Official histories of parliament and the nature of the union of 1707:a forgotten episode in Anglo-Scottish academic relations

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Abstract

The Scottish Committee on the History of Parliament was established in 1936 as an offshoot of Col. Josiah Wedgwood's scheme for a collaborative ‘history of parliament’ researched and written on biographical lines. Circumstances, however, determined that the Scottish history would take a separate path. When Wedgwood's scheme was revived in 1951 an unsuccessful attempt was made to reintegrate the two projects. Discussions between the respective managing committees were conflicted and often bad-tempered, focussing on different interpretations of the nature of the united parliament created in 1707. The Scottish committee insisted that it was a new constitutional entity, while the English saw it as a continuation of the Westminster parliament with Scottish MPs added. This story of mutual incomprehension illustrates the profound differences between Scottish and English academics in the writing of parliamentary history, and also reveals a hitherto unobserved element in the development among leading Scottish jurists of a strain of ‘legal nationalism’ based on their interpretation of the constitutional significance of the Union.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-108
Number of pages29
JournalScottish Historical Review
Volume93
Issue number1
Early online dateApr 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

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