Skip to main content

Lords of Trade and Plantation


LORDS OF TRADE AND PLANTATION, an administrative body organized by Charles II in 1675 to create stronger administrative ties between the colonial governments and the Crown. Previously, constitutional practice provided that English provinces outside the realm were charges of the Privy Council. Beginning in 1624, special committees advising the Privy Council directed British colonial administration. As these committees were short-lived and often unskilled, confusion and inefficiency in imperial control resulted. To create an informed personnel with vigor and continuity in colonial policy, Charles II organized the Lords of Trade and Plantation, a body of twenty-one privy councillors, nine of whom held "the immediate Care and Intendency" of colonies, with any five constituting a quorum. The lords held no formal power and were only advisory to the Privy Council. But because they were men of informed ability and great administrative capacity, and because they served for twenty years with relatively few changes in personnel, they achieved more systematic administration than any previous agencies for colonial affairs, serving as a transition to and a model for the Board of Trade and Plantations, which succeeded them in 1696. They held 857 meetings (1675–1696) and maintained permanent offices in Scotland Yard. They also established a permanent, salaried secretary (Sir Robert Southwell), assistant secretary (William Blathwayt), and clerical staff to handle colonial correspondence; became a bureau of colonial information by sending inquiries to colonial governors and agents (notably Edward Randolph) to colonies; recommended appointees as royal governors to crown colonies and prepared their commissions and instructions; developed the technique of judicial review of colonial cases appealed to the Privy Council; assaulted, in the interests of unity and efficiency, the charters of colonies—forcing surrender of two and instituting quo warranto proceedings against five others by 1686—and instituted the policy of consolidating colonies (the Dominion of New England). Although vigorous in its early years, the Popish Plot (1678—a conspiracy by Roman Catholics to kill Charles II and replace him with his Roman Catholic brother, James, Duke of York) lessened activity, and, as death took older members and political disorders (1685–1689) interfered, the Lords of Trade became weak and ineffective. Their last meeting was on 18 April 1696, a month before the Board of Trade was instituted.


Lawson, Philip, ed. Parliament and the Atlantic Empire. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, 1995.

Lovejoy, David S. The Glorious Revolution in America. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985; Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1972; 1987.

Smuts, R. Malcolm. Culture and Power in England, 1585–1685. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Raymond P.Stearns/s. b.

See alsoColonial Agent ; Colonial Policy, British ; Colonial Settlements ; Dominion of New England ; Mercantilism ; Parliament, British .

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

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Lords of Trade and Plantation." Dictionary of American History. . 18 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Lords of Trade and Plantation." Dictionary of American History. . (April 18, 2019).

"Lords of Trade and Plantation." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved April 18, 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.