Colonies and Dependencies

Next Selection Previous Selection


Plantations are amongst ancient, primitive, and heroical works.—Bacon.

Colonial Censuses

Much valuable information has been accumulated in the Censuses of the Colonies, of which we can give only partial abstracts, as all their reports are not yet published.1 This information is, however, full of interest. It shows everywhere growth; and proves beyond question that the offshoots of the English race are multiplying under every climate in the various possessions which the prowess of the ancestral country has acquired.

Heligoland, Gibraltar, Malta

England has three small possessions in Europe: Heligoland, against the mouth of the Elbe, with 1,913 inhabitants, on some five square miles of territory; Gibraltar, on less than two square miles of rock overhanging the Mediterranean Strait, with a population of 25,216, including 6,521 military; Malta, with 115 square miles of territory and 149,084 inhabitants, including 7,309 military and their families. The two latter possessions are English military stations, in the main for the protection of commerce on the highway to the East; but the inhabitants enjoy many advantages, and present some interesting peculiarities.

North America

Crossing the Atlantic we come to the North American Colonies. These are plantations in the proper sense of the word, and have before them a great future. The Census of the Dominion of Canada, where the first struggle of two great nationalities in America began, finds settled down, united tranquilly around the St. Lawrence, 3,485,761 inhabitants on 350,188 square miles of territory: about 10 to a square mile. It is a little more than the population of Scotland, in possession of more than ten times the land. The males amount to 1,764,311, or to 42,861 more than the females. 706,369 of the inhabitants are of English, 7,773 of Welsh, 549,94,6 of Scotch, 846,414 of Irish, 29,662 of Dutch, 202,991 of German, 1,082,940 of French nationality; 21,496 are Africans, 23,035 are Indians. Of the 706,369 English by race only 144,999 were born in England.

The two provinces of Ontario (Upper Canada) and Quebec (Lower Canada) had 1,620,851 and 1,191,516 inhabitants; New Brunswick, south of the St. Lawrence, 285,594; and Nova Scotia, including the peninsula of that name and the Island of Cape Breton, 387,800 inhabitants.

Prince Edward Island, only united to the dominion in June 1873, had 94,021 inhabitants on an area of 2,173 square miles. Newfoundland has the option of union; its area is 40,200 square miles, its population 146,536. The population of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland are both increasing at about the rate of 16 per cent, in 10 years. Nova Scotia increased 17 per cent, in the 10 years preceding the last Census. The population of Upper and Lower Canada was 2,507,657 in 1861, and has since increased 12 per cent.

Montreal, the most populous city in the dominion, had 90,323 inhabitants in the year 1861, and 107,225 in 1871: of Quebec, the capital of the province, the population is 59,699, where it has stood stationary since 1861, when it was the scat of the government of Canada, now removed to Ottawa, of which the population sprang up in ten years from 14,669 to 21,545. Toronto in Ontario had 44,821 and 56,092 at the two Censuses of 1861-71; Halifax 25,026 and 29,582; St. John in New Brunswick 27,317 and 28,805.2

The Bermudas

The far detached Bermudas supply their contingent to the Census: out of the 300 islands, 15 or 16 inhabited contained 12,121 persons, exclusive of the military and their families: 4,725 were white, 7,390 coloured people; a large proportion read and write. The Church of England has a majority of adherents. The mortality is apparently low.

British Columbia

Manitoba (Red River Settlement), and British Columbia lying away west of the Rocky Mountains and including Vancouvers Island, have not yet made their returns. Of the number of inhabitants of the vast region, 2,750,000 square miles, extending from Labrador to the Arctic regions, over what was the Hudson Bay Company's territory, and now called the North-western Territory, little is known, but the population probably exceeds the common estimates.

With the addition of the Bermudas, the colonies in North America contain 3,789,670 inhabitants. The area is set down at 3,376,925 square miles.

West Indies and Central America

The delightful West India Islands, lifted by volcanic forces out of a tropical sea into a tropical sky, have living on their 13,109 square miles of sea-circled territories 1,063,886 inhabitants. The population is increasing; and it is evident that for Europeans the destructive fevers are merely the consequence of the had choice of sites for cities, of had water when good might be got, and of insanitary conditions, which can be removed there as elsewhere. The notes of the governors and responsible officers are interesting comments on the facts. Jamaica may be taken as a sample of the progress of population; it increased from 377,433 in 1344 to 441,264 in 1861, and to 506,154 in 1871, living on 6,400 square miles. Two epidemics of cholera and one of small-pox committed great ravages in the first interval, but since 1861 no epidemic has reigned. The whites (6,909 males and 6,192 females) decreased by 715 only; the mixed races increased by 19,281, the blacks by 46,333. Governor Rawson of Barbadoes, which has on 166 square miles 162,042 inhabitants—nearly 1,000 persons to a square mile— writes an interesting note on the prospects of the island. The white population numbers 16,560, the coloured 39,578, the black 105,904. The total increase in 10 years since 1861 has been 9,315. The whites lost 34 of their number, the coloured people increased by 3,450, the blacks by 5,899. He calculates what the population of the small island will be in 20 years' time, and urges on the Legislature the importance of providing a "well-regulated emigration which shall provide for the admixture of a fair proportion of females." In some of the islands— for instance, in St. Lucia—complaint is made of the scanty proportion of married persons, where the means of living are cheap and plentiful. The number of planters, managers, overseers, and petty proprietors has, however, increased from 413 in 1861 to 1,210 in 1871, and that may lead to other improvements.

The West India returns afford some consolation, if they afford no excuse, for the slave trade, which had the effect of snatching the ancestors of the black inhabitants from barbarism, and planting them in a splendid climate under conditions favourable to the development of their human faculties. Should they justify the expectations of their friends, they might carry the light of some degree of culture to their native land when it is opened up by commerce or conquest.

British Honduras

Belize, on the river of that name, called British Honduras, is on the mainland of Central America, but is a dependency of Jamaica. Its area is estimated at 13,500 square miles; its population, enumerated in 1870, was 24,710; namely, whites 377, coloured people 24,333. Their occupations, birth-places, and religious professions are distinguished.

South America

In South America, England has only British Guiana north of the equator; and the South Falkland Islands, against the southern extremity of the continent, lying beyond the 51 of south latitude. Guiana has 193,491 inhabitants, exclusive of the aborigines, on 76,000 square miles of territory. The increase has been 45,465 since 1861. The "immigrants from Asia" were 24,710 in 1861 and 48,976 in 1871. Agricultural labourers predominate in the occupation return.

The wind-beat grassy and boggy Falkland Islands, surrounded by good harbours, on an area of 6,500 square miles, had 566 inhabitants in 1860, and 803 in 1871.


England has territories of only twice the area of the United Kingdom in the vast African continent, of which we are, thanks to English enterprise, now learning the riches and resources. The population is returned at 1,813,450, dwelling on 236,860 square miles of land.

Ascension Island, St. Helena

The two historical tropical islands of Ascension and St. Helena, both of volcanic Ascension origin, have areas of 34 and 47 square miles respectively; but while Ascension Island had only 27 inhabitants, St. Helena had 6,241 in 1871. Both are healthy. The mortality in St. Helena is less than 2 per cent.: the deaths of 483 children under 10 years of age to 2,267 births is ascribed by the Colonial Secretary to the fact that a large proportion of the children are not legitimate.

West African Settlements

Sierra Leone, the Gambia, the Gold Coast, and the Island of Lagos were in 1866 west African placed under the single "Government of the West African Settlements." Sierra Leone has, according to the Census of 1871, 38,936 inhabitants,—255 white and 38,681 black and coloured, living on 468 square miles of territory: 10,732 are liberated Africans. 25,072 native Creoles. The population has decreased 2,688 since 1860. The 10,077 dwellings are thus classified:—Dwellings of stone 260, of frame 1,741, and of wattle 8,076.

The occupations are returned.

The Gambia Settlements have 14,190 inhabitants,—56 white, 14,134 black and coloured, The population has increased by 7,251 since,1851. No idea could be acquired of the ages or relationship of the ignorant people. The area of the Gold Coast territory is estimated at 6,000 square miles, the inhabitants at 400,070. No census has been taken since 1853.

Lagos, ceded to Her Majesty in 1861 by Docemo, who was guaranteed a pension of 1000l. a year,3 has 62,021 inhabitants,—94 white, the rest coloured.

South Africa

In South Africa, England has three important possessions, susceptible of great development,—the Cape of Good Hope, Griqualand West, and Natal. The area of 229,582 square miles has as yet only 961,505 inhabitants. In its statistics South Africa is in arrear of its sister colonies. The Cape of Good Hope itself, exclusive of British Caffraria and Basutoland. had 173,689 white, 80,007 Hottentot, 95,574 Kafir, and 131,725 inhabitants called aliens.


The Mauritius, with its dependencies, takes us within the influence of India; it has on the small area of 708 square miles 330,460 inhabitants,—467 to a square mile. The resident population of the Island of Mauritius itself is 316,042: distinguished as general population,—males 51,771, females 48,013: Indian population,—141,804 males and 74,454 females. The conjugal condition, the ages, the occupations, and other interesting particulars are shown in the elaborate tables; to which the Governor, the Honourable Sir A. H. Gordon, has attached some useful explanatory remarks. The population, as is well known in an anomalous state, is affected largely by the Indian immigrants, of whom 153,703 were enumerated on the Census day,—109,173 males and 44,530 females.

The population of the island, including the military and persons on board vessels, was 161,089 in 1846, and 317,069 in 1871.

The charming Seychelles Archipelago contained 11,082 inhabitants; and the other small islands among the dependencies of Mauritius contained 2,309. The increase of 4,336 inhabitants in the last 10 years, the Governor states, is "due to natural causes, not to immigration."


We now enter Asia. The southern peninsula of that vast continent lying to the east of the world known to the ancients, and the source of products which they deemed most precious, was for them the Orient; but, balanced between the temperate and the torrid zones, plunging like a grand island towards the equator, far into the Indian Ocean, and flanked by Africa and Arabia to the west, by China, Japan, the vast tropical archipelago and Australia to the east and south, it is the centre of the rich parts of the Eastern world. India is not occupied by a European population; for it was peopled, cultivated, and covered with cities before the invasion of Alexander the Great. Agriculture, industry, religion, mythology, philosophy, mathematics, had attained great development there when a large part of Europe was barbarous. And the Mahomedan conquerors, down to the time of Baber and Aurungzebe, mixed with but did not displace the native populations of many races, languages, and institutions, which still subsist under British rule, in greater numbers than they ever before attained.

India, conquered by an English company and the genius of great Englishmen,, is now a part of Her Majesty's Empire; its population was enumerated either in the year 18.71 or in the years immediately preceding; and although the whole of the facts have not yet been collated, analyzed, and published, we have been supplied by the Secretary of State for India with an authentic summary of the numbers. Mr. C. C. Prinsep, of the Statistical Department in the India Office, has given a brief notice of the territorial subdivisions of India, which will be found in the Appendix D.4 There are 12 presidencies and provinces, which, when the transitional nomenclature is settled, might all properly be called provinces. Two are under governors, three under lieutenant-governors, and- seven under chief commissioners. The provinces are made up of 53 divisions, 231 revenue and judicial districts, and, exclusive of those of Sind, which are not returned, 1,114 executive subdivisions of districts.

Indian villages and cities

The village is the smallest recognized territorial unit: it has generally less on an average than a square mile of area in the Bengal Presidency, the North-west Provinces, Oude, and Mysore. It is the fourth part of the area of an average parish, and corresponds in some respects with the tything, and the township of England. In India it has, however, special social and political functions of its own. A municipal organization has been conferred upon several cities in India.

Fifteen cities contain more than 100,000 inhabitants. Bombay, seated on its island and its good bay, returns 644,405 inhabitants, engaged in commerce with Europe,— a modern Tyre: Surat, its old rival, further north, and on the Taptee, has 70,000 inhabitants; Ahmedabad 116,873; Puna, so written now, has over the Ghauts 80.416 inhabitants. The Province of Bombay on 78,750 square miles has 12,312,273 inhabitants: Sind, on 48,782 square miles, 1,730,323: Madras, 31,311,142 on 141,746 square miles of land. For the cities of the Madras Presidency the returns are not to hand; but the city of Madras has 397,552 inhabitants, according to the instructive official census. Bangalore, healthy on the heights of Mysore, where the vine and all fruits flourish, has 142,513 inhabitants; the city of Mysore 57,765, Seringapatam only 10,594. On an area of 27,077 square miles, Mysore had 5,055,412 people living. Calcutta, the capital of Bengal—of India—on the Hooghley, has 447,601 inhabitants on 8 square miles of land; but its suburbs raise the population to 704,750; or adding to it the north and the south suburban towns 794,645. Moorshedabad—higher up the Delta—has 46,182 inhabitants living on the Bhagratty; Dacca, of ancient splendour, has on the level plains in which the deltas of the Ganges and the Bramahpootra coalesce, now 69,212 inhabitants.

Bengal, on 89,836 square miles of land has 36,769,735 inhabitants; Behar, on 42.417 square miles, 19,736,101 people. This population, producing and feeding on the simplest diet, has greatly increased under our pacific rule, and reminds us of Ireland, where the population uninsured under a Poor Law by the landlords against death by starvation, multiplied up to its utmost limit of 8 millions and more between 1831 and the famine years.

Ascending the Granges, in the midst of the Province of Behar, is Patna, with 158,900 people; Gya, with 66,843, Monghyr, 59,698, Bhaugulpore, 69,678 inhabitants. Cuttack, the largest town in the Province of Orissa, has 50,878 people., in the midst of 4,317,999.

In the fine north-west Provinces, Benares, the Holy City of the Hindoo, has 173,352 people; Allahabad with its cantonments, at the confluence of the Jumna with the Ganges, 105,926; Cawnpore, the city of English martyrs, 113,601; Agra, the monumental city of Shah Jehan, has higher up the banks of the Jumna 142,661 inhabitants; Bareilly, in fertile land, has 105,649 people in its town and cantonments; Moradabad, 57,304; Meerut, 79,378. The fertile north-west Provinces are also exceedingly populous; on 80,901 square miles they had 30,769,056 people living.

Lucknow, on one of the many tributaries of the Ganges that water the plains of Oude, is now one of the most considerable cities of India; it has 284,779 inhabitants. The fertile Oude is also most populous; it has 11,220,747 people living on 23,973 square miles of land.

Delhi—the metropolis of the Patan, and of the Mogul Empires—on the Jumna, has 154,417 inhabitants; Amritsur—the Pool of Immortality—and the principal seat of the Sikh religion, 135,813: Lahore, 98,924; Mooltan, 56,826, Peshawur, 58,555. The great Province of the Punjaub, extending over the upper streams of the Ganges, and the five rivers where Alexander fought—down the Indus to Sind—the frontier fortress of the Empire—has a population of 17,596,752 on 102,001 square miles of fine territory.

The Central Provinces have in the midst of 9,066,038 people on 84,162 square miles of land, the three considerable cities of Nagpoor, Jubbulpore, and Saugur.

British Burmah, with a population of 2,562,323, on an area of 93,664 square miles, has the populous flourishing city of Rangoon, with 100,000 inhabitants, for its capital.

The tables (pp. 288-294) show for India, under each division, the number and the names of its executive sub-districts, the number of villages, the area in square miles, the number of houses, the population, distinguishing the sexes, in nearly all the provinces except Madras and Bombay, which are less advanced in their work than Bengal. The population of the chief towns of each province, except Sind and Madras, are also given (pp. 294-300). The religions of 144,967,022 of the souls, exclusive of the population of Madras, Bombay, and Sind, are thus returned: Christians, 197,880; Hindoos, 97,351,042; Mahomedans, 35,963,184; Bhuddists and Jains, 2,319,151; others, 9,135,765 (p. 303).

Of the 99,973,196 whose occupations were returned, 55,626,827 were classed as agriculturists, 44,346,369 as not agriculturists.

The houses have been returned for all the provinces except Madras and Bombay including Sind. To obtain the total houses for India, as well as the total number of males and females, estimates have been made for those particular provinces.

And this is the general result,—

India has a population of 191,307,070, or about 98,799,283 males, 92,507,787 females,5 living in 36,341,914 dwellings, associated in about 487,061 villages; and in India, distributed over an area of 938,366 square miles.

Thus there are 204 persons, 39 houses, to a square mile, 3.14 acres to a person, 16.53 acres to a house.

In metric measures there are 79 persons, 15 houses, to a square kilometre; 1.27 hectare to a person, 6.69 to a house.

The mean distance—the proximity—of the 204 persons, 39 houses, on a square mile is 133 yards for persons, 304 yards for houses.

India is less densely peopled than the United Kingdom, and rather more than, half as populous as England and Wales on each square mile of territory.

But the variety in density of population has a great range in India; thus, while there are 260 persons to a square mile in the United Kingdom, the average in the five provinces of the Bengal Government is 269, 465 in Behar, 389 in Bengal proper, 181 in Orissa, and 51 in Assam.6

Some information is supplied as to the area and population of native or feudatory states not included in the Imperial tables (pp. 301-2).

Returns, not perfect, were made of the numbers, sexes, ages, conjugal condition, and occupations of British-born subjects in India (pp. 304-8). These will, we may hope, be completed in the Indian Census Reports.

Sir T. T. Pears supplies returns of the military force in India (p. 309).


Of the results of the Census of the fine island of Ceylon we are only able to give the area, 24,454 square miles, and the population, 2,405,287.


Singapore, on 224 square miles of land, had 97,111 inhabitants,—74,348 males 22,763 females; of whom only 1,946 were Europeans or Americans (including 594 British), namely, 1,528 males, 418 females. 54,098 of the people were Chinese 3,239 Javanese, 9,297 Klings, 19,250 Malays. The ages and occupations are-given.

Penang, or Prince of Wales Island, on 106 square miles, had 61,797 inhabitants Province Wellesley, on 236 square miles, 71,433 people. The Census of these parts and of Malacca, was very complete, and does great credit to the administration. In Malacca, on an area of 640 square miles, 77,756 people were enumerated.

Hong Kong

The area of Hong Kong and the Peninsula of Kow Loon on the mainland was 32 square miles, on which 120,124 people were enumerated. The population has slightly increased since 1801. Besides the army and navy, and persons on board mercantile vessels, there were 2,979 Europeans and Americans,—2,020 males and 959 females, leaving 117,145 Chinese and others, with the usual predominance of males.


The statistics of Australia are carried out so completely, under the conduct of the able men there filling the offices of Registrars General, that it will be possible to trace from humble beginnings the great country which it must in the course of ages constitute.

The area of this new continent, with Norfolk Island and Tasmania, is set down at 2,854,463 square miles, the population at 1,669,202.

Western Australia

Western Australia has only 24,785 people, on 978,000 square miles of territory South Australia has 760,000 square miles of territory, on which 3,369 aborigines were enumerated. The new population, exclusive of aborigines, rose from 17,366 In 1844 to 22,390 in 1846; then sprang up to 63,700 in 1851, to 126,830 in 1861, and to 185 626 in 1871. Adelaide is the capital, with a population of 27,208 in 1871.


Victoria has on the smaller area of 88,198 square miles 731,528 inhabitants including 17,935 Chinese, 1,330 aborigines. The population on the Gold Fields exclusive of Chinese and aborigines, was 254,209. The successive reports of the Registrar General of Victoria promise to make the Census, from which we give extracts, one of the most comprehensive that has been taken in 1871 One Table (p. 334) is particularly striking. It shows how the population, from the small number 177 at the first enumeration in 1836, rose to 3,511 in 1838 to 77,345 in 1851 to 236 798 in 1854, and to 731,528 in 1871, 401,050 of them males, 330,478 females The inhabited houses were 150,618 Of the houses, the materials of whose construc tion is described 33 461 were of brick or stone, 101,635 of wood, iron, &c, 16,499 of canvas bark, mud, &c. Such is the stage of house-building this prolific young colony has attained. The population of Melbourne city is 54,993; of Ballarat city, 24,308 Ballarat East, 16,397; Sandhurst city, 21,987; Richmond, 16,889; Geelong town, 15,026 Victoria is remarkable for this, that it contains 64 cities, towns, and boroughs inhabited by more than half of the whole of its population.

new South Wales

New South Wales has on its 323,437 square miles 503,981 inhabitants, including 2,402 of "shipping population" and 983 aborigines! The population was 29,783 in 1821, and only increased slowly so long as that "shameful and unblessed thing,"7 the system of convict transportation to colonies, existed. But on its removal the population rose in 1846 to 189,609; then, though Victoria (Port Phillip) with its people was separated from it in 1851, the population rose to 266,189 in 1856; and after the separation of Queensland in 1859 the population was, as already stated, 503,981 in 1871. The Census abstracts we give are as interesting as they are copious. Sydney, the capital, contains, exclusive of its suburbs, 74,423 inhabitants.

Norfolk Island

The small Norfolk Island, of 13 square miles, contains the Pitcairn community of 297 souls, the Melanesian mission of 160, and 24 other persons.


Queensland has, exclusive of aborigines, on its vast territory 120,104 persons,— 71,767 males, 48,337 females. The population connected with "gold digging" is 12,366. The population has increased 90,045 since the Census of 1861, when only 30,059 people were living in it. Brisbane, the seat of government, contains 15,029 inhabitants, the females exceeding the males in numbers as in other Australian towns. In its Census the information is as copious as in the other provinces.

Van Diemen's Land

Tasmania, Van Diemen's Land, had 99,328 inhabitants, 9,351 in excess of the Van numbers enumerated in 1861. Like all the other Australian colonies, it is healthy.

New Zealand

In the end we arrive at New Zealand—the England of the southern hemisphere, but surrounded by the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean; it has the moist and salubrious climate of England, with more warmth, mountains of Alpine grandeur, luxuriant vegetation, and veins of the precious metals. It is one of the youngest-born of the colonies, and it is one of the most progressive. The area of the two large islands divided by Cook's Strait, and of Stewart Island and other small islands, is about 106,259 square miles, only some fifth part less than the area of the United Kingdom. The aboriginal population is estimated at 37,502, of whom 35,149 are in the northern island, 2,353 in the middle island. Exclusive of the aborigines, the population is 256,393, perhaps as numerous as the population of Great Britain at the time of Caesar's invasion. The males were 150,356, the females only 106,037.

The population was 26,707 in the year 1851, and has therefore increased nearly tenfold in 20 years.

1 See Appendix D.; an Abstract of the Census Returns of the several Colonies and Possessions will be found on p.162 (Table 182) of Appendix A.

2 Census of Canada, p.428, 1873.

3 Colonial Office List, 1873.

4 pp.286-7.

5 The number of females is probably understated.

6 See valuable Report (p.88) of Bengal Census by Mr Beverley, with the Lieutenant-Governor's resolution thereon.

7 Bacon's Essays.

Next Selection Previous Selection