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  • Rob Marrs

Chester Caledonian Association Mens’ Supper

To coin a much used, current phrase, “What’s not to like about the Mens’ Supper?” Apart from the obvious reply about the absence of women, it is a gathering of Association members and their guests. Some young whilst others belong to the troisième age but all have a common objective – to enjoy each other’s company and partake of fine food and drink. Various topics have featured in previous years ranging from whisky to China although the last couple of years have centred around a debate on the Scottish Independence Referendum.

Once again, the venue was Willington Hall and once again, Simon Begbie and his team really looked after us. Over the last few years, Simon has specialised in “themed” menus for this event so the emphasis on Scottish fare was most appropriate given that the main speaker’s topic dealt with the Union of the Scots and English Parliaments. The food was excellent,especially the venison, and superb value as the cost of the ticket was a measly £26.00 and that included a superb speaker.

After dinner, Harry gave an eloquent introduction to the speaker, Simon Medland QC who presented an entertaining and informative talk entitled “The great expedition and the forging of the Union.” Although Simon is a QC, his first degree was in Scottish History so he is well qualified to discuss the events prior to and during 1707. It is always dangerous to attempt to summarise an expert’s presentation but his main point was that the Scottish Economy was in a dreadful state after the financial calamity of the Darien Expedition. Scotland wanted to establish a trading colony on the Gulf of Darien on the Isthmus of Panama in the late 1690’s.

A body, known as the Company of Scotland for Trading to Africa raised £400,000 in four weeks, a sum that amounted to a fifth of Scotland’s wealth at that time (about £50 million today). As the minimum stake was £100, many towns raised the money by local subscription from all levels of society. From the outset, the project was a disastrous failure and when it was finally closed down in 1700, Scotland was bankrupt. The 1707 Acts of Union granted £398,085 10s sterling to Scotland to offset future liability towards the English national debt.

This most entertaining evening finished at half past eleven and good night was had by all.

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