Governors of Virginia

  1. Virginia under the London Company, 1606-1624
    May 14-September 10, 1607 Edward Maria, Wingfield, President of the Council
    September 10, 1607-July 22, 1608 John Ratcliffe, President of the Council
    July 22-September 10, 1608 Matthew Scrivener, President of the Council
    September 10, 1608-September 1609 John Smith, President of the Council
    September 1609-May 23, 1610 George Percy, President of the Council
    1609-1618 Thomas West, Baron De La Warr, Governor
    Held title until his death, June 7, 1618; represented for most of his term by deputies:
    May 23-June 10, 1610 Sir Thomas Gates, Governor
    June 10, 1610-March 28, 1611 Thomas West, Baron De La Warr, Governor in Virginia
    March 28-May 19, 1611 George Percy, Deputy Governor
    May 19- August 16, 1611 Sir Thomas Dale, Deputy Governor
    August 1611-March 1614 Sir Thomas Gates, Lieutenant Governor
    March 1614-April 1616 Sir Thomas Dale, Lieutenant Governor
    April 1616-May 15, 1617 George Yeardley, Deputy Governor
    May 1617-April 1619 Samuel Argall, Deputy
    April 18, 1619-November 18, 1621 Sir George Yeardley, Governor
    November 18, 1621-May 1624 Sir Francis Wyatt, Governor
  2. Virginia under the King, 1624-1652
    1624-1626 Sir Francis Wyatt, Governor and Captain General
    1626-1627 Sir George Yeardley, Governor and Captain General
    1627-1629 Francis West, President of the Council and Acting Governor
    1629-1630 John Pott, President of the Council and Acting Governor
    1630-1635 Sir John Harvey, Governor and Captain General, resided in Virginia
    1635-1637 John West, President of the Council and Acting Governor
    1637-1639 Sir John Harvey, Governor and Captain General, resided in Virginia
    1639-1642 Sir Francis Wyatt, Governor and Captain General
    1642-1644 Sir William Berkley, Governor and Captain General
    1644-1645 Richard Kemp (Kempe), President of the Council and Acting Governor
    1645-1652 Sir William Berkley, Governor
  3. Virginia under the Commonwealth of England, 1652-1660
    1652-1655 Richard Bennett, Governor, elected by the General Assembly
    1655-1656 Edward Digges (Diggs), Governor, elected by the General Assembly
    1656-1660 Samuel Matthews, Jr., Governor, elected by the General Assembly
    1660 Sir William Berkley, Governor, elected by the General Assembly
  4. Virginia again a Royal Province, 1660-1776July-September 1687 February 1689-June 1690
    1660-1661 Sir William Berkeley, Governor
    1661-1662 Francis Morrison (Moryson), Lieutenant Governor
    1662-1677 Sir William Berkeley, Governor
    1677-1683 Thomas Culpeper, Governor
    1677-1678 Sir Herbert Jeffreys (Jeffries), Lieutenant Governor
    1678-1680 Sir Henry Chicheley, Deputy Governor
    May-August 1680 Thomas Culpeper, Governor, resided in Virginia
    Represented by duties during his absence for the following terms:
    1677-1678 Sir Herbert Jeffreys (Jeffries), Lieutenant Governor
    1678-1680 Sir Henry Chicheley, Deputy Governor
    August 1680-December 1682 Sir Henry Chicheley, Deputy Governor
    December 1682-May 1683 Thomas Culpeper, Governor
    1683-1684 Nicholas Spencer, President of the Council
    1684-1689 Francis Howard, Baron of Effingham, Governor resided in Virginia
    June-September 1684 Nathaniel Bacon, President of the Council
    June 1690-September 1692 Colonel Francis Nicholson, Lieutenant Governor
    Represented by the following individuals in his absence:
    June-September 1684
    July-September 1687
    February 1689-June 1690
    Nathaniel Bacon, President of the Council
    June 1690-September 1692 Colonel Francis Nicholson, Lieutenant Governor
    1692-1698 Sir Edmund Andros, Governor
    1698-1705 Colonel Francis Nicholson, Governor
    Represented by the following during brief absences:
    September-October 1700
    April-June 1703
    August-September 1704
    William Byrd, President of the Council
    September-October 1700 William Byrd, President of the Council
    1705-1706 Edward Knott, Governor
    1706-1708 Edmund Jennings, President of the Council
    1707-1709 Robert Hunter, Governor, captured by the French and never reached Virginia
    1708-1710 Edmund Jennings, Lieutenant Governor and Deputy to Hunter
    1710-1737 George Hamilton, Earl of Orkney, Governor
    Never went to Virginia and was represented by the following:
    1710-1722 Alexander Spotswood, Lieutenant Governor
    1722-1726 Hugh Drysdale, Lieutenant Governor
    1726-1727 Robert Carter, President of the Council
    1727-1749 Sir William Gooch, Lieutenant Governor
    1740-1741 James Blair, President of the Council (acted during Gooches absence)
    1737-1754 William Anne Keppel, Governor
    Never went to Virginia and was represented by the following deputies:
    September 1749-November 1750 Thomas Lee, President of the Council
    November 1750-November 1751 Lewis Burwell, President of the Council
    1751-1758 Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant Governor
    1756-1759 John Cambel, Earl of Loudoun, Governor
    Never went to Virginia and was represented by the following deputies:
    January-June 1758 John Blair, President of the Council
    1758-1768 Francis Fauquier, Lieutenant Governor
    1759-1768 Sir Jeffrey Amherst, Governor
    March-October 1768 John Blair, President of the Council
    1768-1770 Norborne Berkeley, Governor
    1770-1771 William Nelson, President of the Council
    1771-1775 John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, Governor
  5. Virginia in Revolt – The Convention Period
    Peyton Randolph, President of the Virginia Convention of 1774, March 1775, and July 1775
    Edmund Pendleton, President of the Virginia Convention of December 1775 and May 1776
  6. Governors under the Commonwealth 1776-1852 (chosen by the State Legislature)
    1776-1779 Patrick Henry, Governor
    1779-1781 Thomas Jefferson, Governor
    June 4-June 12, 1781 William Fleming, member of the Council of State acting as Governor
    June-November 1781 Thomas Nelson, Jr., Governor
    November 22-30, 1781 David Jameson, member of the Council of State acting as Governor
    1781-1784 Benjamin Harrison, Governor
    1784-1786 Patrick Henry, Governor
    1786-1788 Edmund Randolph, Governor
    1788-1791 Beverly Randolph, Governor
    1791-1794 Henry Lee, Governor
    1794-1796 Robert Brooke, Governor
    1796-1799 James Wood, Governor
    December 7-11, 1799 Hardin Gurnley, member of the Council of State acting as Governor
    December 11-19, 1799 John Pendleton, member of the Council of State acting as Governor
    1799-1802 James Monroe, Governor
    1802-1805 John Page, Governor
    1805-1808 William H. Cabell, Governor
    1808-1811 John Tyler, Sr., Governor
    January 15-19,1811 George William Smith, member of the Council of State acting as Governor
    January 19-April 3, 1811 James Monroe, Governor
    April 3-December 6, 1811 Acting as Governor
    December 6-26, 1811 George William Smith, Governor
    December 27, 1811-January 4, 1812 Acting as Governor
    1812-1814 James Barbour, Governor
    1814-1816 Wilson Cary Nicholas, Governor
    1816-1819 James P. Preston, Governor
    1819-1822 Thomas Mann Randolph, Governor
    1822-1825 James Pleasants, Governor
    1825-1827 John Tyler, Jr., Governor
    1827-1830 William B. Giles, Governor
    1830-1834 John Floyd, Governor
    1834-1836 Littleton Waller Tazewell, Governor
    March 1836-March 1837 Acting as Governor
    1837-1840 David Campbell, Governor
    1840-1841 Thomas Walker Gilmer, Governor
    March 20-31, 1841 John Mercer Patton, member of the Council of State acting as Governor
    March 1841-March 1842 Acting as Governor
    March 1842-January 1843 Acting as Governor
    1843-1846 James McDowell, Governor
    1846-1849 William Smith, Governor
    1849-1852 John Buchanan Floyd, Governor
  7. Governors under the Commonwealth 1852-Present (Elected by Popular Vote)
    1852-1856 Joseph Jonson, Governor,
    1856-1860 Henry Alexander Wise, Governor,
    1860-1864 John Letcher, Governor
    1864-1865 William Smith, Governor
    May 1865-April 1868 Francis Harrison Pierpoint, Provisional Governor
    April 1868-September1869 Henry H. Wells, Provisional Governor
    September 1869-December 1869 Gilbert C. Walker, Provisional Governor
    1870-1874 Gilbert C. Walker, Governor
    1874-1878 James Lawson Kemper , Governor
    1878-1882 Frederick W. M. Hilliday, Governor
    1882-1886 William E. Cameron, Governor
    1886-1890 Fitzhugh Lee, Governor
    1890-1894 Philip W. Mckenny, Governor
    1894-1898 Charles T. O’Ferrall, Governor
    1898-1902 James Hoge Tyler, Governor
    1902-1906 Andrew Jackson Montague, Governor
    1906-1910 Claude A. Swanson, Governor
    1910-1914 William Hodges Mann, Governor
    1914-1918 Henry Carter Stuart, Governor
    1918-1922 Westmoreland Davis, Governor
    1922-1926 E. Lee Trinkle, Governor
    1926-1930 Harry F. Byrd, Governor
    1930-1934 John Garland Pollard, Governor
    1934-1938 James H. Price, Governor
    1938-1942 George C. Peery, Governor
    1942-1946 Colgate W. Darden, Jr., Governor
    1946-1950 William M. Tuck, Governor
    1950-1954 John Stewart Battle, Governor
    1954-1958 Thomas B. Stanley, Governor
    1958-1962 J. Lindsay Almond, Jr., Governor
    1962-1966 Albertis S. Harrison, Jr., Governor
    1966-1970 Mills E. Godwin, Jr., Governor
    1970-1974 A. Linwood Holton, Governor
    1974-1978 Mills E. Godwin, Jr., Governor
    1978-1982 John N. Dalton, Governor
    1982-1986 Charles S. Robb, Governor
    1986-1990 Gerald L. Baliles, Governor
    1990-1994 Lawrence Douglas Wilder, Governor
    1994-1998 George Allen, Governor
    1998-2002 James S. Gilmore, III, Governor
    2002-2006 Mark R. Warner, Governor
    2006-2010 Timothy M. Kaine, Governor
    2010-2014 Robert F. McDonnell, Governor
    2014-2018 Terence R. McAuliffe, Governor
    2018-2022 Ralph S. Northam, Governor

It is difficult to compile a clear and comprehensive list of governors for the colonial period because of the governmental and administrative changes made in England, and due to the proxy system whereby the person bearing the title of Governor often resided in England while a deputy resided in the colony. During the exploration or pre-colonization period, the territory that became Virginia was directly under the crown. Under the charter granted to the London Company, the early government of Virginia was a company appointed council and president, often spoken of as governor. The first man ever to have the title “governor” was Lord Delaware, appointed in 1609. When the London Company lost its charter in 1624, Virginia became a royal colony, and the governor was appointed by the crown. Those appointed to the position often resided in England and were represented in Virginia by deputies. During this period Virginia still remained a resident council and if the governor or deputy governor was absent from the colony the president of the council served as acting governor. There was a break in royal control after the Civil War in England when Parliament allowed the colony to be almost completely self-governed. From 1652 to 1660 the General Assembly elected four Governors. Royal authority was restored in 1660, and from that date until the American Revolution in 1776 the Governors were appointed by the crown.

After the colony declared independence, a constitution was adopted which provided for the election of the governor by the General Assembly for a one-year term. A governor could be reelected to serve a total of three consecutive years. He could be reelected again only after a break in service. From 1776 to 1852 the governor was chosen by the state legislature. When the office became vacant by death or resignation, the senior member of the Council of the State acted as governor until the Assembly was able to choose a successor. The Constitution of 1851 abolished the Council of State and provided for the popular election of the Governor for a four-year term. With the exception of the Reconstruction period 1865-1869, when provisional governors were designated by federal authorities, the governor has been elected by popular vote since 1852.

Information on Virginia Governors was obtained from A Hornbook of Virginia History, third edition, Edited by Emily J. Salmon, 1983.

Information accurate as of December 2021