In this article Alan MacDonald challenges the generally accepted view that in the early modern meetings of the Scottish estates, the burgh representatives played only a marginal and subordinate role and that their main institutional activity was confined to the separate meetings of the Convention of Royal Burghs. The article is based on an analysis of the recorded participation in parliaments of the seven parliamentary burghs of North-East Fife down to 1651. The analysis shows a pattern of activity that is significantly different from that of the English parliamentary boroughs in the same period. The article considers the possible explanations for their independent political activity, concentrating on such issues as securing formal legislative confirmation of local privileges and blocking the competing aspirations of neighbouring burghs. Their patterns of attendance are examined, as is the evidence that they did have an independent input into discussions of national politics. The sample used for the article, and the nature of the surviving records, means that the conclusions so far have to be tentative, but the results do suggest that further research into this field could prove productive.
- Local government
- North East Fife