Scots in the English Atlantic from 1603 to 1660: policy, patronage, and subjecthood

Joseph Wagner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the legal and sociopolitical position that Scots held in the English Atlantic world from the union of the crowns in 1603 to the restoration of the Stuart dynasty in 1660. It demonstrates that Scots gained access to colonial opportunities through the royal patronage of James VI and I and Charles I. The policy of those monarchs also largely supported Scottish endeavours in the transatlantic arena: in land ownership, commerce, and colonial leadership. The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, the Commonwealth, and the Protectorate disrupted the colonial opportunities that were opened to Scots in the preceding decades. They lost their access to royal patronage, and the concept of Commonwealth subjecthood displaced the earlier concept of postnati subjecthood. By tracing how concepts of subjecthood developed in this period, the article contextualises the Restoration period when Scots were labelled as aliens in the English Navigation Acts to restrict their access to the English Atlantic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-61
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • Seventeenth-century Britain
  • Scotland
  • Atlantic world
  • Subjecthood
  • Navigation Acts


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