The following persons served as Governor of the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall. The governor was a military commission made by the monarch in consultation with the Admiralty in recognition of the islands' strategic position. The office of Governor was pre-eminent in military law but not in civil law, where the magistracy was vested in the Proprietor, who had a leasehold from the Duchy of Cornwall of the islands' land area. Usually the Proprietor served as Governor, although, according to Robert Heath, a Major Bennett was Governor for a short time before Proprietor Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin was commissioned on 7 July 1733. The Proprietor/Governor was non-resident, delegating the military functions to a Lieutenant-Governor and the civil functions to a Council of twelve residents.
An early governor of Scilly was Thomas Godolphin, whose son Francis received a lease on the Isles in 1568. They were styled Governors of Scilly and the Godolphins and their Osborne relatives held this position until 1831, when George Osbourne, 6th Duke of Leeds surrendered the lease to the islands, with them then returning to direct rule from the Duchy of Cornwall. In 1834 Augustus Smith acquired the lease from the Duchy for £20,000, and created the title Lord Proprietor of the Isles of Scilly. The lease remained in his family until it expired for most of the Isles in 1920 when ownership reverted to back to the Duchy of Cornwall. Today, the Dorrien-Smith family still holds the lease for the island of Tresco.
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