First Colonial Conference

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1887 Colonial Conference
First Colonial Conference.jpg
Attending representatives.
Dates 4 April–6 May 1887
Cities United Kingdom London, United Kingdom
Chair Sir Henry Thurston Holland
(Secretary of State for the Colonies)
Precedes 1894 Colonial Conference
Key points
Imperial co-operation, Naval defence, Pacific telegraph cable, Royal title

The First Colonial Conference met in London in 1887 on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. It was organised at the behest of the Imperial Federation League in hopes of creating closer ties between the colonies and the United Kingdom. It was attended by more than 100 delegates, mostly unofficial observers, from both self-governing and dependent colonies. India, however, was not represented.[1]

Among other things discussed, the colonies in Australia and New Zealand agreed to pay £126,000 per annum towards the Royal Navy to help pay for the United Kingdom's naval deployments in the Pacific. In exchange, the British government agreed not to reduce its Pacific Station without colonial consent.[2]

A proposal to lay a telegraph cable between Vancouver and Australia was approved. A Resolution to extend the Queen's title to "Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Ireland, and the Colonies, and all Dependencies thereof, and Empress of India" was also adopted.[3]

The conference was only a deliberative body and resolutions passed were not binding.[1]


The conference was hosted by Queen Victoria and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Lord Salisbury, with Sir Henry Thurston Holland (Secretary of State for the Colonies) acting as chair and the Premiers and other representatives of various colonies as delegates. The colonies invited to send delegates were Newfoundland Colony, Canada, Colony of New South Wales, Colony of Tasmania, Cape of Good Hope, South Australia, the Colony of New Zealand, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and Natal Colony. Various other colonies were invited to send representatives to the opening ceremonies but not participate as delegates. William A. Baillie-Hamilton, the Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, acted as Secretary to the Conference.[4]

Nation Name Portfolio
United Kingdom United Kingdom Sir Henry Thurston Holland Secretary of State for the Colonies (President)
Lord Salisbury Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Earl Cadogan Lord Privy Seal
W. H. Smith First Lord of the Treasury
Edward Stanhope Secretary of State for War
Lord George Hamilton First Lord of the Admiralty
The Viscount Cross Secretary of State for India
The Lord Stanley of Preston President of the Board of Trade
Henry Cecil Raikes Postmaster-General
The Earl of Onslow Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies
Sir James Fegusson Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
 Canada Sir Alexander Campbell Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
Sanford Fleming engineer
Dominion of Newfoundland Newfoundland Colony Sir Robert Thorburn Premier
Sir Ambrose Shea Leader of the Opposition
New South Wales Colony of New South Wales Sir Patrick Jennings former Premier
Sir Robert Wisdom former Attorney-General
Sir Robert Wisdom former Attorney-General
Sir Saul Samuel Agent-General
Tasmania Colony of Tasmania John Stokell Dodds former Attorney-General
Adye Douglas Agent-General
British Cape Colony Cape Colony Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr Member of the Cape House of Assembly
South Australia South Australia Sir John Downer Premier
Sir Arthur Blyth Agent-General
New Zealand Colony of New Zealand Sir Dillon Bell Agent-General
Sir William Fitzherbert Speaker of the New Zealand Legislative Council
Victoria (Australia) Victoria Alfred Deakin Chief Secretary
Sir James Lorimer Minister of Defence
Sir Graham Berry Agent-General
James Service former Premier of Victoria
Queensland Queensland Sir Samuel Griffith Premier
Sir James Francis Garrick Agent-General
Western Australia Western Australia John Forrest Surveyor General and Commissioner of Crown Lands
Septimus Burt former Attorney-General
Flag of the Natal Colony (1875–1910).svg Natal John Robinson Member of the Natal Legislative Council


  1. ^ a b Olson, James S., ed. (1991). Historical Dictionary of European Imperialism. Greenwood Press. pp. 135–136. ISBN 0-3132-6257-8. 
  2. ^ The Cambridge History of the British Empire, Volume 4. Cambridge University Press. 1929. p. 409. 
  3. ^ "Gladstone's Motion Lost" (PDF). New York Times. May 7, 1887. second last paragraph. 
  4. ^

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