The Governorship, 1610-Present

From the 17th century to the present, there has been a representative of the Crown in Newfoundland holding the office of governor or (since 1949) lieutenant-governor. The nature of the office, the central instrument of law and government, has altered over time, reflecting changes in Newfoundland 's constitutional status, as well as evolving assumptions about how a governor should exercise his responsibilities and powers.

John Guy
John Guy
John Guy was the first governor of Cuper's Cove (present day Cupids), founded in 1610. It was the 2nd oldest English colony in the New World after Jamestown, Virginia.
Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections (MF 231- 4.07), St. John's, NL.

The pages which follow describe six phases in the institutional history of the British governorship in Newfoundland - the governors of the 17th century proprietary colonies; the naval governors of the 18th and early 19th centuries; those who served under representative, responsible and Commission government constitutions from 1825 to 1949; and the lieutenant-governors appointed under provincial status. Two of these categories - the naval governors and the Commission governors - are unique to Newfoundland, and are therefore of particular significance to those interested in the history of the British Empire and Commonwealth.

The Baltimore Coat of Arms
The Baltimore Coat of Arms
The Coat of Arms of Sir George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, who founded the Colony of Avalon, at Ferryland, Newfoundland in 1621.
From Justin Winsor, ed., Narrative and Critical History of America: English Explorations and Settlements in North America 1497-1689, Vol. III (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Company, 1884), 520.