British Empire
The rise of the British empire - North America
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Proposal to claim lands in America for the English Crown, c.1690
(Catalogue ref: CO 5/1 f48)
  • In the 1690s the French had the advantage over the English in North America. They had a well-established fur trade and owned greater possessions.
  • However, as the source shows there were many English who were keen to challenge the French.
  • The proposal is asking for a Patent, which basically meant that the English wanted permission from the Crown to take sole control of the area described.
  • At this stage of the empire, taking control meant taking control of the trade in the area. To do this, they had to establish good relations with the Native Americans. We have many examples of treaties between them, sometimes with the Native Americans acknowledging the English monarch as their ruler.
  • Both the English and the French relied heavily on the Native Americans to guide them around the lands. They also got most of the furs for the fur trade from the Native Americans, usually trading them for a range of goods, especially guns and alcohol.
  • It would be over 100 years before large numbers of European settlers started to drive out the Native Americans and settle on their lands.
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