Governor of Bermuda

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Governor of Bermuda
Coat of arms of Bermuda.svg
Coat of Arms of Bermuda
George Fergusson.jpg
George Fergusson

since 23 May 2012
Style His Excellency
Residence Government House
Appointer Queen Elizabeth II
as Queen of the United Kingdom
Term length At Her Majesty's pleasure
Formation 1612
First holder Richard Moore
Website Office of the Governor
Standard of the Governor of Bermuda
Coat of arms of Bermuda.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The Governor of Bermuda is the representative of the British monarch in the British overseas territory of Bermuda. The Governor is appointed by the monarch on the advice of the British government. The role of the Governor is to act as the de facto head of state, and he or she is responsible for appointing the Premier and the 11 members of the Senate (the upper house of Bermuda's Parliament).

The current Governor is George Fergusson; he was sworn in on 23 May 2012.

The Governor has his own flag in Bermuda, a Union Flag defaced with the territory's coat of arms.


Bermuda's settlement began in 1609, with the wrecking of the flagship of the Virginia Company, the Sea Venture. Although most of the passengers and crew ultimately completed their voyage to Virginia, the archipelago was permanently settled from that point, and left in the hands of the Virginia Company. The first intentional settlers arrived in 1612, under the colony's first Governor, Richard Moore. A carpenter by trade, Moore ensured the long-term survival of the colony by concentrating on building fortifications, including the first stone forts in the English New World, and developing St. George's Town.

Bermuda was the second permanent English colony established (as an extension of the first, Jamestown, Virginia). Bermuda was administered under Royal charters by the Virginia Company, and its successor, the Somers Isles Company, which appointed the colony's governors until the Crown revoked the charter and took over administration in 1684. The Crown maintained the system of government established under the company; an elected parliament and a privy council under a governor. The Privy Council, made up of the Chief Justice, certain senior civil servants, and appointees, was also known as the Governor's Council and the Legislative Council (most of its responsibilities are now filled by the Cabinet and the Senate of Bermuda, with the Council now only an advisory body for the Governor). The last company-appointed Governor was reappointed by the Crown. In 1707 the British State was created by the union of the Kingdom of England with the Kingdom of Scotland, and Bermuda thereby became a British colony. Since the 1783 independence of Virginia, it has been the Britain's oldest colony. Following US independence, Bermuda became an important Royal Navy base, with a large military garrison to guard it.[1] As such, the policy of the government until the closure of the Royal Naval dockyard in 1953 had been to appoint retiring Generals or Admirals as Bermuda's Governor and Commander-in-Chief. On the rare occasions when a civilian was appointed to the role, it was only as Governor – the role of Commander-in-Chief being filled by a serving General or Admiral in Bermuda or Newfoundland. Since the 1950s, those appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief have tended to be prominent career-politicians at the ends of their political lives.

Prior to the creation of the Parliament of Bermuda, the House of Assembly, in 1620, the Governors ruled supreme, and were often draconian. Governor Daniel Tucker, formerly of Virginia, who arrived in 1616, was notorious for his harshness, having many islanders hanged, maimed, or whipped on the slightest provocation. One Bermudian, John Wood, was hanged for airing his views on the Governor in church. Governor Tucker's personal boat was reportedly stolen by five islanders, one named Saunders, who left a note saying they were on their way to England, or Davy Jones' Locker, either place being preferable to Bermuda under Tucker's rule. On reaching England, they complained about the harshness of Tucker's rule, though their complaints fell on deaf ears. Governor Tucker also, reportedly, used his oversight of the surveying of Bermuda to enrich himself and future generations of Bermudian Tuckers with prime real estate.

For the remainder of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the real political power in Bermuda lay in the elected parliament and the appointed Council, both dominated by members of Bermuda's wealthy commercial class. Governors who were too high-handed or injudicious in the exercise of their office occasionally fell foul of the local political institutions. Governor Isaac Richier, who arrived in 1691, quickly made himself unpopular with his carousing and criminal behaviour. Bermudian complaints saw him placed in jail, and replaced by Governor Goddard. When Goddard proved worse than Richier, attorney general Samuel Trott had him jailed alongside Richier. The two governors were to be tried before a pair of prominent Bermudians, John Trimmingham and William Butterfield. After Trott called the amateur judges bush lawyers, however, he found himself in St. George's jail alongside the governors. After they confided in him their plan for escape, Trott informed the judges. Richier and Goddard were sent back to England for trial.[2]

At the written request of George Washington, during the course of the American War of Independence, 100 barrels of gunpowder were stolen from a magazine in St. George's and provided to the American rebels. No one was ever prosecuted in relation to this act of treason. The theft had been the result of a conspiracy involving powerful Bermudians, who were motivated as much by Bermuda's desperate plight, denied her primary trading partner and source of food, as by any favourable sentiments they may have had in regard to either the American colonists or their cause. Following this, Bermudians and their political institutions were looked at suspiciously by the British Government.

With the buildup of the naval and military bases on the island following American independence, the position of the Governor was enhanced. Despite this, the Governors – appointed by the Crown – remained largely dependent on the Bermudian parliament to pass laws and to provide funds. This fact often found Governors pleading in vain for the required acts of parliament or money to carry out policies determined at Government House, or in London. This was particularly noticeable in the Bermudian Parliament's neglect to maintain militia, which (other than during the course of the American War of 1812), it allowed to become moribund after the build-up of the naval and military base began in 1795.

Attempts to raise militias directly under the control of the Governor, without acts of the local parliament, ultimately failed because the parliament did not provide funds. In the 1860s, it became the policy of the British Government to reduce the costly professional military garrison in Bermuda. As it was not wished to leave the colony, seen more as a naval base, unguarded, this could only be done if the professional soldiers were replaced with part-time Volunteer units. Successive governors were set the task of convincing the Bermudian parliament to raise the required units, but, concerned of being saddled with the cost of maintaining the entire garrison, as well as with the possibility for social disruption that could be caused by raising either racially-segregated or integrated units, the Bermudian Parliamentarians simply refused. This state of affairs continued until the Secretary of State for War found a lever (the Princess Hotel) to blackmail the Bermuda Parliament with in 1885, when it finally passed acts for the creation of volunteer forces (although the units would be entirely funded by the British Government).[3] Struggles between the Governor and the Parliament would continue to recur. In 1939, the Governor, General Sir Reginald Hildyard, resigned his post, reportedly because the Bermudian Parliament refused to allow him a motor car (motor vehicles having been banned in Bermuda before the First World War, following a petition signed by numerous Bermudians, and by visitors including Woodrow Wilson).

On 10 March 1973, the 121st Governor, Richard Sharples, and his aide-de-camp Captain Hugh Sayers, were assassinated in a racist attack by a Bermudian black activist named Buck Burrows and an accomplice, Larry Tacklin, who were members of the Black Beret Cadres. Under Bermudian law at the time, premeditated murder was a capital offence, and death sentences were often handed out, though routinely commuted. No death sentence had been carried out since the 1940s. After much debate due to the controversial moral issues raised, the sentence stood despite a 6,000-strong petition from Bermudians to the Queen. Both men were hanged in 1977 for the killings and other murders, sparking riots throughout Bermuda. Buck Burrows explained in his confession that he had killed the Governor to prove that he was not untouchable and that white-dominated politics was fallible. He was also found guilty of murdering the police commissioner, George Duckett, six months earlier on 9 September 1972, and of killing the co-owner and book-keeper of a supermarket called the Shopping Centre, Victor Rego and Mark Doe in April 1973.

List of Governors of Bermuda

File:George James Bruere.png
George James Bruere, in office from 1764 to 1780, the longest-serving of all Bermuda's Governors
  1. 1612–1616 Richard Moore
  2. 1616–1619 Daniel Tucker
  3. 1619–1622 Nathaniel Butler
  4. 1622–1623 Capt. John Bernard
  5. 1623–1626 Capt. Henry Woodhouse
  6. 1626–1629 Capt. Philip Bell
  7. 1629–1637 Capt. Roger Wood
  8. 1637–1641 Capt. Thomas Chaddock
  9. 1641–1642 Capt. William Sayle
  10. 1642–1643 Capt. Josias Forster
  11. 1643–1644 Capt. William Sayle
  12. 1644–1645 William Sayle
  13. 1645 Capt. Josias Forster
  14. 1645–1647 The Triumvirate
  15. 1647–1649 Capt. Thomas Turner
  16. 1649–1650 John Trimingham (Elected by the People)
  17. 1650–1659 Capt. Josias Forster
  18. 1659–1663 Capt. William Sayle
  19. 1663–1668 Capt. Florentius Seymour
  20. 1668–1669 Samuel Whalley
  21. 1669–1681 Sir John Heydon
  22. 1681–1682 Capt. Florentius Seymour
  23. 1682-1683 Henry Durham (Act. Gov.)
  24. 1683–1687 Col. Richard Coney
  25. 1687–1690 Sir Richard Robinson
  26. 1691–1693 Isaac Richier
  27. 1693–1698 Capt. John Goddard
  28. 1698–1700 Samuel Day
  29. 1701–1713 Capt. Benjamin Bennett
  30. 1713–1718 Henry Pulleine
  31. 1718–1722 Capt. Benjamin Bennett
  32. 1722–1727 Sir John Hope
  33. 1727–1728 John Trimingham
  34. 1728–1737 Capt. John Pitt
  35. 1737–1738 Andrew Auchinleck
  36. 1738–1744 Alured Popple
  37. 1744–1747 Francis Jones
  38. 1747–1751 William Popple
  39. 1751–1755 Francis Jones
  40. 1755–1763 William Popple
  41. 1763–1764 Francis Jones
  42. 1764–1780 George James Bruere
  43. 1780 Thomas Jones
  44. 1780–1781 George Bruere the younger
  45. 1782–1788 William Browne
  46. 1788–1794 Henry Hamilton (Lt. Gov.)
  47. 1794–1796 James Crawford
  48. 1796 Henry Tucker
  49. 1796 William Campbell
  50. 1796–1798 Henry Tucker
  51. 1798–1803 George Beckwith
  52. 1803–1805 Henry Tucker
  53. 1805–1806 Francis Gore (Lt. Gov.)
  54. 1806 Henry Tucker
  55. 1806–1810 John Hodgson
  56. 1810–1811 Samuel Trott
  57. 1811–1812 Sir James Cockburn
  58. 1812 William Smith
  59. 1812–1816 George Horsford (Lt. Gov.)
  60. 1814–1816 Sir James Cockburn
  61. 1816–1817 William Smith
  62. 1817–1819 Sir James Cockburn
  63. 1819 William Smith
  64. 1819–1822 Sir William Lumley
  65. 1822–1823 William Smith
  66. 1823–1825 Sir William Lumley
  67. 1825–1826 William Smith
  68. 1826–1829 Sir Hilgrove Turner
  69. 1829 Robert Kennedy (Act. Gov.)
  70. 1829–1830 Sir Hilgrove Turner
  71. 1830 Robert Kennedy (Act. Gov.)
  72. 1830–1832 Sir Hilgrove Turner
  73. 1832–1835 Sir Stephen Remnant Chapman
  74. 1835 Henry G. Hunt (Act. Gov.)
  75. 1835–1836 Robert Kennedy
  76. 1836–1839 Sir Stephen Remnant Chapman
  77. 1839–1846 Major General William Reid
  78. 1846 William N. Hutchinson
  79. 1846–1852 Sir Charles Elliot
  80. 1852–1853 W. Hassell Eden (Act. Gov.)
  81. 1853 George Philpots (Act. Gov.)
  82. 1853 Soulden Oakley (Act. Gov.)
  83. 1853 Thomas C. Robe (Act. Gov.)
  84. 1853 Soulden Oakley (Act. Gov.)
  85. 1853–1854 Sir Charles Elliot
  86. 1854 Montgomery Williams (Act. Gov.)
  87. 1854–1859 Col. Freeman Murray
  88. 1859 AT. Heniphill (Act. Gov.)
  89. 1859–1860 William Munroe
  90. 1860–1861 Col. Freeman Murray
  91. 1861–1864 Col. Harry St. George Ord
  92. 1864 William Munroe (Act. Gov.)
  93. 1864–1865 W.H. Hamley (Lt. Gov.)
  94. 1865–1866 Col. Harry St. George Ord
  95. 1866–1867 W.H. Hamley (Lt. Gov.)
  96. 1867 Arnold Thompson (Act. Gov.)
  97. 1867–1870 Sir Frederick Chapman
  98. 1870 W. F. Brett (Lt. Gov.)
  99. 1871–1877 Maj. Gen. Sir John Henry Lefroy
  100. 1877–1882 Robert Michael Laffan[4]
  101. 1882–1888 Lt. Gen. Thomas L. J. Gallwey
  102. 1888–1891 Lt. Gen. Edward Newdegate
  103. 1892–1896 Lt. Gen. Thomas Lyons
  104. 1896–1901 Lt. Gen. Sir George Digby Barker
  105. 1902–1904 Lt. Gen. Sir Henry LeGuay Geary[5]
  106. 1904–1907 Lt. Gen. Sir Robert M. Steward
  107. 1907–1908 Lt. Gen. Sir Josceline Wodehouse
  108. 1908–1912 Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Walter Kitchener
  109. 1912–1917 Lt. Gen. Sir George M. Bullock
  110. 1917–1922 Gen. Sir James Willcocks
  111. 1922–1927 Lt. Gen. Sir J. J. Asser
  112. 1927–1931 Lt. Gen. Sir Louis Jean Bols
  113. 1931–1936 Lt. Gen. Sir Thomas Astley Cubitt
  114. 1936–1939 General Sir Reginald Hildyard
  115. 1939–1941 Lt. Gen. Sir Denis John Charles Kirwan Bernard
  116. 1941–1943 The Rt. Hon. Viscount Knollys
  117. 1943–1945 Lord Burghley
  118. 1945-May 1946 William Addis (acting)[6]
  119. May 1946–1949 Admiral Sir Ralph Leatham
  120. 1949–1955 Lt. Gen. Sir Alexander Hood
  121. 1955–1959 Lt. Gen. Sir John Woodall
  122. 1959–1964 Maj. Gen. Sir Julian Gascoigne
  123. 1964–1972 The Rt. Hon. Lord Martonmere
  124. 1972–1973 Sir Richard Sharples (assassinated)
  125. 1973 – 7 April 1977 Sir Edwin Leather
  126. 7 April 1977 - 6 September 1977 Peter Lloyd (acting - 1st tenure)[6]
  127. 1977–30 December 1980 The Hon. Sir Peter Ramsbotham
  128. 1 January 1981 – February 1981 Peter Lloyd (acting - 2nd tenure)[6]
  129. February 1981 – 15 March 1983 Sir Richard Posnett[6]
  130. 14 Feb. 1983 – July 1983 Mark Herdman (acting) - Acting for Governor Posnett until 15 March 1983[6]
  131. 1983–1988 The Rt. Hon. Viscount Dunrossil
  132. 1988–1992 Major-Gen Sir Desmond Langley
  133. 25 August 1992 – 4 June 1997 The Rt. Hon. Lord Waddington
  134. 4 June 1997 – 27 November 2001 Thorold Masefield
  135. 27 November 2001 - 11 April 2002 Tim Gurney (acting)[6]
  136. 11 April 2002 – 12 October 2007 Sir John Vereker
  137. 12 October 2007 – 12 December 2007 Mark Andrew Capes (acting)[6]
  138. 12 December 2007 – 18 May 2012 Sir Richard Gozney
  139. 18 May 2012 – 23 May 2012 David Arkley (acting)
  140. 23 May 2012 – Present Hon. George Fergusson


Bermuda and Great Britain; Bermuda Online Portal

  1. "The Andrew and the Onions: The Story of the Royal Navy in Bermuda, 1795–1975", Lt. Commander Ian Strannack, The Bermuda Maritime Museum Press, The Bermuda Maritime Museum
  2. "Bermuda in Three Colours", Carveth Wells. Robert M. McBride & Company, New York. 1935.
  3. "Defence, Not Defiance: A History of the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps", Jennifer M. Ingham (now Jennifer M. Hind), ISBN 0-9696517-1-6. Printed by The Island Press Ltd., Pembroke, Bermuda. Itself using as a source the unique, typescript "History of The Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps, 1891–1933", held at the Bermuda Library, in Hamilton.
  4. May, Alex. "Laffan, Sir Robert Michael". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/15875.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. The London Gazette: no. 27398. p. 385. 17 January 1902.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 "Countries Ba-Bo: Bermuda". Retrieved 3 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links