Population of the 13 Colonies 1610-1790

By Chuck Springston
Population of the 13 Colonies 1610-1790


     In 1776, Great Britain's population was roughly three times the size of the Colonies.

     The chart below shows the total population of Britain’s colonies from the founding of Jamestown, Va., in 1607 to the 1790 census, the first census of the U.S. government.

1610              350 (all in Virginia)
1620           2,302 (Virginia and Plymouth Plantation)
1630           4,646
1640         26,634
1650         50,368
1660         75,058
1670       111,935
1680       151,507
1690       210,372
1700       250,888
1710       331,711
1720       466,185
1730       629,445
1740       905,563
1750    1,170,760
1760    1,593,625
1770    2,148,076
1776   2,500,000
1780    2,780,369
1790    3,929,214


    The 13 Colonies by population in 1770
    As the Revolution approached, this is how the Colonies ranked in size. The populations of four Colonies—Virginia, Massachusetts, North Carolina and New York—do not include certain territorial claims that became separate states after the Revolution.
  1. Virginia               447,016
  2. Pennsylvania       240,057
  3. Massachusetts    235,808
  4. Maryland            202,599
  5. North Carolina    197,200
  6. Connecticut        183,881
  7. New York           162,920
  8. South Carolina    124,244
  9.  New Jersey        117,431
10. Rhode Island        58,196
11. New Hampshire     62,396
12. Delaware              35,496
13. Georgia                23,375

    Populated lands claimed by Colonies in 1770
    These areas were parts of four Colonies during the Revolution but became separate states after the war. They are counted in the 2.1 million total for 1770 but were not included in the population of their associated Colonies, listed above.

Maine (part of Massachusetts)        31,257
Kentucky (Virginia)                        15,700
Vermont (New York)                      10,000
Tennessee (North Carolina)              1,000


Sources
  • The 1610-1780 numbers, except for 1776, are estimates from the “Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970,” issued by the Census Bureau, which cites as its main sources archival research and the statistical work of various scholars. The documents used by the researchers include reports by Colonial officials to an administrative group in London called the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, censuses conducted in individual Colonies, militia records, tax liens and estimates by Colonial officials themselves. 
  • The 1776 population figure is a separate Census Bureau estimate.
  • The 1790 number is the official count in the first national census undertaken by the federal government under provisions of the Constitution of 1787. The original report on the 1790 census listed the country’s population as 3,929,326, but math errors showed 114 more people in Vermont than the correct count and two fewer people in Delaware than the correct count. Subtracting 114 and adding two equals 3,929,214. 

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