Expansion of England in C17th

The history of America and Britain have been tied together for over four hundred years and many of us exploring our family histories find connections between our two countries.

So how did we come to settle on the shores of America and other lands during the 17th century?

    • English colonization was more often the by product of commercial enterprise
    • Independent companies such as the East India, Levant and Virginia Company were at the forefront of colonization
    • Government undoubtedly saw an opportunity to use the new colonies as places to put criminals, paupers and other ‘unwanted’ sorts
    • Occasionally the spur for settlement came from religious ideals

In the first instance though, the search for gold, silver and precious stones dominated the first phases of colonization.

17th Century Trade
17th Century Trade

As the century progressed, trade in essential commodities took a hold, salt, dyes, spices, that had before, been supplied from foreign markets. It was now clear to Europeans, that if they were to play a role in this trade, they had to establish trading bases and hence take control of the markets.

Thus, overseas trade bases became established and English colonization grew out of commercial expansion

Find out more about English colonization through our themes of Empire and Colonialism, Business and Industry and Migration