what effect Home Rule would have upon Scotland and her capital. Let me ask them, Does Scotland need Home Rule, and do the people want it? If you do not think your readers are weary of me I would like to address them on this subject as briefly as possible. 

   Having been a careful observer of public affairs for over thirty years I have no hesitation in affirming that Scotland most urgently needs Home Rule, paradoxical as it may appear, even more so than Ireland. This opinion is based on the fact that the history of our country, its manners and customs, laws, and institutions are distinctly different from England, form a more complete contrast than English institutions do to Irish – the criminal law, for example, with its public prosecutors and jury trial. In Scotland a majority of the jury carries conviction, but in England and Ireland the jury must be unanimous – an absurdity to a logical people like the Scotch, where twelve men hardly ever could agree upon anything. With such a system the marvel is how any criminals are convicted at all. In England and Ireland the jury have only two verdicts, but in Scotland they have three, which is also in harmony with the prevailing sentiment of the people. It is not the Scottish law, be it remembered, that is odd. Our laws are founded on the same principles as the jurisprudence of other European States. It is the English that is peculiar and unsuited to us. Then, if our laws are worthy of being maintained, it follows that we must not starve our superior Courts, but bring everything we can into them; for, being a small people and requiring to keep an efficient bar, if the richest part of the practice is carried to London our advocates will be impoverished, and the best of our lawyers will leave a country where the most lucrative part of their profession is given over to strangers. I need say no more on this point; it is self-evident. If private bill legislation were managed in Edinburgh a number of very considerable advantages would accrue to Scotland. In the first place, any expense incurred would be given to our own people, and serve to maintain the efficiency of our bar. The cost to the promoters would also be very much smaller, for legal talent could be secured for twenty guineas here which would cost in London from fifty to a hundred; for Parliamentary lawyers are there overgorged with prey, and are negligent and saucy to a degree. Moreover, the greater proportion of the population of Scotland being within easy distance of the capital, parties interested in private bills could be called by telegram when they were required and return the same evening to their homes. The result of this arrangement would be that private bills would cost about one fourth what they do in London, and the costs would go to enrich our own people and not be squandered upon strangers. Scottish lawyers may also be credited with a knowledge of Scottish wants unknown to English barristers. 

   It is in public legislation, however, that Scotland has most cause of complaint, having only seventy representatives in a House of over six hundred. She is left entirely at the mercy of the English members, who, having consumed the whole available time, thrust Scottish business into the small hours of the morning. It is impossible for our business to be properly managed at these unseasonable hours; it is worse than an insult, it is a cruel injury to have our laws and institutions mangled by sleepy legislators. How different would things be if the members sat in Edinburgh under the eye of Scotland; not a drowsy hour at midnight, but a whole summer’s day would be spent in providing us with wise reforms. Is there a man in Scotland who cannot see the immense advantage of Home Rule in providing us with wholesome laws? Now, though we are a small people, we have a great past, and I trust a great future, the variety of our needs are as great as England’s, and will give ample works to a Scottish Parliament. 

   If, then, the laws of Scotland were amended in the country, our nobility and gentry would be compelled to reside in the capital, and the millions that are drained from Scotland would be spent at home. It is the highest testimony to the amazing industry of the country that she has been able to stand this drain on her resources so long. But there is a sense which, to the generous mind, will commend Home Rule more than the saving of wealth, and that is, the retaining at home our own men of genius. The Royal Scottish Academy is starved by having her best members drafted to London in search of patrons which, if Scottish wealth was spent at home, would be found at their own door. Edinburgh would become indeed a royal city, a second Paris, but not second to her in beauty. Society being enriched by a real nobility and gentry, would at once extinguish that narrow professional cast which is sometimes referred to as the reproach of Edinburgh society. Literature and art would follow, music and the drama would rise to a level worthy of the genius of Scotland. Our best sons have been drained from us, our music and poetry have been degraded, and even such journals as the Edinburgh Review, founded by our own Jeffrey and Scott, are carried to London. In fact, sir, our nationality has been all but extinguished, and in violation or contempt of the Treaty of Union, we hear Cabinet Ministers speaking of the English Government, English Army, English Fleet, English Ministers, and other insulting terms daily used in Parliament. 

   But so the people of Scotland want Home Rule? That, sir, is impossible for any one to answer till they are asked. Many worthy Scotsmen do, the Convention of Royal Burghs have so declared themselves, but I fear the bulk of the people have not thought of it; when they do I am certain what will be their verdict. If, then, it is a desirable object, let me entreat those who can speak not to be silent in this great crisis in our history. – I am, &c. 


– The Scotsman, Tuesday 16th February, 1886.



   The following correspondence has been forwarded to us for publication:- 

Scottish Home-Rule Association,  

5 St Andrew Square,  

Edinburgh, 18th June, 1886.  

   The Right Honourable 

   William Ewart Gladstone, M.P. 

   Sir, – I have the honour to bring under your notice the Scottish Home-Rule Association, which, although recently formed, has already a considerable roll of members. Its object is to obtain for Scotland, while retaining undiminished her voice in the Imperial Parliament, a national Legislature for the management of purely Scottish affairs. These aspirations have been for many years earnestly cherished by the Scottish people, and the proposal to grant such autonomy to the sister kingdom has their hearty sympathy. If you gave them the hope of a twin measure for Scotland it would evoke an unparalleled enthusiasm and support. From the enclosed pamphlet, published in 1878 (sent merely as a specimen of others), you will perceive that this question has long been agitated while the enclosed publication on the Treaty of Union, and the pamphlet on National and Local Self-Government, show its historical grounds. The Earl of Dalhousie, while recently referring to the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, said that the bargain entered into by the two peoples was a fair and reasonable one, and was equally approved by both; but this is an entire mistake, as the historical introduction to the enclosed copy of the Treaty of Union will clearly show. What our ancestors desired then was a federal and not an incorporate union with England. We appeal to you as the friend of the people, the first British statesman who has embraced the great principle of Home Rule; and we hope that as you draw all your blood from Scotland you will not withhold from us the aid which your great name would confer. We hope and believe that our association, as you have yourself said, ‘will serve to help your movement on behalf of Ireland,’ and it would add zeal to our endeavours in that direction if you would allow us as a proof of your sympathy to inscribe your name on the programme of our association as its patron. Some members of committee attend daily at our offices in 5 St Andrew Square, between the hours of two and three, and if you will honour them with an interview they will be happy to wait upon you and explain further. – I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient, humble servant, 



“10 Downing Street, Whitehall,  

June 21, 1886.  

   Sir, – I am desired by Mr Gladstone to inform you that he must decline with thanks the proposal that he should become patron of the Scottish Home Rule Association, as, at his age, he is compelled to abstain from undertaking new obligations. He thinks, also, that it would be better that Scottish opinion should form itself freely on the subject in whatever sense without any interference on his part. – I am, sir, your obedient servant, 


   C. Waddie, Esq.”  

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Wednesday 23rd June, 1886.


   Mr WADDIE then addressed the meeting on Scotch Home Rule, dealing first with the question viewed historically. At the Treaty of Union, consummated in the first years of the eighteenth century, lay the root of the question that was agitating the country at the present time – the mistakes, nay the crimes, that were then perpetrated requiring to be righted. Now, some people said that however corruptly the Union was brought about it had been an incalculable blessing to Scotland, and had been the sole cause of her present prosperity; but, looking into the real facts of the case, that was preposterous. Another argument their English friends used was that Scotland shared in the trade of the English colonies, and had been enriched thereby; but this was perhaps the most impudent assertion of the whole pack of lies cast upon the page of history. (Laughter and applause.) The Colonial Empire was not in existence at the time of the Union. It had been built up since, and Scotland had done more than her part in raising it. (Applause.) Most certainly she had been a leader in the new departure of mechanical science which had made such giant strides as almost to amount to a new creation. How came it about that this little people had had such an influence upon the destinies of the world? He attributed it to the hardy training they got in their wars with the English. (Applause.) Home Rule for Scotland, as it presented itself to-day, meant the restoration of her ancient Parliament and Executive Government, with such modifications as the wants of the present day suggested. They were not to be put off with a sham Parliament and Government. They must have real power over the destinies of their country. (Applause.) Mr Waddie then directed his remarks to the work of the Scotch Parliament would find to do in regard to laws affecting Scotland, and said that there was one question it might be expected to deal with with greater wisdom than the Imperial Parliament, and that was the land question. (Hear, hear, and applause.) For the ownership of land, its duties, and its privileges were as different as possible in the two countries. The Scotch Parliament would command the concurrence of the Scotch people in dealing with this important and complicated question. (Applause.) The lecturer then examined the proposals of the leading English statesmen on the subject, and quoted from Lord Salisbury, Lord Hartington, Mr Bright, Mr Chamberlain, Sir George Trevelyan, and Mr Goschen, followed with the opinions of five other statesmen – viz,. Mr Gladstone, Lord Rosebery, Mr Childers, Sir W. Harcourt, and Mr Campbell-Bannerman – all of whom, in striking contrast to the former, had declared for self-government for Ireland and for Scotland when they asked for it. (Applause.) In conclusion, Mr Waddie said the day had come when their country should either live or die. The breath was almost spent. Would they choose life or death for her, glory or shame, honour or disgrace, an immortal name or immortal infamy? The issue was in the hands of the people of Scotland, and he trusted they would be granted wisdom to decide. (Loud applause.)” 

– Dundee Advertiser, Tuesday 2nd November, 1886.


   Mr Charles Waddie, Honorary Secretary of the Scottish Home Rule Association, has addressed the following letter to Mr W. H. Smith, First Lord of the Treasury:- 

   ‘Sir, – In your speech delivered in Glasgow on the 8th current you are reported to have quoted from the Encyclopædia Britannica as follows:- “Many causes of fierce dispute arose between the two nations, among which not the least formidable were proceedings by the English Parliament for inquiring into matters which had occurred in Scotland. The Scotch Estates threatened to form alliances and connections of their own, and it was obvious that nothing but their Union with the Parliament of England could preserve peace between the two countries. And, then, commenting upon the above, you go on to say – It is urged that we must grant Home Rule in order that England may attain the control of her own affairs in her own Parliament. But I have shown that an English Parliament, with separate Parliaments existing, might set on foot inquiries into affairs which were going on in Scotland. That authority has remained with the English Parliament.” 

   ‘I have now to ask you to state your grounds for this assertion – political, historical, or constitutional. We know that Edward I. set up such a monstrous claim, but that usurpation of authority got its fitting answer on the field of Bannockburn. That the English Parliament attempted to dictate to the Parliament of Scotland is well known, but they speedily repented of such audacity, and although in 1704 they passed an Act entitled ‘An Act to Prevent the Mischiefs arising to England from the Act of Security in Scotland, this Act they were compelled to repeal at the demand of the Scots, and to apologise for their impertinent intrusion upon the liberty of a free people. If you refer to the terms of the Treaty of Union you will find that on 16th January, 1707, the English and Scottish Parliaments ceased to exist, and that by Article III. a new Parliament was created in these words, ‘That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament to be styled the Parliament of Great Britain.’ 

   ‘Now, as we entered into a Union with England on terms of perfect equality for the better management of our mutual concerns, when this arrangement ceases to operate to our mutual advantage, as a free, independent, and unconquered people, we claim the right to review the terms of the contract, or to retire from it altogether should circumstances render such a proceeding expedient. You may rest assured that the Home Rule question as far as regards Scotland will not be settled by the surrender of any of our national rights, and that the English Parliament will never be permitted to interfere with any of our national concerns. But as the terms of settlement are certain to take some form of federalism there will still remain a British Parliament to which the English as well as Scotch Parliaments will be in some things subordinate. 

   ‘As your attack upon the liberties of Scotsmen was openly made in the largest city in Scotland, I will send this protest to the press and to the Marquis of Lothian, as the Minister entrusted with safeguarding the interests and honour of Scotland. – Your obedient servant, 


– Dundee Courier, Friday 8th November, 1889.


Scottish Home Rule Association,  

Edinburgh, November 25, 1889.  

   SIR, – Before the echo of Lord Rosebery’s speech dies away, allow me to correct the astounding statement that the Union with England was not brought about by bribery and corruption. This argument he uses to enhance the claims of Ireland to precedence over Scotland, and thus for his own party ends deliberately falsifies history – a very strange procedure for a patriotic Scottish nobleman! I give you a list of the parties bribed, and may add that the Court of Session led by the Lord Chancellor was also bribed, the Lords Ordinary getting their salaries raised from £200 a year to £500 a year. – I am, &c. 


   A list of the parties bribed to betray their country:- Earl of Marchmont, £1104. 15s. 7d.; Earl of Cromarty, £300; Lord Preston Hall, £200; Lord Justice-Clerk, £200; Duke of Athole, £1000; Earl of Balcarres, £500; Earl of Dunmore, £200; Lord Anstruther, £300; Mr Stewart of Castle Stewart, £300; Lord Elphington, £200; Lord Fraser, £100; Lord Polwarth, £50; Mr John Campbell, £200; Earl of Findlater, £100; Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, £100; Earl of Glencairn, £100; Earl of Kintore, £200; John Muir, Provost of Ayr, £100; Lord Forbes, £50; Earl of Seafield, £490; Marquis of Tweeddale, £1000; Duke of Roxburghe, £500; Lord Elibank, £50; Lord Banff, £11; Major Cunningham, £100; to the messenger that brought down the Treaty of Union, £60; Sir William Sharp, £300; Patrick Coultrain, £25; Alex. Wedderburn, £75; to the Commissioners for Equipage and Daily Allowance, £12,325.” 

– The Scotsman, Tuesday 26th November, 1889.


Edinburgh, April 3, 1890.  

   SIR, – Lord Rosebery last night, in reference to Scottish Home Rule, made use of these words – ‘There is a question promoted very much to my left: the question of Scottish Home Rule. That is a question which does not altogether meet with the unanimous response of the Liberal Party, and yet it is a question of great importance, and, if adopted by the Liberal party, would become a question of extraordinary importance.’ The only meaning that can be put on these words is, that, as far as the leaders are concerned, Home Rule for Scotland has no place in their programme. This is exactly what we have been saying all along, and have come in for no little abuse for daring to whisper such a sentiment. Home Rule for Scotland was to follow Home Rule for Ireland, and one step at a time was true policy – so said the rank and file of the party – but no responsible statesman ever endorsed such a policy. The whole burden of their speeches is, ‘Help us to give Ireland Home Rule, and then we will get on with the work of the British Empire.’ If they mean to give Home Rule to Scotland, why can’t they say so in plain terms? The matter of time will not disturb us; that is for the Government of the day to determine. We never had any objections to Ireland’s bill being read first, but if passed without safeguards being given to Scotland, in the present temper of the leaders, Scotland will never see Home Rule. When Ireland gets her own Parliament you lose the vote of the Irish members, even if retained in the Imperial Parliament, for Scotland never entered into a Treaty of Union with Ireland. It was nearly a hundred years after before Ireland joined Britain; and once in possession of a Parliament of her own, the right of Ireland to vote on a question between England and Scotland would lapse. It is clear, then, that Scotland’s only safety lies in refusing her consent to any partial settlement of this grave constitutional change that does not safeguard her national independence. Some ignorantly suppose this can’t be done in one comprehensive measure, and say what would suit Ireland would not suit Scotland. This confusion of ideas springs from mistaking the measures passed by an assembly with the form of such assembly. All constitutional governments are very much alike in the machinery of Parliament; but the bills passed by each Assembly are adapted to the wants of each nation. Let us suppose that four separate bills are needed for the United Kingdom, and that Ireland’s is to be passed first. No one will object to that, provided it does not come into force until the other bills are passed. For Scotsmen to consent to any other settlement of the question would be to betray their country, and be an act of wilful stupidity. – I am, &c. 


– The Scotsman, Friday 4th April, 1890.



   The Chairman said they had every reason to congratulate themselves upon the success of their movement since the conference last year. Practically the battle was won. The Liberal Associations all over the country were now making Home Rule for Scotland one of the planks of their programme, and at the great national federation of Liberal Associations, Mr Gladstone stated that in next Parliament one of the important matters would be to arrange legislation to give Home Rule to Scotland and Wales. Then, in the division in the House of Commons they had an absolute majority in favour of Home Rule for Scotland, only three Liberal members voting against it. The present Tory Lord-Advocate would not have spoken of taking ‘a step backwards towards the darkness from which the country was withdrawn at the Union’ if he had read Sir Archibald Alison’s proofs that Scotland owes much both of her prosperity and her general advancement to the wise legislation of her own Parliament. Dr Clark quoted from the writings of Alison to show the excellent legislation which the Scotch Parliament passed before the Union. He repeated that if the Lord-Advocate had read the history of the country, he would not misrepresent her nor slander his race. Then they had been successful in elections, except that of the Ayr burghs. The seat was lost to the Liberal party because the candidate was an Englishman, who did not support Home Rule for Scotland. Finally, the chairman said that Scotch Home Rule was like the Scottish character – quiet on the surface, but strong, deep, and determined. (Applause.) 

   The minutes of last conference were read and adopted. Mr Waddie read the annual report, which stated that Home Rule on a Federal basis was rapidly making way. Mr Mitchell, treasurer, made an appeal for more funds, on the ground that if they got Home Rule it would be a saving to Scotland of from eight to ten millions a year. He also suggested that there should be an honorary treasurer in every county to help him to collect subscriptions.”

– Northern Ensign and Weekly Gazette, Tuesday 30th September, 1890.


Scottish Home Rule Association,  

79 Princes Street, Edinburgh, December 5, 1894.  

   SIR, – I have read Mr Burnet’s able letter on the above subject with the greatest interest. The attention is again drawn of our too complaisant countrymen to a policy that is steadily being pursued by the legal profession in England – viz., to make the law of Scotland subordinate to that of England. I have been acquainted with a large number of English lawyers for over thirty years, and I cannot call to mind one who did not think it an injustice that there should be any separate code of laws in Scotland at all. The English Judges simply act in accordance with the traditions of their profession. 

   The one error Scottish defendants make over and over again is appearing in an English Court at all. When served with an English writ they should apply to the Court of Session for protection by interdict. The protection of Scotsmen from the interference of the English Courts was secured to us by the 19th article of the Treaty of Union, and in the celebrated Orr-Ewing case this article was admitted to be a portion of international law, and was so upheld by the House of Lords. The Judgment Extension Act referred to cannot supersede the above article in the Treaty of Union, for such is not subject to review by the British Parliament, but is expressly reserved. It is high time this matter was settled once for all, and the only way to put a stop to it is for our Courts to tell the English they may pass any judgments they like, but that they will refuse to enforce them. – I am, &c. 


– The Scotsman, Thursday 6th December, 1894.