Crown colony

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Crown colony, dependent territory or royal colony are dependent territories under the administration of United Kingdom overseas territories that are controlled by the British Government. As such they are examples of dependencies that are under colonial rule. Crown colonies were renamed "British Dependent Territories" in 1981, and since 2002, Crown colonies have been known officially as British Overseas Territories.[1]

In such territories, residents do not elect members of the British parliament. A Crown colony is usually administered by a governor who directly controls the executive and is appointed by "the Crown" — a term that in practice usually means the UK government, acting on behalf of the monarch. However, the term "Crown colony" has sometimes been used of entities that have elected governments and partial autonomy; these are also known as self-governing colonies.

History[edit]

The first "royal colony" was the Colony of Virginia, after 1624, when the Crown of the Kingdom of England revoked the royal charter it had granted to the Virginia Company and assumed control of the administration.[2]

Executive governors are sometimes complemented by a locally-appointed and/or elected legislature with limited powers — that is, such territories lack responsible government. For example, while the House of Assembly of Bermuda has existed continuously since its first session in 1620, Bermuda has only had responsible government since 1968. (Bermuda become a Crown colony in 1684, when the government revoked a Royal Charter given to the Somers Isles Company, successor to the Virginia Company, which had previously controlled administration, including the appointment of governors. Afterwards the British government appointed the Governor of Bermuda.)

Despite its later usage, the term "Crown colony" was used primarily, until the mid-19th century, to refer to colonies that had been acquired through wars, such as Trinidad and Tobago.[3] After that time it was more broadly applied to any colony other than the Presidencies and provinces of British India and self-governing colonies, such as the Province of Canada, Newfoundland, British Columbia, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and New Zealand.[4]

By the mid-19th century, the monarch was appointing colonial governors only on the advice of the Secretary of State for the Colonies.[5]

The term Crown colony continued to be used until 1981, when the British Nationality Act 1981 reclassified the remaining British colonies as "British Dependent Territories". By this time, the term "Crown colony" referred specifically to colonies lacking substantial autonomy, which were administered by an executive governor, appointed by the British Government — such as Hong Kong, before its transfer in 1997 to the People's Republic of China.

Types[edit]

There were three types of Crown colonies as of 1918, with differing degrees of autonomy:

Crown colonies with representative councils such as Bermuda, Jamaica, Ceylon, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Fiji contained two legislative chambers, consisting of Crown-appointed and locally elected members.

Crown colonies with nominated councils such as British Honduras, Sierra Leone, Grenada and Hong Kong were staffed entirely by Crown-appointed members, with some appointed representation from the local population. Hong Kong had a representative council following the introduction of election for the Hong Kong Legislative Council in 1995.

Crown colonies ruled directly by a governor such as Basutoland,[6] Gibraltar, Saint Helena and Singapore were fewest in number and had the least autonomy.

List[edit]

The following list includes territories belonging by settlement, conquest or annexation to the British Crown or to an independent Commonwealth nation.a

Name of colony from to Reason for change of status
Colony of Aden Aden 1937 1967 Became part of the Federation of South Arabia.
The Bahamas Bahamas 1718 1973 Became an independent Commonwealth Realm.
Lesotho Basutoland 1884 1964 Became British protectorate in 1964; then became independent as Lesotho in 1966.
 Bermuda 1684 1981 Became British Dependent Territory in 1981.
United Kingdom British Bechuanaland 1885 1895 Became part of British Cape Colony in 1895.
British Guiana British Guiana 1831 1966 Became independent as Guyana in 1966.
British Honduras British Honduras (renamed Belize in 1964) 1884 1981 Became independent (as Belize) in 1981.
British rule in Burma Burma 1937 1948 Separated from British India in 1937 and became a Crown colony.
United Kingdom United Province of Canada 1841 1867 Became part of the Dominion of Canada in 1867.
Flag of the Cape Colony (1876–1910).svg Cape Colony 1806 1910 Became part of the Union of South Africa in 1910.
 Cayman Islands 1962 1981 Became British Dependent Territory in 1981.
Dominion of Ceylon Ceylon 1815 1948 Became independent as Dominion of Ceylon in 1948.
British Columbia British Columbia 1866 1871 Became part of the Dominion of Canada in 1871.
Cyprus Cyprus 1914 1960 Became independent as Cyprus in 1960.
Kingdom of Great Britain East Florida 1763 1783 Ceded to Spain. Later became part of the United States.
 Falkland Islands 1841 1981 Became a British Dependent Territory in 1981.
Gambia Colony and Protectorate 1888 1965 Became independent as The Gambia in 1965.
Kingdom of Great Britain Georgia 1755 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
 Gibraltar 1713 1981 Became British Dependent Territory in 1981.
Gold Coast (British colony) Gold Coast 1821 1957 Became independent in 1957 as Ghana.
British Raj British Raj 1858 1947 East India Company rule from 1600 ended and became a crown colony in 1858. Became independent as India and Pakistan in 1947 (and later Bangladesh in 1971).
Hong Kong Hong Kong 1842 1981 Became British Dependent Territory in 1981.
Jamaica Jamaica 1865 1962 Became independent in 1962 as Jamaica.
Kenya Kenya 1920 1963 United with the Kenya Protectorate in 1963 to form the independent country of Kenya.
Labuan 1846 1890 Administered by British North Borneo Company from 1890–1904.
1906 1946 Incorporated in the Straits Settlements on 30 October 1906.
1946 1963 Incorporated in North Borneo on 15 July 1946. Became part of Malaysia in 1963.[7]
United Kingdom Lower Canada 1791 1841 Became part of Province of Canada in 1841.
Malacca 1946 1957 Became part of Malaya in 1957.
Malta Malta 1813 1964 Became independent in 1964 as the State of Malta.
Kingdom of Great Britain Massachusetts Bay 1692 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776 as the state of Massachusetts.
Mauritius Mauritius 1903 1968 Became independent as Mauritius in 1968.
Flag of the Natal Colony (1875–1910).svg Natal 1843 1910 Became part of the Union of South Africa in 1910.
Dominion of Newfoundland Blue Ensign, 1870–1904.svg Newfoundland 1583 1907 Became the Dominion of Newfoundland in 1907, and later joined the Dominion of Canada in 1949.
Kingdom of Great Britain New Hampshire 1692 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Kingdom of Great Britain New Jersey 1702 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
New South Wales New South Wales 1788 1901 Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
Kingdom of Great Britain New York 1691 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
New Zealand New Zealand 1841 1907 Became the Dominion of New Zealand in 1907.
Nigeria Nigeria 1914 1960 Became independent as Nigeria in 1960.
United Kingdom Norfolk Island 1788 1914 Placed under administration of Australia in 1914 as a non-self governing territory. The island was self-governing between 1979 and 2015.
North Borneo 1946 1963 Became part of Malaysia in 1963 as Sabah. Labuan separated from Sabah in 1984 to become a Federal Territory.[7]
Kingdom of Great Britain North Carolina 1729 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Penang 1946 1957 Became part of Malaya in 1957.
Kingdom of Great Britain Quebec 1763 1791 Divided between Upper and Lower Canada and the Northwest Territory.
Queensland Queensland 1859 1901 Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla Saint Christopher and Nevis 1980 1981 Became British Dependent Territory in 1981.
Sarawak 1946 1963 Became part of Malaysia in 1963.[7]
Flag of Seychelles 1961-1976.gif Seychelles 1903 1976 Separated from British Mauritius in 1903 and became a Crown Colony and became independent in 1976.
Flag of Sierra Leone 1916-1961.gif Sierra Leone 1808 1961 Became independent as Sierra Leone in 1961.
South Australia South Australia 1834 1901 Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
Kingdom of Great Britain South Carolina 1729 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Southern Rhodesia Southern Rhodesia 1923 1965 Declared independence in 1965 as Rhodesia, which became Zimbabwe Rhodesia, independence recognized by Britain in 1980 as Zimbabwe.
Singapore Singapore 1946 1963 Singapore became part of Malaysia in 1963;[7] then became independent as the Republic of Singapore in 1965.[8]
1946 1946 Labuan was incorporated into North Borneo on 15 July 1946, which became part of Malaysia in 1963.[7]
1946 1955 Cocos (Keeling) Islands was transferred to Australia in 1955.[9]
1946 1957 Christmas Island was transferred to Australia in 1957.[10]
Straits Settlements Straits Settlements 1786 1946 Penang became a separate Crown colony within the Malayan Union in 1946, which was re-organised as the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and became independent in 1957;[11] later became part of Malaysia in 1963.[7]
1826 1946 Singapore became a separate Crown colony in 1946, after the Straits Settlements was dissolved.[12]
1826 1946 Malacca became a separate Crown colony within the Malayan Union in 1946, which re-organised as the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and became independent in 1957;[11] later became part of Malaysia in 1963.[7]
1857 1946 Cocos (Keeling) Islands became part of the Colony of Singapore in 1946.[12]
1874 1937 Dinding (now Manjung) became part of the Federated Malay States in 1937, which later became part of the Malayan Union in 1946; the Malayan Union became the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and became independent in 1957;[11] later became part of Malaysia in 1963.[7]
1888 1946 Christmas Island became part of the Colony of Singapore in 1946.[12]
1906 1946 Labuan became part of the Colony of Singapore in 1946.[12]
Tasmania Tasmania 1803 1901 Van Diemen's Land from 1803 to 1856; Formerly part of New South Wales from 1803 to 1825, when made an independent colony. Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
United Kingdom Upper Canada 1791 1841 Became part of Province of Canada in 1841.
Flag of Vancouver Island.svg Vancouver Island 1848 1866 Merged with the Colony of British Columbia in 1866.
Victoria (Australia) Victoria 1851 1901 Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
Kingdom of Great Britain Virginia 1624 1776 Became part of the United States of America in 1776.
Western Australia Western Australia 1829 1901 Swan River Colony from 1829 to 1832. Became part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
Kingdom of Great Britain West Florida 1763 1783 Ceded to Spain. Later became part of the United States.

^a Source: This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Great Britain Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Chronological table of the statutes. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London part of the Office of Public Sector Information.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Jenks, Edward (1918). The Government of the British Empire. Little, Brown, and Company.
  • Olson, James (1996). Historical Dictionary of the British Empire. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-29366-X.
  • Porter, Andrew (1998). The Nineteenth Century, The Oxford History of the British Empire Volume III. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-924678-5.
  • Wrong, Hume (1923). "The Old Representative System: The Change To Crown Colony Government". Government of the West Indies. England: Oxford University Press. p. 71. ISBN 1-113-74149-X. Retrieved 2010-03-30. The phrase 'Crown Colony Government' is used with various meanings. In the broadest, and perhaps most correct, sense it is applied to all the colonies in which the Crown retains the real control of the executive (i.e. to all the West Indian colonies). By both official and common usage, however, it is often narrowed as to exclude colonies with elected Assemblies, though without a responsible executive.