Uncovering the legislative process in the parliaments of James VI


  • The author is grateful to the members of the Scottish Legal History Group for their responses when a draft of this article was delivered at their annual conference in October 2008. He is also grateful to Athol Murray, Jenny Wormald, Alastair Mann and two anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions.


Using draft legislation from the period 1573–1621, this article reconstructs the Scottish parliamentary process under James VI. It examines how proposals reached parliament, how they were amended and approved in committee and before the full house, and what was done with the drafts after a parliamentary session. It argues that parliament operated with consistency, that significant amendment even of crown-sponsored legislation was possible and that care was taken to retain the drafts for future reference. It further undermines the traditional view of an impotent assembly and deepens understanding of how the early modern Scottish parliament functioned.