2

In 1707 the two British kingdoms of England and Scotland became one kingdom.

I naively thought that that was when the name "United Kingdom" first came to be used as the proper official name of the kingdom.

Somewhere on the internet I find this contradicted, and asserted that in 1800 that kingdom united with Ireland and became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and that that was when that name became officially the name of the kingdom.

When was "The United Kingdom" first considered the name of the country?

Reading the peace treaty of 1783 between the United States of America and (I would have thought) the United Kingdom does not help, because the parties are identified as the United States of America and the king, not the kingdom.)

2 Answers 2

5

It really goes back to the 1706 Union with Scotland Act and the corresponding 1707 Union with England Act.

Article I:

That the two Kingdoms of England and Scotland shall upon the First day of May which shall be in the year One thousand seven hundred and seven and for ever after be united into one Kingdom by the name of Great Britain And that the Ensigns Armorial of the said United Kingdom be such as Her Majesty shall appoint and the Crosses of St. George and St. Andrew be conjoyned in such manner as Her Majesty shall think fit and used in all Flags Banners Standards and Ensigns both at Sea and Land.

Article I snippet

This use in Article I can be attributed to archaic capitalization rules, but the following articles hammer it home:

Article II:

That the Succession to the Monarchy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and of the Dominions thereto belonging after Her most Sacred Majesty and in default of Issue of Her Majesty be remain and continue to the most Excellent Princess Sophia Electoress and Dutchess Dowager of Hanover and the Heirs of her body being Protestants upon whom the Crown of England is settled by an Act of Parliament......

Article 2 snippet

Article III:

That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be Represented by one and the same Parliament to be stiled the Parliament of Great Britain.

Article 3 snippet

Article IV:

That all the Subjects of the United Kingdom of Great Britain shall from and after the Union have full Freedom and Intercourse of Trade and Navigation...

Article VI uses just "United Kingdom"!

That all parts of the United Kingdom for ever from and after the Union shall have the same Allowances Encouragements and Drawbacks and be under the same prohibitions restrictions and regulations of Trade and

Note that although "United Kingdom" is not made part of the country's official name in 1707, the phrase appears several times in the Act that combined England and Wales with Scotland, and the writers of the 1800 Act for the Union of Great Britain and Ireland would have been informed by the older Act it was replacing.

Images are cropped from a high-resolution image at Wikimedia Commons

2

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was created in 1801. Previously, there had been the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland, both ruled by the same monarch, but legally separate. The Acts of Union 1800, passed by the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland unified the two states into a single state.

The UK changed its name to The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927, after the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922. Since then, the name has not changed.

5
  • 1
    So can you explicitly state that the name "The United Kingdom" was not used in official documents before the Union with Ireland? Sep 3, 2023 at 19:15
  • 2
    I cannot state that "The United Kingdom" was never used, in the days of hand-written documents, but it was not the proper name until 1801. Sep 4, 2023 at 10:09
  • I suspect you've either conflated United States with United Kingdom in the document or you've mentally substituted the modern entity with the early one as there is no mention of the United Kingdom in the Treaty of Paris 1783. Interestingly King George III styled himself as King of Great Britain, France and Ireland. I thought that a typo but no, British monarchs were following an old English custom of claiming the throne of France. George was the last to do so and did so with the formation of the United Kingdom in 1800. Sep 4, 2023 at 11:05
  • @DamionKeeling : Isn't the reason why the name "the United Kingdom" is not found in the treaty of 1783 that the parties to the treaty were not the U.S.A. and the kingdom, but the U.S.A. and the king? Sep 24, 2023 at 3:42
  • @MichaelHardy The king is still styled King of Great Britain etc. So even if it was a treaty between the USA and the king he would have been the King of the United Kingdom of etc. As the UK didn't legally exist for another 18 years it doesn't appear in the treaty. Sep 26, 2023 at 1:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.