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These documents are the original Commissions which convey certain commands to the Governor, define the extent of territory and power, and revoke previous Letters Patent. More detailed orders were elaborated in the Instructions.
On 12 October 1786 a Commission was issued to Captain Arthur Phillip of the Royal Navy, appointing him Governor of the colony to be established in New South Wales. Commissions were issued for each subsequent Governor appointed.
By the 1870s the instrument of appointment of the Colonial Governors was altered from the preparation of Letters Patent under the Great Seal, due to delays involved with this practice. Instead the British Government issued Letters Patent for each colony, constituting permanently the office of Governor, and providing that future Commissions were to be issued under the Monarch's Sign Manual and Signet.
The Governor's powers were gradually limited by the establishment of Legislative and Executive Councils, by the granting of responsible government in 1856, and by Federation and the establishment of a Commonwealth Governor General.
Guide to the State Archives of NSW, No 11, The Governor 1787-1935
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