New Hampshire Glossary: Governor

governorchief executive of the region now known as New Hampshire. Before the American Revolution, this position was appointed by the King of England. Later it became an elected position. As chief executives, governors were responsible for executing colonial laws, administering justice, and appointing most administrative and judicial officers.

As commanders in chief, they were responsible for provincial defense and diplomatic relations with the Indians and the other colonies. As one of three branches of the legislature, they had veto power over all laws and took an active role in the legislative process.

Finally, they held the exclusive power to grant lands from the enormous royal or proprietary domains. The governor's council, served as an advisory body whose approval was required for most executive actions, and in a few colonies they acted as a superior court.

In 1631, Captain Thomas Wiggin served as the first governor of the Upper Plantation (comprising modern-day Dover, Durham and Stratham). In 1679 this Upper Plantation became the “Royal Province” with John Cutt as governor. The “Royal Province” continued until 1698 when it came under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts with Joseph Dudley as Governor.

In 1741 New Hampshire returned to its royal provincial status with a governor of its own, Benning Wentworth, who was its governor from 1741 to 1766.  After the American Revolution the governor was called the “President of the State of New Hampshire” until the New Hampshire Constitution was amended to replace the word “president” with “governor.”

Meshech Weare was New Hampshire's first “president, from 1784-85. Jeanne Shaheen was the first woman to be elected Governor in the State of New Hampshire. 

The current governor of New Hampshire is John Lynch, who was elected in November of 2004. He was born in Waltham, MA 25 Nov 1952, son of William and Margaret Lynch.


*Additional Reading*

Colonial & Royal Governors of New Hampshire

Governors of New Hampshire


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