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The Rising Burgh: 1560 to 1770s

Learning and Beliefs

Glasgow and 1707

By John R Young

Many in Glasgow were strongly opposed to the Act of Union of 1707 that brought to end the Scottish Parliament and formed a new British state. As the Articles of the Treaty of Union were being debated in the Scottish Parliament at the end of 1706 rioting broke out in Glasgow. The Reverend James Clark, minister of the Tron Kirk, preached in favour of direct action to stop the measure and there was talk of armed rebellion. Anti-union addresses were sent to Parliament from the Gorbals and the Barony parishes, but Provost John Aird and the town council refused to sign such an address. As a result, Provost Aird's house was attacked, as was the Tolbooth from where muskets were taken by the rioters. The Provost fled to Edinburgh while the mob "rambled about for two or three days together". Only when dragoons were sent to the city and a night curfew imposed was order restored.

The city's Member of Parliament was Hugh Montgomerie of Busbie. He had been involved in the earlier unsuccessful negotiations for union in 1702-03 and was generally thought to be favourable to union. But he did not attend the negotiations that led to the Treaty of Union in 1707 and voted against it in the Scottish Parliament. Despite this, he became a member of the new Parliament of Great Britain at Westminster.

Complaints against the new taxes imposed after the Union remained for a long time, but Glasgow flourished in its aftermath particularly because of the opening up of the American colonies to Glasgow merchants. Soon, ever-increasing amounts of tobacco were being shipped to the Clyde.

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