Declaration of King James VIII, March 1, 1708
James VIII to his good people of his Ancient Kingdom of Scotland.
After the decease of our father when we considered the condition of our Ancient Kingdom of Scotland, we could not without a just resentment see ourselves deprived of that our inheritance, manifestly due to us by all the laws of God and man, nor could we, with less concern, look upon the present unhappy condition of our subjects there, where injustice triumphs, and so much blood has been spilt to support an usurpation, the whole kingdom plundered and sold and a alien called to perpetuate the usurpation without the least pretence, to the manifest prejudice of our undoubted right, we being the only heir and last male of our royal line, by which that country has been so happily governed for so many hundred years. We have been frequently informed and assured of the loyal dispositions of the greatest part of our subjects of that our ancient kingdom from most of the principal of them, who have often pressed us to come, with a sufficient force, to free ourselves and them, which, till this time, to our infinite grief, we have never been able to compass, notwithstanding our constant endeavours. And whereas it has now pleased the Divine Providence to furnish us with means and enable us to enter into the possession of our kingdoms, [instead of "furnish ... kingdoms", alternatively read "give us an opportunity to assert our right"], we being desirous of nothing more than a right understanding between us and our people, so necessary to both, and that none may be frightened by the memory of past miscarriages from returning to their duty and being restored to the happiness they enjoyed under our royal ancestors, we think fit to make known our gracious intentions towards them, in the manner following.
We do therefore in the first place, by this our royal declaration under the Great Seal of Scotland, absolutely and effectually for us, our heirs, and successors, pardon and remit all treasons and all other crimes and offences whatsoever committed against us and our ancestors, promising that such persons as had forfeited their estates before the late rebellion shall be restored to and confirmed in the possession of their said estates, provided that they give their personal attendance and repair to our Royal Standard, or that they give some other public proof in their respective stations of their affection to us and our service, and not otherwise, excepting always all such persons who at or after our landing in Scotland, [instead of "Scotland", alternatively read "any part of our dominions"], shall willingly, advisedly, and maliciously, by land or sea, oppose us and those forces that accompany our person in the present undertaking for the asserting our just rights, and entering into possession of our kingdoms, or who after notice given of our being landed, shall resist and oppose those loyal persons, who according to their duty shall endeavour to resort to us, or shall in any part of our dominions assert and maintain the justice of our cause, excepting also such person or persons who, residing anytime in France under pretence of attending our royal father or us in our exile or to be employed in our service when occasion should offer, have contrary to their allegiance held any criminal correspondence with our enemies or with any of our subjects then in rebellion against us, provided nevertheless that whoever is not prosecuted at law for the crime last mentioned within the space of two years from the time of our landing, shall be reputed innocent, and shall enjoy the full benefit of this our pardon.
And for the further quieting the minds of our subjects and for the making these our intentions more satisfactory and effectual, we declare and promise that in our first Parliament we will pass a general act of oblivion, without any exception of persons otherwise than as above excepted. And we beseech God to incline the hearts of our people, that without the effusion of blood, righteousness and mercy may take place. And for that end we further promise that all such as shall appear instrumental in the recovery of our right, we will reward according to their respective degrees and merits.
We further declare that we will with all convenient speed call a free Parliament, that by their advice and assistance, we may be enabled to repair the breaches caused by the late usurpations, to redress all grievances, and to free our people from the insupportable burden of taxes and impositions they now groan under, that so our Ancient Kingdom of Scotland may be restored to its former honour, liberty, and independence, of which it has been so treacherously deprived. What they suffered under the tyranny of Cromwell, as also the usage they met with in the affair of Darien, and the massacre of Glencoe under the usurpation of the Prince of Orange, and the present union or rather subjection, demonstrate that usurpations have always been fatal and ruinous to the liberty of Scotland.
We likewise promise upon our royal word to protect, secure, and maintain all our Protestant subjects in the free exercise of their religion and in the full enjoyment of all their rights, privileges, and immunities, and in the secure possession of all churches, universities, colleges, and schools, conform to the laws of the land. And as to the differences about church government and all matters thereunto, we are resolved to do nothing but by the advice and consent of our first Parliament, valuing no title so much as that of Common Father of Our Country by our constant endeavours to procure the quiet and happiness of all our good subjects.
We likewise declare that we will give our royal assent to any act that shall be tendered to us for the confirmation of judicial proceedings during the time of the late usurpation, such proceedings in matters criminal only excepted that have been prosecuted or adjudged against any person or persons for anything done by them in obedience to any commission or command given by the King our father of blessed memory, or by us, or otherwise for our service, as by their duty and allegiance they were bound to do; and to all such other acts as shall be judged necessary to establish the tranquility and welfare of the nation, and particularly to such acts for personal liberty, the advancement of trade, and the relief of the poor, as shall be tendered to us by our first Parliament.
And though we have an entire confidence in the fidelity of our good subjects, yet their request and the necessity of our affairs obliging us to bring along with us a sufficient body of foreign troops as a guard to our person and a protection to our said good subjects who resort to us, we promise that as soon as it shall please God to establish us in the quiet possession of our kingdoms, we will immediately dismiss them from our service and send them home.
Moreover our dearest brother the Most Christian King, for a further encouragement to our subjects of our Ancient Kingdom of Scotland to return to their duty to us, promises in that case to restore to all the advantages and privileges that their ancestors have anytime enjoyed in France.
We likewise promise and declare that all officers and soldiers, sailors, and others engaged in our enemy's service, who after notice of our landing, at anytime before they engage in any fight or battle against our forces, shall quit the said unjust and unwarrantable service and return to their duty, shall not only have their pardon as aforesaid, but shall likewise be satisfied and paid all their arrears due to them from the usurper. And all officers shall have from us the same commissions they had from our enemies at the time they repaired to us.
And for a further encouragement to our good subjects to declare for us, we do hereby promise that the vassals of such who obstinately persist in their rebellion shall be delivered from all servitudes they were formerly bound to, and shall have grants of their lands to be held immediately of the Crown, provided that upon our landing they declare for us and come into our service.
And we do further promise and declare that we are resolved to preserve inviolably our good subjects in the free and full enjoyment of their religion, liberties, and property, and to make the law of the land the rule of our government.
And having thus declared our gracious intentions to our loving subjects, we do hereby require and command them to be assisting to us in the recovery of our right and their own liberties, and that all our subjects from the age of sixteen to sixty do immediately upon our landing repair to our standard or join themselves to such as shall first appear for our service in their respective shires, and also to seize the horses and arms of all suspected persons, and all ammunition and whatever else may be necessary for the use of our army.
And to conclude, we promise faithfully to observe the King our father of blessed memory his directions given to us in his last will and testament, expressed in these following words -
"Upon my decease my son the Prince of Wales will have an undoubted right to my kingdoms. And if it shall please the Divine Providence to overrule the injustice of evil men who would deprive him of his right, and to place him on the throne of his ancestors, we recommend to him most especially to forgive all the injuries that have been done to ourself and to him. We also recommend to him to provide as far as he is able for all those our servants, without distinction of religion, who upon the motive of loyalty, have followed and served us in the time of our distress, and when it shall please God to put him in possession of the kingdoms which rightfully belong to him, we as a father advise and require him never to molest his subjects in the enjoyment of their religion, rights, liberty, and property, and let him know that a king can never be happy unless his subjects be easy. Furthermore we will have him reward according to their respective degrees and merits all such as shall appear instrumental in the recovery of his right."
And we do hereby require all sheriffs or their deputies, and all the magistrates and others to whom it may belong, to publish immediately this our declaration at the market cross of their respective towns and boroughs, and there to proclaim us, under penalty of being proceeded against according to law for the said offence.
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