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Description found in Archives

CO 391. Journals of the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations [textual record]. 



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

0.3 m of textual records : reproductions.

Scope and content

Colonial Office 391 consists of the Kraus Reprint (1969-1970) edition of the "Journals of the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations", an exact reproduction of the fourteen volumes originally published in 1920-1938 by HMSO on behalf of the Public Record Office. This printed text contains not only the minutes as recorded in the Journals now designated CO 391/17 to CO 391/89, but also all marginal annotations, with full correlation to the volume and folio numbers of the original. The minutes record the deliberations of the Board of Trade, entered in formal Journals (now CO 391/9 to CO 391/89). Some drafts or duplicates of the minutes and the journals of the Board (now CO 391/90 to CO 391/120) have been preserved. Included with these are some journals and minutes of predecessor agencies, 1675-1696 (now CO 391/1 to CO 391/8). The minutes for 1696 to March 1704 were described in the "Calendar of State Papers, Colonial", while those for April 1704-May 1782 were printed in full as the "Journal of the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations" (in 14 volumes, each with an index). The tables in C.M. Andrews' "Guide to the Materials for American History, to 1783, in the Public Record Office of Great Britain", vol. 1, Appendix B identify the modern locations. Despatches from Nova Scotia are now in CO 217/1-29 while texts of outgoing documents were recorded in entrybooks now found as CO 218/1-10; the equivalents for Quebec are CO 42/1-10 and CO 43/1-3; those for Newfoundland are CO 194/1-21 and CO 195/1-11; and those for Prince Edward Island are CO 226/1-2 and CO 227/1. Categorized as Plantations General were matters not specific to one colony, and the affairs of territories for which British government was being established (notably Quebec, 1759-1764); the records are now in CO 323/1-29 and CO 324/6-19. Alpha-numeric references endorsed on the despatches and their enclosures reflect the sequence in which they were presented to the Board. A single letter sequence A-T was used in the period 1712-1782; usage of a letter was not co-terminous with specific journal volumes. The exact nature of the numbering scheme as a means of relating minutes and submissions awaits study and explanation. Researchers will find the numbering a useful reminder that documents written over an extensive period might be tabled at a single Board meeting, and that the order of consideration may reflect the Board's assessment of significance for each item.

Textual records
90: Open
from 1 to 14
90: Open
Former archival reference no.

Textual records The shelf list in the unpublished portion of the general inventory Of Manuscript Group 11 correlates the volume designation in CO 391 with the 14-volume printed text of the Journals. The index printed within each of those volumes was created by the editors. While this indexing is limited in scope, emphasizing the principal authors and subjects, it reflects modern concepts and standards. The minutes themselves note where items were retabled for further consideration. The marginal notation of subjects facilitates broad searches for the affairs of a single colony. 90 (Paper)

Additional information

Acquired in 1993 as the Kraus Reprint (1969-1970) edition of the "Journal of the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations".

Arrangement note
The original arrangement of records created and accumulated by the Board of Trade has been obscurred, notably when the Public Record Office constructed the Colonial Office classes in 1909-1910. This brought together as CO 391 the minutes and journals of the Board of Trade and of its immediate predessors. Despatches from governors, petitions from lobbyists, reports and other documents had been filed according to the jurisdictions to which they related: specific colonies or broad regions. This categorization was preserved in the form of sub-series when the Board of Trade records were partnered with the corresponding records accumulated by the Secretaries of State responsible for colonial administration to form the Colonial classes specific to colonies (such as Nova Scotia) or of general relevance (those with British North America or Colonies General in their titles). Inscribed in the margins of the Journals are the Board's categorization of the submissions on which the deliberations rested, and of outgoing correspondence.

Citation / reference note
The evolution of the modern Colonial Office from the Board of Trade and the Secretaries of State, and the records generated by these agencies, has been outlined by many authors. Not even the best of these -- R. B. Pugh's handbook "The Records of the Colonial and Dominions Offices" nor the several guides by Charles M. Andrews -- makes clear the intimate relationship between the minutes of the Board of Trade (CO 391), the minutes and Orders of the Privy Council (PC 2), and the despatches to and from colonial governors. Despatches received in London functioned as submissions to the Board and the Council. The results of their deliberations, in the form of Orders-in-Council or despatches, were sent to authorize and instruct colonial governors in the performance of their duties.

Subject heading

1. Great Britain - Commerce, 1704-1782 Great Britain. Lords of Trade & Plantations, 1704-1782.
2. British North America, 1704-1782.
3. Colonies Administration. Great Britain
4. Colonies Administration. Grande-Bretagne
5. Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations.


Other system control no.

Related control no.