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Colonial Governors of the Bahamas

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  • Lt. Col. Cadwallader Jones (c.1652 - c.1699)
    Lt. Col. Cadwallader Jones was born about 1652 in Essex County, Virginia and died 1699 in Stafford County, Virginia. He was an Indian trader, an explorer of the western regions of VA and Governor of Ba...
  • George Cumine Strahan (1837 - 1887)
    See Wikipedia... For an analysis of births and baptisms in this family, check here...
  • Sir Bede Edmund Hugh Clifford (1890 - 1969)
    Sir Bede Edmund Hugh Clifford (1890 – 1969) was a New Zealand diplomat and colonial administrator. His parents were William Hugh Clifford, 10th Baron Clifford of Chudleigh and Catherine Ma...
  • Bernardo de Gálvez, vizconde de Galvestón y conde de Gálvez (1746 - 1786)
    Galvez served under Charles III and improved upon Unzaga's policies. He worked to increase commerce and trade. When Spain declared war against England, he supplied Americans with arms and captured al...

From 1648 through 1973, the Bahama Islands were mainly under British colonial rule, with governors appointed by the Crown and sent to Nassau to administer domestic affairs.

Exceptions to British rule were limited. From 1657 to 1671 and from 1684 to 1686, the British government abandoned the colony due to its inhospitable nature and the belief it was unsustainable. The Spanish briefly took over again in 1684 before also quickly abandoning the colony. From 1706 through 1718, pirates controlled the colony, including the infamous Blackbeard. For two weeks in 1776, the Americans held Nassau. Another short-lived Spanish attempt at control occurred from 1782 through 1783.

Most colonial governors were culled from the ranks of English nobility, including perhaps the most famous of the Bahamian governors, Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, from 1940 through 1945.

This project covers anyone who is listed as a colonial governor of the Bahamas. Our goal right now is to gather the profiles; once we have them collected, we will expand and refine them.

List of Colonial Governors

Governors on Eleuthera (1648–1657)

  • William Sayle, 1648–1657

Proprietary Governors of the Bahamas (1670–1706)

On November 1, 1670, the Bahamas were granted to the Lords Proprietors of the Province of Carolina:

The islands were largely left to themselves, but the Lords Proprietors appointed Proprietary Governors to administer them:

  • Hugh Wentworth, 1671
  • John Wentworth, December 1671–1676
  • Charles Chillingworth, 1676–1677
  • Roger Clarke, 1677–1682
  • Richard Lilburne, 1684

In 1684, a joint French and Spanish fleet destroyed Charles Town (modern Nassau), with British rule picking up again in 1687:

  • Thomas Bridges, 1687–1690
  • Cadwallader Jones, 1690–1693
  • Nicholas Trott, 1694–1696
  • Nicholas Webb, 1697–1699
  • Read Elding, 1699–1700, acting
  • Elias Haskett, 1700–1701
  • Ellis Lightfoot, 1701–1705
  • Edward Birch, 1706
  • Thomas Walker, 1706

Pirate Rule (1706–1718)

Starting around 1706 and lasting until 26 July 1718, the Bahamas were ruled by the anarchic Privateer's Republic, including:

Governors of the Bahamas (1717–1969)

In 1717 the Bahamas became a British crown colony. The pirates were driven out in 1718 by Woodes Rogers, the colony's first governor:

  • Woodes Rogers, 26 July 1718–1721, first time
  • George Phenney, 1721–1728
  • Woodes Rogers, August 1729–16 July 1732, second time
  • Richard Thompson, 1732–1733, acting
  • Richard Fitzwilliams, November 1733–1740
  • John Tinker, 1740–1758
  • John Gambier, 1758–1760, acting, first time
  • William Shirley, 1760–1768
  • Thomas Shirley, 28 November 1768–1774
  • Montfort Browne, 1774–3 March 1776
  • Samuel Nicholas, 3 March 1776 – 17 March 1776, Commandant (American occupation)
  • John Gambier, 17 March 1776–1778, acting, second time
  • Montfort Browne, 1778–1779, restored
  • John Robert Maxwell, 1780–8 May 1782
  • Bernardo de Gálvez, 8 May 1782 – 19 April 1783, Governor of Louisiana (Spanish occupation)
  • Andrew de Vau, 1783, acting
  • John Robert Maxwell, 1783–1784, restored
  • James Edward Powell, 1784–1786
  • John Brown, 1786–1787, acting
  • Lord Dunmore, 1787–1796
  • Robert Hunt, 1796–14 February 1797, acting
  • John Forbes, 14 February 1797 – June 1797
  • William Dowdeswell, 20 November 1797–1801
  • John Halkett, 1801–1804
  • Charles Cameron, 8 May 1804–1820
  • Lewis Grant, 1821–1829
  • James Carmichael Smyth, 1829–1833
  • Blayney Townley Balfour, 1833–1835
  • William Macbean George Colebrooke, 1835–1837
  • Francis Cockburne, 1837–1844
  • George Benvenuto Matthew, 1844–1849
  • John Gregory, 1849–1854
  • Sir Alexander Bannerman, 1854–1857
  • Charles John Bayley, 1857–1864
  • Rawson William Rawson, 1864–1869
  • Sir James Walker, 1869–1871
  • George Cumine Strahan, 1871–1873
  • Sir John Pope Hennessy, 1873–1874
  • Sir William Robinson, 1874–1880
  • Jeremiah Thomas Fitzgerald Callaghan, 1880–1881
  • Sir Charles Cameron Lees, 1882 – January 1884
  • Sir Henry Arthur Blake, 4 January 1884–1887
  • Sir Ambrose Shea, 1887–1895
  • Sir William Frederick Haynes Smith, 1895–1898
  • Sir Gilbert Thomas Carter, 1898–1904
  • Sir William Grey-Wilson, 29 November 1904–1912
  • Sir George Basil Haddon-Smith, 29 October 1912–1914
  • Sir William Lamond Allardyce, 15 June 1914–1920
  • Sir Harry Edward Spiller Cordeaux, 8 December 1920–1926
  • Sir Charles William James Orr, 15 March 1927 – January 1932
  • Sir Bede Edmund Hugh Clifford, 10 January 1932–1934
  • Sir Charles Cecil Farquharson Dundas, 1934–1940, acting to 1937
  • HRH The Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, 18 August 1940–1945
  • Sir William Lindsay Murphy, 28 July 1945–1950
  • Sir George Ritchie Sandford, 5 January 1950 – December 1950
  • Sir Robert Arthur Ross Neville, 7 December 1950–1953
  • Lord Ranfurly, 21 December 1953–1956
  • Sir Oswald Raynor Arthur, 1 April 1957–1960
  • Sir Robert Stapeldon, 18 July 1960–1964
  • Ralph Francis Alnwick Grey, 3 June 1964–1968
  • Sir Francis Edward Hovell-Thurlow-Cumming-Bruce, 1 November 1968–1969

Governors of the Commonwealth of the Bahama Islands (1969–1973)

In 1969, the crown colony became the Commonwealth of the Bahama Islands.

  • Sir Francis Edward Hovell-Thurlow-Cumming-Bruce, 1969–1972, continued
  • Sir John Warburton Paul, 14 May 1972 – 10 July 1973

On 10 July 1973, the Bahamas achieved independence from Britain. Following independence, the viceroy in the Bahamas was the Governor-General of the Bahamas.

List copied, with minor modifications, from Wikipedia. See: List of colonial heads of the Bahamas