A Union for Empire? Scotland, the English East India Company and the British Union

Stewart J. Brown and Christopher A. Whatley

in The Union of 1707

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780748638024
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672295 | DOI:
A Union for Empire? Scotland, the English East India Company and the British Union

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On December 18, 1707, in the first session of the newly created British Parliament, a customs bill received royal assent. Innocuously entitled an ‘Act for better Securing the Duties of East India Goods’, the legislation has never once merited attention in any of the major historical works on the Anglo-Scottish Union. It should do. For this act ensured that the monopoly of the English East India Company was extended across Scotland to encompass the whole of the new United Kingdom. In this way a corporation of the City of London was confirmed in a set of privileges which enabled it, rather than private British subjects, to dominate trade in half of the emerging British empire. This act, and the neglect of the East Indies in the historiography of the union that it symbolises, is a useful starting point for a reevaluation of the relationship between the British Union and British empire. The structural and ideological diversity of England's pre-union imperialism raise serious questions about what kind of empire Scotland joined in 1707.

Keywords: English East India Company; Scotland; United Kingdom; British empire; British Union; imperialism; England

Chapter.  9875 words. 

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