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Scots Law or English Law ?

April 24, 2018

 

King James VI and I actually styled himself “King of Great Britain and Ireland” and this betrayed his misunderstanding that he was separately King of Scots apart from any other kingships he might have. Scotland was an independent country that happened to have the same king as the English had. Scotland had its own parliament still until 1707, 82 years after James died. Significantly for our story, Scotland had its own system and style of law, quite distinct from England, even today. James was a strong advocate of the union of the two countries and tended to ride roughshod over the differences and distinctions. Saint John Ogilvie was a casualty of this lazy thinking. How was his trial conducted: by Scots Law or by English Law? Even although Fr. John Ogilvie had been discovered twice as a priest, that would have meant imprisonment then banishment, according to Scots Law, but not the death sentence, and when that was handed down, he was to be hung, drawn and quartered, a common English punishment but rare in Scotland. In fact it was not carried out as the crowd protested at the cruelty of Archbishop Spottiswoode and other officials, but the hand of the king could be seen in these details.

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