List of colonial governors of Virginia

This is a list of colonial governors of Virginia.

Some of those who held the lead role as governor of Virginia never visited the New World and governed through deputies resident in the colony. Others, such as Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, held the lead role for many years but were in Virginia for only a short portion of that time and delegated to others most of the time. Probably for those reasons, in many historical documents and references, the deputies and lieutenant governors who had the primary responsibility in Virginia are also often titled simply "governor." Also, transportation from England routinely took several months and occasionally, much longer. Thus, dates may appear to overlap.

Governor of Virginia (1585–1590)

The first English attempt to colonize Virginia was the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke. Unsuccessful settlements were established under two different governors, and the final fate of the colonists remains unknown.

Virginia Company of London Governors (1607–1624)

From 1606 until 1624, Proprietary Governors oversaw the operation of the Virginia Colony. Most were styled "President of the Council", although some were styled "governor" by the proprietors.

Captain John Smith, from his 1614 map of New England

Crown Governors (1624–1652)

After the Virginia Company of London lost its proprietary charter in 1624, the colony was taken over by the English Crown, and became a crown colony. Governors were appointed by the ruling monarch to oversee the interests of the Crown. During the interregnum period (1649–1660), when England came under commonwealth rule and the protectorate rule of Oliver and Richard Cromwell, those governments appointed Virginia's governors. William Berkeley, who was governor at the time of the execution of King Charles I, remained in office until the arrival of a Commonwealth fleet in 1651 led to his removal. Berkeley was returned to office by votes of the Virginia assembly and by appointment of the restored King Charles II in 1660.

Commonwealth and Protectorate Governors (1652–1660)

  • Governor Richard Bennett (1652–1655)
  • Governor Edward Digges (1655–1656)
  • Governor Lt. Col. Samuel Mathews of Mathews County, Virginia (1656–1660, died in office)

Crown Governors (1660–1775)

See also


  1. Bruce, Philip Alexander; Stanard, William Glover (11 April 1894). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Virginia Historical Society. p. 34. Retrieved 11 April 2018 via Internet Archive. nicholas spencer acting governor virginia.
  2. Spencer, Nicholas (11 April 2018). "Letter from Nicholas Spencer to His Brother". The William and Mary Quarterly. 3 (2): 134–136. doi:10.2307/1921516. JSTOR 1921516.
  3. "Historic Christ Church & Museum, located in Weems, VA". Historic Christ Church. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  4. "Burwell, Lewis (1711 or 1712–1756)". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
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