On October 5, 1663, the Scottish Parliament took an action unique in its long and variegated history. It ratified a marriage contract between two of the king's subjects. Not ordinary subjects, to be sure—they were the duke of Monmouth, Charles II’s eldest bastard, a lad of fourteen, and Anna Scott, countess of Buccleuch, aged twelve, who had been married the previous April. Persuading Parliament to ratify this contract was potentially a very tricky business; the king entrusted the handling of it to the earl of Lauderdale, the secretary of state, normally resident in Whitehall, who had been sent to Scotland to manage this session of Parliament. The ratification was a private act, one of a large number passed at each session of the Scottish Parliament in favor of private individuals and corporations: towns, universities, etc. Because it was a private act Osmund Airy, the editor of the Lauderdale papers, our principal source for the day-to-day doings of this Parliament, ignored it in making his selection from the vast Lauderdale correspondence. So the episode has gone completely unnoticed by historians. This is a pity, not only because the story of the marriage contract and its ratification is fascinating in itself, but also because it was important for Lauderdale's political future. Lauderdale's success in getting the ratification passed without backlash helped to convince King Charles that he was the man to manage Scottish business from now on.
The political history of Restoration Scotland has been largely neglected by historians. Lauderdale was the dominant figure for most of Charles's reign, but it was some years before he achieved that eminence. Lord Chancellor Clarendon, until his fall in 1667, was Charles's principal adviser for all of his three kingdoms, a fact that Lauderdale resented but had to live with. Clarendon did not like Lauderdale, who, he wrote, had been a leader of the Covenanters' rebellion “when he was scarce of age, and prosecuted it to the end with the most eminent fierceness and animosity.”