Original Correspondence : America and West Indies : Military Despatches (CO 5/83-111) : 1763 - 1783.

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LMR .G7C6A4C6M6
Category: Military
Creator: Great Britain. Colonial Office.
Description: 15 microfilm textual records (29 volumes) ; 35 mm
            Records precede the development of the Colonial Office, created in 1854, and contain records in the offices of the Board of Trade and the Secretaries of State which held responsibility for British colonial matters at different times until 1782; thereafter, responsibility was held by the Home Office until the War and Colonial Department was created in 1801.  The Original Correspondence, or in-letters, are those sent from a British colony to Great Britain, and are one of 6 groups or classes of documents pertaining to a colony.

Colonial Office 5, Volumes 83-111, are similar to, and are a continuation of, Colonial Office 5, Volumes 48-64, which deal with military events during the time period of the French and Indian War (1754-1763). 

The commander-in-chief, North America was a military position of the British Army, which since its establishment in 1755 had been held mostly by Lieut. General Thomas Gage until the position was split into 2 positions with the beginnings of the American Revolution in 1775:  commander-in-chief, America responsible for troops from West Florida to Newfoundland; and commander-in-chief, Quebec responsible for the defence of Quebec.  During the American Revolution, the American commanders were William Howe (1775-78), Henry Clinton (1778-82), and Guy Carleton (1782-83); and the Quebec commanders were Guy Carleton (1775-78) and Frederick Haldimand (1778-86).            

The military correspondence encompasses a period of time from the end of the Seven Years' War until the conclusion of the American Revolution. It contains letters and enclosures from commanders-in-chief and other officers in North America to the Secretary of State in Britain. The letters are, principally, from Generals Thomas Gage, Frederick Haldimand, William Howe, Henry Clinton, and Guy Carleton. Drafts of letters to the Commander-in-Chief from the Secretary of State are also found in these volumes. Other types of documents include for example: instructions, commissions, memorials, appointments, reports (intelligence and situation), and lists of officers. Some of the topics covered relate to the following: military (operations, expeditions, battles, personnel), war and justice (prisoner exchanges, courts martial), native affairs, Loyalists and emigration, black history, slavery, and diplomacy.

Arrangement:  Organised chronologically.

Volume 111, Military Despatches, 1783-1784. This volume contains despatches from Sir Guy Carleton in New York to Lord North, including many enclosures that relate to military affairs in America at the end of the war. A few examples of the enclosures include: List of Officers of His Majesty's British American Forces under the Command of His Excellency General Sir Guy Carleton. New York, 25 November 1783; List of the Seconded Officers of His Majesty's British American Forces under the Command of His Excellency General Sir Guy Carleton. New York, 25 November 1783; State of the Army under the Command of His Excellency General Sir Guy Carleton. New York, 10 November 1783; Memorial of Widows of British American Officers. New York, 25 November 1783; Return of Persons who were Lost on the Martha Transport, Captain John Willis, 23 September 1783, near the Seal [Island] Rocks, Nova Scotia (only the officers of 2nd Delancey's Brigade and the Maryland Loyalists are named); and Return of the Loyalists gone from New York to Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Abaco. New York, 24 November 1783.

Originals: The original records are held by The National Archives in London (TNA), formerly known as the Public Record Office (PRO).
Archival Ref. No.: (TNA) PRO CO 5/83-111.
Finding Aids:
            A microfilm shelf list containing both the University of New Brunswick and Library and Archives Canada microfilm reel numbers along with the corresponding volumes is available online (see Electronic Finding Aid section); as well as in The Loyalist Collection red binders.

Documents of the American Revolution 1770-1783; (Colonial Office series), volumes 1-21; edited by K.G. Davies and published by Irish University Press, organised chronologically; provides indexes, abstracts and transcripts to some of the material from the Colonial Office (including CO 5) pertaining to the period of the American controversy. (Available with The Loyalist Collection books.

To locate the originals using the references for each of the documents in the book:

  • CO 5, 109, fos. 271-231 translates to volume 109, document numbers 271-231
  • Use the microfilm shelf list to find the reel number for volume 109
Electronic Finding Aid Record: CO 5-83-111 Shelf List.pdf
Black History References.pdf

Reel 1, vol. 83-84 is missing (Jan. 2020).

Check The Loyalist Collection catalogue for more Colonial Office 5 (CO 5) records.

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