In 1606, King James I of England granted charters to both the Plymouth Company and the London Company for the purpose of establishing permanent settlements in America. The London Company established the Colony and Dominion of Virginia in 1607, the first permanently settled English colony on the continent. The Plymouth Company founded the Popham Colony on the Kennebec River, but it was short-lived. The Plymouth Council for New England sponsored several colonization projects, culminating with Plymouth Colony in 1620 which was settled by English Puritan separatists, known today as the Pilgrims. The Dutch, Swedish, and French also established successful American colonies at roughly the same time as the English, but they eventually came under the English crown. The Thirteen Colonies were complete with the establishment of the Province of Georgia in 1732, although the term "Thirteen Colonies" became current only in the context of the American Revolution.
In London beginning in 1660, all colonies were governed through a state department known as the Southern Department, and a committee of the Privy Council called the Board of Trade and Plantations. In 1768, a specific state department was created for America, but it was disbanded in 1782 when the Home Office took responsibility.
New England colonies
1. Province of Massachusetts Bay, chartered as a royal colony in 1691
2. Province of New Hampshire, established in 1629; merged with Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1641; chartered as royal colony in 1679
3. Connecticut Colony, established in 1636; chartered as royal colony in 1662
4. Colony of Rhode Island chartered as royal colony in 1663
Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Haven Colonies formed the New England Confederation in (1643–1654; 1675–c. 1680) and all New England colonies were included in the Dominion of New England (1686–1689).
5. Delaware Colony (before 1776, the Lower Counties on Delaware), established in 1664 as proprietary colony
6. Province of New York, established as proprietary colony in 1664; chartered as royal colony in 1686; included in the Dominion of New England (1686–1689)
7. Province of New Jersey, established as proprietary colony in 1664; chartered as royal colony in 1702
- East Jersey, established in 1674; merged with West Jersey to re-form Province of New Jersey in 1702; included in the Dominion of New England
- West Jersey, established in 1674; merged with East Jersey to re-form Province of New Jersey in 1702; included in the Dominion of New England
8. Province of Pennsylvania, established in 1681 as proprietary colony
9. Colony and Dominion of Virginia, established in 1607 as proprietary colony; chartered as royal colony in 1624
10. Province of Maryland, established 1632 as proprietary colony
Province of Carolina, initial charter issued in 1629; initial settlements established after 1651; initial charter voided in 1660 by Charles II; rechartered as proprietary colony in 1663
- Roanoke Colony, established in 1585; re-established in 1587; found abandoned in 1590
- 11. Province of North Carolina, established in 1712; chartered as royal colony in 1729
- 12. Province of South Carolina, established in 1712; chartered as royal colony in 1729
13. Province of Georgia, established as proprietary colony in 1732; royal colony from 1752.