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British crown colony

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British crown colony

A Crown Colony, also known in the 17th century as royal colony, was a type of colonial administration of the English and later British Empire.[1][2]

Crown, or royal, colonies were ruled by a governor appointed by the Monarch. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Sovereign appointed royal governors on the advice of the Secretary of State for the Colonies.[3] Under the name of "royal colony", the first of what would later become known as Crown colonies was the English Colony of Virginia in the present-day United States, after the Crown, in 1624, revoked the Royal Charter it had granted to the Virginia Company, taking over direct administration.[4]

Until the mid-nineteenth century, the term "Crown Colony" was primarily used to refer to those colonies which had been acquired through wars, such as Trinidad and Tobago[5] and British Guiana, but after that time it was more broadly applied to any colony other than the Presidencies and provinces of British India and the colonies of settlement, such as The Canadas, Newfoundland, British Columbia, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and New Zealand, later to become the Dominions.[6]

The term continued to be used up until 1981, when the British Nationality Act 1981 reclassified the remaining British colonies as "British Dependent Territories". From 2002 they have been known as British Overseas Territories.[7]

The current crown dependencies were never considered crown colonies; the form of government is constitutional monarchy, and the islands voluntarily cooperate with the government of the United Kingdom in certain areas. Sovereignty of the Isle of Man was purchased, and the Channel Islands are the remnants of the Duchy of Normandy.

Types of Crown colony

There were three types of Crown colony as of 1918, with differing degrees of autonomy:

Crown colonies with representative councils such as Bermuda, Jamaica, Ceylon, British Columbia and Fiji contained one or two legislative chambers, consisting of Crown appointed or locally elected members.

Crown colonies with nominated councils such as British Honduras, Sierra Leone, Grenada and Hong Kong were staffed entirely by Crown appointed members, with some appointed representation from the local population. It should be noted that Hong Kong became a Crown colony with a representative council following the introduction of election for the Hong Kong Legislative Council in 1995.

Crown colonies ruled directly by a Governor such as Basutoland,[8] Gibraltar, Saint Helena and Singapore were fewest in number and had the least autonomy.

List of Crown colonies

A territory belonging by settlement, conquest or annexation to the British Crown or to an independent Commonwealth country.a

Name of colony from to Reason for change of status
Aden 1937 1967
Anguilla 1980 1981 Became British Dependent Territory in 1981
Basutoland 1884 1964 Became British protectorate in 1964; then became independent as Lesotho in 1966.
Bermuda 1684 1981 Became British Dependent Territory in 1981
British Bechuanaland 1885 1895 Became part of British Cape Colony in 1895
British Guiana 1831 1966 Became independent as Guyana in 1966.
British Honduras (renamed Belize in 1964) 1884 1981 Became independent (as Belize) in 1981)
Canada 1841 1867 Became part of the Dominion of Canada in 1867.
Cape of Good Hope 1806 1910 Became part of the Union of South Africa in 1910.
Cayman Islands 1962 1981 Became British Dependent Territory in 1981
Ceylon 1815 1948 Became independent as Ceylon in 1948.
British Columbia 1866 1871 Became part of the Dominion of Canada in 1871.
Connecticut 1636 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Cyprus 1914 1960 Became independent as Cyprus in 1960.
Delaware 1664 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
East Florida 1763 1783 Ceded to Spain.
Falkland Islands 1841 1981 Became a British Dependent Territory in 1981.
Georgia 1732 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Gibraltar 1713 1981 Became British Dependent Territory in 1981
Hong Kong 1841 1981 Became British Dependent Territory in 1981. Reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.[9]
Jamaica 1865 1962 Became independent in 1962 as Jamaica.
Kenya 1920 1963 United with the Kenya Protectorate in 1963 to form the independent country of Kenya
Labuan 1846 1890 Administered by British North Borneo Company from 1890-1904
1906 1946 Incorporated in the Straits Settlements on 30 October 1906
1946 1963 Incorporated in North Borneo on 15 July 1946. Became part of Malaysia in 1963[10]
Lower Canada 1791 1841 Became part of Province of Canada in 1841.
Malta 1813 1964 Became independent in 1964 as the State of Malta.
Maryland 1632 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Massachusetts Bay 1692 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Natal 1843 1910 Became part of the Union of South Africa in 1910.
Newfoundland 1854 1949 Became part of Canada in 1949.
New Hampshire 1692 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
New Jersey 1702 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
New South Wales 1788 1901 Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
New York 1691 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
New Zealand 1841 1907 Became a Dominion in 1907.
North Borneo 1946 1963 Became part of Malaysia in 1963 as Sabah.[10]
North Carolina 1729 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Pennsylvania 1681 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Quebec 1763 1791 Divided between Upper and Lower Canada and the Northwest Territory.
Queensland 1824 1901 Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 1806 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776 as the state of Rhode Island.
Sarawak 1946 1963 Became part of Malaysia in 1963[10]
Sierra Leone 1808 1961 Became independent as Sierra Leone in 1961.
South Australia 1834 1901 Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
South Carolina 1729 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Straits Settlements of Malacca 1826 1946 Became part of Malayan Union in 1946, which reorganised as the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and became independent in 1957;[11] later became part of Malaysia in 1963[10]
Province Wellesley) 1786 1946 Dinding became part of the Federated Malay States in 1895. All became part of Malayan Union in 1946, which reorganised as the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and became independent in 1957;[11] later became part of Malaysia in 1963[10]
Christmas Island) 1826 1963 Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia in 1955 and 1957 respectively.[12][13] Singapore became part of Malaysia in 1963;[10] then became independent as the Republic of Singapore in 1965.[14]
Tasmania 1803 1901 Van Diemen's Land from 1803 to 1856; Formerly part of New South Wales from 1803 to 1825, when made an independent colony. Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
Upper Canada 1791 1841 Became part of Province of Canada in 1841.
Vancouver Island 1848 1866 Merged with the Colony of British Columbia in 1866
Victoria 1851 1901 Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
Virginia 1624 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Western Australia 1829 1901 Swan River Colony from 1829 to 1832. Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
West Florida 1763 1783 Ceded to Spain.

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