Governor of Saint Helena

The Governor of Saint Helena is the representative of the British monarch in the United Kingdom's overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.[1] The Governor is appointed by the monarch on the official advice of His Majesty's Government (HMG).

Governor of Saint Helena
Coat of arms of Saint Helena
Standard of the Governor of Saint Helena
Nigel Phillips
since 13 August 2022
StyleHis Excellency
ResidencePlantation House, St Helena
AppointerMonarch of the United Kingdom
Term lengthAt His Majesty's pleasure
First holderJohn Dutton
WebsiteGovernment of St Helena

The role of the governor is to act as the de facto head of state as well as the de jure head of government and commander-in-chief of the territory, which consists of the islands of Saint Helena and Ascension and the group of islands of Tristan da Cunha. The governor's responsibilities include internal security, external affairs, the administration of justice, finance, shipping and employment, as well as disciplinary action in respect of any public officer. The governor is based on Saint Helena and is represented by resident administrators, appointed by HMG, on both Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha. The governor also appoints three members to Saint Helena's Executive Council (the balance being popularly elected); the officeholder, with some exceptions, is bound to seek and act in accordance with their advice.

The governor's flag in Saint Helena is the Union Flag defaced with the territory's coat of arms. The official residence, Plantation House, is located near the capital Jamestown. The Governor's Office is located within The Castle, along with the office of the Chief Secretary of Saint Helena, who runs the day-to-day administrative part of the government.

Before 2009 the territory was known as Saint Helena, of which Ascension and Tristan da Cunha were dependencies. A new constitution that came into force in 2009 changed the name of the territory to Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; however, the Governor's title remained as the "Governor of Saint Helena".[2] The Governor of Saint Helena nonetheless is the British monarch's representative across the territory.

The current Governor of Saint Helena has been Nigel Phillips since 13 August 2022.

Acting Governor and the Governor's Deputy

Under the St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009, an Acting Governor is appointed when the office of Governor is vacant or the Governor is unable to fulfill his or her duties long term. The Acting Governor is appointed by His Majesty The King.

If the governor is off the island for a short time (including visits to Ascension or Tristan da Cunha) or is ill for a short period), the governor may appoint anyone on St Helena to be Deputy. The Deputy must follow any instructions issued by the Governor. It is current practice to appoint an Acting Governor when the Governor is away from the island of Saint Helena, even if visiting either Ascension Island or Tristan da Cunha.[3]

In recent years the Chief Secretary (or the Attorney General) has taken on this temporary role in the Governor's absence, the most recent times being in January 2011 when the Governor travelled to Tristan da Cunha and the Chief Secretary became Deputy Governor[4] and then later in 2011 when Kenneth Baddon, the Attorney General, became Deputy Governor.

List of governors of Saint Helena

East India Company governors

The territory was governed by the East India Company from its initial colonization in 1659 to the end of Company rule in 1834.

  • Capt. John Dutton 1659–1660
  • Capt. Robert Stringer 1660–1669
  • Capt. Richard Coney 1669–1672
  • Capt. Anthony Beal 1672–73
  • Dutch East India Company interregnumJanuary to May 1673
  • Capt. Richard Keigwin 1673–1674 (interim)
  • Capt. Gregory Field 1674–1678
  • Maj. John Blackmore 1678–1690
  • Capt. Joshua Johnson 1690–1693 – assassinated, whilst Governor, on the island
  • Capt. Richard Keling 1693–1697
  • Capt. Stephen Poirier 1697–1707
  • Capt. John Roberts 1708–1711
  • Capt. Benjamin Boucher 1711–1713
  • Capt. Isaac Pike 1713–1718
  • Edward Johnson 1718–1722
  • Capt. John Smith 1722–1726
  • Edward Byfiel 1727–1731
  • Capt. Charles Hutchinson 1746–1764[5]
  • Sir Robert Brooke 1788–1800
  • Francis Robson 13 Jul 1801 – 11 Mar 1802, Acting Governor and East India Company officer
  • Colonel Robert Patton Mar 1802 – July 1807[6]
  • Mark Wilks 1813–1816
  • Major-General Sir Hudson Lowe 1816–1821
  • John Pine Coffin 1821–1823[7]
  • Brigadier General Alexander Walker 1823–1828
  • Charles Dallas 1828–1834

British Crown governors

Following on from St Helena becoming a crown colony in 1834, the first governor was appointed in 1836.

  • 1836 – Major General George Middlemore
  • 1842 – Colonel Hamelin Trelawny
  • 1846 – Major General Sir Patrick Ross
  • 1851 – Colonel Sir Thomas Gore Browne
  • 1856 – Sir Edward Drummond-Hay
  • 1863 – Admiral Sir Charles Elliot
  • 1870 – Vice Admiral Charles George Edward Patey
  • 1873 – Hudson Ralph Janisch
  • 1890 – Sir William Grey-Wilson
  • 1897 – Robert Armitage Sterndale
  • 1903 – Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Galway
  • 1912 – Major Sir Harry Cordeaux
  • 1920 – Colonel Robert Peel
  • 1925 – Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Iremonger (Acting Governor)
  • 1925 – Sir Charles Harper
  • 1932 – Sir Spencer Davis
  • 1938 – Sir Guy Pilling
  • 1941 – Major William Bain Gray
  • 1947 – Sir George Joy
  • 1954 – Sir James Harford
  • 1958 – George Albert Lewis (Acting Governor)
  • 1960 – Sir Robert Alford
  • 1963 – Sir John Field
  • 1969 – Sir Dermod Murphy
  • 1971 – Sir Thomas Oates
  • 1976 – Geoffrey Colin Guy
  • 1981 – John Dudley Massingham
  • 1984 – Francis Eustace Baker
  • 1988 – Robert F Stimson
  • 1991 – Alan Hoole
  • 1995 – David Leslie Smallman
  • 1999 – David Hollamby
  • 2004 – Michael Clancy
  • 2004 – Martin Hallam (Acting Governor)
  • 2007 – Andrew Gurr
  • 2011 – Kevin Baddon (Acting Governor)
  • 2011 – Mark Andrew Capes
  • 2016 – Lisa Honan[8]
  • 2019 – Louise MacMorran (Acting Governor)
  • 2019 – Dr Philip Rushbrook[9]
  • 2022 – Greg Gibson (Acting Governor)
  • 2022 – Nigel Phillips[10]

See also

  • Administrator of Ascension Island
  • Administrator of Tristan da Cunha


  1. The St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order, 2009 does not provide for a 'Governor of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha': it only provides for a 'Governor of St Helena', who is concurrently the 'Governor of Ascension' and the 'Governor of Tristan da Cunha'.
  2. The St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009 Part 3 of the Constitution (in the Schedule to the Order)
  3. "St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009, Schedule sections 27 and 28". Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  4. St Helena Independent Archived 2012-03-17 at the Wayback Machine 21 January 2011, see page 8
  5. British Magazine 1st Dec 1746, p402
  6. Maj. V. C. P. Hodson, List of the Officers of the Bengal Army, 1758-1834, part III (London: Phillimore & Co. Ltd., 1946), 481.
  7. Stearn, Roger T. "Coffin, John Pine". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/5809. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. "Foreign & Commonwealth Office – Change of Her Majesty's Governor of St Helena". Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  9. "Change of Governor of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha". Foreign & Commonwealth Office. 4 December 2018.
  10. "Arrival of new Governor of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan Da Cunha". St Helena Government. 27 June 2022. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
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