British West Indies refers to territories in and
around the Caribbean which have been or were at one time colonised by the United Kingdom.
these territories are also now known as the Anglophone Caribbean
. Between 1958 and 1962
all of the island territories except the British Virgin
Islands, the Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, and
Bermuda were organised into the West Indies Federation.
hoped that the Federation would become independent as a single
nation, but it had limited powers, many practical problems and a
lack of popular support. Consequently, the West Indies Federation
was dissolved. Most of the territories, including all the
larger ones, are now independent as separate countries with
membership to many international forums such as the Organization of
American States, the Association of Caribbean
States, the World Trade
Organization, the United Nations,
the Caribbean Community, the
Commonwealth of Nations and
the Caribbean Development
Bank among others.
Some of the smaller nations which
still make up the current British West Indies are British dependencies
former nations of the British West Indies, except the Commonwealth of Dominica are Commonwealth
The current British territories that form the British West Indies
The former British territories that once were part of the British
West Indies are;
The anglophone countries of South America and Central America, as
well as the Bermuda Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean are also
historically considered to be part of the British West Indies.
Sir William Stapleton established the first federation in the
British West Indies in 1674. Stapleton set up a General Assembly of
the Leeward Islands
in St. Kitts.
Stapleton's federation was active from 1674 to 1685 when Stapleton
was Governor and the General Assembly met regularly until
By the 18th Century each island had kept its own Assembly and made
its own laws, but continued to share one Governor and one
Attorney-General. Although unpopular, Stapleton's Federation was
never really dissolved but simply replaced by other
Between 1816 and 1833 the Leewards were divided into two groups,
each with its own Governor: St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla and
Antigua-Barbuda-Montserrat. In 1833 all the Leeward Islands were brought together and
Dominica was added to the grouping until 1940.
Governor Benjamin Pine was assigned the task of organizing a
federation of Antigua-Barbuda, Dominica, Montserrat, Nevis, St.
Kitts, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.
St. Kitts and Nevis however opposed sharing
their government funds with Antigua and Montserrat, which were
bankrupt. Governor Pine told the Colonial Office
that the scheme had failed
due to "local prejudice and self-interest". Thus the only
achievement was giving the Leewards a single Governor. All laws and
ordinances, however, had to be approved by the each island
In 1871 the British government passed the Leeward Islands Act
through which all the islands were under one Governor and one set
of laws. Each island was called "Presidency" under its own
Administrator or Commissioner. Like earlier groupings this
federation was unpopular but was not dissolved until 1956 to make
way for the Federation of the West Indies. The Federal Colony was
composed of all islands organized under Governor Pine's previous
In 1833 the Windward Islands became a formal union called the
Windward Islands Colony. In 1838, Trinidad (acquired in 1802) and St. Lucia (acquired in 1814) were brought into the Windward
Islands Colony, but were not given their own assemblies (having
previously been Crown Colonies).
In 1840 Trinidad left the Colony. The Windward Islands Colony was
unpopular as Barbados wished to retain its separate identity and
ancient institutions, while the other colonies did not enjoy the
association with Barbados (but needed such an association for
defence against French invasions until 1815). Thus the individual
islands resisted British attempts at closer union. Barbados in
particular fought to retain its own Assembly.
From 1885 to 1958 the Windward Islands Colony consisted of Grenada
and the Grenadines, St. Vincent and St. Lucia for the entire
period. Tobago left in 1889 when she formed a
union with Trinidad. Dominica joined the Windward Islands Colony in 1940 after
having been transferred from the Leewards and remained in the
Colony until 1958.
After 1885 the Windward Islands Colony
was under one Governor-General in Grenada and each island had its
own Lieutenant-Governor and its own assembly (as before). Attempts
at a Federal Colony like in the Leewards were always resisted. The
Windward Islands Colony broke up in 1958 when each island chose to
join the new Federation of the West Indies as a separate
Jamaica and dependencies
remaining British colonies in the Caribbean except for British Guiana and the Bahamas were grouped
under Jamaica out of convenience and sometimes for historical
and/or geographical reasons. British Honduras
was surrounded by hostile
Spanish colonies and needed the protection afforded by the Army and
Navy based in Jamaica. In addition, British Honduras had been
founded by loggers and had expanded in population partly by the
settlement of Englishmen arriving from Jamaica in the late 1600s
and early 1700s (with settlers also arriving from England directly
or being born in the colony). So from 1742 British Honduras was a
dependency directly under the Governor of Jamaica. Then in 1749 the
Governors of Jamaica appointed Administrators for British Honduras.
In 1862 British Honduras became a Crown Colony and was placed under
the Governor of Jamaica with its own Lieutenant-Governor. In 1884
it finally broke all administrative ties with Jamaica.
West Indies Federation
The West Indies Federation was a short-lived federation that
existed from 3 January 1958 to 31 May 1962. It consisted of several
the United Kingdom. The expressed intention of the Federation was
to create a political unit that would become independent
from Britain as a single
state--possibly similar to the Australian Federation
, or Canadian Confederation
before that could happen, the Federation collapsed due to internal
Cricket is traditionally the main sport in the British West Indies
(though others sports such as football
have challenged its dominance from
around the 1990s onwards). Most of the countries and territories
listed above field a combined cricket team called the West Indies cricket team
", which is one of the ten elite international
teams that play at the Test match
-level. The British West Indies hosted the 2007 Cricket World Cup
have been a number of fraudulent documents and other deceptions
(including motor vehicle license plates) sold by various parties
claiming to be issued by the British West Indies, playing on the
confusion with the British Virgin Islands.
The British West Indies is not
country, nor is there any official "British West Indies"
governmental authority using that name, and any documents
supposedly issued by that "government" are invalid.
Native nationals of the British West Indies are considered as
Overseas Territories citizens
(BOTC) or British Overseas citizens
would obtain a British passport
stating the name of the British territory they are from.
Acts by the British Government which have governed nationality laws
in the territories includes:
- Islands in the Caribbean - Lists islands still classified
as British West Indies
- The "British West Indies Medical College"
- Officer Safety and Extremists: An Overview for Law