BRITISH COLONIAL EXPANSION
Updated: Oct 5, 2020
LIFE IN ENGLAND:
Towards the end of the sixteenth century, for various reasons, many people left England and went to foreign lands like America.
Some people were dissatisfied with life in their native country because of religious persecution.
Some others who did not have their own land in England were inspired by the desire of possessing land in New World.
Some others found life in England dull, as there was no scope for adventures.
WARS OF ROSES:
The Wars of the Roses were a series of blood civil wars for throne of England between two competing royal families
1. The House of York
2. The House of Lancaster
Both house members are of the age-old royal Plantagenet family.
The war was waged between 1455 and 1485
The Wars of the Roses earned its flowery name because the white rose was the badge of the Yorks and the red rose was the badge of the Lancastrians.
After 30 years of political manipulation, horrific carnage and brief periods of peace, the wars ended and a new royal dynasty emerged.
After the Wars of the Roses wealth was increasing which served as an incentive for overseas enterprise.
By adventurers’ hard works Colonies were founded in America and in the West Indian Islands.
Important trade centres were established in South Africa and India.
By the early decades of the 18th century, there were thirteen colonies on the east coast of America.
They were between Nova Scotia in the north and Florida in the south.
These colonies were of three groups, namely,
1. New England Colonies.
2. The Middle Colonies.
3. The Southern Colonies.
New England Colonies – New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rode Island.
The Middle Colonies – New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
The Southern Colonies – Maryland, Virginia, North South Carolina and Georgia.
The first colony to be founded was Virginia.
As early as in the Elizabethan period Sir Walter Raleigh made several attempts to establish colonies.
His first settlement was on Roanoke Island off the coast of North Carolina.
These adventures had the support of Queen Elizabeth.
Part of the new land was named Virginia in her honour (the Virgin Queen)
Later, Sir Walter Raleigh sold his rights to the two companies.
These companies were started to promote colonisation:
1. Plymouth Company
2. London Company
London Company was under the leadership of Captain John Smith.
In 1607 it made the first permanent settlement.
They called it Jamestown in honour of James I, the king of England.
The colonists were not used to hard labour and so used Negro slaves for manual works.
King James gave them a Charter.
The colony was governed under the terms of the Charter by the company from London.
(As it was not found satisfactory, a representative assembly called the House of Burgesses met at Jamestown, Williamsburg, and this form of popular assembly governed Virginia up to the Revolution.)
A group of Puritans who had been living in Holland decided to migrate to America in 1620.
They also decided to establish a religious society there.
These “Pilgrim Fathers” set out from Plymouth harbor in England.
They sailed in a ship called the Mayflower and landed near Cape Cod.
The place where they landed was named as New Plymouth to commemorate the English port from which they had sailed.
It remained independent until 1691 when it was united with the Massachusetts BayColony.
Later a group of wealthy puritans set up a colony in Massachusetts.
They obtained a Charter from Charles I in 1629.
Their chief town was called Boston.
Because, many of the settlers came from Boston in Lincolnshire.
Massachusetts was the chief colony of New England.
Two more colonies were founded in New England.
It was founded in the early part of the 17th century by the Puritan settlers in Massachusetts.
Roger Williams believed in complete religious freedom for everybody.
His idea was opposed by the Puritans.
In 1636 he founded small settlement called Providence.
The smallest of the colonies, Rhode Island grew by this settlement.
Charles II gave them a Charter in 1663.
Thomas Hooker, a religious leader settled at a place which he called New Haven.
This colony was named Connecticut.
Similarly, another colony called New Hampshire was formed later.
In 1632 Charles I granted to Lord Baltimore a block of land on the Potomac River.
Lord Baltimore is a Roman Catholic.
In 1634, the Maryland Colony was founded.
Maryland colony was the first Roman Catholic settlement in America.
They named the colony in honour of Mary, mother of Christ.
These catholic colonists wanted to escape persecution at home and so came here.
But many Protestants came with them and as a result a certain amount of strife followed.
Later, an agreement was drawn up, whereby anyone could worship as he/she chose.
So religious toleration became the cardinal principle of this settlement.
The Dutch had formed the settlement called a settlement of New Amsterdam.
The king had assigned this Dutch colony, where there were already many English settlers, to the Duke of York.
During the Dutch war in 1664 this area passed into the hands of the British.
This was named as New York in honour of the Duke of York.
Duke of York is the brother of Charles II, who later became James II.
In 1681 Charles II gave William Penn a large tract of land west of the Delaware River.
William Penn is a Quaker.
This land was named Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania means “Penn’s Woods”
The Quakers also had suffered persecution in England.
So they were glad to come to America.
Other Protestants later joined this colony.
Penn founded the city of Philadelphia in 1682.
As Quakers were thrifty and law-abiding, Pennsylvania as colonial experiment became a great success.
Later on, Penn leased land in the south from Swedes.
This became the Colony of Delware.
Also leased land to the east which became New Jersey.
IN 1663 Charle II granted all territory south of Virginia to eight noblemen called “Proprietors”
This region of south of Virginia was called Carolina.
The city of Charleston was founded about 1670.
Later this colony was divided into two colonies:
1. North Carolina
2. South Carolina
In 1733, the southernmost and the youngest of the thirteen colonies Georgia was founded.
The colony was named after George II.
James Oglethorpe, the humanitarian got the land between Carolina and Florida from George II.
This land was to settle the poor debtors who had been in English prisons.
In 1670 Prince Rupert founded Hudson Bay Company.
This ruled a large province in Canada.
There were also colonies in West Indian Islands.
Barbados was occupied by the English in 1605.
Important islands like St. Kith and Nevis were occupied in subsequent years.
In Cromwell’s time the island of Jamaica was taken from Spain by Admira Penn.
And this was made as a British colony in 1655.
Trade connections with Africa paved the way for the establishment of British power in South Africa.
It was gold and slaves that attracted Englishmen to West Africa.
As early as in 1562 Sir John Hawkins managed to get three hundred slaves from the Guinea coast.
Three companies were established, but they were not successful.
At last in 1672 the Royal African Company was founded with a monopoly trade from the Cape to Tangier.
This had come to England as part of the dowry of the Portuguese bride of Charles II.
This Company brought home GOLD, IVORY and DYEING MATERIALS.
These were also shared in the slave trade with America.
The first important step towards England’s commercial enterprise in the east was taken on 31st December 1600.
In 1600, Queen Elizabeth granted a Royal Charter to the East India Company.
But it was not till 1609 that the Company was able to open factories in India.
The first factory was established at Surat.
In 1639 they built Fort St. George in Madras.
In 1661 Charles II gave to the East India Company the island of Bombay.
He had received that from Portugal as a part of the dowry at time of his marriage to Catherine of Braganza.
Calcutta was founded later in 1690.
By the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which followed the Spanish Succession War, England became the possessor of territories in all parts of the world.
England also possessed Gibraltar and Minorca, a large number of settlements in India; the island of St. Helena; factories in Gambia, Gold Coast and Lagos; many of the West Indian islands, the Atlantic seaboard from Florida to the mouth of the St. Lawrence, and the territories of the Hudson Bay Company.
Hence, the Stuart Age may be considered as a period of colonial expansion.
Social History of England by Louise Creighton
An Introduction to the Social History of England by A.G.Xavier
A Short History of Social Life in England by M B Synge