Economic problems faced by Scotland

In the 1690s, Scotland suffered from financial problems that increased hostility towards England. Many people thought that there was a lack of English willingness to help Scotland in its time of need. Scotland was suffering for a number of reasons.

The 'Ill Years' famine

The 'ill Years' famine began in 1693 and is described as a period of bad harvests and famine in Scotland, this caused massive economic issues for the country.

The Navigation Acts

These were laws that, since the 1650s, prevented Scotland from trading with England’s colonies in India and the Caribbean.

This was supported by King William and denied Scots the chance to profit from the trade opportunities that English merchants enjoyed. This cut off a possible source of wealth for Scots.

Unlike England and other European countries, Scotland had no colonies of its own so it continued to fall behind its rivals.

The English Navy

During English wars the English Navy prevented Scottish ships from travelling to countries such as France, Spain or Holland. This reduced the ability of Scots to trade.

The Darien Scheme

The failure of the Darien Scheme, which was established in 1698, was a major part of Scotland’s problems.

This was a plan proposed in the Scottish Parliament, to create a Scottish colony in Panama, (south of Mexico) to trade with the people of Central America.

Despite King William’s initial agreement, he was told by his advisors in London that a Scottish empire would threaten English trade.

He used his influence to encourage English and Dutch investors to withdraw their money from the Company of Scotland.

As a result, the Company was left with Scottish investment of around £400,000, just enough to establish a small colony in Panama. 2500 people sailed from Leith in 1698 but by 1700 only a few hundred people survived.

Bad planning, inadequate supplies, poor conditions at Darien and a lack of interest from local people brought the scheme to an end.

King William played a key role in the failure of the Scots colonists - there was no support from English colonists in the region, as William had discouraged them from helping.

Spanish troops attacked the Scots, as William had told the Spanish that he would not prevent them from doing so.