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Encyclopedia > Colonial Office

The Secretary of State for the Colonies or Colonial Secretary was the British Cabinet official in charge of managing the various British colonies. The position was first created in 1768 to deal with the increasingly troublesome North American colonies. Previously those responsibilities had fallen to the Secretary of State for the Southern Department, who was responsible for Southern England, Wales, Ireland, the American colonies, and relations with the Catholic and Muslim states of Europe.

The men who held office were:

In 1782, following the loss of the American colonies, the office was abolished, and its duties given to the Home Secretary. In 1794 a new office was created for Henry Dundas - the Secretary of State for War, which now took responsibility for the Colonies, and was renamed the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in 1801.

In 1854, military reforms led to the War Office and Colonial Office being split up, and the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies was recreated. Its holders were as follows:

Until 1925, when the office of Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs was created, the Colonial Office had responsibility for all British colonies and dominions besides India, which had its own Secretary of State. In 1966, with most of the colonies gone, the office was merged with that of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to create the new office of Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs.

In 1968 the Commonwealth Office was subsumed into the Foreign Office, which became known as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

  Results from FactBites:
Colonial Office (292 words)
Colonial Office, a department established by the British government to administer its colonial possessions, including British North America.
Colonial affairs expanded and became more important, and in 1825 a permanent undersecretary was appointed to deal with the colonies.
This marks the beginning of the Colonial Office, although a separate secretary of state for the colonies was not created until 1854, after the Crimean War began.
  More results at FactBites »



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