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Next: Dutch Colonies

British Colonies


Great Britain was one of the most important colonizers of North America. In the latter part of the 16th century (1500s), British explorers claimed most of North America's East Coast and called it Virginia, in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, who was known as the Virgin Queen.

In 1607, colonists founded the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, in what is now the state of Virginia. In 1620, a group of religious separatists — who wanted to leave the Church of England and later became known as the Pilgrims — created the Plymouth settlement in what is now the state of Massachusetts. Other English settlements in the state included Salem (1628) and the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1629).

From the 1630s to the 1660s, English colonies developed in present-day Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode Island. In 1664, British forces seized New York and New Jersey from the Dutch. From 1681 to 1732, British colonies developed in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. For a time in the late 18th century, Britain also controlled Florida, but that area reverted to Spain.

By the latter part of the 18th century (1700s), there were 13 British colonies along the East Coast of North America.

Map of the British Colonies

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