Aside from the Crown itself, the office of Governor of New South Wales is the oldest constitutional office in Australia.
Captain Arthur Phillip held the office as Governor of New South Wales on 7 February 1788, when the Colony of New South Wales, the first British settlement in Australia, was formally founded.
The early colonial governors held an almost autocratic power due to the distance from and poor communications with Great Britain, until 1824 when the New South Wales Legislative Council, Australia's first legislative body, was appointed to advise the governor.
Between 1850 and 1861, the Governor of New South Wales was titled Governor-General in an early attempt at federalism imposed by Earl Grey.
All communication between the Australian colonies and the British Government was meant to go through the Governor-General, and the other colonies had Lieutenant-Governors.
As South Australia (1836), Tasmania (January 1855) and Victoria (May 1855) obtained responsible government, their Lieutenant-Governors were replaced by Governors.