How Many Colonies in the Americas?
by Holly Brewer, UMD
Just how many colonies did Britain have in the Americas in 1776?
By my count 40, all of them indicated here, in all of which slavery was legal.
Note that it is surrounded by a question of whether to count each colony separately or to count administrative units. I vote for the latter, since the 13 colonies that rebelled would be only 9 administrative units if counted separately, and only 12 if we only count the colonies that had their own governors (see below). If we count them as 13, then the entire number should be 40.
13 colonies that rebelled: 13 (9 if going by admin units–Note that if administrative units are counted, then the 4 NE colonies are one, and Delaware disappears into PA.)
Delaware (had its own legislature but shared a governor with Pennsylvania, and was considered part of that unit. In 1776 separated from both PA and UK).
Cape Breton Island
Prince Edward Island
Other N. America mainland: 2 (or 3?)—I counted only 2 as I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the last
West (Indian Territory) after 1763 was a separate unit administratively.
Caribbean & Central American mainland: 20.
It is possible to group together the Leeward Islands: (6 colonies within this category). They did each have separate assemblies, as well as the Southern Caribbean colonies and the Jamaica colonies, based on administrative structures. If one does that the number drops to only 9.
Leeward Islands (6)
British Virgin Islands
South Caribbean Islands: (4)
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Jamaica & Islands (4)
Bay Islands (administered by Jamaica)
British Honduras (administered by Jamaica)
Cayman Islands (administered by Jamaica)
This map was published in London in 1768.
See the LOC digitized image and complete publication information
Last updated February 2022.