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The Americas

North American Colonial Settlements

 

 

 

British Colonies in the Americas
AD 1583 - 1783

With the Spanish very active in South America and the Gulf of Mexico, and as far north as their newly-founded colony in Florida, Britain's own early explorative efforts were aimed much further north, mainly towards Newfoundland and the New England coast of the modern USA. Unlike the New Spain colony, or New France to the north and west of New England, the British colonies didn't have one overall viceroy in charge. Instead, each newly-founded colony or province had its own governor, most of whom answered directly to the Crown (while some were attempts at creating new homes independent of the perceived injustices in England or Scotland). However, Britain's American colonies came to rival those of the Spanish in terms of wealth and military might. Thanks to this, when they became independent, they were ideally placed to extend that might and over much of North America.

(Additional information by Mick Baker, and also from Britain's Bloody History: Plymouth, Laura Quigley, from Indian Tribes of the New England Frontier (Osprey No 428 Men-at-Arms Series), Michael Johnson, Everyday Life of the North American Indian, Jon Manchip White, 1979, from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne, 1986, from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson, 1993, from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay, 1995, and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Legends of America.)

1485 - 1509

Henry VII

1497

English explorer John Cabot sets sail from Bristol in England to become the first European since the Vikings to make landfall in Newfoundland, arriving on 24 June. The later city of St John in Newfoundland is named after him, although the exact location of his landfall is disputed. The name is first recorded on a Portuguese map of 1519.

1558 - 1603

Elizabeth I

1583

The first English colony in North America is chartered on 5 August at St John's Bay, Newfoundland, by Sir Humphrey Gilbert. The colony comprises mainly of Portuguese and French fishing villages, but Sir Humphrey sinks with his ship in a storm before he can make it home. No settlement is made there until 1604.

1585 - 1587

The English Roanoke Colony is founded in late 1585 or early 1586 on Roanoke Island (in modern North Carolina). Founded by Sir Walter Raleigh to establish a permanent settlement in the Virginia Colony (which itself is named for Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen), the first stockaded town is named Fort Raleigh. Dwellings are probably more like barracks for the initial colonists - elongated English-style cottages with wattle-and-daub covered walls and perhaps internal divisions. Hidden by outer banks, the island is protected from being spotted by passing Spanish ships. The colony is abandoned the following year, leaving a hundred and eight colonists starving, who are then massacred by the natives.

An attempt to re-establish the colony in 1587 also fails, with the settlers disappearing utterly and only the bones of a single man being discovered. All that is discovered is the word 'Croatoan', the name of a native tribe, etched onto a tree. As this has almost certainly been scratched out by one of the colonists, the presumption is that they have joined that tribe in order to survive.

The final group of colonists, led by John White, disappear after three years without supplies from England, which is involved in a war with Spain. They become known as the 'Lost Colony' after their leader, John White, returns to them from his drawn-out trip home for supplies to find them vanished. It is surmised that the colonists either die out or become assimilated into the local native tribes.

Roanoke Colony
The Roanoke Colony, located on the large island to the lower centre-left of the illustration, was founded in 1586, but by the following year it had failed

1589

With little or no Spanish control, the Mosquito Coast along the Atlantic makes a perfect haven for Dutch and English pirates who are searching for safe bases from which to launch attacks on gold-laden shipping from New Spain.

1600

By this time, three distinctive native tribes of the Eastern Woodland dominate the territory now known as Virginia. These tribes speak three different languages - Algonquian, Siouan and Iroquoian - and live in organised villages along the banks of the coastal waterways, in woodlands and mountain valleys. When Europeans begin arriving in the region, they meet Indian people of the coastal plain which is inhabited by an Algonquian empire, today collectively known as Powhatan. The south-western coastal plain is occupied by Iroquois, Nottoway, and Meherrin. The Piedmont is home to two Sioux confederacies: the Monacan and the Manahoac.

1603 - 1625

James I

1604

The settlement of St John in Newfoundland is founded, making it the oldest incorporated settlement in North America. The settlement is used on a seasonal basis until it becomes permanent in 1620.

1606 - 1607

FeatureThe Virginia Company is chartered by James I of England when two companies are given the rights to settle the coast of North America. The Virginia Company of London, or London Company, is centred on the James River in Virginia, while the Virginia Company of Plymouth, or Plymouth Company, is to handle the coastal strip to the north, although it fails to get started (this territory becomes known as New England). Robert Hunt, vicar of Holy Cross Church in Hoath, England, in 1594, arrives at the James River colony in 1607 and celebrates the first Anglican Communion in the new colonies, thereby laying the basis for the Episcopalian church in the later United States. The Popham Colony, or Sagadahoc Colony, is founded by the Plymouth Company in 1607, but is abandoned in 1608.

1607

James Fort is founded, the earliest part of the later Jamestown Colony (1609). Captain John Smith encounters Pocahontas (real name Matoaka or Amonute). She is about twelve years old, with an estimated date of birth of 1595 and is the daughter of Powhatan, the chief of the Powhatan confederacy of native tribes. Smith later recounts how she saves him from execution at the hands of the natives when he is captured (and see 1611, below). A staunch opponent of Smith's is Captain Gabriel Archer. He is deeply involved in the colony's politics and leads some of the first expeditions up the James River, seeking gold and silver. He takes a deadly dislike to Smith, and conspires unsuccessfully to have him executed in the colony - Smith's second lucky escape.

1608

Exploring the northern edge of Chesapeake Bay, Captain John Smith meets the Susquehannock for the first time. He is especially impressed with their size, deep voices, and the variety of their weapons. Their height must indeed be exceptional, because the Swedes also comment on it thirty years later. He also meets a group of Manahoac, who live in at least seven villages to the west of the early white settlement, above the falls of the Rappahannock River. The Manahoac are friends of the Monacan and enemies of the powerful Powhatan.

1609 - 1610

The Bermuda islands are settled by the London Company in 1609, followed by the founding of the Jamestown Settlement on 14 May 1610 in an area that contains no native settlements, making it the first permanent English settlement in North America. In the same year, the Cuper's Cove settlement is founded in Newfoundland by the Society of Merchant Venturers. It is abandoned in the 1620s.

Jamestown parish church
The 1617 Jamestown parish church is in a location that today is increasingly at risk of flooding due to global warming, so four of its most notable internments were archaeologically excavated in 2013 and examined closely to confirm their identities: Captain Gabriel Archer, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, Captain William West, and the colony's first Anglican preacher, Reverend Robert Hunt

The winter of 1609-1610 is an especially harsh one. The Jamestown settlers are besieged by the natives and have insufficient food to last the winter. First they eat their horses, then dogs, cats, rats, mice and snakes. Some are driven to eat the leather of their shoes. As the winter crawls on, nothing is spared to maintain life. The period is known as the 'Starving Time' to historians, and is one of the most horrific periods of early colonial history. The final stage of that horror is when the living have to resort to cannibalising the bodies of the dead. Written documents suggest this to later historians, but in 2013 archaeologists discover the proof to back it up in the form of human bones that display clear signs of chops and cuts, probably by an inexperienced butcher, and possibly by a woman, who make up the majority of the fort's inhabitants.

Relief finally arrives in the form of Lord De La Warr, who sails into the settlement with food and new colonists. After six months of siege and starvation, only sixty of the original three hundred settlers have survived. Sir Ferdinando Wainman is part of De La Warr's expedition. A military man, he takes charge of the community's defences. Like many early settlers he doesn't adapt to the harsh Virginia climate and he dies a few months later from disease, becoming the first English knight to be buried in the Americas. Captain William West is a relative of Sir Ferdinando and he arrives on the same ship. He is killed by the natives near the location of present-day Richmond. Like Sir Ferdinando, he is buried in an elaborate human-shaped coffin, both being laid to rest in the colony's burial site (the first church is built in 1617, either over these important graves, or they are moved to its chancel soon afterwards).

1611

The 'Citie of Henricus' settlement is founded by Sir Thomas Dale (now in Chesterfield County, Virginia) as an alternative to the swampy Jamestown Settlement area.

From 1610 Pocahontas becomes a friend of the newly-founded Jamestown Colony. From 1613, she is resident at Henricus, where she is treated extremely courteously by the English. She is baptised as a Christian, taking the name Rebecca, and she meets tobacco plantation owner Captain John Rolfe who is pioneering a new strain of tobacco plant. The two marry on 5 April 1614 and a son is born on 30 January 1615, Thomas Rolfe. The family sail to England to promote the colony in 1616, with Pocahontas being greeted at court by James I. She dies at Gravesend in March 1617 of an unspecified illness (smallpox is suspected).

1615 - 1618

The London and Bristol Company creates the Renews settlement in Newfoundland in 1615 (but it is abandoned in 1619). The same company founds the New Cambriol settlement (also in Newfoundland), only for it also to be abandoned before 1637. In 1618 the Society of Merchant Venturers founds the Bristol's Hope settlement in Newfoundland, but it is abandoned in the 1630s.

1620

On 21 November, the Pilgrim Fathers arrive at Cape Cod in New England on the Mayflower (this land had formerly been the Plymouth Company territory). They are leaving behind them the confused religious situation in England, hoping to found a new and better community in the New World.

Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower
Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower – little did they realise what horrors awaited them on the coast of the New World (Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-USZ61-206)

1622 - 1624

The Province of Maine (the far north-eastern corner of the modern USA) is founded in 1622, its name perhaps originating from the French province of the same name in New France. But it is not all plain sailing for the English in the Americas. The Jamestown Massacre devastates the Jamestown Settlement and the Citie of Henricus on Good Friday, 22 March 1622. Natives of the Powhatan confederacy launch a surprise attack which leaves a quarter of the colony's population dead (347 people). They are led in this First Powhatan War (1622-1644) by Opechancanough.

In 1623, the Province of New Hampshire is settled immediately to the south of Maine, but in response to the native attack, in 1624 King James dissolves the charter company controlling the Jamestown colony and Virginia becomes an English royal colony.

1625 - 1649

Charles I

1625

The English colonists defeat the Powhatan, the only Algonquin confederacy that had been strong enough to challenge the nearby Susquehannock people.

1628 - 1629

Salem Colony is founded. The following year it is merged with the new Massachusetts Colony, which takes its name from the local natives. Nova Scotia (New Scotland) is founded opposite and to the south-west of Newfoundland between 1629-1632. The Province of Maine borders it to the west.

1630

A fleet of eleven ships leaves England, bound for New England, with colonists led by the Puritan John Winthrop. He has collected people together to settle the new world, which offers religious freedom from the Anglican Church which is still seen by some as being too steeped in Catholicism despite its separation from the Catholic Church almost a century before. By the year's end the colonists found the city of Boston, naming it after the town in Lincolnshire in England.

1633 - 1636

Connecticut Colony is founded in 1633 out of territory which is part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland. It is named from an Algonquian native word for 'long river', Quinatucquet. The nearby Province of Maryland (named after the Virgin Mary) is founded a year later. The Conoy and Patuxent welcome these new colonists but the Susquehannock are not nearly as friendly, especially when settlements begin to creep steadily up the western side of Chesapeake Bay from Fort St George on the St Mary's River. The New Albion colony is also chartered to settle areas of Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, but it fails by 1649. In 1636, the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations are founded, as is the New Haven Colony, north of Rhode Island (only to be merged with the neighbouring Connecticut Colony in 1662).

1637 - 1638

The death of a settler from the British Colonies leads to the destruction of between six and seven hundred native Americans. The remainder are sold into slavery in Bermuda. On 26 May 1637, the Mystic Massacre is a major event in the early days of the Pequot War. English colonists, with Mohegan and Narragansett allies, attack a large Pequot village on the Mystic River in what is now Connecticut, killing around five hundred villagers. The war itself takes place in Connecticut and Rhode Island, pitching the Pequot against an alliance of the Mohegan, Narragansett, and Niantic. The native leaders involved are Canonicus, Uncas (of the Mohegan), Miantonomo, Ninigret, and Sassacus.

1638

The first wave of Swedish and Finnish settlers arrive under the leadership of Peter Minuit (former director-general of New Netherland). They create New Sweden when they settle land on the lower Delaware (claimed by the Dutch) and build Fort Christina. The land is claimed to have been purchased from the local Delaware and Susquehannock, although they counter the claim with accusations of land theft.

Fort Christina
Founded by the first settlers of New Sweden, Fort Christina on the lower Delaware was named in honour of Queen Christina of Sweden

1642 - 1644

Problems between the colonists and the Susquehannock have increased to such a degree that the governor of Maryland declares the Susquehannock to be enemies of the colony, to be shot on sight. By 1644, attempts at securing a peaceful resolution have failed, and Susquehannock trade with the English is temporarily halted.

1644 - 1646

The Second Battle of Virginia takes place in 1644, with the native Powhatan confederacy still under Opechancanough. This bookends the First Powhatan War (1622-1644). The result is that the English completely crush the Powhatan and take control of eastern Virginia, while allowing the Susquehannock to extend their own dominion beyond Powhatan territory.

In 1645, the Susquehannock end their hostilities with Maryland and sign a treaty that cedes their claims in Maryland between the Choptank and Patuxent rivers. The Susquehannock hardly notice the brief interruption of trade with the English because the settlers of New Sweden have more than made up the difference. The Susquehannock are also able to continue to trade with New Netherland by using the portages between the Susquehanna, Delaware, and Hudson rivers to New Amsterdam.

1649 - 1658

Oliver Cromwell

1655

English troops take Jamaica from New Spain, making it a hub for rum production and slave trading.

1658 - 1659

Richard Cromwell

1660 - 1685

Charles II

1660 - 1669

The Iroquois strike the Delaware throughout the Delaware Valley and throughout the 1660s, effectively taking them out of the war. For the Susquehannock, the worst blow is a smallpox epidemic that strikes in 1661. Their population is devastated to a point from which it never recovers. The Susquehannock nevertheless manage to hold on. A treaty is signed between them, the Passyunk Lenape, and Maryland, ending the lingering hostility with the English. The agreement provides firearms and ammunition, since the Maryland colonists are well aware of the value of the Susquehannock as a buffer against the New Netherland-allied Iroquois.

In 1663, with English help, the Susquehannock are able to turn back a major Iroquois invasion. In the following year the English take New York from the Dutch (see 1664-1667, below), and shortly afterwards form their own alliance with the Iroquois. In 1666 Maryland, however, does not feel entirely assured by this and renews its treaty with the Susquehannock. The year 1667 coincides with another outbreak of smallpox, so the Iroquois make peace with New France and their native allies and this allows them to concentrate on their war with the Susquehannock. With the support of Maryland, the Susquehannock fight on in an increasingly bitter struggle, but by autumn 1669 they are down to only three hundred warriors and are forced to ask the Iroquois for peace. The Iroquois response to their offer is to torture and kill the Susquehannock ambassador who delivers it.

1664 - 1667

An English fleet attacks and captures the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, renaming it the 'Province of New York' after the Duke of York (later James II). It includes territory belonging to the modern states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. The capture of New Amsterdam leads to the Second Anglo-Dutch War the following year, which ends with the Netherlands agreeing to the English ownership of the colony in exchange for Suriname.

In addition, English colonists are far more numerous than the Dutch, and the conquest of New York opens new areas for their settlement. The Dutch have at least paid for native lands, but the English claim the land by right of discovery and pay only when absolutely necessary. Connecticut Puritans found Newark in 1666 and begin expanding into New Jersey.

1670

The Province of South Carolina receives its first permanent settlement. The Province of Georgia is also settled around this time.

1673 - 1674

New York is seized by the Dutch during the Third Anglo-Dutch war, but is returned as part of the Treaty of Westminster in 1674. Also in 1674, parts of the Province of New York are divided to become the Province of New Jersey. Chief Mehocksett of the New Jersey Delaware and his brother, Chief Petequoque, together with Chief Socoroccett, sell parcels of land to the English which, because the colonists have a habit of not paying, leads to confrontations with the Rankoke, Sawkin, and Soupnapka tribes, which requires a peace conference with New York's Governor Edmund Andros, the fourth incumbent of the post.

1675

The Iroquois finally defeat the Susquehannock. Driven from Pennsylvania, the survivors settle on the upper Potomac River at the invitation of the governor of Maryland, although in reality there is no refuge for them. The location may be acceptable to a royal governor, but it is deeply resented by the local colonists. After several depredations (probably by Iroquois), a thousand-man 'army' that is little more than an armed mob assembles under Colonel John Washington (great-grandfather of George Washington).

In direct defiance of the orders of Virginia's governor, Washington's militia besieges the Susquehannock in an old fort on the Potomac and, following the murder of six of their sachems, they abandon the fort and launch a series of retaliatory raids on the Virginia and Maryland frontier. Most of the blame for these raids falls on the Virginians' Pamunkey and Occaneechee allies and leads to their near annihilation by the colonists during Bacon's Rebellion the following year. Afterwards, the Susquehannock move north but are attacked by Maryland militia near Columbia, Maryland, where many are killed. Some manage to reach safety with the Meherrin in North Carolina.

More moderately, the Lenape have already sold some of their northern New Jersey lands to the English settlers in 1673 and they sell more in 1681 but the English often take land without paying on the principle that it is a fresh discovery with no legal claims upon it. Their actions now lead to confrontations with the Rankoke, Sawkin, and Soupnapka which requires a peace conference with New York's Governor Edmund Andros. Lenape chieftains Renowewan, Manickty, Ipankickan, and Ketmarius agree a treaty with Andros at New Castle, a town on the Pennsylvanian side of the border with Ohio.

1675 - 1676

King Philip's War (the First Indian War) erupts in New England between settlers of the British Colonies and the native Americans as a result of tensions over colonial expansion activities. The bloody war rages up and down the Connecticut River valley in Massachusetts and in the Plymouth and Rhode Island colonies, eventually resulting in six hundred colonists and three thousand natives being killed, including women and children on both sides. King Philip (the colonist's nickname for Metacomet, chief of the Wampanoag who is also leading the Narragansett in this war) is hunted down and killed on 12 August 1676, in a swamp in Rhode Island. Known as the Great Swamp Fight of Rhode Island the fight ends the war in southern New England. In New Hampshire and Maine, the Saco people continue to raid settlements for another year and-a-half.

1676

The remaining Susquehannock have little choice but to surrender to the Iroquois. Considering the circumstances, they are treated well. Under the terms of the agreed peace, the Susquehannock are resettled amongst the Mohawk and Oneida, becoming members of the Iroquois 'covenant chain' (a series of alliances and treaties developed during the seventeenth century, primarily between the Iroquois confederacy and the British Colonies, with other native American tribes added). Their dominion over the Delaware and other former allies is also surrendered to the league. During the following years, several Susquehannock rise to leadership as Iroquois war chiefs. Although treated with respect, the Susquehannock are not free.

1681

FeatureFeatureThe Province of Pennsylvania is founded, although areas of the territory have already been settled by Dutch and Swedes since 1631. It is named after the owner of the Royal Charter, the Quaker William Penn, 'Penn-silva-nia'; silvia being Latin for forest or woods. He had been baptised in the church of All Hallows by The Tower in London in 1644, a year after his father (also William Penn) had been married at the Guild Church of St Martin-within-Ludgate (see feature links for both churches).

Having been expelled from Oxford and arrested for his Quaker beliefs, Penn entertains the curious notion that his royal charter does not override native rights to the land. Before beginning his 'Holy Experiment' - a colony with religious tolerance - Penn sends William Markham to negotiate the purchase of south-eastern Pennsylvania. In November, Penn arrives and signs a treaty at Shackamaxon (Philadelphia) with Tamanend, the sachem chosen by several groups of Lenape to represent them for the occasion. The agreement has been described by Voltaire as 'the one treaty with the Indians that the whites never broke'.

1683

William Penn attempts to sign a treaty with the Susquehannock, only to learn that they (like the Delaware) first need Iroquois approval. Subsequent dealings by the Pennsylvania government of the British Colonies concentrates on the Iroquois and ignores the subservient tribes.

1685 - 1688

James II

1685

Surveyors mark out Wall Street in New York along the line of the original New Amsterdam stockade.

1688 - 1697

The North Yarmouth Skirmish involves the Abnaki. This forms a prelude to the First French-Indian War (1689-1697) which is also known as King William's War or the Second Indian War to the English settlers. Battles that take place in 1689 include Lachine near Montreal (involving the Iroquois), and Dover, New Hampshire (involving the Ossipee, Pennacook, and Pigwacket). The Schenectady Massacre, and the battles of Salmon Falls, New Hampshire, and Fort Loyal, Falmouth, all occur in 1690, the last of these again involving the Abnaki. The 1691 Battle of Saco also involves the Abnaki, with the Battle of York, Maine, taking place in 1692. The war simmers until the 1697 Battle of Haverhill, Massachusetts ends in defeat for the Abnaki. The subject Lenape lose two-thirds of their warriors during the war whilst serving as Iroquois auxiliaries.

First French Indian War
The First French-Indian War involved a complex mixture of British, French, and many Indian tribes all pitched against one another, with allegiances shifting according to circumstance

1689 - 1702

William III & Mary II

1691

The Plymouth colony at Cape Cod is merged with the Massachusetts Bay colony. King William's War (1690-1697) sees the New French territory of Acadia captured by the British, but it is returned as part of the peace settlement.

1699

The British dismantle the defensive wall around the former Dutch colony of New Amsterdam.

1702 - 1714

Anne

1702 - 1713

Acadia is recaptured from New France by the British during Queen Anne's War and this time it remains in British hands, as confirmed by the Treaties of Utrecht in 1713, becoming part of the territory of Nova Scotia.

Within the same time period, the Tuscarora War of 1711-1713 largely involves the Tuscarora people alone, and takes place in Northern Carolina. Under Chief Hancock they attack several settlements, killing settlers and destroying farms. The conflict includes the Neuse/Pamlico Settlement of 1711 and the 1712 Barnwell Campaign against the Tuscarora and their allies. In 1713, James Moore and allied Yamasee warriors defeat the raiders in 'Moore's Fight'. The final defeat of the Tuscarora occurs at the hands of Tom Blount, with a treaty subsequent being agreed.

1704 - 1718

During William Penn's lifetime, things go relatively well. To make room for the English, the Lenape move west to the upper Schuykill, Brandywine, and Lehigh valleys, with the settlers' Delaware Colony being detached from Pennsylvania in 1704. By 1718, the Iroquois have assumed complete control of the affairs of the Lenape - an arrangement that has been encouraged by Pennsylvania's governors to insure that the Lenape do not come under the influence of New France. When William Penn dies in the same year, his three sons by his second marriage inherit his estate but apparently none of his honesty.

1714 - 1727

George I

1727 - 1760

George II

1737

Pennsylvania's authorities 'establish' the infamous 'Walking Purchase' agreement, a treaty supposedly signed in 1686 in which the Lenape cede the land between the junction of the Delaware and Lehigh rivers as far west as a man can walk in a day and a half (about sixty-four kilometres, or forty miles). This is bad enough, but Penn's son, Thomas, hires three of the fastest men in the colony and offers a prize to the one who can cover the greatest distance. Running on a prepared path, the winner goes twice the distance anticipated by the Lenape, which costs them most of the Lehigh valley. Realizing they have been cheated, the Lenape expect the Iroquois to defend their interests, but the Iroquois are furious that the Lenape have dared to sign a treaty without their permission. Pennsylvania also takes the precaution of bribing them to stay angry and enforces the agreement.

1744 - 1748

The Treaty of Lancaster is signed in 1744, in which the Iroquois give permission to the British to build a trading post at the forks of the Ohio (at Pittsburgh), but both Pennsylvania and Virginia interpret the agreement to mean that the Iroquois are ceding their claims to Ohio. Pennsylvania's claim is more modest and also focuses on eastern Ohio, but Virginia sees itself as master of the entire Ohio Valley, westwards to the Illinois River, and including Kentucky and lower Michigan.

The War of the Austrian Succession is a wide-ranging conflict that encompasses the North American King George's War, two Silesian Wars, the War of Jenkins' Ear, and involves most of the crowned heads of Europe in deciding the question of whether Maria Theresa can succeed as archduke of Austria and, perhaps even more importantly, as Holy Roman Emperor. Austria is supported by Britain, the Netherlands, the Savoyard kingdom of Sardinia, and Saxony (after an early switchover), but opposed by an opportunistic Prussia and France, who had raised the question in the first place to disrupt Habsburg control of central Europe, backed up by Bavaria and Sweden (briefly). Spain joins the war in an unsuccessful attempt to restore possessions lost to Austria in 1715.

The War of Jenkins' Ear pitches Britain against Spain between 1739-1748. The Russo-Swedish War, or Hats' Russian War, is the Swedish attempt to regain territory lost to Russia in 1741-1743. King George's War is fought between Britain and France in the French Colonies in 1744-1748. The First Carnatic War of 1746-1748 involves the struggle for dominance in India by France and Britain. Henry Pelham, leader of the English government in Parliament, is successful in ending the war, achieving peace with France and trade with Spain through the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Austria is ultimately successful, losing only Silesia to Prussia.

King George's War
King George's War was just one phase in a complicated power struggle between Britain and France for control of North America, and also for political and military dominance in Europe, and the native Americans were forced to take sides in the struggle

1747 - 1749

Plans for opening Ohio to settlement get underway when Virginia grants a charter to the Ohio Company. Pennsylvania considers the Ohio tribes to be subject to the Iroquois, but when they refuse the league's orders to return to the Susquehanna, it is obvious that something needs to be done.

1752

With British traders subverting the loyalty of their allies, and the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee defying its authority, New France decides to militarily enforce its claims to Ohio. It turns first to the Detroit tribes (Ojibwa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Wyandot), usually its most dependable allies, but the tribes are thinking of trading with the British themselves and do not want to fight the Ohio tribes. In June, Charles Langlade, a French-Ojibwe of mixed blood, leads a war party of 250 Ojibwa and Ottawa from Mackinac and destroys the Miami village and British trading post at Piqua, Ohio.

Following the initial shock of this attack, the tribes of the French alliance fall into place, and the French follow up their success by building a line of forts across western Pennsylvania to block British access to Ohio. Most Delaware and Shawnee have no desire to be controlled by the French and therefore turn to the Iroquois for help. From the Iroquois perspective, the French and British seem like two thieves fighting over their land, but they decide that the French are the more immediate threat. The league signs the Logstown Treaty, which reconfirms their 1744 cession of land and gives the British permission to build a blockhouse at Pittsburgh. Before it is finished however, the French burn it.

1754 - 1758

In May a conference is held at Albany between representatives of the British Colonies and Iroquois League to prepare for war with New France. Unable to defend Ohio, the Iroquois cede it to Pennsylvania, but they fully intend to keep the Wyoming and Susquehanna valleys. Unfortunately, an Albany trader manages to get some of the minor Iroquois representatives drunk, and when they sober up they discover that they have signed an agreement with a Connecticut land company that opens up the valleys to settlement. Rather than achieve unity, the conference ends with the Iroquois furious with the British about this treaty, Pennsylvania protesting Connecticut's attempt to claim its territory, and the Delaware threatening to kill any whites who try to settle in the Wyoming Valley. Meanwhile, Virginia has decided to act on its own and sends an expedition commanded by a twenty-two year-old militia major named George Washington to demand the surrender of Fort Duquesne, the new fort built by the French at Pittsburgh. Major Washington gets himself into a fight with French soldiers and starts the French-Indian War.

The Fourth French-Indian War erupts, starting with the Battle of Great Meadows. Two more battles are fought in 1754, these being Fort Necessity and Braddock's Defeat, with Crown Point (Lake George) taking place in 1755 against the Mohawk and the Caughnawaga who are led by Hendrick, while in earlier battles the Mingo people are led by Half-King. In 1756, Oswego is the only battle.

In 1757 the siege of Fort William Henry involves the Upper Great Lakes Indians - generally Iroquois, Ottawa, and Abnaki from Canada. When the fort's red coated British and blue coated troops of the British colonies are forced to surrender after days of bombardment, they are offered all the honours of war. The French General Montcalm allows them to march back to Fort Edward with their weapons and possessions intact. His native allies have other ideas, however. After rampaging through the fort to kill and scalp the wounded and dig up corpses for the same treatment, they charge into the assembled body of retreating British and massacre between seventy and one hundred and eighty of them. Colonel Munro and various other scattered survivors eventually reach the protection of Fort Edward (this event is portrayed with brutal realism in the 1992 film, Last of the Mohicans).

The following year, 1758, sees battles take place at Louisburg and Fort Frontenac with little native involvement.

1759 - 1763

In 1759 General James Wolfe claims New France for Britain with victory over the French near Quebec, although he dies achieving it. It takes a further two years for British forces to end French opposition to their gains within the territory but the province of Quebec is eventually secured for Britain.

General James Wolfe
General James Wolfe completed his victory over the French but paid for it with his life in 1759

Governors of the Province of Quebec
AD 1760 - 1791

By gaining control of New France between 1760 and 1763, Britain secured for itself the vast northern territories which form the eastern half of modern Canada. The post of governor was a direct continuation of the former French position, and mainly involved the control of British military forces and the territory's defence. However, very shortly after this date the thirteen British colonies to the south-east would be embroiled in the American War of Independence, with the result that Quebec assumed an increasingly important role in British interests in North America.

(Additional information by Mick Baker, and also from Indian Tribes of the New England Frontier (Osprey No 428 Men-at-Arms Series), Michael Johnson, Everyday Life of the North American Indian, Jon Manchip White, 1979, from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne, 1986, from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson, 1993, from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay, 1995, and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Legends of America.)

1760 - 1820

George III

1760 - 1763

Despite the death of General James Wolfe in 1759, his victory has gained the vast province of Quebec for Britain. As part of the ongoing war, Havana in Cuba is seized and looted on 13 August 1762, but is restored to Spain the following year in exchange for Florida. The borders of the territory that are to be handed over are never entirely confirmed and remain contested (in words only) until after the creation of the USA. New France is also formally handed over to Britain by France and is renamed the province of Quebec. The territory of the British thirteen colonies is confirmed as lying between the Atlantic coast and the Appalachian Mountains, with a band of Crown lands reserved for native tribes to the east, although that territory is also claimed as part of the vast territory of Louisiana.

1760 - 1763

Sir Jeffrey Amherst

First British governor of Quebec.

1761 - 1765

The Pontiac War involves initial battles in the Ohio river valley at forts Pitt and Miami, with the Delaware, Huron, Miami, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Seneca, and Shawnee all taking part under the collective leadership of Pontiac of the Ottawa, the 'Delaware Prophet'. Battles and sieges in 1763 are at Fort Detroit, Niagara, Presque Island, Sault St Marie, Mackinac, and Venango, with a final fight at Bushy Run. In the same year the Seneca launch a double ambush of a British supply train and its supporting contingent of troops in what becomes known as the Devil's Hole Massacre, on 14 September 1763.

1764 - 1768

James Murray

1764

In the summer, Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee attend a conference with William Johnson at Fort Niagara and make peace with the British. In August, Colonel John Bradstreet, with 1,200 men, advances west along the southern shore of Lake Erie to attack the remaining hostile Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Wyandot. En route, Bradstreet meets the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee chiefs at Presque Isle (Erie, Pennsylvania), and concludes a preliminary peace treaty. He reaches Detroit in September, where another treaty is signed with the remainder of Pontiac's allies.

Shaken by the uprising, the British government issues the 'Proclamation of 1763', closing the frontier to further settlement to the west of the Appalachians. In the east, the law angers the colonists and starts them on the path to revolution. In the west, the frontiersmen simply ignore it and settle illegally in western Pennsylvania, beginning with the Redstone and, appropriately enough, Cheat rivers. The British military simply cannot stop them. By 1774, there are 50,000 whites occupying territory to the west of the Appalachians.

1765

Prime Minister George Grenville, unpopular at home in Britain with the king and the people, attempts to regain favour by lowering domestic taxes at the expense of the colonies, introducing the Stamp Act (repealed in 1766). The laws give rise to widespread protests in America that eventually boil over into the War for Independence.

In the colonies, General Thomas Gage has rejected Bradstreet's treaty with the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee because it has been signed without first consulting William Johnson. Bradstreet is ordered to move south and attack the Delaware and Shawnee villages in Ohio. At the same time, Bouquet's army moves west from Fort Pitt, trapping the Delaware and Shawnee in between. In November, the Delaware and Shawnee sign a peace with Britain at Coshocton and release the two hundred white prisoners they are holding. Pontiac makes his own peace with the British, but is disgraced by his capitulation and failure to take Detroit.

1768 - 1778

Sir Guy Carleton

1770

British troops kill three members of a mob in the 'Boston Massacre' - a propaganda coup for the colonials.

1774 - 1775

In September 1774, an American provisional government is established and the American Revolutionary War, or War of Independence, begins. The first blood to be shed is at the Battles of Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775. The British win both, as well as successfully defending West Florida.

Fort Laurens
Fort Laurens was built by the revolutionary Americans at Bolivar in what is now Ohio, in a failed attempt to use it as a staging point to attack the British

1776 - 1783

On 4 July 1776, Britain's thirteen earliest colonies on the east coast of North America make a public declaration of independence. In revenge for the British seizure of Havana in Cuba in 1762, the Spanish governor of Louisiana supplies gunpowder to the revolutionary forces.

The British are defeated at the Battle of Saratoga, a turning point in the war, but it still takes the revolutionary forces over seven years to force Britain to declare that it will cease hostilities and withdrawn its troops and Hessian allied units from the thirteen colonies. The victors declare a United States of America. Britain is left with Bermuda, New Brunswick (formerly part of Nova Scotia), Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the Province of Quebec (formerly New France). Florida is ceded back to Spain, with the colonial possessions in the Canadas now receiving Britain's main attention.

1778 - 1786

Sir Frederick Haldimand

1786 - 1791

Sir Guy Carleton

1791

British Quebec is renamed Lower Canada as a partner to the new Upper Canada which is created to accommodate Loyalists fleeing the USA. Ontario is separated from Quebec at the same time.

Governors-General of the Province of Canada
AD 1791 - 1867

With the loss of the thirteen British colonies in what soon became the United States of America, Canada became the main focus of British interests in North America. The governor-general became the official representative of the British king in North America, charged with maintaining the territory's borders.

1791 - 1796

Sir Guy Carleton

First governor-general, and former governor of Quebec.

1796 - 1799

Robert Prescott

1799 - 1805

Robert Shore Milnes

1805 - 1807

Thomas Dunn

1807 - 1811

Sir James Henry Craig

1812 - 1815

Sir George Prevost

1812 - 1814

The War of 1812 begins as the USA declares war on Britain over the interdiction of trade with Napoleonic France. At the heart of the declaration is the USA's desire to capture Britain's Canadian province to create a single nation in North America. American soldiers invade Canada with the confident expectation of a quick and easy victory  which, with a Canadian population of just 500,000 scattered among dozens of isolated settlements stretching from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic seaboard, seems entirely likely.

Burning of Washington 1814
The attack and burning of Washington in 1814 resulted from the British operating from other flanks in support of the Canadian border's defenders

However, a few thousand British regulars, plus colonial militias and native American allies such as Tecumseh of the Shawnee, continually shock the American troops and drive them back across the border. Modern Canada can be said to be formed by this success. At the conclusion of the war, the 49th parallel is established as the border between Rupert's Land and the US west to the Rocky Mountains. The Red River Colony is ceded to the US and joint control of Oregon Country is commenced.

1816 - 1818

Sir John Coape Sherbrooke

1818 - 1819

Duke of Richmond

1820 - 1830

George IV

1820 - 1828

Earl of Dalhousie

1828 - 1830

Sir James Kempt

1830 - 1837

William IV

1830 - 1835

Lord Aylmer

1835 - 1837

Earl of Gosford

1837 - 1901

Victoria

1837 - 1838

Sir John Colborne

1838 - 1839

Earl of Durham

1839 - 1841

Lord Sydenham

1842 - 1843

Sir Charles Bagot

1843 - 1845

Charles Metcalfe

1845 - 1846

The US triggers the Mexican-American War in which it is successful. Britain, which still holds much of the disputed territory of Oregon, is persuaded not to intervene by an agreement called the Oregon Treaty which divides the territory along the 49th parallel in 1846. Britain keeps Vancouver to the north of the line (British Columbia), while the US gains Seattle to the south (Washington and Oregon).

1846 - 1847

Earl Cathcart

1847 - 1854

Earl of Elgin and Kincardine

1854 - 1861

Sir Edmund Walker Head

1858

The colony of British Columbia is founded from the fur district of New Caledonia.

1861 - 1867

Viscount Monck

Became first governor-general of the dominion of Canada.

1866

An Irish republican organisation named the Fenian Brotherhood is based in the United States. Starting in this year, in support of Irish independence from Britain they launch a series of raids on British army forts, customs posts and other targets in Canada. Their cause serves to split the Catholic Irish-Canadian population of Canada while the Protestant Irish generally support Britain and side with the Orange Order against the Fenians. The US authorities do what they can to prevent the Fenians from launching their raids from US territory, although suspicion exists that what they really could do is a lot more than what they actually achieve. All five Fenian raids between 1866 and 1871 are failures.

The act of Confederation in Canada
The British North America Act of 1867 created Canadian confederation out of the various British-governed territories in North America, uniting all of them into a single body

1867

The United States senate purchases Alaska from Russia for just US$7.2 million. Alexander lets it go because he fears that the British in Canada will invade and seize it. In Canada and Britain the act is seen somewhat differently, as a threat to Britain's Pacific coast colony. As a reaction, three months later Upper and Lower Canada are united with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on 1 July under the British North America Act, creating the 'Dominion of Canada'. Viscount Monk remains in office as the last governor-general of the province of Canada and the first of the dominion of Canada.

Modern Canada
AD 1867 - Present Day

Upper and Lower Canada were united with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on 1 July under the British North America Act. By enacting this, the British Parliament created the dominion of Canada, which was autonomous with regard to internal affairs. The move was designed to unify Britain's possessions in Canada in light of the US purchase of Alaska and the threat to Britain's trade and colonies in the Pacific region of North America. The position of governor-general of Canada was descended from the original post in New France.

(Additional information from External Link: The Governor General of Canada.)

1867 - 1868

Viscount Monck

First governor-general of Canada. Former Province gov-general.

1868 - 1872

Lord Lisgar

1871 - 1873

British Columbia is joined to the dominion of Canada in 1871, while Prince Edward Island is added in 1873. In the same year, 1871, the final Irish Fenian Brotherhood raid into Canada is farcical because of the fact that it actually attacks a Hudson's Bay post within the United States, never actually making it across the border which is about three kilometres (two miles) further north. Despite being arrested (twice) the culprits are never charged for their 'invasion'.

Canadian advertisement
An advertisement from the Canadian Grocer July-December 1895 shows a noticeably similar style of marketing to that being used in the UK at the same time

1872 - 1878

Earl of Dufferin

1878 - 1883

Marquess of Lorne

1883 - 1888

Marquess of Lansdowne

1888 - 1893

Lord Stanley of Preston

1893 - 1898

Earl of Aberdeen

1898 - 1904

Earl of Minto

1901 - 1910

Edward VII

1904 - 1911

Earl Grey

1910 - 1936

George V

1911 - 1916

HRH Duke of Connaught & Strathearn

1914 - 1918

Having jointly guaranteed in 1839 to support the neutrality of Belgium, when the country is invaded by Germany, Britain, France and Russia are forced to declare war at midnight on 4 August. The First World War (variously called World War I, or the Great War), has begun and as a dominion Canada is directly involved.

1916 - 1921

Duke of Devonshire

1921 - 1926

Lord Byng of Vimy

1926 - 1931

Marquess of Willingdon

1931

Canada becomes a separate kingdom from Britain under the terms of the Statute of Westminster. The two countries share the same monarch as head of state, with the younger constitutional monarchy's administration being known as Her Majesty in Right of Canada. The position of governor-general becomes that of viceroy - the direct representative of the queen of Canada while she resides in Britain.

Scalping Knife Mountain
Scalping Knife Mountain in Canada's British Colombia is typical of the rugged and beautiful scenery in western Canada, overlooking the Arrow Lakes in the foreground

1931 - 1935

Earl of Bessborough

1935 - 1940

Lord Tweedsmuir

1936

Edward VIII

1936 - 1952

George VI

1939

The Nazi German invasion of Poland on 1 September is the trigger for the Second World War. With both France and Britain, under Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, pledged to support Poland, both countries have no option but to declare war on 3 September. Again, Canada supports Britain's efforts in war.

1940 - 1946

Earl of Athlone

1946 - 1952

Viscount Alexander of Tunis

1949

The sole remaining British North American colony, Newfoundland, joins Canada.

1952 - Present

Elizabeth II

1952 - 1959

Vincent Massey

1959

From this point forwards it becomes traditional to rotate the office of governor-general between Anglophone incumbents and those from French-speaking Quebec. The post remains the British monarch's direct representative in Canada, and fulfils just about all of the monarch's functions there. The post remains one of Canada's oldest, and also one of the oldest continuous posts in any form in any of Britain's overseas territories.

1959 - 1967

Georges Vanier

1967 - 1974

Roland Michener

1974 - 1979

Jules Leger

1979 - 1984

Edward Schreyer

1982

Canada's last constitutional ties with the United Kingdom, apart from sharing the same monarch as its head of state, are severed under Parliament's Constitution Act. The post of governor-general remains in place

Canada's Parliament building
The centre block of the Canadian Parliament building in Ottawa was rebuilt in 1922 following a fire which destroyed the old block in 1916

1984 - 1990

Jeanne Sauvé

1990 - 1995

Raymond John Hnatyshyn

1995 - 1999

Romeo Le Blanc

1999 - 2005

Adrienne Clarkson

2005 - 2010

Michaëlle Jean

Former refugee from Haiti.

2010 - Present

David Lloyd Johnstone

28th governor-general of Canada.