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Quartering Act: Wikis


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Quartering Act is the name of at least two acts of the Parliament of Great Britain during the Eighteenth century. These Quartering Acts were used by the British forces in the American colonies to ensure that British soldiers had adequate housing and provisions. These acts were amendments to the Mutiny Act, which had to be renewed annually by Parliament.[1] Originally intended as a response to problems that arose during Britain's victory in the Seven Years War they later became a source of tension between inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies and the government in London.


Quartering Act of 1765

Lieutenant General Thomas Gage, Commander in Chief of British North American forces, and other British officers who had fought in the French and Indian War, had found it hard to persuade colonial assemblies to pay for quartering and provisioning of troops on the march and he asked Parliament to do something. Most colonies had supplied provisions during the war, but the issue was disputed in peacetime. The Province of New York assembly passed an act to provide for the quartering of British regulars, which expired on January 1, 1764.[2]The result was the Quartering Act of 1765, which went far beyond what Gage had requested. The colonies disputed the legality of this Act since it seemed to violate the Bill of Rights 1689 which forbid taxation without representation and the raising or keeping of a standing army without the consent of Parliament. No standing army had been kept in the colonies before the French and Indian War, so the colonies asked why a standing army was needed after the French had been defeated.

This first Quartering Act (citation 5 Geo. III c. 33) was given Royal Assent on March 24, 1765, and provided that Great Britain would house its soldiers in American barracks and public houses, as by the Mutiny Act of 1765, but if its soldiers outnumbered the housing available, would quarter them "in inns, livery stables, ale houses, victualing houses, and the houses of sellers of wine and houses of persons selling of rum, brandy, strong water, cider or metheglin", and if numbers required in "uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings"... "upon neglect or refusal of such governor and council in any province", required any inhabitants (or in their absence, public officials) to provide them with food and alcohol, and providing for "fire, candles, vinegar, salt, bedding, and utensils" for the soldiers "without paying any thing for the same".

When 1,500 British troops arrived at New York City in 1766 the New York Provincial Assembly refused to comply with the Quartering Act and failed to supply billeting for the troops. The troops had to remain on their ships. For failure to comply with the Quartering Act, Parliament suspended the Province of New York's Governor and legislature in 1767 and 1769. In 1771, the New York Assembly allocated funds for the quartering of the British troops.

The Quartering Act was circumvented in all colonies other than Pennsylvania.

This act expired on March 24, 1767.

Quartering Act of 1774

A second Quartering Act (citation 14 Geo. III c. 54) was passed on June 2, 1774, as part of a group of laws that came to be known as the Intolerable Acts. The acts were designed to restore imperial control over the American colonies. While several of the acts dealt specifically with the Province of Massachusetts Bay, the new Quartering Act applied to all of the colonies.

In the previous act, the colonies had been required to provide housing for soldiers, but colonial legislatures had been uncooperative in doing so. The new Quartering Act similarly allowed a governor to house soldiers in other buildings if suitable quarters were not provided, but it did not have the provision in the previous act that soldiers be provided with provisions.

While many sources claim that the Quartering Act of 1774 allowed troops to be billeted in occupied private homes, this is a myth. The act only permitted troops to be quartered in unoccupied buildings. "It did not, as generations of American school children were taught, permit the housing of troops in private homes."[3] The freedom from having soldiers quartered in private homes was a liberty guaranteed since 1628 by the Petition of Right. Although many colonists found the Quartering Act objectionable, it generated the least protest of the Intolerable Acts.[4]

This act expired on March 24, 1776.

Quartering in time of War

During the French and Indian War Britain had forcibly seized quarters in private dwellings.[5] In the American Revolutionary War, the New York Provincial Congress barracked Continental Army troops in private homes.[6]

Modern relevance

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.

  • The Third Amendment to the United States Constitution, expressly prohibited the military from peacetime quartering of troops without consent of the owner of the house. A product of their times, the relevance of the Acts and the Third Amendment has greatly declined since the era of the American Revolution, having been the subject of only one case in over 200 years (Engblom v. Carey).
  • The Quartering Act was one of the reasons for the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which authorized a militia. Standing armies were mistrusted, and the First Congress considered quartering of troops to have been one of the tools of oppression before and during the American revolution.

See also


  1. ^ William Winthrop, Military Law and Precedents, 19-20 (2d ed., Government Printing Office 1920); "Quartering Act." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 1 Dec. 2008 <>.
  2. ^ Kammen, pg. 355
  3. ^ Ammerman, pg. 20.
  4. ^ Ammerman, pg. 20
  5. ^ Anderson, p. 649
  6. ^ Schecter, pg. 90


  • Ammerman, David, "The Tea Crisis and its Consequences, through 1775", in Jack P. Greene and J.R. Pole, eds., The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1999)
  • Kammen, Michael, Colonial New York, A History, 1975, ISBN 0684143259
  • Ketchum, Richard, Divided Loyalties, How the American Revolution Came to New York, 2002, ISBN 0-8050-6120-7
  • Schecter, Barnet, The Battle of New York, 2002, ISBN 0802713742

External links



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