Resident commissioner was or is an official title of several different types of commissioners, who were or are representatives of any level of government. Historically, they were appointed by the British Crown in overseas protectorates (such as Bechuanaland), or colonies (such as South Australia), and some still exist in this capacity. The United States of America once had a resident commissioner in the Philippines and the Puerto Rico resident commissioner resides in Washington DC. State governments of today's Republic of India have a resident commissioner to represent them in New Delhi.

British Empire and the Commonwealth of Nations

Resident commissioners appointed by the British Crown typically reside in the territorial unit of which they are in charge. This also the case with most otherwise styled commissioners.

In certain complex colonial units within the British Empire, the high commissioner to whom was given the highest "regional" supervision (either residing in one of the constitutive territories, e.g. in the British Western Pacific Territories (BWPT), first by the governor on Fiji, then from 1952 onward on the Solomon Islands; or even in a neighbouring colony, e.g. the Governor of the Straits Settlements as High Commissioner for the Federated Malay States) would commonly be represented in territories not comprising his residence by a resident commissioner, though in some places (including some of the Federated Malay States) similar officials were formally styled as residents, a more diplomatic title; otherwise another type of official was also possible (e.g. the British Consul in the protected state of Tonga, a Polynesian kingdom; an administrator on Nauru; a mere chief magistrate on tiny Pitcairn). In some cases his task was comparable to the lieutenant-governor of a minor colony, especially as the high commissioner could be a British colonial governor doubling as such.[citation needed]

South Australia

South Australia was the only Colony in Australia authorised by an Act of Parliament, the South Australia Act 1834, which set out the requirement for a Governor, representing the Crown, and a Resident Commissioner, reporting to Colonisation Commissioners. The survey and sale of land, as well as migration arrangements and funding, were responsibilities of the Resident Commissioner.[1] The first Resident Commissioner to be appointed was James Hurtle Fisher on 14 July 1836, but when George Gawler was appointed Governor in 1838 to replace John Hindmarsh, he was given the role of Resident Commissioner as well, effective in October 1838.[2]

Western Pacific Territories

The following territories had resident commissioners:[citation needed]

Southern Africa

While the post of High Commissioner for Southern Africa (HCSA) was held 27 January 1847 - 31 May 1910 by the governors of the Cape Colony, then until 6 April 1931 by the governors-general of the Union of South Africa, after that date filled separately until 1963, there have been resident representatives in the constituent territories:[citation needed]


In India, a resident commissioner is the representative of the state government with an office in New Delhi, who is also supposed to manage the reception of state government functionaries who visit New Delhi. She/he coordinates with various ministries of the central government, central PSUs, multi-lateral and bilateral agencies and various other organisations on behalf of the state government. she/he is an IAS officer.[3]

United States

Sources and references



  1. ^ "South Australia Act, or Foundation Act, of 1834 (UK)". Documenting a Democracy: Australia'a Story. Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  2. ^ Hetherington, R. (1966). "Gawler, George (1795–1869)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. pp. 431–435. Retrieved 3 November 2019 – via Australian National University.
  3. ^ List of Resident Commissioners of States / UTs, Department of Personnel & Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions