The Age of George III
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The Proclamation of 1763 had two purposes:
- To provide for the establishment of governments in the territories acquired by Britain as a result of the Seven Years' War (1756-63)
- To provide for British control of Indian affairs in the new lands
The latter question had been under consideration during the war but became more urgent with the news of Pontiac's rebellion of May 1763 which resulted in the capture of all British posts in the west except Fort Pitt and Detroit. The rebellion was crushed in 1764 but the news of it influenced the Proclamation: this drew an imaginary line behind the Allegheny mountains beyond which colonists were forbidden to settle.
Whereas we have taken into our royal consideration the extensive and valuable acquisitions in America, secured to our crown by the late definitive treaty of peace concluded at Paris the 10th day of February last; and being desirous that all our loving subjects, as well of our kingdoms as of our colonies in America, may avail themselves, with all convenient speed, of the great benefits and advantages which must accrue therefrom to their commerce, manufactures, and navigation; we have thought fit ... to issue this our royal proclamation, hereby to publish and declare to all our Loving subjects, that we have ... granted our letters patent under our great seal of Great Britain, to erect within the countries and islands, ceded and confirmed to us by the treaty, four distinct and separate governments, styled and called by the names of Quebec, East Florida, West Florida, and Grenada.
And to the end that the open and free fishery of our subjects may be extended to, and carried on upon the coast of Labrador and the adjacent islands, we have thought fit ... to put all that coast, from the river St. John's to Hudson's Straits, together with the islands of Anticosti and Magdalen, and all other smaller islands lying upon the coast, under the care and inspection of our governor of Newfoundland.
We have also ... thought fit to annex the islands of St. John and Cape Breton, or Isle Royale, with the lesser islands adjacent thereto, to our government of Nova Scotia.
We have also ... annexed to our province of Georgia, all the lands lying between the rivers Altamaha and St. Mary's.
And whereas it will greatly contribute to the speedy settling our new governments, that our loving subjects should be informed of our paternal care for the security of the liberties and properties of those who are, and shall become in habitants thereof; we have thought fit to publish and declare, by this our proclamation, that we have, in the letters patent under our great seal of Great Britain, by which the governments are constituted, given express power and direction to our governors of our colonies, respectively, that so soon as the state and circumstances of the colonies will admit thereof, they shall, with the advice and consent of the members of our council, summon and call general assemblies within the governments respectively, in such manner and form as is used and directed in those colonies and provinces in America, which are under our immediate government; and we have also given power to the governors, with the consent of our councils, and the representatives of the people, so to be summoned as afore, to make, constitute, and ordain laws, statutes, and ordinances for the public peace, welfare, and good government of our colonies, and of the people and inhabitants thereof, as near as be, agreeable to the laws of England, and under such regulations and restrictions as are used in other colonies; and in the meantime, and until such assemblies can be called as afore, all persons inhabiting in, or resorting to, our colonies, may confide in our royal protection for the enjoyment of the benefit of the laws of our realm of England; for which purpose we have given power under our great seal to the governors of our colonies respectively, to erect and constitute, with the advice of our councils respectively, courts of judicature and public justice within our colonies, for the hearing and determining all causes as well criminal as civil, according to law and equity, and as near as may be agreeable to the laws of England, with liberty to all persons who may think themselves aggrieved by the sentences of such courts, in alt civil cases, to appeal, under the usual limitations and restrictions, to us, in our Privy Council.
We have also thought fit ... to give unto the governors and councils of our three new colonies upon the continent, full power and authority to settle and agree with the inhabitants of our new colonies, or with any other persons who shall resort thereto, for such lands, tenements, and hereditaments, as are now, or hereafter shall be, in our power to dispose of, and them to grant to any such person or persons, upon such terms, and under such moderate quit-rents, services, and acknowledgments, as have been appointed and settled in our other colonies, and under such other conditions as shall appear to us to be necessary and expedient for the advantage of the grantees, and the improvement and settlement of our colonies.
And whereas we are desirous, upon all occasions, to testify our royal sense and approbation of the conduct and bravery of the officers and soldiers of our armies, and to reward the same, we do hereby command and impower our governors of our three new colonies, and all other our governors of our several provinces on the continent of North America, to grant, without fee or reward, to such reduced officers as have served in North America during the late war, and to such private soldiers as have been or shall be disbanded in America, and are actually residing there, and shall personally apply for the same, the following quantities of lands, subject, at the expiration of ten years, to the same quit-rents as other lands are subject to in the province within which they are granted, as also subject to the same conditions of cultivation and improvement, viz.
To every person having the rank of a field officer, five thousand acres. To every captain, three thousand acres. To every subaltern or staff officer, two thousand acres. To every non-commission officer, two hundred acres. To every private man, fifty acres.
We do likewise authorise and require the governors and commanders-in-chief of all our colonies upon the continent of North America to grant the like quantities of land, and upon the same conditions, to such reduced officers of our navy of like rank, as served on board our ships of war in North America at the times of the reduction of Louisburg and Quebec in the late war, and who shall personally apply to our respective governors for such grants.
And whereas it is just and reasonable, and essential to our interest, and the security of our colonies, that the several nations or tribes of Indians with whom we are connected, and who live under our protection should not be molested or disturbed in the possession of such parts of our dominions and territories as, not having been ceded to, or purchased by us, are reserved to them, or any of them, as their hunting grounds; we do therefore ... declare it to be our royal will and pleasure, that no governor, or commander-in-chief, in any of our colonies of Quebec, East Florida, or West Florida, do presume, upon any pretence whatever, to grant warrants of survey, or pass any patents for lands beyond the bounds of their respective governments, as described in their commissions; as also that no governor or commander-in-chief