Catalogue description Board of Customs: Papers Relating to Plantations

Search within or browse this series to find specific records of interest.

Date range

Details of CUST 34
Reference: CUST 34
Title: Board of Customs: Papers Relating to Plantations

These are records of the Secretary's Office of the Board of Customs. They include entry books of reports to the Treasury; entry books of letters to public offices, private individuals and collectors; a minute entry book of the Plantation Clerk; various papers relating to plantation accounts, imports, revenue and seizures; and general papers, arranged under the name of the British overseas possession concerned. The papers are mostly nineteenth century although there are some of the previous century relating to the American and other colonies.

Date: 1748-1909
Related material:

A volume recording imports and exports at the several ports of North America is in CUST 16

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Board of Customs, 1671-1909

Physical description: 920 volume(s)
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

Board of Customs and Excise , from

Custodial history: Between 1748 and 1909 the files were at the Board of Customs and Excise. From 1909 to 2002 the files were with HM Customs and Excise.
Accumulation dates: Files series ran from 1748 to 1909.
Selection and destruction information: The records were selected as they reflect the econonmic, social and demographical condition of the UK, as documented by the state's dealings with individuals, communitities and organisations outside its own formal boundaries ( of the PRO's acquisition criteria).
Accruals: No further accruals expected
Administrative / biographical background:

An act of 1672 authorised the Board of Customs to control the collection of the duty upon enumerated goods shipped in the plantations, but not brought to England. In 1686 it also became responsible for collection of the 4% duties in the West Indies, but the authority of the board to control plantation customs was never explicitly stated. When collectors of customs were first appointed in America and the West Indies, they came under the control of the board. When it first assumed responsibility for plantations, ports there were laid to the charge of the Western Department of the Secretary's Office. Later a separate Plantation Department was established within that office, responsible to the commissioners for all plantation matters.

On 8 September 1767 a separate American Board of Customs was created, with its headquarters at Boston, to relieve merchants of the delay caused by sending to London their applications in revenue matters. Its powers extended over the whole of the American colonies from Davis Strait in the north to Cape Florida in the south, and also Bermuda and the Bahamas; the collections of the West Indies were left under the English board. After the War of Independence the American board was abolished on 29 September 1784. The remaining North American territories, Canada and Newfoundland, were then placed under the English board, as subsequently were all new settlements such as those in Australia, New Zealand and other colonies. The functions of the customs service there included administration of the Navigation Laws and other legislation regulating the trade of British possessions abroad, laws governing registration of British ships and those relating to the abolition of slavery.

As a result of such measures as the repeal of the 4% duty in 1837 and that of the Navigation Laws in 1849 the necessity for control of plantation customs from London disappeared and gradually responsibility for plantation or colonial customs was transferred from the English board to the respective colonial administrations. By 1853 the imposition of imperial customs in territories abroad had been abolished, and no colonial records accrued thereafter to home customs; and by 1856 the board had ceased to have any responsibility for matters relating to customs in British possessions abroad, other than the provision of technical assistance.

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research