Proprietary colony

A proprietary colony was a type of British colony mostly in North America and the Caribbean in the 17th century. In the British Empire, all land belonged to the ruler, and it was his prerogative to divide. Therefore, all colonial properties were partitioned by royal charter into one of four types: proprietary, royal, joint stock, or covenant. King Charles II used the proprietary solution to reward allies and focus his own attention on Britain itself. He offered his friends colonial charters which facilitated private investment and colonial self-government. The charters made the proprietor the effective ruler, albeit one ultimately responsible to English Law and the King. Charles II gave New Netherland to his younger brother The Duke of York, who named it New York. He gave an area to William Penn who named it Pennsylvania.

This type of indirect rule eventually fell out of favour as the colonies became established and administrative difficulties eased. The English sovereigns sought to concentrate their power and authority and the colonies were converted to Crown colonies, i.e. governed by officials appointed by the King, replacing the people the King had previously appointed and under different terms.

In medieval times, it was customary in Continental Europe for a sovereign to grant almost regal powers of government to the feudal lords of his border districts, so as to prevent foreign invasion. These districts or manors were often called palatinates or counties palatine, because the lord dwelled in a palace, or wielded the power of the king in his palace. His power was regal in kind, but inferior in degree to that of the king.

This type of arrangement had been made in Norman times for certain English border counties. These territories were known as counties palatine and they lasted at least in part to 1830 and for good reason: remoteness, poor communications, governance carried out under difficult circumstances. The monarch and his or her government, retained its usual right to separate head and body, figuratively or literally, at any time. (see also the hereditary title marquess.)

Proprietary colonies in America were governed by a lord proprietor, who, holding authority by virtue of a royal charter, usually exercised that authority almost as an independent sovereign. Eventually, these were converted to royal colonies.

The British America colonies before the American Revolution consisted of thirteen colonies that became states of the United States of America.

This page was last edited on 9 March 2018, at 17:41 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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