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land that valuable privilege of electing their representatives 1708. in parliament, from among the best qualified gentlemen of their own number and state, in the same manner as they had formerly used to do. That, in electing members of parliament, the choice of the electors ought to be made as free as is possible, from the influence either of bribes or threats, and, in justice, should only be determined by the honesty and candour of the person to be chosen ; and his character be such, as promises a faithful discharge of so great a trust; and that his inclination be accompanied with a sufficient capacity to maintain this character; the commons there being furrounded with a numerous and powerful peerage, who, like so many sovereigns, judge and determine within their respective bounds, in criminal as well as civil matters, being veitev with vast superiorities and hereditary jurisdictions, so that no commoner, holding any part of his lands of a peer, or indeed being in his neighbourhood, could be reckoned at liberty to make a free election of his representative : and therefore the commons of Scotland whereof, the majority of their parliament consisted, had invincible argument for preserving intire to themselves that necessary privilege of excluding their peers eldest sons from being members of that house. That if the parliament of Scotland, which consisted of peers and commoners, fitting together in the same house, enjoying the same liberty of speech, and the same common privileges and judicative capacity, being also restricted to the same rules and forms, had so many weighty reasons for excluding their peers eldest sons; how many more arguments of greater moment might be urged in the house of commons of Great-Britain, who were a separate and distinct house of peers, enjoying by themselves so many valuable privileges and immunities, which could not be incroached upon, or subjected to a house of peers, without endangering the whole constitution of the house of commons and in the last place, That, England and Scotland being now united, and their interests inseparably joined, it ought to be a maxim with all true Britons, that the liberty of the commons of Scotland will always be an advantage to those of England; and that the slavery of the first cannot fail ending in the destruction of the latter.
Little being offered on the other side against these argu. ments, the eldest sons of the peers of Scotland were dea. clared incapable to fit in parliament; and, three days after,
Debates about the
1708. the commons ordered their speaker to issue out his warrants
to the clerk of the crown, to make out new writs for the electing commissioners for the shire of Aberdeen, in the room of William lord Haddo ; and for the shire of Linlithgow, in the room of James lord Johnstown, who, being eldest fons of peers of Scotland, were declared to be incapable to fit in that house.
A petition of a new nature was likewise brought before
the lords, with relation to the election of the peers from election of Scotland. There was a return made in due form; but a of Scotland. petition was laid before the house, in the name of four lords, Burnet,
who pretended that they ought to have been returned. The duke of Queensberry had been created a duke of Great-Britain by the title of duke of Dover, yet he thought he had still a right to vote as a peer of Scotland. He had likewise a proxy; so that two votes depended on this point, whether the Scots peerage did sink into the peerage of Great Britain. Some lords, who were prisoners in the castle of Edinburgh, on suspicion, as favouring the pretender, had sent for the Theriff of Lothian to the castle, and had taken the oaths before him, and upon that were reckoned to be qualified to vote or make a proxy. Now it was pretended, that the castle of Edinburgh was a constabulatory, and was out of the sheriff's jurisdiction ; and that therefore he could not legally tender them the oaths. Some proxies were figned without fubfcribing witneffes, a form necessary by their law. Other exceptions were also taken from fome rules of the law of Scotland, which had not been observed. The clerks being also complained of, they were sent for, and were ordered to bring up with them all instruments or documents relating to the election. When they came up, and every thing was laid before the house of lords, the whole matter was long and well debated.
As to the duke of Queensberry’s voting among the Scots a peer" of lords, it was said, that if a peer of Scotland, being made a Great-Bri- peer of Great-Britain, did still retain the interest in electsain, was to ing the sixteen from Scotland, this would create a great
inin Scotland. equality among peers; some having a vote by representation,
as well as in person. The precedent was mischievous, since, by creating some of the chief families of Scotland peers of Great-Britain, they would be able to carry the whole election of the fixteen as ihey pleased. It was objècied, that, by a clause in the act palied fince the union, the peers of England, who were likewise peers of Scotland, had a right to vote in the election of Scotland still reserved
to them ; so there seemed to be a parity in this case with 1708. that. But it was answered, That a peer of England, and a peer of Scotland, held their dignity under two different crowns, and by two different great seals: but, Great-Britain including Scotland as well as England, the Scots peerage must now fink into that of Great-Britain. Besides, that there were but five, who were peers of both kingdoms before the union; and therefore, as it might be reasonable to make provision for them, so it was of no great consequence ; but, if this precedent were allowed, it might go much farther, and have very ill consequences. Upon a division of the house, the matter was determined against the duke of Queensberry. A
great deal was said both at the bar by the lawyers, and other exin the debate in the house, upon the point of jurisdiction, were deter
«, and of the exemption of a constabulatory. It was said, that mined, the sheriff's court ought to be, as all courts were, open
and free, and so could not be held within a castle or prison. But no express decision had ever been made in this matter. The prisoners had taken the oaths, which was the chief intent of the law, in the best manner they could ; so that it seemed not reasonable to cut them off from the main privilege of peerage, which was reserved to them, because they could not go abroad to the sheriff's court. After a long debate, it was carried, that the oaths were duly tendered to them. Some other exceptions were proved and admitted; the returns of fome, certifying that they had taken the oaths, were not fealed; and some had signed these without subscribing witnesses. Other exceptions were offered from provisions, which the law of Scotland had made, with relation to bonds and other deeds, which had not been observed in making of proxies. But the house of lords did not think these were of that importance, as to vacate the proxies on that account. After a full hearing, and a debate, which lasted many days, there was but one of the peers, who were returned, that was found not duly elected, and only one of the petition'ing lords was brought into the house; the marquis of Annandale was received, and the marquis of Lothian was set aside.
The Scots members in both houses were divided into fac- A fa&tion tions. The duke of Queensberry had his party ftill depend among the ing upon him. He was in such credit with the lord-trea-parliament, surer and the queen, that all the posts in Scotland were Burnet, given to perfons recommended by him. The chief ministers at court seemed to have laid it down for a maxim not to be
of all pro
1708. departed from, to look carefully to elections in Scotland;
tire dependence on them, and be either whigs or tories, as
tion of the edict of Nantz, fo fatal to France, by the deteftants.
crease of her trade, and the loss of numberless subjects, Eng-
« tion.” Mr. Compton, and several other members, fup- 1708.
Whilst this bill was depending, a paper was printed, and Reasons industriously dispersed, importing, ist, That the Conflux of against it.
Pr, H. C. Aliens, as would probably be the effect of such a law, might prove dangerous to our constitution ; for these would owe allegiance to their respective princes, and retain a fondness for their native countries ; and therefore, whensoever a war fhould break out, might prove so many spies and enemies. And, besides this pretence, the professed enemies of our established church and religion might flock over, with design to effect its overthrow. 2dly, That a general naturalization might undoubtedly spread an universal disgust and jealousy throughout the nation; there having been many complaints and commotions in London, and elsewhere, on occasion of foreigners. 3dly, That the design of inviting multitudes of aliens to settle here, might prove in time a further mischief ; for they would not only be capable of voting at elections, but also of being chosen members of parliament; have admission into places of trust and authority, which, in process of time, might endanger our ancient polity and government, and, by frequent intermarriages, go a great way to blot out and extinguish the English race (h).
(h) Several other reasons were ticularly remarked by the learned urged, as, 4. That anciently lord-chief-justice Hale, in a tract naturalizations by act of parlia- against a general naturalization. ment were seldom or never made, 5. That it was more than probut upon special reasons, and for bable, that the greatest number particular occasions. And tho' that would come over, would some acts have given encourage- be of poor people, which would ment' to foreign merchants and be of fatal consequence with reweavers to settle here; it was spect to the many poor indus-. when our weaving-trade, and trious families, who would thereother manufactures, were incon- by be reduced to the uttermost fiderable to the advancement ftraits ; it being evident, that no they have since attained : and, hands were wanted to carry on that from the settlement of the our manufactures, from the great great customs in Edward the quantities that lay on hand, their Firit's time, in all acts of parlia- cheapness, and the lowness of ment for subsidies since passed, wages now given. What then aliens had always been charged would be the effect of such an with an increase of customs above addition ? For these aliens would natives, and a discrimination kept altogether settle in places of maup between them; as was par- nufacture ; there being no inVOL. XVII,