Original Correspondence : America and West Indies : Selections (CO5/115-266) : 1702 - 1794.

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LPR .G7C6A4C6S4
Category: Great Britain
Creator: Great Britain. Colonial Office.
Description: 4 microfilm textual records (152 volumes) ; 16 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 the colony to Great Britain, and are one of 6 groups of documents pertaining to a colony.  The others are:  Entry Books (out-letters from Britain), Acts, Sessional Papers (printed proceedings of local legislatures), Government Gazettes (official government newspapers), and Miscellanea.  Apart from the first 285 volumes, the records have been classified under the names of colonies or regions, for example; Carolina (Propriety) is volumes 286-292.

From 1768 to 1782 responsibility for the American colonies, including the West Indies, came under the care of the following:  the Earl of Hillsborough (1768-72), the Earl of Dartmouth (1772-75), Lord George Germain (1775-82), and Welbore Ellis (Feb.- 8 Mar. 1782).  The secretaries of state were assisted by under-secretaries of state.

Library and Archives Canada had transcribed selected documents of Canadian interest only from the records in The National Archives in England, and The Loyalist Collection contains only a portion of those herein.            
             Some or all of the volumes are available electronically; see Finding Aid section.

The selected documents of interest to Canada (1702-1794) contain the communications of British officials responsible for the North American colonies (including the West Indies), the secretaries of state and Board of Trade, with American officials, usually the governor or commanders-in-chief, as well as, associated writing between public offices, and others such as military officers.  The bulk of the documents selected involve the periods of the French and Indian War (1755-63) and the American Revolution (1775-83).  In addition to correspondence, the documentation contains commissions, petitions, instructions, warrants, licenses, and grants, as well as varying types of enclosures.  Due to its emphasis on Canadian interests, geographic coverage focuses on present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Quebec and Ontario; as a by-product, includes areas that had direct relations to these.  The collection covers a wide range of matters having to do with the life of the colony, including general topics such as colonial administration or government, commerce and trade, communications, finance, politics, diplomacy, British and German military, war, economics, justice and the law, and maritime matters such as shipping and privateering.

Detailed Content and Arrangement:

Reel 1

Vol.  115-117, Petitions, 1772-1781 (Selections)
Sent to Secretaries of State, Lords of Trade, military leaders, and King; from individuals, governors, doctors, land holders, merchants, military officers; also some other forms of documentation, such as, state of the courts of justice in Quebec, papers concerning Lt. Col. Allan Maclean's regiment, memoir of Madame Grant of Canada.  
Vol.  118, Dr. Franklin’s letters and others, 1771-74 (Selections)
Two letters to Thomas Cushing; not related to Dr. Franklin, 1771, 1774.
Vol. 119-132, Admiralty, 1771-1781 (Selections)
Provides maritime perspective to this period, focused on the navy, shedding light on the logistics of supporting related initiatives:  army, fishing industry, trade, defence and security, as well as to many of the military campaigns during the Revolutionary War.  Contains correspondence between Secretaries of State and the Admiralty such as First Secretary of the Admiralty Philip Stephens, and with governors and military commanders such as the naval Commander-in-chief of the North American Station Vice-Admiral Viscount Richard Howe, naval officers such as captains of ships, naval commissioner in Halifax and the Navy Board; includes other types of documents, such as, intelligence, attorney-general's opinions to customs, navy reports, state of vessels, return of seamen killed, account of vessels seized, list of officers and petty officers and numbers of seamen and carpenters, list of transports and ships, depositions of seamen, declaration of masters concerning longboats, disposition of ships, accounts of proceedings (naval operations) under commanders and captains such as Captain Charles Douglas on the St. Lawrence River, and instructions by or for ships' commanders; examples of places:  Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Lake Champlain, Boston, New York, South Carolina, Machias [present-day Maine], Great Britain, and islands in the West Indies.
Vol. 133, Colonial Office, East India Co., and Miscellaneous, 1772-1774 (Selections)
None appear to relate to the East India Co.. Contains five documents, one of which deals with land granting procedures for the colonies, one relates to a claim for lands in New York by Mr. Hocquart, and two relate to a gift to be furnished to the King of Spain by the Royal Society of something made in America.
Vol. 134-137, Post Office, 1773-1780 (Selections)
Provides a picture of early communications and contains the correspondence of Secretaries of State and officials of the Post Office, such as Post Office Secretary Anthony Todd in England and his colleagues in North America, joint Deputy Postmasters General Hugh Finlay and John Foxcroft, as well as politicians and others. 
Vol. 138-144, Secretaries of State, 1772-1782 (Selections)
Correspondence between secretaries of state, including the under-secretaries of state, and with the Lord Lt. of Ireland, British commissary of the German state, privy councillor to the Duke of Brunswick; also includes other documentation, such as, embarkation return of German troops, return of German troops mustered at certain locations, intelligence, evaluation of damages by the English to the French fishery in Newfoundland.
Vol. 145-146, 149, Treasury and Customs, 1771-1775, 1777 (Selections)
Among other things, there is much material on German and provincial troops.  Contains correspondence of secretaries of state and under-secretaries with Treasury and Customs officials, also some with the Governor of Newfoundland, commanders-in-chief, commissary, merchants, and Naval Office; contains other documentation, such as orders relating to Customs House fees, accounts of ships fitting out for North America, account of blankets ordered, list of ships to carry provisions to the Army in North America, account of victory said to be obtained by forces under Howe, list of cargoes of vessels, list of barrack furniture to be sent to William Howe for winter, receipt and return of provisions sent to Canada, list of necessaries for troops, indent. of supply goods suitable as presents for Indians (natives), number of troops contracted for America, memo regarding prisoners of war, extract of a letter from the Office of Sick and Hurt, Treasury Minutes concerning victualling service, estimate of stores for a garrison.
Volume 147-148 Treasury, 1776 (selections)

Reel 2

Vol. 150-151, Treasury and Customs, 1778-1779 (Selections)
See summary description under Volumes 145-149.
Vol. 152-153, Treasury, 1776-1777, 1780-1781 (Selections)
See summary description under Volumes 145-149.
Vol. 154-158, Miscellaneous, 1771-1781 (Selections)
Correspondence of secretaries of state with governors, deputy surveyor, military officers (Navy and Army), politicians, government departments such as the Indian Department, post office, commissary, Privy Councillor to the Duke of Brunswick, merchants and doctors; also includes many memorials, as well as other documentation, such as, return of inhabitants, deed from an Indian Chippewa to an officer, intelligence, depositions, list of artificers at Greenock, list of imports/exports at Jamaica, return of vessels on the Lakes, memo regarding transports, memorial from merchants, plan of a military campaign, abstract of state of provisions, list of officers, military certificates, abstract of Hessian hospital accounts, extract of letter from captain commanding schooner on Lake Erie, account of captures made by American privateers bound to and from Tobago.
Vol. 159-160, Law Reports, 1770-1781 (Selections)
Correspondence is mostly those generated by the secretary of state to the attorney general and solicitor general in Britain; also includes Reports by these law officers: Right of the legislative council of Quebec for regulating the government; pardons for murder and high treason in America; power of governor in North America in military affairs; power of governor of Quebec to raise and arm a corps of Roman Catholics; as well as Massachusetts newspaper advertisements of land to be sold (1775):  1. in the Island of St. John's [Prince Edward Island], and 2. on the River of St. John [present-day New Brunswick].
Vol. 161-166, Ordnance Office, 1772-1781 (Selections)
Responsible for lands, depots, forts and fortifications required for defence; supplies of munitions and equipment to army and navy; transports and field hospitals; and for the Artillery and Engineer Corps.  Contains correspondence of the secretaries of state with the British Ordnance Office, also with officials in Ordnance in North America, military officers, and Victualing Office; its officials included lieutenant-generals of ordnance, H. S. Conway and Jeffrey Amherst; master-general George Viscount Townshend; and John Boddington, secretary to the Board of Ordnance.  Includes other documentation:  artillery - state of at various places in North America, account of shipped in the Jacob, returns of wanted to complete for a campaign, state of Artillery Regiment; fortifications - state of at Placentia, proportion of entrenching tools for 10 000 men; ordnance and stores - state and account of, demand for, sent to North America, remaining at Halifax; list of cannon at Halifax, account of stores on Hope and Lady Townshend, return of small arms for North America; vessels - deposition for loading transports, description of armed vessels and account of craft used on Lake Chaplain, list of ships engaged for North America and West Indies, state of ordnance store ships, state of crew of Brilliant and Commerce Ordnance transports, list of ordnance transports.
Vol. 167-173, Secretary at War, 1772-1781 (Selections)
Vol. 174, Commander in Chief, 1779-1782 (Selections)
Vol. 175, Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, 1776-1782 (Selections)
175.1  New Hampshire, (1776-78):  Contains correspondence written from Boston Harbour, Halifax, England and New York Harbour from Governor John Wentworth to the secretaries of state.  Concerns:  brief news and intelligence, such as privateers, loyalists, an Act authorising the capture of vessels and restraint of commerce, personal distressing experience in New Hampshire, and European intelligence; proposed detailed regulations pertaining to preserving masts and timber between the rivers of Penobscot [present-day Maine] and St. Croix [between present-day Maine and New Brunswick].
175.2  Massachusetts Bay (1775-76, 1780):  Contains correspondence to secretaries of state from Lt. Gov. Thomas Oliver [Aug 1774-Mar. 1776], and one each from Peter Oliver and Thomas Hutchinson (governor of Massachusetts 1769-1774).  T. Oliver, in brief, relates to the following:  communication difficulties and intelligence - rebels, privateers, Quebec; defence of coast and difficulties which led to the issuing of letters of marque; state of the Town of Boston and discussion of possible future scenarios; Oliver's and loyalists' experiences evacuating and arriving at Halifax.  Thomas Hutchinson: relates to possible replacements for chief justice.  P. Oliver:  expresses gratitude for a proposal for him to act as governor of a new province to be erected between the rivers Saco [New Hampshire] and St. Croix [border of present-day New Brunswick and Maine].  Also includes a List of Packages (presents to Indians) shipped on board three [named] transports for Boston.
175.3  New York (May 1782):  letter from Chief Justice William Smith to Lt. General Robertson; declares his dissent against the Convention of the Assembly.
175.4  Virginia (March 1782):  letter from the Earl of Dunmore (John Murray), governor of Virginia, to Lord George Germain discussing the idea of a British conquest of Louisiana after receipt of information provided by Robert Ross, merchant and planter from the Mississippi; indicates willingness to engage next winter; recommends usage of negroes.  Includes enclosure written by Robert Ross, as requested by Dunmore, on the subject of the feasibility of a conquest of Louisiana; provides very extensive detail on the area and up the Mississippi, shedding light on its defence, geography and agriculture, peoples, industry and transportation. At the end, adds his sentiments on Pensacola (Florida) and Mobile (present-day Alabama).
Vol. 178, Peace Commissioners’ Reports, 1781-1782 (Selections)
Vol. 179, Copies of Lieut. Burgoyne’s Correspondence with Major-Gen. Heath as to troops captured by the Americans at Saratoga, 1777-1778 (Selections)
Vol. 182-183, Military Despatches and Miscellaneous, part 1, 1779-1780 (selections)

Reel 3

Vol. 184, Military Despatches and Miscellaneous, part 2, 1780-1781 (Selections)
Vol. 185, Miscellaneous Letters, 1781-1793 (Selections)
Vol. 186, Naval Despatches, 1782-1783 (Selections)
Mostly correspondence between Rear-Admiral Robert Digby and the secretaries of state, and two letters directed to Admiral Pigot, relating to the evacuation from and the conditions surrounding the waters of New York:  naval coordination of, role of the West Indies, considerations for loyalists, challenges such as need for more shipping, and vessel movements.  Also includes a letter from Lt. Gov. A. S. Hamond to Digby with an account of privateers at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
Vol. 189, 192, 194-200, Commissions and Instructions, 1719, 1726-50(Selections)
Vol. 190, Commissions and Instructions, warrants, licenses, grants, letters, 1714-1716 (Selections)
Vol. 201-203, 205 - 207, Instructions, 1764-69, 1772-73, 1775-82 (Selections)
Vol. 204, Commissions, Instructions, Patents, 1770-1779 (Selections)
Vol. 206, Instructions (also Senegumbia), 1774-1778 (Selections)
Vol. 208, Commissions and Instructions, 1784 (Selections)
One document.
Vol. 210-211, Despatches to Governors and others, 1707-08, 1753-55 (Selections)

Reel 4

Vol. 212-214, Despatches to Governors and others, 1756-1763 (Selections)
Vol. 215, Drafts, 1757-1763 (Selections)
Vol. 216, Instructions, Reports of Board of Trade, etc., 1764-1769 (Selections)
Vol. 220, Despatches to Commander-in-Chief, 1768 (Selections)
Vol. 222, 241-242, Despatches to Governors, 1766-1790 (Selections)
Vol. 223, Letters to Board of Trade, 1766-1767 (Selections)
Vol. 224, Letters from Secretary of State, 1767 (Selections)
Vol. 225, Letters from Secretary of State (Indian Affairs), 1766-1768 (Selections)
Vol. 226, 228, Letters to Secretary of State, 1763-1774 (Selections)
Vol. 234-236, 240, Military Despatches, 1770-1782 (Selections)
Vol. 241-242, Despatches to Governors, 1768-1790 (Selections)
Vol. 243-245, Despatches to Commanding Officers, 1771-1782 (Selections)
Vol. 246, Private Letters, 1771-1773 (Selections)
Vol. 247-249, In-Letters, domestic, 1774-1782 (Selections)
Vol. 250-252, Out-Letters, domestic, 1771-1782 (Selections)
Vol. 253, Precis of Documents relating to military operations against the revolted colonists, 1754-1758, 1774-1778 (Selections)
Vol. 254-255, Letters to Admiralty, 1776-1782 (Selections)
Vol. 256-257, 261-262, Letters from War Office and Ordnance Office, 1776-1782 (Selections)
Vol. 258, Letters from Treasury, 1776-1780 (Selections)
Vol. 259-260, Letters from Admiralty, 1776-1782 (Selections)
Vol. 263, Secret Despatches, 1778-1782 (Selections)
Vol. 264, Proceedings of Commissioners for restoring peace to the revolted colonies, 1780-1783 (Selections)
Vol. 266, Letters to President of Council, 1781-82 (Selections)

Originals: The original records are held by The National Archives in London. The transcripts are held by Library and Archives Canada.
Archival Ref. No.: TNA (formerly PRO) CO 5/115-266; LAC MG 11 CO5.
Finding Aids:
            ONLINE:  Digital images of the microfilmed transcripts (17 reels) have been loaded courtesy of Canadiana.org onto the Heritage website.  These are browseable, but not searchable.  (Reminder that The Loyalist Collection holds 4 reels equivalent to Library and Archives Canada reels numbered 13155 to 13158.)

See Electronic Finding Aid section for a typed listing of the documents selected and found within; a handwritten listing is found on the microfilm reels.

Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America & West Indies: multi-volume set, covering Britain's governance and relationship with America and the West Indies, 1574-1739.  Most of the documents come from Colonial Office 1 (CO 1) and 5 (CO 5), with some references to papers from other departments such as the War Office, and includes summaries and transcripts (arranged chronologically in the printed edition).

  • Online: Digital Book Index has a listing of each of the volumes linked to the website of Internet Archive. Internet Archive provides a browseable digital copy of the printed volume and the ability to search for keywords, share and download. Searchable database is also available via British History Online.
Documents of the American Revolution 1770-1783; (Colonial Office series), volumes 1-21; edited by K.G. Davies and published by Irish University Press, provides indexes, abstracts and transcripts to some of the material from the Colonial Office pertaining to the period of the American controversy. (Available with The Loyalist Collection books.) A Microfilm Shelf List correlating the University of New Brunswick and Library and Archives Canada microfilm reel numbers is available electronically. (See Electronic Finding Aids section.)
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Document List vol. 115-184.pdf
Document List vol. 185-266.pdf
Microfilm Shelf List.pdf

In total, there are seventeen reels of transcripts, of which only a portion were purchased for The Loyalist Collection.

Check the catalogue for more Colonial Office (CO 5) records.

Part Of: Forms part of: Colonial Office Records: Class 5 Files (C.O. 5), The American Revolution, 1772-1784 published by Proquest.
Other With: