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Administration, The Governors

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The colony was governed by a single person - the Governor. The Governor was appointed directly by the Government in Britain and was the most powerful person in Western Australia.

His authority to draft laws and decide day to day affairs was supreme. While he had to report to his superiors in London, 19,000 km away, communication took at least three months.

Perth circa 1870's. The large building on the left is the Pensioner Guard
Perth circa 1870s.
The large building on the left is the Pensioner Guard Barracks


The Governors

Governors were appointed by the British Government from the ranks of military men or government officials.  Personal connections were as important as previous experience in securing a post as a Governor.

Governors' wives played an important part in colonial life.  They maintained social connections and acted as a link to the Governor himself.

Captain James Stirling RN

James Stirling, R.N.


Stirling was an enthusiastic and energetic man, who became the colony's first Governor.  After 1832, he worked with a small appointed Legislative Council of officials.  In 1839, he left the colony and went on to a distinguished naval career, rising to the rank of Admiral before his death in Surrey in 1865.

John Hutt, Esq.

John Hutt, Esq.

1839 - 1846

Governor Hutt was appointed Governor of Western Australia after helping with the plans to colonise South Australia.  It seems that Hutt may have won the Western Australian post as consolation for having failed to secure the governorship of South Australia, for which he had applied.  He had valuable experience in colonisation, having been Governor of North Arcott in the Madras Presidency.  He presided over a period of hardship in the colony but governed cautiously.  Interestingly, he sought to introduce a more liberal system of politics to the colony and actively sought fair comment on his policies from colonists.

Lieut. - Colonel Andrew Clarke, K.H.

Lieut. - Colonel Andrew Clarke, K.H.

1846 - 1847

Governor Clarke was appointed as Governor of the colony after a position as Governor of St. Lucia in the West Indies.  He established educational facilities within the colony and was highly regarded.  His death, after only one year in office, left the colony without a Governor until 1848.

Captain Charles Fitzgerald, R.N.

Captain Charles Fitzgerald, R.N.

1848 - 1855

Governor Fitzgerald was previously Governor of the Gambia Settlements in West Africa.  During his term of office, he presided over the arrival of convicts in the colony, exploration and settlement of the interior of the State, and by improved infrastructure and communication within the colony.  His term ended with solid growth in the affairs of the colony.

Captain Arthur Kennedy

Captain Arthur Kennedy

1855 - 1862

Governor Kennedy was previously Governor of Sierra Leone and Consul-General of Sherborough County.  He was a career public servant and an experienced administrator.  Whilst not always popular, he passed a range of legislative measures to ensure strong administration.  

John Hampton, Esq.  M.D.

John Hampton, Esq.  M.D.

1862 - 1868

Governor Hampton arrived in Western Australia in 1862, having gained a reputation as a severe disciplinarian during his service as comptroller -general of convicts in Van Diemen's Land.  He was criticised for installing his son, G. E. Hampton, in the same lucrative post of comptroller-general of convicts.  Nevertheless, a number of important public works were completed and the North-West of the colony developed during his term in office.  It was partly the increased prosperity brought about by the pearling, pastoral and mining industries that led to increased agitation for more extended political rights.

Sir Benjamine Pine

1868 - 1869

Governor Pine was appointed to succeed Hampton; however, he did not take up the appointment.  Instead, he took up the post of Governor of Antigua.  Governor Weld was appointed to the post in Western Australia the following year.

Frederick Weld

Frederick Weld

1869 - 1875

Governor Weld had previously served as Premier of New Zealand where he had been influential in that colony achieving representative government.  He established the railways and installed the telegraph.  During his Governorship he supported the introduction of a new partly-elected Legislative Council in 1870.

Major General Sir Harry Ord, R.E., 

Major General Sir Harry Ord, R.E.,  K.C.M.G.,  C.B.

1877 - 1880

Governor Ord came to Western Australia after six years as the inaugural Governor of the Straits Settlements, based in Singapore.  He was appointed to the position after an extended period of sick leave and this is thought to have influenced his rather low key Governorship of the State.

William Robinson, Esq. C.M.G.

William Robinson, Esq. C.M.G.

1875 - 1877, 1880 - 1883, 1890 - 1895

Governor Robinson served three times as Governor of Western Australia.  In his first stint in the colony, he was charged with dampening enthusiasm for political reform; however, later he was the Governor when the colony achieved self-government. 

In his second term, he oversaw a substantial reduction in the colony's debt.  In the 1880s, prior to taking up his third term as Governor, he assisted the delegates from Western Australia in regard to the passing of the Constitution Bill through the Imperial Parliament.  He was very popular and renown Australia-wide for his musical talent and song writing abilities.

Frederick Broome,  K.C.M.G.

Frederick Broome,  K.C.M.G.

1883 - 1889

Governor Broome travelled a rocky road during his six years in office.  Clashes with senior officials peppered his administration, yet he was personally supportive of the calls for self-government.  Having worked as a journalist for The Times before joining the Colonial Service, Broome drafted the Constitution Bill which was finally passed by the Legislative Council, after much debate, in 1889.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.