rarely lasted more than a few days and it was only at the end of
the 16th century that parliament established itself permanently
in Edinburgh. Theoretically every tenant in chief who held lands
directly of the Crown could attend but in practice this was impossible.
From 1428 the higher nobility received a personal summons from the
King while smaller barons and free-holders could send representatives
in their place. Burgesses, elected by the town council, attended
from the mid 14th century - their presence important for financial
reasons. An Act of 1587 set the presence of the Shire Commissioners
on a more regularized footing. The Scottish Parliament regularly
delegated its authority to committees and commissions. Committees
reported back to Parliament. Commissions had power to determine
matters referred to them. Under David II (1329-71) two committees
were set up to deal with appeals from inferior courts.
The Committee for Causes, Complaints and Petitions, or Lords Auditors
(Domini auditores ad causas et querelas), ran until 1496 after which
its functions were transferred to the Lords of Council (see Court
The second, the Committee for Falsing of Dooms (ie. appeals from
judgements) ceased around 1544.
Parliament, however, continued to have residual judicial powers
up to the Union, notably in cases of treason. A third committee,
the 'Lords of Articles', whose members were drawn from all estates
plus the officers of state, prepared legislation to be put before
parliament. Unpopular because of the Crown's control of its membership,
it was abolished in 1640, revived in 1660 and finally abolished
in 1689. Between 1639 and 1651, 1660-1 and again in 1688-9, parliament
appointed a Committee of Estates, effectively a commission as it
had wide legislative and executive powers but did not have to report
The last session of the Scottish Parliament took place on 25 March
1707. Article III of the Treaty of Union, which took effect from
1 May 1707, stipulated that the United Kingdom would henceforward
be represented by one and the same Parliament.
Pre-1707 Scottish Parliament records
Although the earliest surviving parliament roll dates from 1293, there
are few original records earlier than 1466 and even thereafter there
have been considerable losses. Most of the surviving records, apart
from some records of the Committee of Estates for 1643-1650, some
warrants and parliamentary papers, have been printed in the 'Acts
of the Parliament of Scotland' (or APS), edited by T Thomson and C
Innes (1814-1875). The series has a comprehensive index in volume
Since the publication of this series, however, much new material
has come to light. The Scottish Parliament Project, based at the
University of St Andrews, has produced the Records of the Parliaments
of Scotland to 1707 (RPS), a new digital edition of the proceedings
published on the internet. The database supersedes APS and can be
searched on the Records of the Scottish Parliament to 1707 website
(a link can be found on the left hand side of this page). For other
information on the records of parliament, published sources and
administrative history, consult 'The Guide to the National Archives
of Scotland' (Stationery Office, 1996), pp 9-19.
||Acts of Parliament of
||Rolls, minutes and acts
||Manuscript collections of
||Including the Berne Manuscript,
13 century; Ayr Manuscript, early 14 century, (PA5/2); Drummond
Manuscript, 15 century, (PA5/3); Black Book, 14-15 century,
(PA5/4); Haddington Manuscript, 14-15 century, (PA5/5)
||Warrants of parliament.
The original minutes and papers produced or lodged in the course
of parliamentary business
||Supplemented by the parliamentary
papers in PA7, 1455-1707
||1455 - 1707
||Including papers of the
Lords of the Articles, 1681; the Commission for Fines and Forfeitures,
1690-91; royal letters to Parliament, 1584 - 1690; commissions
to commissioners to parliament, 1567-1706 and addresses against
the Union, 1706.
||Convention of Estates
||Conventions were called
for a specific purpose, normally taxation, and though they could
pass legislation, this might be re-enacted by a subsequent parliament.
||Commissions for Visitation
||D H Fleming, 'The Accounts
of Dr Alexander Skene, provost of St Salvator's college, St
1683-1690', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries
of Scotland, liv (1919-20) pp. 216-48 and from 1679-1689, lvi
(1921-2), pp. 325-50.
||Committee of Estates Registers
||1640-51, 1660, 1689
||D Stevenson (ed.), The Government
of Scotland under the Covenanters, 1637-1651 (Scottish History
||Scots Commissioners in England
||H W Meikle (ed.), 'Correspondence
of the Scots Commissioners in England, 1644-1646' (Roxburghe
||The papers deal mainly with
||Army and other accounts
||Including accounts of the
Commissary for the Country, 1639-40 (PA15/1), the Commissary
for Expedition against the Rebellion in the North, 1644-5 (PA15/6),
the Treasurer of the Army, 1644-6 (PA15/7, 7A, 8), the General
Commissary, 1646-8 (PA15/9), the Treasurer of the Army and General
Commissary of the Maintenance 1648-9 (PA15/10-11), the Commissary
General, 1650-1, and monthly maintenance 1658-9 (PA15/2). There
are also accounts of arms and ammunition received by the keeper
of the magazine at Leith, 1643-8, and received for the expedition
to England, 1644-7. 'Papers relating to the Army of the Solemn
League and Covenant, 1643-1647', edited by C S Terry (Scottish
History Society, 1917).
||Warrants of Parliamentary
||Mainly vouchers of accounts
of military expenditure, including warrants by the committee
for common burdens.
||Commission for the Communication
||x, appendix 107-136.
||Commission for the Union
of the Kingdom
||xi, appendix 145-205.
||Commission on Public Accounts
||xi, appendix 42-50.
The Scottish Parliament 1999-
Between 1707 and 1999, Scotland was governed solely by the British
Parliament at Westminster, but in a referendum on 11 September 1997,
a majority of the Scottish people voted for a devolved Scottish Parliament
with tax-varying powers. Arrangements for this Parliament were set
out in The Scotland Act, 1998 and on 1 July 1999, the new Scottish
Parliament was officially opened in Edinburgh.
The Scottish Parliament is still developing as an institution and
the types of records it produces are evolving to reflect this. Until
this situation stabilises, it is difficult to put together a comprehensive
cataloguing scheme to cover the eventual arrangement of records in
a logical and understandable way. For this reason, none of the items
received from the Parliament have yet been formally catalogued. However
copies of the items already held by the National Archives of Scotland
are available from other sources:
• Electronic copies of petitions and e-petitions can be
seen on the Scottish Parliament's own website.
• Printed Parliament publications, such as the Official
Report, the Business Bulletin and Written Answers, can be consulted
at public libraries throughout Scotland and on the Scottish Parliament's
• All Acts of the Scottish Parliament are published in
full text form as originally enacted on the Parliament’s
website. They are also available on the website of the Office
of Public Sector Information, both in original and revised form
(currently only Acts of the Old Scottish Parliament are available
in revised form).
to the National Archives of Scotland' (Stationery Office, 1996),
'The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland', i-xii, edited by Thomas
Thomson and Cosmo Innes (1814 - 1875).
A A M Duncan, 'The early parliaments of Scotland', Scottish History
Society, xlv (1966), 36-58.
R S Rait, 'The Parliaments of Scotland' (Glasgow, 1924).
John R Young 'The Scottish Parliament, 1639-1661' (Edinburgh, 1996).
M D Young (ed.), 'The Parliaments of Scotland: burgh and shire commissioners'
National Archives of Scotland
Crown copyright 2008