British America

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British America and
the British West Indies
British America.png
British colonies in continental North America (red) and the island colonies of the British West Indies of the Caribbean Sea (pink)
StatusColonies of England (1585–1707)
Colonies of Scotland
Colonies of Great Britain (1707–1783)
CapitalAdministered from London, England
Common languagesEnglish (de facto official)
Spoken languages:
Irish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
Indigenous languages
West African languages (spoken among the imported African slaves in the beginning)
Anglicanism, Protestantism, Lutheranism, Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Native American religions, Traditional African religions, Sunni Islam (practiced by some West African slaves in the beginning)
Demonym(s) British American
Government Constitutional monarchy
James VI and I (first)
George III (last)
Currency Pound sterling, Spanish dollar, bills of credit, commodity money, and many local currencies
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Royal Standard of King Louis XIV.svg New France
Prinsenvlag.svg New Netherland
Sweden-Flag-1562.svg New Sweden
Flag of New Spain.svg Spanish Florida
British North America Flag of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg
United States Grand Union Flag.svg
Spanish Florida Flag of New Spain.svg
British West Indies Flag of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg

British America comprised the colonial territories of the English Empire, which became the British Empire after the 1707 union of the Kingdom of England with the Kingdom of Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, in the Americas from 1607 to 1783. Prior to the union, this was termed English America, excepting Scotland's failed attempts to establish its own colonies. Following the union, these colonies were formally known as British America and the British West Indies before the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and formed the United States of America. [1]


After the American Revolution, the term British North America was used to refer to the remainder of Great Britain's possessions in North America. The term British North America was used in 1783, but it was more commonly used after the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), generally known as the Durham Report .


British map of North America, 1710, by John Senex, Charles Price and John Maxwell Senex, Price, and Maxwell North America 1710 UTA.jpg
British map of North America, 1710, by John Senex, Charles Price and John Maxwell

A number of English colonies were established in America between 1607 and 1670 by individuals and companies whose investors expected to reap rewards from their speculation. They were granted commercial charters by King James I, King Charles I, Parliament, and King Charles II. The London Company founded the first permanent settlement in 1607 on the James River at Jamestown, Virginia upstream from Chesapeake Bay. This was followed in 1620 when the Pilgrims established the Plymouth settlement in New England. English Catholics settled the Province of Maryland in 1634, under Cecilus Calvert, second Lord Baltimore.

A state department in London known as the Southern Department governed all the colonies beginning in 1660, as well as a committee of the Privy Council called the Board of Trade and Plantations. In 1768, Parliament created a specific state department for America, but it was disbanded in 1782 when the Home Office took responsibility for the remaining possessions of British North America in Eastern Canada, The Floridas, and the West Indies. [2]

British America gained large amounts of territory with the Treaty of Paris (1763), which ended the French and Indian War in America and the Seven Years' War in Europe. At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775, the British Empire included 23 colonies and territories on the North American continent. The Treaty of Paris (1783) ended the revolutionary war, and Britain lost much of this territory to the newly formed United States. In addition, Britain ceded East and West Florida to the Kingdom of Spain, which in turn ceded them to the United States in 1821. Most of the remaining colonies to the north formed Canada in 1867, with the Dominion of Newfoundland joining in 1949.

In the Caribbean, the British West Indies and other European sugar colonies were at the center for the Atlantic Slave Trade. [3] [4]

North American colonies in 1775

The Thirteen Colonies that became the original states of the United States:

New England Colonies
A view of Fort George and the city of New York
c. 1731 A view of Fort George with the city of New York, from the SW.jpg
A view of Fort George and the city of New York
c. 1731
Middle Colonies
Southern Colonies

Colonies and territories that became part of Canada:

Colonies and territories that were ceded to Spain or the United States in 1783:

Colonies in the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic, and South America in 1783

Divisions of the British Leeward Islands
Island of Jamaica and its dependencies
Other possessions in the British Windward Islands

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thirteen Colonies</span> British colonies forming the United States

The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies, the Thirteen American Colonies, or later as the United Colonies, were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Founded in the 17th and 18th centuries, they began fighting the American Revolutionary War in April 1775 and formed the United States of America by declaring full independence in July 1776. Just prior to declaring independence, the Thirteen Colonies in their traditional groupings were: New England ; Middle ; Southern. The Thirteen Colonies came to have very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems, dominated by Protestant English-speakers. The first of these colonies was Virginia Colony in 1607, a Southern colony. While all these colonies needed to become economically viable, the founding of the New England colonies, as well as the colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania, were substantially motivated by their founders' concerns related to the practice of religion. The other colonies were founded for business and economic expansion. The Middle Colonies were established on an earlier Dutch colony, New Netherland. All the Thirteen Colonies were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included territory in Canada, Florida, and the Caribbean.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">British colonization of the Americas</span> American Colonies of England and then Great Britain and the United Kingdom

The British colonization of the Americas was the history of establishment of control, settlement, and colonization of the continents of the Americas by England, Scotland and, after 1707, Great Britain. Colonization efforts began in the late 16th century with failed attempts by England to establish permanent colonies in the North. The first permanent English colony was established in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Approximately 30,000 Algonquian peoples lived in the region at the time. Over the next several centuries more colonies were established in North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Though most British colonies in the Americas eventually gained independence, some colonies have opted to remain under Britain's jurisdiction as British Overseas Territories.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Treaty of Paris (1763)</span> Treaty ending the Seven Years War

The Treaty of Paris, also known as the Treaty of 1763, was signed on 10 February 1763 by the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement, after Great Britain and Prussia's victory over France and Spain during the Seven Years' War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">British North America</span> Former British imperial territories

British North America comprised the colonial territories of the British Empire in North America from 1783 onwards. English colonisation of North America began in the 16th century in Newfoundland, then further south at Roanoke and Jamestown, Virginia, and more substantially with the founding of the Thirteen Colonies along the Atlantic coast of North America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">East Florida</span> Colony of Great Britain and a province of Spanish Florida

East Florida was a colony of Great Britain from 1763 to 1783 and a province of Spanish Florida from 1783 to 1821. Great Britain gained control of the long-established Spanish colony of La Florida in 1763 as part of the treaty ending the French and Indian War. Deciding that the territory was too large to administer as a single unit, Britain divided Florida into two colonies separated by the Apalachicola River: East Florida with its capital in St. Augustine and West Florida with its capital in Pensacola. East Florida was much larger and comprised the bulk of the former Spanish territory of Florida and most of the current state of Florida. It had also been the most populated region of Spanish Florida, but before control was transferred to Britain, most residents – including virtually everyone in St. Augustine – left the territory, with most migrating to Cuba.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">French West Indies</span> French territories in the Caribbean

The term French West Indies or French Antilles refers to the parts of France located in the Antilles islands of the Caribbean:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">British West Indies</span> British territories in the Caribbean, sometimes including former colonies

The British West Indies (BWI) were the British territories in the West Indies: Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, British Guiana and Trinidad and Tobago. Other territories include Bermuda, and the former British Honduras. Before the decolonisation period in the later 1950s and 1960s the term was used to include all British colonies in the region as part of the British Empire. Following the independence of most of the territories from the United Kingdom, the term Commonwealth Caribbean is now used.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the British West Indies</span> History of former Caribbean colonies

The term British West Indies refers to the former English and British colonies and the present-day overseas territories of the United Kingdom in the Caribbean.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Americas (terminology)</span> Geographical term

The Americas, also known as America, are lands of the Western Hemisphere, composed of numerous entities and regions variably defined by geography, politics, and culture.

A colonial empire is a collective of territories, either contiguous with the imperial center or located overseas, settled by the population of a certain state and governed by that state.

This is a chronology and timeline of the colonization of North America, with founding dates of selected European settlements. See also European colonization of the Americas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spanish West Indies</span> Spanish possession in the Caribbean between 1492-1898

The Spanish West Indies or the Spanish Antilles were Spanish colonies in the Caribbean. In terms of governance of the Spanish Empire, The Indies was the designation for all its overseas territories and was overseen by the Council of the Indies, founded in 1524 and based in Spain. When the Crown established the Viceroyalty of New Spain in 1535, the islands of the Caribbean came under its jurisdiction.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Captaincy General of Cuba</span> 1607–1898 Spanish possession in the Caribbean

The Captaincy General of Cuba was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire created in 1607 as part of Habsburg Spain's attempt to better defend and administer its Caribbean possessions. It also involved creating captaincies general in Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Yucatán.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Territorial evolution of the Caribbean</span>

This is a timeline of the territorial evolution of the Caribbean and nearby areas of North, Central, and South America, listing each change to the internal and external borders of the various countries that make up the region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">France–Americas relations</span>

France–Americas relations started in the 16th century, soon after the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus, and have developed over a period of several centuries.

The military history of North America can be viewed in a number of phases.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">English overseas possessions</span> Territories ruled by Kingdom of England

The English overseas possessions, also known as the English colonial empire, comprised a variety of overseas territories that were colonised, conquered, or otherwise acquired by the former Kingdom of England during the centuries before the Acts of Union of 1707 between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland created the Kingdom of Great Britain. The many English possessions then became the foundation of the British Empire and its fast-growing naval and mercantile power, which until then had yet to overtake those of the Dutch Republic, the Kingdom of Portugal, and the Crown of Castile.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spanish West Florida</span> Province of the Spanish Empire from 1783 to 1821

Spanish West Florida was a province of the Spanish Empire from 1783 until 1821, when both it and East Florida were ceded to the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grenadian nationality law</span>

Grenadian nationality law is regulated by the 1973 Grenadian Constitution, as amended; the Citizenship Act of 1976, and its revisions; and various British Nationality laws. These laws determine who is, or is eligible to be, a national of Grenada. Grenadian nationality is typically obtained either on the principle of jus soli, i.e. by birth in Grenada; or under the rules of jus sanguinis, i.e. by birth abroad to parents with Grenadian nationality. It can also be granted to persons with an affiliation to the country, or to a permanent resident who has lived in the country for a given period of time through naturalisation. There is also, currently a program in Grenada for persons to acquire nationality through investment in the country. Nationality establishes one's international identity as a member of a sovereign nation. Though it is not synonymous with citizenship, for rights granted under domestic law for domestic purposes, the United Kingdom, and thus the Commonwealth, have traditionally used the words interchangeably.


  1. "Rights: Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America".
  2. Foulds, Nancy Brown. "Colonial Office". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  3. Lambert, David. "An introduction to the Caribbean, empire and slavery". British Library. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  4. Swingen, Abigail L. (2015). The Slave Trade, the Asiento, and the National Interest, 1698–1718. Yale Scholarship Online. Yale University Press. doi:10.12987/yale/9780300187540.001.0001. ISBN   9780300187540 . Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  5. "Rhode Island Royal Charter of 1663". Secretary of State of Rhode Island . Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  6. "Charles II Granted Rhode Island New Charter". 8 July 1663. Retrieved 14 April 2011.