By 1800, the British had yet to achieve an empire on which ‘the sun never sets’, but British possessions were scattered across the globe. During the Napoleonic Wars, British naval supremacy enabled it to annex overseas territories from France, and by extension, its confederate, the Dutch. The strategic Cape of Good Hope was seized from the Dutch in 1795, and Guyana (1796). The horse-trading that accompanied the Treaty of Paris (1815) resulted in Britain returning some captured possessions to France. But it kept hold of Mauritius, St Lucia, Malta and Tobago, while the Spanish generously chipped in with Trinidad. The vast territories of Canada were as yet of largely notional value other than for furs: Australia was just a fledgling penal colony. West African outposts of the slave trade, would, with abolition, convert to Crown colonies, commencing with Sierra Leone (1807). The prize was India, vastly extended by French cessions in 1815.
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