Journal Article

Conditional Britons: The Scots Covenanting Tradition and the Eighteenth‐century British State

Colin Kidd

in The English Historical Review

Volume 117, issue 474, pages 1147-1176
Published in print November 2002 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online November 2002 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/117.474.1147
Conditional Britons: The Scots Covenanting Tradition and the Eighteenth‐century British State

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During the eighteenth century Protestantism was not an unambiguous glue of Anglo‐Scottish integration. At the Covenanting end of Scots presbyterianism, notably among the ranks of the Cameronians and the Seceders, an alternative conception of Britishness prevailed which took its rise from the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. Covenanting unionism was predicated on the establishment of presbyterian church government across the British Isles under the auspices of Covenanted monarchy. The later Covenanters of the eighteenth century espoused a form of unionism which rejected the Erastian and pluralist compromises of the actual union of 1707 and a form of militant Whiggism which not only included a strain of resistance theory out of step with the moderation of mainstream Whiggery, but also fell short, in varying degrees, of unqualified loyalty to the Hanoverian monarchy. Indeed, the Cameronians argued that uncovenanted Hanoverians had no better title to rule than the exiled Stuarts. The Covenanting tradition, however, was no monolith, and the question of allegiance led to serious political disputes between Cameronians and Seceders. Covenanting disenchantment with the Anglican inflections of the British constitution persisted into the 1790s when Scottish criticisms of the government were framed as much by Covenanting as by Jacobin principles.

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Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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