Adam Smith: Part IV

The will of the people of Scotland was crushed so many times once they signed the Act of Union in 1707 due to the financial crash of the Darien debacle. Here is an important Act they designed to avoid being drawn into war without the consent of Parliament.

The Act anent Peace and War (Scots anent means about or concerning) was an act of the Parliament of Scotland passed in 1703.

The Act concerned foreign policy and the royal prerogative: it provided that following the death of Queen Anne without direct heirs, no future monarch of Scotland and England could take Scotland to war without the explicit consent of the parliament.[1]

It was a response to the English Act of Settlement which had made members of the House of Hanover heirs to the throne of England. The Scots, already unhappy with the War of the Spanish Succession, were concerned that rule by Hanoverians would lead to unwelcome Scottish involvement in German and continental wars.[2] Later the same parliament forced royal assent to the Act of Security. The English parliament retaliated with the Alien Act, removing Scottish trading privileges in England.

The conflict between the two parliaments was finally resolved by their merger under the terms of the Acts of Union 1707. The union made the Act anent Peace and War and the Act of Security void, and they were formally repealed in December 1707.[3]

1690s in Scotland saw a period of famine, and during the 1700s many landowning farmers were trying for to find new agricultural methods to improve the food supply.

Having been exposed to the improved quality of life the English enjoyed, gradually changes were made to farming practices, and often callous attitudes to tenants after the union with England in 1707. …..

The Agricultural Revolution

..…..there was a conscious attempt among the gentry and nobility to improve agriculture in Scotland. The Society of Improvers was founded in 1723, including in its 300 members dukes, earls, lairds and landlords.[5]In the first half of the century these changes were limited to tenanted farms in East Lothian and the estates of a few enthusiasts, such as John Cockburn and Archibald Grant. Not all were successful, with Cockburn driving himself into bankruptcy, but the ethos of improvement spread among the landed classes.[6]

Haymaking was introduced along with the English plough and foreign grasses, the sowing of rye grass and clover. Turnips and cabbages were introduced, lands enclosed and marshes drained, lime was put down, roads built and woods planted. Drilling and sowing and crop rotation were introduced. The introduction of the potato to Scotland in 1739 greatly improved the diet of the peasantry. Enclosures began to displace the runrig system and free pasture. There was increasing specialisation, with the Lothians became a major centre of grain, Ayrshire of cattle breading and the borders of sheep.[5]

Although some estate holders improved the quality of life of their displaced workers,[5] the Agricultural Revolution led directly to what is increasingly becoming known as the Lowland Clearances,[7] with hundreds of thousands of cottars and tenant farmers from central and southern Scotland emigrating from the farms and small holdings their families had occupied for hundreds of years, or adapting them to the Scottish Agricultural Revolution.[5]

Adam Smith, now in his twenties, having been educated at Balliol aged 16 to 19, succeeded in gaining a scholarship (then known as a Snell exhibition) to contribute to his costs at Oxford. He mounted his horse to leave Scotland and head to Oxford. He was shocked, once he crossed the border into England, and saw Carlisle, how much healthier people looked. They were not surviving on oatmeal as in Scotland, no – they were eating wheaten bread and a variety of other foods not grown in Scotland. When he arrived at Oxford, the meal put in front of him was the biggest steak he had ever seen. Although cattle were common in Scotland, they were not fattened on the grains available in England.

But the cost of living was higher in Oxford than in Scotland and Adam could not afford to eat well and needed family help simply to meet the fees of lecturers he thought were lazy and uninspiring. But he completed his course, despite the disdain in which all Scots were held, and the discrimination was depressing and erosive. Adam spent 6 years in Oxford, gaining his B.A. (though it was not listed by Oxford),  learning about the English way of life and the culture, but he was glad to return home to Scotland finally.

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About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers.
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