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THE first separate organisation in this country for the central administration of Colonial affairs was a Committee of the Privy Council appointed by Order in Council of 4th July, 1660," for the Plantaçons.' On the 1st December, 1660, a separate" Council of Foreign Plantations" was created by Letters Patent.

It may be interesting to state that on the 28th of February, 1671, Evelyn's Diary records the author's appointment as a member of this Council, with "a salary of £500 per annum to encourage me."

In September, 1672, the Council was united, by Letters Patent, to the Council for Trade, and was henceforward known as the " Council of Trade and Plantations." It was suppressed on 21st December, 1677, and its functions, which had been much neglected, were transferred to the Privy Council. It was re-constituted in 1695,

and continued to exist until 1782, at which date it consisted of eight Members of Parliament, who received a salary of £1,000 per annum each.

The affairs of India were placed nnder its charge in 1748, and remained so until the establishment of the Board of Control in 1784. From 1768 the Colonial affairs have been dealt with by a Secretary of State.

The office of Secretary to the Sovereign dates at least from the reign of Henry III. There was one principal Secretary only (who was already called Secretary of State) down to 1539, when a second was appointed. From 1708 to 1746 a third Secretaryship existed, dealing exclusively with Scotland.

In 1768, a Secretary of State for the American, or Colonial Department, was appointed, in addition to the two principal Secretaries of State then existing; but the commissions to the Council of Trade and Plantations continued to run as before. Both the Council and the new Secretary of State's Department were abolished in 1782 by Burke's Act, 22 Geo. III, cap. 82, on the loss of the United States.

By this Act power was given to delegate to a Committee of the Privy Council all the functions hitherto exercised by the Council of Trade and Plantations, and by Order in Council of 11th September, 1782, circular instructions were sent to the Governors of the Plantations to transmit their returns and accounts to the Privy Council. Pending the appointment of a Committee, Colonial affairs were dealt with by a subordinate branch of the Home Department, styled the Plantations Branch.

At this time the duties of the two principal Secretaries of State were divided into "Home" and "Foreign;" the affairs of Ireland devolving on the Home Department, which now undertook also those of the Colonies.

In 1784, by Order in Council of 5th March, a "Committee for Trade and Foreign Plantations" was appointed in pursuance of Burke's Act, and the new body was reorganised and placed upon a definite footing by the subsequent Orders of 22nd August and 25th August, 1786. The business hitherto dealt with by the Plantations Branch of the Home Office was transferred to this Committee.

At its commencement in 1793, the affairs of the French War were managed by the Home Department, but in 1794 Mr. Dundas (afterwards Lord Melville), who was then the Secretary of State dealing with the Home affairs of the Department, was appointed "Secretary for War," and also nominally Secretary of State for the Colonies; but the Departments of War and the Colonies were not actually united until 1801, when Lord Hobart was created Secretary of State for the War and Colonial Department. From 1794 the "Committee for Trade and Foreign Plantations" (now known as the Board of Trade) gradually ceased to have any connection with Colonial affairs.

In 1854 a fourth principal Secretaryship of State was created, for War, and the affairs of the Colonies have since constituted the entire charge of a principal Secretary of State. The office of Parliamentary Under Secretary was constituted in 1810, and with the exception of seven years, 1815-22, has been continued ever since. An Assistant Under Secretary was appointed in 1847, and a Legal Adviser was added in 1867, and made an Assistant Under Secretary in 1870. A third Assistant Under Secretary was appointed in 1874. The new offices in Downing Street were occupied in 1876.

The Staff of the Colonial Office is shown at page 10. The Under Secretaries and Assistant Under Secretaries are Staff Officers selected by the Secretary of State. The Clerical Staff is recruited after competitive examinations (Class I, and Lower Division) held by the Civil Service Commissioners, Cannon Row, S.W., from whom particulars can be obtained.

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The total estimated expenditure on the Colonial Office for the year 1889-90 is 41,2867. (Civil Service Estimates, Class II, Vote 6), the principal items being :

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The Hon. R. H. Meade, C.B.


W. R. Malcolm.


Sir Julian Pauncefote, G.C.M.G., C.B.

1876. 1878.

John Bramston, D.C.L., C.B.

Edward Wingfield.

Other expenditure in connection with the Colonies appears in Class V., Vote 5, Grants in Aid, &c., 29,7281.; Vote 6, South Africa and St. Helena 78,2571.; Vote 7, Subsidies to Telegraph Companies, &c., 49,300l.; and Vote 8, Cyprus, 45,0007.

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