Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Commercial Relations of England and Scotland 1603 - 1707
By Theodora Keith (1910)


I WISH gratefully to acknowledge my indebtedness to Girton College for the award of the Cairnes Scholarship which enabled me to write this thesis, and also for the grant for its publication; to the London School of Economics for the opportunities for research work provided by it; to Archdeacon Cunningham for very kindly reading and criticising the manuscript; to Mr Hubert Hall, of the Public Record Office, and to the Rev. John Anderson, of the General Register House, for kind help; and especially to Dr Lilian Knowles, Reader in Economic History in the University of London, for constant help and encouragement.

8 July 1910.


ENGLAND and Scotland are very different from one another, both religiously and politically, and we are apt to form an impression that the development of each nation was separate and distinct, while occasional incidents brought them into conflict. On closer consideration, however, this view of the relations of England and Scotland appears inadequate; they are indissolubly linked together as parts of the same island; there are similar elements in the population of each, and they have been affected by the same influences from time to time. They have had so much in common throughout their history that any movement, which took place in one, has reacted, in some fashion, upon parties and affairs in the other realm. The influence of the more advanced upon the smaller country has been patent all along, for conscious efforts have been made, again and again, to organise the Scottish kingdom on an English model. On the other hand, the effect of the political affinities of Scotland on the schemes of English monarchs can never be left out of sight; and the influence of popular movements in Scotland, on the affairs of Church and State in England, becomes obvious in the Elizabethan and Stuart periods. By keeping this constant and intimate interconnection in mind we may sometimes get a clue to guide us through a maze of incidents that seem to be capricious and unintelligible.

From this point of view the commercial relationships, which Miss Keith has described so clearly and so fully, are particularly instructive. The study of the material interests of large sections of the population in both countries, brings into light motives which we may easily overlook unless attention is specially called to them. The bearing of merchants' grievances on questions of constitutional privilege was indirect and remote, and such topics rarely formed the theme of pulpit eloquence; but for all that, they were of extraordinary importance. The consideration of them helps us to understand why two countries, which were so closely associated and had so much in common, were kept apart; as well as to see the nature of the difficulties which had to be faced, when they were brought under one Crown. So far as religious and political affairs were concerned, close affinities existed between parties in Scotland and parties in England, and they were drawn into correspondence and sympathy; in the seventeenth century there was good reason, from time to time, for hoping that similar institutions, civil and ecclesiastical, might be established in each country. It almost seems as if the conduct and prospects of trade furnished the main reasons why Englishmen and Scots rallied into separate and hostile camps. Commercial interests united the people of each country in a common antagonism to their neighbour, and commercial jealousies kept these neighbours apart.

It is almost inevitable that two adjacent countries, with similar products and similar opportunities for industry, should be rivals in trade; but the commercial jealousy between England and Scotland became much more pronounced when they were brought into closer connection with each other by the Union of the Crowns. Trade relationships in these days were closely dependent on political affinities. When the two countries were ruled over by one monarch, the relations of friendship and hostility with foreign powers came to be the same for both; the Scots ceased to have opportunities for trade in places from which Englishmen were practically excluded, and the Scots merchants were forced to try and compete in markets where English traders had established their footing. There had been an ancient amity between France and Scotland; and Scots merchants had had privileges in French ports, such as Englishmen did not enjoy. The religious and political revolution in Scotland in the time of Queen Mary need not in itself have caused a rupture in this long established mercantile intercourse; but when Scotland was practically forced to follow the line of English policy, in regard to relationships with foreign powers, it was impossible for her to maintain her separate commercial privileges; Scots and English merchants were brought into direct competition with one another in the same markets.

There is nothing, with the exception of a foreign invasion, which brings home to the ordinary citizen the results of government action so effectively as an interruption or decline in commerce. Miss Keith has shewn in detail how deep was the influence of the disabilities under which Scots trade laboured even in the reigns of James I and Charles I, and still more under the diverse policies of Cromwell and Charles II. The merchants in the towns, and their dependents would be the first sufferers, but industry would be affected as well; and in the case of Scotland, which exported wool and raw products, the effect would be felt far and wide. A sense of grievance against England must have penetrated very deeply; neither the policy of the first Stuart kings, nor the free trade conditions of the Inter-regnum conciliated the Scots, while the legislation of the Restoration Parliament was hostile to their interests. This aspect of the case has been too much left out of sight, and Miss Keith has rendered a real service by bringing it into prominence. Much stress has been laid on the influence of religious conviction—the opposition to Laud and the sufferings of the Covenanters—in contributing to the failure of the Dual Monarchy; but account should also be taken of the fact that the conditions it brought about in Scotland were unfavourable to business.

While this study of the commercial relations of England and Scotland throws such interesting side lights on political history, it is also of special interest with regard to the economic life of both countries. Since the time of Edward I the industrial and commercial progress of the two nations had proceeded on distinct lines; when the two were brought into contact, we can see more clearly how far the institutions of the two peoples differed, and learn to contrast the working and policy of each with greater precision. Scotland was on the whole a more backward country, and was certainly much less flourishing than England; but so far as her commercial institutions were concerned, it may be said that Scotland was in some ways the more advanced of the two. The Elizabethan and Stuart period in England is marked by the superseding of municipal exclusiveness, and the introduction of a system of national economy. In Scotland municipal supervision of the products of industry continued to be practised till the nineteenth century; but so far as commerce is concerned, Scotland had long enjoyed the means of regulating it on national lines, in the Convention of the Royal Burghs. The combined trading in regulated companies, which was such a characteristic feature of English commerce, had never become an established Scots practice; Scotland moved from medieval to modern trade organisation without passing through this transitional form. The exclusive status of the merchant was not carefully maintained, so far as Scots merchants, in foreign parts, were concerned: common sailors and others were accustomed to do a little trading on their own account at the ports they visited; and Scots pedlars found openings in the internal trade of foreign countries. From the point of view of the English Merchant Companies, the Scots were a nation of interlopers; and it seems probable that they played a considerable part in connection with the successive attacks which went on throughout the seventeenth century, both at home and abroad, on the exclusive privileges of the Regulated Companies. Scots commerce, like Scots banking in the eighteenth century, offered to self-reliant young men, opportunities which were not so generally available for those born south of the Tweed.

Miss Keith has been fortunate in choosing a subject which is of so much interest both in regard to political and to economic history; and she is to be congratulated on her success in dealing with a mass of material in such a fashion as to bring out the far-reaching importance of the details to which she has given so much care and thought.

July 1910.



I. Union of 1603.

a. Condition of Trade at the Time of the Union

Commodities imported and exported, Organisation of trade, Trade with France, Low Countries, Baltic, Spain, England..

b. Negotiations for Commercial Union

Desire of James for Union, Clauses of Union treaty dealing with commerce, English opposition, Scottish privileges in France, Answers to English objections, Results of negotiations, Restrictions on trade between England and Scotland, 1613-40.

II. 1603-1650.

a. Industry in Scotland

Encouragement by king and council, Cloth manufacture, Regulation of wool supply, Export of coal, Tanning industry, New Industries: linen, soap, sugar, glass, Salt manufacture, Fishing, Decrease of prosperity, 1640-50.

b. Trade with England

Scottish trade hindered by English wars, James's navigation policy in England and Scotland, Intercourse with England, Wool trade, Coal trade, Effect of Bishops' wars on trade, Greenland fishing and English Muscovy Company.

Colonisation and Trade in America

Plantation of Nova Scotia, Conflict with French, Burnett's licence to trade with Virginia.

Colonisation in Ireland

Plantation of Ulster, Trade with settlers.

c. Trade with France, Holland, etc.

Trade with France, Effect of English war with Spain on Scottish trade with the Low Countries and Spain, Trade with Portugal, Baltic trade, Scots settlers and soldiers in Germany.

III. 1650-1660.

Union of England and Scotland under Commonwealth, Condition of country, Imposition of taxation, Revenue and expenses of Scotland, New customs tariff, Prohibitions of export, Scottish import of salt into England, Tax on coal, Trade with England, Effect of the Union on foreign trade, Losses of ships during civil war, Hindrance to trade through Dutch and Spanish wars, Results of Union.

IV. 1660-1707.

Scottish Economic Development

a. Industry

State of country at Restoration, Encouragement of industry by protection, Council of Trade established, Companies established to promote industry, Privileges of companies, Protection against English competition, Poverty of country, Progress in Glasgow, Fishing Company established, Contemporary account of Scotland, Principal exports, Export of linen to England, Act of 1681 for encouraging industry, New companies founded and capital obtained, Legislation regarding export and import of wool and cloth, Cloth manufacture, Linen manufacture, Sugar manufacture, Fishing, Bank of Scotland, Condition of country at beginning of eighteenth century.

b. Trade with England

End of commercial Union, English restrictions on Scottish trade, Scottish retaliation, Negotiations for freedom of trade, 1667, Negotiations for complete Union, 1669, Failure of both, Scottish exports to England: cattle, linen, salt, English exports to Scotland, Smuggling trade in wool, Scottish export of English wool to Continent.

c. Trade with Ireland

d. Trade with the Plantations

Navigation Acts, Reasons for excluding Scots from Plantation trade, Endeavours to except the Scots from restrictions of the Acts, Negotiations for commercial Union, Licences for Scottish trade, Illicit trade between Scotland and the Plantations, Methods of smugglers, Attempts at prevention, Amount of trade, Complaints of Scottish trade, More stringent enforcement of Acts after 1695, Continuance of trade'.

e. Settlement in America

Transportation of prisoners under Commonwealth, Value of Scots settlers, Transportation of vagabonds, etc., Scottish settlement in New Jersey, Trouble with New York, Differences between Scottish and English settlers, Scottish settlement in Carolina, Its failure, Question of naturalisation of Scots in Plantations.

f. Trade with France

Character of Scottish trade, 1660-1707, Disadvantages of English connection, Adoption of more independent policy, Increase of Scots shipping, Relations of England, Scotland and France, French impositions on Scottish trade, Scottish retaliation, Result of prohibition of import of wine, Prohibition removed, Amount of trade between Scotland and France, English attempts to prevent the trade, Sufferings of Scottish merchants through French wars.

g. Trade With Holland, etc.

Effect of Dutch wars on Scottish trade, Staple port removed to Dort, 1667, Return to Campvere, Commodities exported to Holland, Trade with Baltic ports, Scots and English merchants at Hamburg, Scots in the Mediterranean, Dangers to shipping.

V. The Company of Scotland Tradings to Africa and the Indies

Scottish need for markets,  "Act for Encouraging of Forraigne Trade," English East India trade, Paterson's schemes, "Act for a company tradeing to Africa and the Indies," Influence of English merchants in company, Meetings in London, Attention of English Parliament directed to company, Agitation against it, by English East India Company and Plantation officials, Effect of English opposition in Scotland, Subscription of capital, Attempts to raise capital in Amsterdam and Hamburg, Opposition of English Resident in Hamburg, Scheme for settlement on Isthmus of Panama, First expedition, Its ill-success, Proclamations in English colonies against settlers, Second and third expeditions, Capitulation of settlers to Spaniards, Further alarm in English Parliament, Scottish indignation at ruin of company, Results of its failure.

VI. The Union

Necessity for Union, Pamphlets on subject, Negotiations of 1702-3, Demands of Scottish Commissioners, Results, Scottish Parliament of 1704, Question of Succession, Acts allowing import of French wines and export of wool, Act of Peace and War, English alarm at Scottish Acts, Act of Security, Meeting of English Parliament, October, 1704, and debate on Scottish affairs, "Act for securing the Kingdom of England," Seizure of the Worcester, Meeting of Scottish Parliament, 1705, "Act for a treaty with England," Proposals of Commissioners, Conditions of treaty, Land-tax, Customs and Excise, The Equivalent, Discussion on salt-tax, Position of African Company, Scottish shipping, Scottish opposition to treaty, Concessions made, Passing of Act by Scottish and English Parliaments, Results of Union, Import of French wines into England from Scotland, New fiscal regulations, Effects of Union on industry.


Return to our Online Books Page  |  Return to History of England Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus