Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun lived from 1653 to September 1716. He was a politician and writer primarily remembered for his strong opposition to the 1707 Act of Union, the Act which brought about the end of a separate Scottish Parliament for nearly three centuries. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Born at Saltoun near Pencaitland, Andrew Fletcher was the son of of Sir Robert Fletcher, the local laird. He was educated locally, and then in Europe. Fletcher inherited the family estate while still a minor on his father's death in 1664, and he entered politics in 1678 when, at the age of 25, he was elected to represent Haddingtonshire in the Scottish Parliament.
As a Member of the Scottish Parliament, Fletcher soon found himself in opposition to Charles II's representative in Scotland. Initially this was John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale, though in 1680 the Duke of York and Albany, the future James VII/II, took over the role. Andrew Fletcher was a vociferous opponent and in 1683 was charged with sedition. After being acquitted, he fled to the Netherlands. In 1685 he took part in the "Monmouth Rebellion" led by the first Duke of Monmouth against Charles II. Before its failure and the execution of many of its participants, Fletcher had to flee abroad again following an incident in which he shot the Mayor of Taunton. This probably saved his life.
Fletcher supported William of Orange during the Glorious Revolution, and returned to Scotland in 1688. He quickly fell into opposition against the new king when he realised that Scotland's interests were not going to be respected by him. In 1703 Fletcher regained his seat in the Scottish Parliament, and as part of the Country Party, strongly opposed moves towards the union of the Scottish and English Parliaments that culminated with the 1707 Act of Union. Although Fletcher was on the losing side of the battle over the Act of Union he did succeed in establishing a series of principles which helped preserve a degree of separateness and local determination until the restoration of the Scottish Parliament on 1 July 1999.
Andrew Fletcher died in September 1716 in London. He had never married and left no known heirs. He is remembered primarily for his patriotic principles, his hot-headedness, and his unwavering opposition to the Union. He produced a number of influential publications - though not influential enough - which appeared in the period before Union occurred. His last words were said to have been: "Lord have mercy on my poor country that is so barbarously oppressed."