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Acts of Parliament, 1540

The title page from the first printed edition of the acts of parliament produced in 1542 and printed by the royal printer of Scotland Thomas Davidson. The statutes are those of the preceding 1540 parliament under James V. It would be the 1560s before an edition was printed which covered all legislation going back to 1424 and James I. The playwright Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, Lyon King of Arms, may have designed the woodcut.

 

Edinburgh Tolbooth

Parliament met at a variety of towns and places before the 1630s, but its most common venue was the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, normal home of the town council, burgh court and chief prison of the capital. The above engraving from the eighteenth century/early nineteenth shows the Tolbooth to the north of St. Giles Cathedral by which time it was merely a prison. The building, considered to be an eyesore, was destroyed in 1817, although the position of its front door (visible in this picture) is still marked by the 'Heart of Midlothian', a pattern of stones in the pavement by the cathedral.

 

Parliament House

The parliament at last had a permanent home with the opening of the Parliament House which was begun in 1632 and completed in 1639. This building still survives, though not much of the grand courtyard to the east, and has since 1707 been the home of the Court of Session, the Parliament Hall forming a grand lobby for the court. The above engraving was completed by James Gordon of Rothiemay (1615-86) shortly after the building was completed. To the right can be seen the great door of parliament at which proclamations and summonses were read.

 

Plan of Edinburgh

The above plan of Edinburgh, penned by James Gordon of Rothiemay in 1647, shows St. Giles Cathedral sandwiched between the Tolbooth to the north and the Parliament House to the south running at right angles to the cathedral.

 

 

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The Riding of Parliament

The greatest ritual of the Scottish parliament was the 'Riding of parliament' in which the members moved by procession to and from the parliament whether it met at the Tolbooth or Parliament House. This illustration by Chalmers, herald painter of James VII is one of a series which captures the procession by foot and by horseback of members and their retinue making their way to the parliament of 1685.

 

Procession into Parliament

The above illustration by taken from Nicolas de Gaudeville's Atlas Historique (1720) shows the procession on foot to the parliament house after dismounting at the east end of St. Giles. The picture shows parliament as it would have been in the 1680s.

 

Inside the Parliament

The above detail, from the Gaudeville illustration, shows the internal layout of the parliament chamber. The throne to the top centre, clergy to the left, earls and barons to the right and the shire and burgh commissioners at the back (foreground) facing the throne.

 

The Act of Union

This painting illustrates the presentation of the articles of union of 1707 to Queen Anne. [Walter Thomas Monnington 'The Parliamentary Union of England and Scotland 1707', oil on canvas, 1925-27, St. Stephen's Hall, House of Commons, Palace of Westminster (WOA 2599).Reproduced by permission of the Palace of Westminster.]

 

 

     

Declaration of Arbroath Seals

This famous document of 1320 was addressed by the Scottish political community to the pope in Rome. It was part of Robert I’s propaganda campaign to justify his seizure of the throne. Some of the seals are forgeries, in the sense that some of those shown as having ‘signed’ the document were not even present. [Image courtesy of Gillian MacIntosh from Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol.1] [RPS, 1320/4/1]

 

Declaration of Arbroath Text

The begging of the famous Latin text justifying Robert the Bruce as King of Scots. [Image courtesy of Gillian MacIntosh from Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol.1] [RPS, 1320/14/1]

 

Edinburgh Parliament Hall Window

The restored stained-glass window at the south end of the Parliament Hall. The purpose-built chamber was erected under instructions from Charles I in the 1630s.[Image from SCRAN]

 

Perth Parliament Text

The estates could and did meet in a variety of burghs, especially before 1603. This act, from a parliament of David II in 1369, shows Perth as the location. The reproduction is of a page from the ‘Black Book’, an early source of parliamentary detail for the period 1357 to 1402. [Image courtesy of Gillian MacIntosh from Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol.1]

 

 

     

Robert II Detail a (1371)

The beauty of original manuscripts acts of parliament is clear to see. [Image courtesy of Gillian MacIntosh from Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol.1]

 

Robert II Detail b (1371)

The beauty of original manuscripts acts of parliament is clear to see. [Image courtesy of Gillian MacIntosh from Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol.1]

 

Old Tolbooth

A sketch of the northern elevation of the Old Tolbooth, Edinburgh, before it was demolished in 1817. The estates frequently met in the older structure to the left (East) throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, probably in the ‘Common Hall’ behind the ornate square window on the first floor.[Image from Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, xx (1885-6), facing p.366]

 

Initial Letter

A typical decorative initial letter from a printing of the acts of parliament. The first printed volume of the acts was produced in 1542. [Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland.]

 

 

     

1597 Opening

The Latin preamble recording the opening of the Edinburgh parliament of 1597. [Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, 1597/11/1]]


 

1621 Hunting Act

Since the reign of James I in the early fifteenth century the Scottish parliament attempted increasingly to control the conduct of the population, as in this act restricting hunting and hawking. [Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, 1621/6/44]]

 

1621 Lords of the Articles

The committee the Lords of the Articles as constituted for the parliament of 1621, with each estate listed separately. [Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, 1621/6/9]]

 

1643 Instructions

The estates send negotiators to the English parliament to agree the Solemn League and Covenant (1643) [Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, 1643/6/33]]

 

 

     

1661 Act Concerning Oath

The first act, from the printed acts, of the session of parliament in 1661 which confirms the oath that all who attended had to take. [Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, 1661/1/7]]

 

1661 Printed Title Page

The title page from the printed laws and acts of the 1661 parliament in the reign of Charles II. [Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland].

 

St. Giles

A plan of St Giles Cathedral with an indication of probable internal arrangements when parliament met there, as it did frequently from 1563 to 1633. [Plan from D. Wilson, Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Times (Edinburgh, 1891), vol.2, p.296]

 

1670 Petition

A petition submitted to parliament in August 1670.[ Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, A1670/7/7]]

 

 

     

1678 Commissioners of Supply

A page  from the printed session record of the 1678 convention of estates showing part of listing of commissioners of supply who had the job of ensuring that taxation was gathered in each shire, in view those for Dumfriesshire, Wigtownshire and Ayrshire. [Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, 1678/6/22]]

 

1678 Day Opens

The estates adjourn on 1 July and re-convene the next day, with the roll being called. [Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, 1678/6/12-13]]

 

1685 Grants of Fairs

Warrants of parliament at the session of 1685 granting fairs and markets to Beauly, Udny and Kilravock. [ Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, 1685/4/139-141]]

 

1685 Queensbury Commissioner

The parliamentary record shows William Douglas, duke of Queensberry, to be the royal commissioner for James VII at the parliament of 1685. [Reproduce courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, 1685/4/3]]

 

 

         

1704 Day Opens

Prayers are said, the roll is called and the minutes of the previous day are read before business begins. [Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, 1704/7/85]]

 

1704 Tax Accounts

Some of the detailed taxation accounts approve by the parliament of 1704. [Reproduced courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland. [RPS, 1678/6/22 and 1704/7/89]]