The abolition of the office of the Secretary of State for the Colonies and of the old Board of Trade in 1782 left most responsibility for colonial affairs with the Home Office. Duties in connection with colonial trade were, however, quickly taken up by a Committee of the Privy Council on Trade and Plantations established in 1784 and reconstituted in 1786 as the modern Board of Trade. The Plantation Department of the Home Office was established in December 1783 under the direction of the former Secretary of the old Board of Trade, who had been transferred to the Home Office to undertake colonial business. In 1784 he was accorded the rank of under-secretary and had a staff of three clerks. The functions of the new department included the preparation of commissions and instructions for colonial governors, the examination of the minutes and acts of colonial councils and assemblies and the supervision of colonial administration and finances, and it worked closely with the revived Board of Trade on trade matters. On the death of the under-secretary in 1787 colonial business was resumed by the secretary of state and the other under-secretaries, and two years later the clerks of the Plantation Department were appointed to Home Office clerkships and the department disappeared. Colonial affairs continued to be dealt with in the Home Office until 1801, when they passed to the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. The counsel for colonial business, who had performed the task of reporting on the acts of colonial legislatures since 1782, transferred to the service of the latter.
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