By the same authors

Petitioning in early seventeenth-century Scotland, 1625–51

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Publication details

JournalParliaments, Estates, and Representation
DateSubmitted - 29 Sep 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 4 Oct 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 30 Oct 2018
Issue number3
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)307-322
Early online date30/10/18
Original languageEnglish


In contrast to recent work on England and other parts of Europe, research on petitioning in early modern Scotland is still in its early stages, notably in respect of its political significance in a comparative context. This article investigates supplicatory activity in Scotland during a crucial period in which the petition came under intense scrutiny. The 1630s saw a determined attempt by King Charles I’s Scottish government to clamp down on the use of supplications to express criticism of royal policy; assertive, but carefully controlled, petitioning was one part of a resistance strategy that resulted in the downfall of the king’s regime. When a new government came to power in 1638 headed by the Covenanters, petitioning activity came to be seen as a potential challenge to their authority. Petitioning does not appear to have invoked ‘opinion’ in 1640s Scotland as has been claimed for England; the printed petition remained a rarity in Scotland. Nevertheless constitutional reform, combined with the wartime conditions of the 1640s, generated more recourse to petitioning, and the government recognized opportunities to enhance its claims to legitimate rule. A preliminary investigation of everyday petitions to the government during the 1640s shows how the narratives constructed by supplicants often sought to endorse its values and ideals, but that this type of petitioning was also used by supplicants to critique the government’s policies and hold it to its own rhetoric.

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© 2018 International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions/Commission Internationale pour l’Histoire des Assemblées d’États. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

    Research areas

  • Committee of Estates, Covenanters, Early modern Scotland, King Charles I, Libel, Lord Balmerino, Petition, Scottish parliament, Supplication

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