Board of Trade and Plantations

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BOARD OF TRADE AND PLANTATIONS was created out of a committee of the Privy Council as the main British colonial office to oversee colonial affairs on 15 May 1696, replacing the Lords of Trade and Plantations. It was a paid board of eight members, plus the chief officers of the state as ex officio members. They made sure that the colonial laws were not contrary to English common law or British interests, issued commissions for royal governors, organized the consular service, oversaw colonial commercial relations with other nations, enforced the trade and navigation acts, heard and investigated complaints of merchants, recommended imperial legislation, supervised the negotiation of treaties, and controlled the poor relief in England. Additional transformations made in the eighteenth century included developing plans to strengthen the position of the royal governors, make judges dependent upon the Crown and the leaders for their salaries and terms of office, and moderate between the agents of the Crown and the leaders of the colonial legislatures.

The board was part of the regular political system, and the members changed with shifts within the government. Permanent administrative positions of the board were the permanent secretaries, who were the best-informed administrators on colonial affairs in England; the solicitor and clerk of reports, who prepared all formal information, assembled information for board use, and represented the Board of Trade before other departments of the government; and the attorney, who examined the validity of all colonial laws within English law.


Andrews, Charles M. British Committees, Commissions, and Councils of Trade and Plantations, 1622–1675. 1908. Reprint, New York: Kraus Reprint, 1970.

Christie, Ian R. Crisis of Empire: Great Britain and the American Colonies, 1754–1783. New York: Norton, 1966.

Dickerson, Oliver Morton. American Colonial Government, 1696–1765: A Study of the British Board of Trade in Its Relation to the American Colonies, Political, Industrial, Administrative. Reprint. New York: Russell and Russell, 1962.

Steele, Ian Kenneth. Politics of Colonial Policy: The Board of Trade in Colonial Administration, 1696–1720. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968.

Michelle M.Mormul

See alsoLords of Trade and Plantation ; Privy Council .

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Board of Trade and Plantations

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