Secretary of State for the Colonies
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The secretary of state for the colonies or colonial secretary was the
British Cabinet The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is a group of the most senior ministers of the crown in the government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central go ...
minister Minister may refer to: * Minister (Christianity)Image:LutheranClergy.JPG, upA Lutheran minister wearing a Geneva gown and Bands (neckwear), bands. In many churches, ministers wear distinctive clothing, called vestments, when presiding over service ...
in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various
colonial dependencies
colonial dependencies
.


History

The position was first created in 1768 to deal with the increasingly troublesome
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colonies, following passage of the Townsend Acts. Previously, colonial responsibilities were held jointly by the
lords of trade and plantationsThe Lords of Trade and Plantations was a permanent administrative body formed by Charles II in 1675 to provide consistent advice to the Privy Council regarding the management of the growing number of English colonies. It replaced a series of tempor ...
and the
secretary of state for the southern department The Secretary of State for the Southern Department was a position in the cabinet of the government of the Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Sc ...
, who was responsible for
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Ireland
, the American colonies, and relations with the
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and
Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", " ...

Muslim
states of
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Europe
, as well as being jointly responsible for domestic affairs with the
Secretary of State for the Northern Department The Secretary of State for the Northern Department was a position in the Cabinet of the government of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , i ...
. Joint responsibility continued under the secretary of state for the colonies, but led to a diminution of the board's status, and it became an adjunct to the new secretary's department.Records of the Board of Trade and of successor and related bodies
Department code BT, The National Archives
Following the loss of the American colonies, both the board and the short-lived secretaryship were dismissed by the king on 2 May 1782; both were abolished later by the
Civil List and Secret Service Money Act 1782 The Civil List and Secret Service Money Act 1782 (22 Geo. III, c. 82) was an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. The power over the expenditure in the King's household was transferred to the HM Treasury, Treasury, and branche ...
(22 Geo. 3, c 82). Following this, colonial duties were given to the
Home Secretary The home secretary, officially the secretary of state for the Home Department, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, i ...
, then Lord Sydney. Following the
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, a new board, named the Committee of Council on Trade and Plantations (later known as 'the First Committee') was established under
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William Pitt the Younger
, by an
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in 1784. In 1794, a new office was created for
Henry Dundas Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, PC, FRSE Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national academy of science and Literature, letters, judge ...
– the
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, which now took responsibility for the Colonies, and was renamed the
secretary of state for war and the colonies The Secretary of State for War and the Colonies was a Cabinet of the United Kingdom, British cabinet-level position responsible for the army and the British colonies (other than India). The Department was created in 1801. In 1854 it was split into ...
in 1801. In 1854, military reforms led to the colonial and military responsibilities of this secretary of state being split into two separate offices, with
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Sir George Grey
becoming the first secretary of state for the colonies under the new arrangement. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, Britain gained control over a number of territories with the status of "
protectorate A protectorate is a state that is controlled and protected by another sovereign state. It is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy over most internal affairs while still recognizing the suzerainty of a more powerful sovereign ...
". The ministerial responsibility for these territories was initially held by the
foreign secretary The secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs, also referred to as the foreign secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibili ...
. However, by the early years of the twentieth century the responsibility for each of these territories had been transferred to the colonial secretary as well. The League of Nations mandated territories acquired as a result of the
Treaty of Versailles (1919) The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the Peace treaty, peace treaties that brought World War I to an end. The Treaty ended the declaration of war, state of war betwee ...
became a further responsibility of the Colonial Office in the aftermath of the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a that began on 28 July 1914 and ended on 11 November 1918. It involved much of , as well as , the and , and was also fought ...
. In 1925, part of the
Colonial Office The Colonial Office was a government department Ministry or department, also less commonly used secretariat, office, or directorate are designations used by a first-level executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive ( ...
was separated out as the
Dominions Office The position of Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs was a British cabinet-level position created in 1925 responsible for British relations with the Dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-gove ...
, with its own secretary of state. The new office was responsible for dealing with the
Dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-governing colonies of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland ...

Dominion
s together with a small number of other territories (most notably
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). In the twenty years following the end of the
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, much of the British Empire was dismantled as its various territories gained independence. In consequence, the Colonial Office was merged in 1966 with the
Commonwealth Relations Office The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations was a British Cabinet minister responsible for dealing with the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,U ...
(which until 1947 had been the Dominions Office) to form the Commonwealth Office, while ministerial responsibility was transferred to the
secretary of state for Commonwealth affairs The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs was a British Cabinet minister responsible for dealing with the United Kingdom's relations with members of the Commonwealth of Nations (its former colonies). The minister's department was the Commonwe ...
(previously known as the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, secretary of state for Commonwealth relations). In 1968, the Commonwealth Office was subsumed into the Foreign Office, which was renamed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The colonial secretary never had responsibility for the British India, provinces and princely states of British Raj, India, which had Secretary of State for India, its own secretary of state. From 1768 until 1966, the secretary of state was supported by an Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, under-secretary of state for the colonies (at times an Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, under-secretary of state for war and the colonies), and latterly by a Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, minister of state.


List of secretaries of state for the colonies


Secretaries of State for the Colonies (1768–1782)

Sometimes referred to as Secretary of State for the American Colonies. Office abolished in 1782 after the loss of the American Colonies.E.B. Fryde and others, ''Handbook of British Chronology'' (3rd edn, Cambridge University Press 1986) 125. ''Responsibility for the Colonies thereafter held by:'' * Home Secretary ''1782–1801'' * Secretary of State for War and the Colonies ''1801–1854'' * Secretary of State for the Colonies ''from 1854''


Secretaries of State for the Colonies (1854–1966)

''Responsibility for the colonies held by:'' * Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs 1966–1968 * Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 1968–present ''Following the British Nationality Act 1981 the term "colony" ceased to be used; Britain's rule over Hong Kong, the last significant colony, ceased in 1997. Britain retains certain British overseas territories, overseas territories.'' ;Notes:


Secretaries from the Colonies

A few title holders were born in colonies under their portfolio and some beyond: * Bonar Law – born in pre-Canada colony of New Brunswick and later moved to the United Kingdom * Victor Bruce, 9th Earl of Elgin – born in Canada during his father's, James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, term as Governor General of Canada and a British appointee * Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner – born in Grand Duchy of Hesse (now in Germany) to Charles Milner (who had English roots from his father) * Leo Amery – born in British India to an English father serving in India


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Secretary Of State For The Colonies Lists of government ministers of the United Kingdom, Colonies History of the Thirteen Colonies Governance of the British Empire Defunct ministerial offices in the United Kingdom 1768 establishments in Great Britain 1966 disestablishments in the United Kingdom Foreign Office during World War II Secretaries of State for the Colonies, Colonial ministries, United Kingdom