Between the 1660s and 1768 British colonies had been governed by a combination of the secretary of state for the southern department and the Board of Trade and Plantations, a committee within the Privy Council. In 1768 the American or Colonial Department was established, but this office was abolished in 1782 after the loss of the American colonies. Jurisdiction over the remainder of British possessions was transferred to the home secretary's office until 1801, when colonial administration was moved to the secretary of state for war and the colonies. Colonial affairs expanded and became more important, and in 1825 a permanent undersecretary was appointed to deal with the colonies. This marks the beginning of the Colonial Office, although a separate secretary of state for the colonies was not created until 1854, after the Crimean War began. Further reorganization occurred as the range of powers claimed by the colonies expanded and as relations with these colonies became diplomatic rather than administrative.
A Dominion division within the Colonial Office dealt with the self-governing colonies between 1907 and 1 July 1925, when it became a separate ministry, the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs. In 1947 this became the Commonwealth Relations Office, which in 1966 merged with the Colonial Office. Finally, in 1968, Britain combined the responsibility for all its external relations in the single Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
See also COMMONWEALTH.
Author NANCY BROWN FOULDS
Links to Other Sites
French Canada and the Early Decades of British Rule (1760 - 1791)
A digitized copy of a booklet that examines the issues and policies that defined Britian's administration of its North American colonies in the decades preceeding the implementation of the Quebec Act and the Constitutional Act. From the Canadian Historical Association and Library and Archives Canada.
The Colonial Despatches
View digitized copies of correspondence (dated 1846 - 1859) between the British Colonial Office and the "colonies" of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. Search or browse this site for references to specific individuals, communities, companies, or industries in the province. Also includes digitized images of maps of various locations. From the website for the University of Victoria.
A biography of John Strachan, teacher, clergyman, officeholder, and bishop. Also provides much detail about the history of Upper Canada. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.