A series of acts passed in the Parliament of Great Britain starting in 1767, named after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend. They were intended to generate revenues to pay for the salaries of governors and judges in the American colonies. Among other things, tea was taxed.
There was much debate, particularly among the colonials, about whether they could be taxed without having representation in Parliament.
The acts played a significant part in the movement towards American independence.
For a more comprehensive treatment, see the article on Wikipedia.