Act of Settlement 1701, Act of Union 1707, George Augustus, George I of Great Britain, House of Hanover, King George I of Great Britain, Kingdom of Great Britain, Queen Anne of Great Britain
Accession to the British Throne.
Though both England and Scotland recognised Anne as their queen, only the English Parliament had settled on Sophia, Electress of Hanover, as the heir presumptive. The Parliament of Scotland (the Estates) had not formally settled the succession question for the Scottish throne. In 1703, the Estates passed a bill declaring that their selection for Queen Anne’s successor would not be the same individual as the successor to the English throne, unless England granted full freedom of trade to Scottish merchants in England and its colonies.
Georg-Ludwig, Elector of Hanover
At first Royal Assent was withheld, but the following year Anne capitulated to the wishes of the Estates and assent was granted to the bill, which became the Act of Security 1704. In response the English Parliament passed measures that threatened to restrict Anglo-Scottish trade and cripple the Scottish economy if the Estates did not agree to the Hanoverian succession.
Eventually, in 1707, both Parliaments agreed on an Act of Union, which united England and Scotland into a single political entity, the Kingdom of Great Britain, and established the rules of succession as laid down by the Act of Settlement 1701. The union created the largest free trade area in 18th-century Europe.
Whig politicians believed Parliament had the right to determine the succession, and to bestow it on the nearest Protestant relative of the Queen, while many Tories were more inclined to believe in the hereditary right of the Catholic Stuarts, who were nearer relations. In 1710, George announced that he would succeed in Britain by hereditary right, as the right had been removed from the Stuarts, and he retained it. “This declaration was meant to scotch any Whig interpretation that parliament had given him the kingdom [and] … convince the Tories that he was no usurper.”
George I, King of Great Britain and Ireland, Elector of Hanover and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg.
George’s mother, the Electress Sophia, died on May 28, 1714 at the age of 83. She had collapsed in the gardens at Herrenhausen after rushing to shelter from a shower of rain. George was now Queen Anne’s heir presumptive. He swiftly revised the membership of the Regency Council that would take power after Anne’s death, as it was known that Anne’s health was failing and politicians in Britain were jostling for power.
Queen Anne suffered a stroke, which left her unable to speak, and she died on August 1, 1714. The list of regents was opened, the members sworn in, and George was proclaimed King of Great Britain and Ireland. Partly due to contrary winds, which kept him in The Hague awaiting passage, he did not arrive in Britain until September 18.
George was crowned at Westminster Abbey on October 20. The accession of George of Hanover was not widely popular. His coronation was accompanied by rioting in over twenty towns in England.
George mainly lived in Great Britain after 1714, though he visited his home in Hanover in 1716, 1719, 1720, 1723 and 1725; in total George spent about one fifth of his reign as king in Germany. A clause in the Act of Settlement that forbade the British monarch from leaving the country without Parliament’s permission was unanimously repealed in 1716. During all but the first of the king’s absences power was vested in a Regency Council rather than in his son, George Augustus, Prince of Wales.