British America

For American people of British descent, see British American.
British America and the British West Indies
Colonies of England (1607–1707)
Colonies of Great Britain (1707–1783)

Flag of Great Britain

British colonies in North America which were part of British America (red) at its peak, and other dependencies held by the British Crown at the time (pink)
Capital Administered from London, England
Languages English, French, many indigenous languages
Religion Anglicanism, Protestantism, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Native American religion
Government Constitutional monarchy
   1607–1625 James I & VI (first)
  1760–1783 George III (last)
   Roanoke Colony 1585
  Virginia Colony 1607
  New England 1620
  King Charles II charter for Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 1663
  Rupert's Land 1670
  Treaty of Utrecht 1713
   Treaty of Paris 1783
Currency Pound sterling, Spanish dollar, colonial money, bills of credit, commodity money and many local currencies
Preceded by
Succeeded by
New Netherland
New France
Spanish Florida
New Sweden
British North America
British West Indies
United States
Spanish Florida
Today part of  Anguilla
 Antigua and Barbuda
 British Virgin Islands
 Cayman Islands
 Saint Kitts and Nevis
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
 Trinidad and Tobago
 Turks and Caicos
 United States

English America, and later British America, were the English, and later British, territories in North America (including Bermuda), Central America, the Caribbean, and Guyana from 1607 to 1783. Formally, the British colonies in North America were known as British America and the British West Indies until 1776, when the Thirteen British Colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard declared their independence and formed the United States of America.[1] After that, British North America (or, simply but not inclusively, Canada) was used to describe the remainder of Britain's continental North American possessions. The term "British North America" was first used informally in 1783, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report.

British America gained large amounts of new territory following the Treaty of Paris (1763) which ended Britain's involvement in the Seven Years' War. At the start of the American War of Independence in 1775, the British Empire included 20 colonies north and east of New Spain (present-day areas of Mexico and the Western United States). East and West Florida were ceded to Spain in the Treaty of Paris (1783) which ended the American Revolution, and then ceded by Spain to the United States in 1819. All but one of the remaining colonies of British North America apart from the British West Indies united together from 1867 to 1873 forming the Dominion of Canada. Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949.


Between 1606 and 1670, a number of English colonies were established in North America by individuals and companies granted commercial charters by King James I, King Charles I, Parliament, and King Charles II to found and run settlements there. The first such permanent settlement was founded at Jamestown by the Virginia Company whose investors expected to reap rewards from their speculative investments. Virginia Native Americans had established settlements long before the English settlers arrived, and there were an estimated 14,000 natives in the region. Their chief sought to resettle the English colonists from Jamestown to another location and expected them to become members of his Confederacy. Other settlers, both English and German, did join the Powhatans.[2] The first explorers were welcomed by the Indians with dancing, feasting and tobacco ceremonies.[3]

List of North American colonies in 1775

There were twenty British colonies in North America in 1775.[4] These were:

1) The Thirteen Colonies that eventually formed the original states of the United States of America:

New England Colonies
Middle Colonies
Southern Colonies
(Virginia and Maryland may also be grouped as the Chesapeake Colonies)

2) Other British colonies and territories (ruled by Britain since 1763) that were later ceded by Britain to Spain (the Floridas) or the United States (the Indian Reserve and Southwestern Quebec); all this territory eventually became part of the United States of America:

3) British colonies and territories that would eventually become part of modern Canada:

List of colonies in 1783 in North America, the Caribbean and South America

The colonies remaining under British rule after 1783:

British North America
Divisions of the Colony of the Leeward Islands
Island of Jamaica and its Dependencies
Other possessions in the British West Indies

See also


  1. "A Summary View of the Rights of British America – Thomas Jefferson".
  2. Horn, James (2006). A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. New York: Basic Books. pp. 123–124. ISBN 0-465-03094-7.
  3. George Percy, 1608, "Observations by George Percy"
  4. "Canada and the American Revolution". Museum of the American Revolution. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  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.

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