Skip to main content

Board of Trade and Plantations


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 .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Board of Trade and Plantations." Dictionary of American History. . 16 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Board of Trade and Plantations." Dictionary of American History. . (January 16, 2019).

"Board of Trade and Plantations." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved January 16, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.