THE SCOTTISH DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

A leaflet containing a reprint of an article by H. A. Edwards, which was carried in the British Israel magazine "The National Message" of November 23, 1935, was printed by our Federation a number of years ago. As the information it contains is relatively timeless in its importance, we reproduce its contents herewith:

A SCOTTISH DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

There is a document of immense age, of supreme interest to British Israelites, but which is seen by few, owing to their ignorance of its existence, lying in the Register House at Edinburgh.

Picture of The Arbroath Declaration This document is a parchment, to which are attached some twenty red and green seals (being the seals of the subscribing Scottish Nobles). It was drawn up by Bernard de Linton, Abbot of Aberbrothock and Chancellor of Scotland, in the year 1320; and was sent to Pope John XXII "by the Scottish Estates in Parliament assembled in the Abbey of Aberbrothock under the Presidency of King Robert the Bruce," and is dated the 6th April, A.D. 1320.

Officials of the Register House have described it as "probably our most precious possession," and it may be seen in a shallow glass case in the register House at Edinburgh.

King Edward II of England had failed in his attempt to subjugate Scotland, having met crushing defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1317.

He enlisted the support of the Pope (John XXII), to whom he sent lavish gifts of jewels, as a result of which the Pope refused to acknowledge the Bruce as King of Scotland, and, indeed, sent emissaries to him with a view to securing his submission to the English King. These Papal messengers - Cardinal Gaucelin and Cardinal Luke - were not received by the Scottish King, who would not even read their letters. Instead, he summoned the Scottish Parliament, and the document proclaiming the independence of the Scottish people was drawn up and despatched.

The point of particular interest to us is the remarkable testimony which this document contains concerning the origin and previous migrations of the Scottish people - a declaration which, it must be remembered, is attested by the seals of not only King Robert the Bruce, but of all the Scottish Nobles of the day. It is not, therefore, a statement by a single (possibly fallible) historian but the official declaration of a King and his Estates in Parliament assembled; consequently being of overwhelming authority.

Space forbids quoting the whole document, or even the full list of the names of the signatories, and I must refer readers to the "Scot's Magazine", issued April, 1934, in which an article by Mr. R. L. Mackie provides full information, including a facsimile reproduction of the parchment itself, together with a translation.

I will only quote one passage here, as being the part most interesting to British Israelites; it is written in mediaeval Latin in which "j" and "i" are frequently interchangeable, as are also "u" and "n." The text of this passage follows:-

"Scimus Sanctissime Pater et Domine et ex antiquorum gestis et libris Colligimus, quod inter Ceteras egregias, nostra Scilicet Scottorum Nacio multis preconijs fuerit insignita que Maiori Schithia per Mare tirenum et Columpnas Herculis transiens, et in Hispania inter ferocissimos, per multa temporum curricula Residens: a nullis quantumcumque barbaricis poterat allicubi subiugari, Indeque veniens post mille et ducentos annos a transitu populi israelitici, sibi sedes in Occident quas nunc optinet. . . . . In quorum Regno Centum et Tresdecim Reges de ipsorum Regali prosapia nullo alienigena interueniente, Regnauerunt."

TRANSLATION

"We know, Most Holy Father and Lord, and from the chronicles and books of the ancients gather, that among other illustrious nations, ours, to wit the nation of the Scots, has been distinguished by many honours; which passing from the greater Scythia through the Mediterranean Sea and Pillars of Hercules, and sojourning in Spain among the most savage tribes through a long course of time, could nowhere be subjugated by any people however barbarous; and coming thence one thousand two hundred years after the outgoing of the people of Israel, they, by many victories and infinite toil, acquired for themselves the possessions in the west which they now hold. . . . In their kingdom one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, no stranger intervening, have reigned."

It is surely deeply interesting to have this statement, so unimpeachably attested, that the ancestors of the Scottish people came from Greater Scythia, sojourned awhile in Spain, and settled in Scotland 1,200 years after the going out of the people of Israel.

Further information concerning it can be obtained from Volume 1 of the Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, or Part II of the National Manuscripts of Scotland, or from "The Scots magazine", issue April, 1934, from which the above illustration is reproduced.

H. A. Edwards.

[Some Editorial Notes by Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A. follow:

  1. The leaflet contains a black and white reproduction of a photograph of the Declaration, and it is to this picture that the last sentence makes reference.
  2. There exists an old translation into English, printed in 1703, and widely circulated in Scotland, which says "...and having removed from these parts, above 1200 years after the coming of the Israelites out of Egypt, did by many victories... . Note that it refers to "Egypt", but that word does not appear in the Latin, as one may check in the above text. In 1951, I personally visited The Records House in Edinburgh, leaflet in hand, and inspected the facsimile of the original Latin (protected by glass) to which the public was allowed access. I can certify that the Latin, letter by letter, was checked with the Latin as shown in the leaflet and reproduced herewith, and every word was personally verified at that time. This old translation, therefore, is an interpolation by a translator who is either familiar only with the Biblical "Exodus" of Israel out of Egypt, but not cognizant of the later release of the Northern Tribes of deported Israelites upon the break-up of the Assyrian Empire, or a churchman desirous of ignoring the latter, with its inconvenient ramifications for "The Established Church position." It is not a translation which truly reflects the Latin in the original document.
  3. The names of the signatories, taken from a complete translation in another leaflet are as follows: "Duncan Earl of Fife, Thomas Randolph Earl of Murray, Lord of Mann and Annandale, Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March, Malise Earl of Strathern, Malcolm Earl of Lennox, William Earl of Ross, Magnus Earl of Caithness and Orkney, William Earl of Sutherland, Walter, Steward of Scotland, William Soulis, Butler of Scotland, James Lord Douglas, Roger Mowbray, David Lord Brechin, David Grahame, Ingelram Umfravil, John Monteith, Warder of the County of Monteith, Alexander Frazer, Gilbert Hay, Constable of Scotland, Robert Keith, Marshal of Scotland, Henry Sinclair, John Graham, David Lindsay, William Oliphant, Patrick Graham, John Fenton, William Abernethy, David Wemys, William Muschet, Fergus of Ardrossan, Eustace Maxwell, William Ramsay, William Mowat, Allan Moray, Donald Campbell, John Cameron, Reginald Cheyne, Alexander Seton, Andrew Leslie, Alexander Straton, and the rest of the Barons and Freeholders, and whole Community, or Commons of the Kingdom of Scotland..."]

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