British colonization of the Americas began in the late 1500's. Colonies were establish in North, Central and South America, in the Caribbean and a protectorship in Hawaii.

Table of contents
1 British North America
2 British Caribbean Colonies
3 British Central and South American Colonies
4 Links

British North America

The English established colonies along the east coast of North America from Newfoundland as far south as Florida. Early colonies included Jamestown, Virginia founded in 1607 (the first successful English colony in North America), the Plymouth Colony founded in 1620, and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. There was also an early unsuccessful Scottish attempt at a colony at Darien, and the colonisation of Nova Scotia is also associated with Scotland.

England also took over the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, which was renamed New York in 1664. With New Amsterdam the British came to control the former New Sweden which the Dutch had conquered earlier. This became part of Pennsylvania. Britain acquired the French colony of New France and the Spanish colony of Florida in 1763. New France became the Canadas.

In the north the Hudson's Bay Company actively traded for fur with the Indians, and had competed with French fur traders. The company came to control the entire drainage basin of Hudson Bay called Rupert's Land. The Hudson Bay drainage south of the 49th parallel went to the United States in 1818. Britain also colonized the west coast of North America with the colonies of Vancouver Island, founded in 1849 and New Caledonia, founded in 1846 (later combined and named British Columbia). 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 modern Canada. Quebec (including what is now the southern portion of Ontario) and Nova Scotia had been conquered from 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, as well as the Northwest Territories and the territory of Nunavut.

In order of settlement or founding

British Caribbean Colonies

In order of settlement or founding

  • Bermuda - The islands were settled from 1612 by a London company. It remains a British territory.
  • Saint Kitts - The island was settled by Sir Thomas Warner in 1623. The following year the French also settled part of St Kitts. After they massacred the Caribs, the British and French turned on each other and St Kitts changed hands between the two several times before the Treaty of Paris gave the island to Britain.
  • Barbados - The island was settled in 1625. It became independent in 1966.
  • Nevis - The island was permanently settled in 1628. It became independent in 1983.
  • Bahamas - The islands were settled from 1629. They became independent in 1971.
  • Antigua - The island was settled in 1632. It became independent as Antigua and Barbuda in 1981
  • Barbuda - The island was settled ?. It became independent as Antigua and Barbuda in 1981.
  • Montserrat - The island was settled in 1632. It was occupied by the French in 1664-68 and 1782-84. It remains a British territory.
  • Anguilla - The island was settled in 1650. Its government was united with St. Christopher from 1882 until 1967, when it declared its separation. It was brought back under British administration in 1969. It remains a British territory.
  • Jamaica - The island was conquered from Spain in 1655. It became independent in 1962.
  • British Virgin Islands - The islands were settled from 1666. It remains a British territory.
  • Turks and Caicos - The islands were first permanently settled in the 1750s. They remain a British territory.
  • Dominica - The island was captured from the French in 1761. The French occupied it again from 1778 to 1783. Dominica became independent in 1978.
  • Trinidad and Tobago - The island of Tobago was captured in 1762. The island of Trinidad was captured from the Spanish in 1797. The two governments were joined in 1888. They became independent in 1962.
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Saint Vincent was colonized in 1762. French captured it in 1779 but it was restored to Britain in 1783. They were formerly part of the British colony of the Windward Islands from 1871 to 1958. It gained full independence in 1979.
  • Granada - The island was conquered from France in 1762. The French reoccupied it from 1779 to 1783. It became independent in 1974.
  • Saint Lucia - The island was captured from the French in 1778, but returned to them in 1783. In 1796 and in 1803 it was captured again, to be permanently annexed by Britain in 1814. St Lucia became independent in 1979.
  • Cayman Islands - The islands were acquired from Spain in 1870. It remains a British territory.

British Central and South American Colonies

Belize - British adventurers starting in the mid-1600s, used Belize as a source for logwood, a tree used to make a wool dye. The area was claimed by Spain but they had not settled it or been able to control the natives. The Spanish destroyed the British colony in 1717, 1730, 1754 and 1779. The colony was known as British Honduras until 1973. The Spanish attacked a final time in 1798 but were defeated. Belize became fully independent in 1981.

Mosquito Coast - This area was first settled in 1630. It was briefly assigned to Honduras in 1859, then ceded to Nicaragua in 1860.

British Guiana - The British began colonies in the Guiana area in the early 17th century. In the Treaty of Breda, the Dutch gained control of these colonies. Britain later controlled various colonies in the area. The Congress of Vienna (1815) awarded the settlements of Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo in the Guiana region to Great Britain; they were united as British Guiana in 1831. It became independent as Guyana in 1966.


See also: European colonization of the Americas, British Empire, History of the British Empire