Governors of British Ceylon

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Governor of Ceylon
Flag of the Governor of Ceylon (1875–1948).svg
Flag of Governor of Ceylon
Sir Edward Barnes by William Salter.jpg
Longest serving
Edward Barnes

1 February 1820–2 February 1822
18 January 1824–13 October 1831
StyleHis Excellency
ResidenceGovernment House
AppointerMonarch of the United Kingdom
PrecursorGovernor of Zeylan
FormationAugust 1795
First holderPatrick Alexander Agnew
as Military Governor
Final holderHenry Monck-Mason Moore
Abolished4 February 1948
SuccessionGovernor-General of Ceylon

The Governor of Ceylon was the representative in Ceylon of the British Crown from 1795 to 1948. In this capacity, the governor was president of the Executive Council and Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces in Ceylon. The governor was the head of the British colonial administration in Ceylon, reporting to the Colonial Office.

With Ceylon gaining self-rule and dominion status with the creation of Dominion of Ceylon in 1948, this office was replaced by the Governor-General, who represented the British monarch as the head of state. The office of Governor-General was itself abolished in 1972 and replaced by the post of President when Sri Lanka became a republic.

Appointment[edit]

The Governor, appointed by the British monarch (on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for the Colonies), maintained executive power in Ceylon throughout British rule.

Powers and Functions[edit]

The Governor was the head of the executive administration in the island. Initially limited to the coastal regions, the authority of the governor was extend to the provinces of the Kingdom of Kandy following the Kandyan Convention in 1815. The Governor had absolute power in the island deriving it from the traditional powers of the Dutch governors and the King of Kandy and reporting to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It was in the Colebrooke Reforms which first defined the role of the Governor as "the representative of the Sovereign the Monarch who rules over the Parliament of the United Kingdom". These reforms introduced the first legislator which was expanded over the next century in the reforms that took place. Upon independence in 1948, the office of the Governor was abolished and replaced with that of the Governor-General as the representative of the Sovereign.[1]

The Governor was the Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in Ceylon, except only during World War II, when Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Ceylon with power exceeding that of the Governor.

Ceremonial[edit]

In November each year, the Governor would receive the annual tribute from the Sultan of Maldives. The Governor was the ex-officio Chancellor of the University of Ceylon and patron of the Royal College Colombo.

Council[edit]

Following the Colebrooke Reforms the Executive Council of Ceylon and the Legislative Council of Ceylon was established with the Governor chairing both these councils. In 1931, the Legislative Council was replaced by the State Council of Ceylon with limited self-government.

Style and title[edit]

The title of the position was "Governor of Ceylon" and was styled Excellency and enjoyed precedence over all other government officials in Ceylon. He was referred to as 'His Excellency' and addressed as 'Your Excellency'. This practice as constituted to the office of President.

Privileges[edit]

Residence[edit]

The Governor's main residence and office was the King's House in Colombo and secondary residence was the King's Pavilion in Kandy. The vacationing residence of the Governor, Queen's Cottage was located in the hill station of Nuwara Eliya.

Guard[edit]

The Governor's Bodyguard was a mounted guard that functioned as a ceremonial guard for the Governor when attending state functions. An ceremonial native regiment of Lascoreens was maintained by the office of the Governor to provide a ceremonial guard on special occasions such as the Maldivian Tribute or Royal visits.

Staff[edit]

The office of the Governor, was housed in at King's House and had a permanent staff. It consisted of the Secretary to the Governor, a Private Secretary, an Aide-de-Camp, the Maha Mudaliyar, an Office Assistant and support staff.

List of Governors[edit]

  Acting Governor
No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Sovereign Ref.
Took office Left office Time in office
Military Governors (1795–1798)
1 Patrick Alexander Agnew
(1765–1813)
(in Trincomalee)
August 1795 1 March 1796 7 months George III
2 James Stuart
(1741–1815)
1 March 1796 1 January 1797 306 days George III
3 Welbore Ellis Doyle
(1758–1797)
1 January 1797 2 July 1797 182 days George III
4 Peter Bonnevaux
(c. 1752–1797)
2 July 1797 12 July 1797 † 10 days George III
5 Pierre Frédéric de Meuron
(1788–1813)
12 July 1797 12 October 1798 1 year, 92 days George III
Resident and Superintendent (1796–1798)
1 Robert Andrews
(1763–1821)
12 February 1796 12 October 1798 2 years, 242 days George III
Governors (1798–1948)
1 5thEarlOfGuilford.jpg Frederick North
(1766–1827)
12 October 1798 19 July 1805 6 years, 280 days George III
2 Maitland and Louverture.jpg Thomas Maitland
(1760–1824)
19 July 1805 19 March 1811 5 years, 243 days George III
John Wilson
(1780–1856)
Acting
19 March 1811 11 March 1812 358 days George III
3 Robert Brownrigg.jpg Robert Brownrigg
(1759–1833)
11 March 1812 1 February 1820 7 years, 327 days George III
Sir Edward Barnes by William Salter.jpg Edward Barnes
(1776–1838)
Acting
1 February 1820 2 February 1822 2 years, 1 day George III
George IV
4 Sir Edward Paget by Martin Archer Shee 1810.jpg Edward Paget
(1775–1849)
2 February 1822 6 November 1822 277 days George IV
James Campbell
(c. 1773–1835)
Acting
6 November 1822 18 January 1824 1 year, 73 days George IV
5 Sir Edward Barnes by William Salter.jpg Edward Barnes
(1776–1838)
18 January 1824 13 October 1831 7 years, 268 days George IV
William IV
John Wilson
(1780–1856)
Acting
13 October 1831 23 October 1831 10 days William IV
6 SirRobertWilmotHorton.jpg Robert Wilmot-Horton
(1784–1841)
23 October 1831 7 November 1837 6 years, 15 days William IV
Queen Victoria
7 James Alexander Stewart-Mackenzie.jpg James Alexander Stewart-Mackenzie
(1784–1843)
7 November 1837 15 April 1841 3 years, 159 days Queen Victoria
8 Sir Colin Campbell by William Salter.jpg Colin Campbell
(1776–1847)
15 April 1841 19 April 1847 6 years, 4 days Queen Victoria
JamesEmersonTennent..jpg James Emerson Tennent
(1804–1869)
Acting
19 April 1847 29 May 1847 40 days Queen Victoria
9 George Byng, Vanity Fair, 1876-04-15.jpg The Viscount Torrington
(1812–1884)
29 May 1847 18 October 1850 3 years, 142 days Queen Victoria
Charles Justin MacCarthy
(1811–1864)
Acting
18 October 1850 27 November 1850 40 days Queen Victoria
10 George William Anderson
(1791–1857)
27 November 1850 18 January 1855 4 years, 52 days Queen Victoria
Charles Justin MacCarthy
(1811–1864)
Acting
18 January 1855 11 May 1855 113 days Queen Victoria
11 Henry George Ward.jpg Henry George Ward
(1797–1860)
11 May 1855 30 June 1860 5 years, 50 days Queen Victoria
Henry Frederick Lockyer
(1797–1860)
Acting
30 June 1860 30 July 1860 30 days Queen Victoria
Charles Edmund Wilkinson
(1807–1870)
Acting
30 July 1860 22 October 1860 84 days Queen Victoria
12 Charles Justin MacCarthy
(1811–1864)
22 October 1860 1 December 1863 3 years, 40 days Queen Victoria
Sir John Terence Nicholls O'Brien (1830-1903).jpg Terence O'Brien
(1830–1903)
Acting
1 December 1863 21 March 1865 1 year, 110 days Queen Victoria
LordRosmead.jpg Hercules Robinson
(1824–1897)
Acting
21 March 1865 16 May 1865 56 days Queen Victoria
13 LordRosmead.jpg Hercules Robinson
(1824–1897)
16 May 1865 4 January 1872 6 years, 233 days Queen Victoria
Henry Turner Irving
(1833–1923)
Acting
4 January 1872 4 March 1872 60 days Queen Victoria
14 William Henry Gregory Vanity Fair 30 December 1871.jpg William Henry Gregory
(1817–1892)
4 March 1872 4 September 1877 5 years, 184 days Queen Victoria
15 James Robert Longden.png James Robert Longden
(1827–1891)
4 September 1877 10 July 1883 5 years, 309 days Queen Victoria
John Douglas
(1835–1885)
Acting
10 July 1883 3 December 1883 146 days Queen Victoria
16 Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon.jpg Arthur Hamilton-Gordon
(1829–1912)
3 December 1883 28 May 1890 6 years, 176 days Queen Victoria
17 Arthur Havelock.jpg Arthur Elibank Havelock
(1844–1908)
28 May 1890 24 October 1895 5 years, 149 days Queen Victoria
Edward Noël Walker
(1842–1908)
Acting
24 October 1895 10 February 1896 109 days Queen Victoria
18 Joseph West Ridgeway.tiff Joseph West Ridgeway
(1844–1930)
10 February 1896 19 November 1903 7 years, 282 days Queen Victoria
Edward VII
Sir Everard im Thurn
(1852–1932)
Acting
19 November 1903 3 December 1903 14 days Edward VII
19 Henry Arthur Blake.jpg Henry Arthur Blake
(1840–1918)
3 December 1903 11 July 1907 3 years, 220 days Edward VII
Hugh Charles Clifford (The Straits Times, 15 October 1929).jpg Hugh Clifford
(1866–1941)
Acting
11 July 1907 24 August 1907 44 days Edward VII
20 Sir Henry Edward McCallum (1852-1919).jpg Henry Edward McCallum
(1852–1919)
24 August 1907 24 January 1913 5 years, 153 days Edward VII
George V
SirReginaldStubbs.jpg Reginald Edward Stubbs
(1876–1947)
Acting
24 January 1913 18 October 1913 267 days George V
21 1stLordChalmers.jpg Robert Chalmers
(1858–1938)
18 October 1913 4 December 1915 2 years, 47 days George V
SirReginaldStubbs.jpg Reginald Edward Stubbs
(1876–1947)
Acting
4 December 1915 15 April 1916 133 days George V
22 Sir john anderson.gif John Anderson
(1858–1918)
15 April 1916 24 March 1918 † 1 year, 343 days George V
SirReginaldStubbs.jpg Reginald Edward Stubbs
(1876–1947)
Acting
24 March 1918 10 September 1918 170 days George V
23 The National Archives UK - CO 1069-111-7.jpg William Henry Manning
(1863–1932)
10 September 1918 1 April 1925 6 years, 203 days George V
SIRCECILCLEMENTIHKU.jpg Cecil Clementi
(1875–1947)
Acting
1 April 1925 18 October 1925 200 days George V
Edward Bruce Alexander
(1872–1955)
Acting
18 October 1925 30 November 1925 43 days George V
24 Hugh Charles Clifford (The Straits Times, 15 October 1929).jpg Hugh Clifford
(1866–1941)
30 November 1925 June 1927 1 year, 6 months George V
Arthur George Murchison Fletcher
(1878–1954)
Acting
June 1927 20 August 1928 1 year, 2 months George V
25 Sir Herbert James Stanley.jpg Herbert Stanley
(1872–1955)
20 August 1928 11 February 1931 2 years, 175 days George V
Bernard Henry Bourdillon
(1883–1948)
Acting
11 February 1931 11 April 1931 59 days George V
26 Graeme Thomson
(1875–1933)
11 April 1931 20 September 1933 2 years, 162 days George V
Graeme Tyrrell
(1876–1964)
Acting
20 September 1933 23 December 1933 94 days George V
27 SirReginaldStubbs.jpg Reginald Edward Stubbs
(1876–1947)
23 December 1933 30 June 1937 3 years, 189 days George V
Edward VIII
George VI
Maxwell MacLagan Wedderburn
(1883–1953)
Acting
30 June 1937 16 October 1937 108 days George VI
28 Sir Andrew Caldecott.jpg Andrew Caldecott
(1884–1951)
16 October 1937 19 September 1944 6 years, 339 days George VI
29 Henry Monck-Mason Moore
(1887–1964)
19 September 1944 4 February 1948 3 years, 138 days George VI

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Specific