Pre-British colonization of North America
English colonies in North America
Plaque in St. John's
, Newfoundland and Labrador, commemorating Gilbert's founding of the British overseas Empire
A number of English colonies were established under a system of Proprietary Governors, who were appointed under mercantile charters to English joint stock companies to found and run settlements.
In 1664, England took over the Dutch colony of New Netherland (including its capital of New Amsterdam) which England renamed the Province of New York. With New Netherland, the English also came to control the former New Sweden (in what is now Delaware), which the Dutch had conquered earlier. This later became part of Pennsylvania after that was established in 1680.
Scottish colonies in North America
The Kingdom of Scotland tried unsuccessfully to establish a colony at Darién, and the Scottish colonization of Nova Scotia (New Scotland) lasted from 1629 to 1632. Thousands of Scotsmen also participated in English colonization before the two countries were united in 1707.
British colonies in North America
The Kingdom of Great Britain acquired the French colony of Acadia in 1713 and then Canada and the Spanish colony of Florida in 1763. After being renamed the Province of Quebec, the former French Canada was divided into two Provinces, the Canadas, consisting of the old settled country of Lower Canada (today Quebec) and the newly settled Upper Canada (today Ontario).
In the north, the Hudson's Bay Company actively traded for fur with the indigenous peoples, and had competed with French, Aboriginal, and Métis fur traders. The company came to control the entire drainage basin of Hudson Bay, called Rupert's Land. The small part of the Hudson Bay drainage south of the 49th parallel went to the United States in the Anglo-American Convention of 1818.
Thirteen of Great Britain's colonies rebelled in the American Revolutionary War, beginning in 1775, primarily over representation, local laws and tax issues, and established the United States of America, which was recognised internationally with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 3 September 1783.
Great Britain also colonised the west coast of North America, indirectly via the Hudson's Bay Company licenses west of the Rocky Mountains: the Columbia District and New Caledonia fur district. Most of these were jointly claimed as the Oregon Country by the United States from 1818 until the 49th parallel was established as the international boundary west of the Rockies by the Oregon Treaty of 1846. The Colony of Vancouver Island, founded in 1849, and the Colony of British Columbia, founded in 1858, were combined in 1866 under the name Colony of British Columbia, and joined the Confederation in 1871. British Columbia was expanded with the inclusion of the Stikine Territory in 1863; and upon joining Confederation the Peace River Block, formerly part of Rupert's Land, was added.
In 1867, the colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Province of Canada (the southern portion of modern-day Ontario and Quebec) combined to form a self-governing dominion, named Canada, within the British Empire (the term "kingdom" was avoided so as to not provoke the United States). Quebec (including what is now the southern portion of Ontario) and Nova Scotia (including what is now New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) had been ceded to Britain by the French. The colonies of Prince Edward Island and British Columbia joined over the next six years, and Newfoundland joined in 1949. Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory were ceded to Canada in 1870. This area now consists of the provinces of Manitoba (admitted after negotiation between Canada and a Métis provisional government in 1870), Saskatchewan, and Alberta (both created in 1905), as well as the Northwest Territories, the Yukon Territory (created 1898, following the start of the Klondike Gold Rush), and Nunavut (created in 1999).
List of English and British colonies in North America (in rough chronological order)
The British Colonies in North America, 1763–1775
- Roanoke Colony, founded 1586, abandoned the next year. Second attempt in 1587 disappeared (also called the Lost Colony).
- Cuttyhunk Island, established as a small fort and trading post by Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602, abandoned after one month.
- Virginia Company, chartered 1606 and became the Virginia Colony in 1624
- Society of Merchant Venturers (Newfoundland)
- London and Bristol Company (Newfoundland)
- St. John's, Newfoundland, chartered by Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1583; seasonal settlements ca. 1520; informal year-round settlers before 1620.
- Plymouth Council for New England
- Ferryland, Newfoundland, granted to George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore in 1620, first settlers in August 1621
- Province of Maine, granted 1622, sold to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1677
- South Falkland, Newfoundland, founded 1623 by Henry Cary, 1st Viscount Falkland
- Province of New Hampshire, later New Hampshire settled in 1623, see also New Hampshire Grants
- Dorchester Company Colony, (Dorchester Company planted an unsuccessful fishing colony on Cape Ann at modern Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1624)
Salem Colony, later Salem, Massachusetts, settled in 1628, merged with Massachusetts Bay Colony the next year
- Massachusetts Bay Colony, later part of Massachusetts, founded 1629
- New Scotland, in present Nova Scotia, 1629–1632
- Connecticut Colony, later part of Connecticut founded 1633
- Province of Maryland, later Maryland, founded in 1634
- New Albion, chartered in 1634, failed by 1649–50, not to be confused with Nova Albion on the Pacific coast (see next section)
- Saybrook Colony, founded 1635, merged with Connecticut in 1644
- Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, first settled in 1636
- New Haven Colony, founded 1638, merged with Connecticut in 1665
- Gardiners Island, founded 1639, now part of East Hampton, New York
- Province of New York, captured 1664
- Province of New Jersey, captured in 1664
- Province of Pennsylvania, later Pennsylvania, founded 1681 as an English colony, although first settled by Dutch and Swedes
- Delaware Colony, later Delaware, separated from Pennsylvania in 1704
- Province of Carolina
- Province of Georgia, later Georgia; first settled in about 1670, formal colony in 1732
- Nova Scotia, site of abortive Scottish colony in 1629; British colony 1713, but this did not permanently include Cape Breton Island until 1758.
- Province of Quebec, which had been called Canada under French rule. Canada was by far the most settled portion of New France. Britain gained complete control of French Canada in 1759–1761, from the events within the North American theater of the Seven Years' War; France ceded title with the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Became Canada East in the Province of Canada, which also included Ontario (Upper Canada) as Canada West, from 1841 to 1867.
- East Florida and West Florida, acquired from Spain in 1763 in exchange for returning Cuba, taken from Spain in 1761; the Floridas were recovered by Spain in 1783. Backwoods areas almost unaffected by the Stamp Act Crisis of 1765, which unified the thirteen colonies that formed the United States, not much for abstract principles, and grateful to the crown, they declined to send representatives to the Continental Congress or to participate in any way in the independence movement. After the Second Spanish period, they were acquired by the United States in 1821.
- Island of St. John, separated from Nova Scotia 1769, renamed Prince Edward Island in 1798
- New Brunswick, separated from Nova Scotia in 1784
Non-colonial British territories in North America
- Rupert's Land, territory of the Hudson's Bay Company, founded in 1670 and transferred to the new Dominion of Canada in 1867 as the Northwest Territories
- Columbia District, the trading district of the Columbia Department of the Hudson's Bay Company from 1821 to the Oregon Treaty of 1846, by which most of the Columbia District was formally annexed to the United States. HBC lands south of the 49th parallel were guaranteed by the Oregon Treaty but ownership and compensation issues were not fully resolved until 1861.
- New Caledonia, fur district. First created in 1805 as part of North West Company for operations, administered by Hudson's Bay Company following the two companies' forced merger in 1821, until incorporated as the part of the Colony of British Columbia in 1858, by which time the term "New Caledonia" had come to refer to the whole of the British Columbia mainland, not just the original fur district in what is now its Central Interior.
- Stikine Territory, also called Stickeen Territories, founded in 1862 in response to the Stikine Gold Rush to prevent an American takeover.
- North-Western Territory, a Hudson's Bay Company trading area covering lands north and northwest of Rupert's Land and, after 1863, north of the Stikine Territory's original boundary at the 62nd parallel. Its remnant was incorporated at the Yukon Territory after the part of it south of the 60th parallel was amalgamated to British Columbia.
- Nova Albion, never incorporated or settled, exact location unknown, claimed by Sir Francis Drake and one of the precedents for the British claims to the Pacific Northwest during the Oregon boundary dispute.
- the southeastern Alaska Panhandle was leased from the Russian Empire, from 1839 to 1867, until the lease was ignored by both the Russians and Americans and, subsequently, by the Canadian and the British imperial governments, despite British Columbia's protests.