Roman Governors of Britania

Governors of the unified Province(s) of Britannia

Britain was an imperial province and the appointment of the governor was the choice of the Emperor and was a senator from the highest classes in Roman society. The formal title of the governor under the early empire was legatus Augusti pro praetore. – literally: “envoy of the emperor – acting for the praetor”. 

As the unified province “Britannia”, Roman Britain was a consular province, meaning that its governors had to first serve as a consul in Rome before they could govern it. While this rank could be obtained either as a suffect or ordinarius, a number of governors were consules ordinarii, and also appear in the List of Early Imperial Roman Consuls. 

Roman governors had full control of all the military forces stationed in the province and could take any military action without prior consent of the emperor or the senate. The governor was also the supreme judicial authority of the province and was the only person who could order the imposition of the death penalty. Financial duties included the audit of the financial records of the cities within the province, and to set taxation rates and appoint tax collectors.

To help the Governor in his duties he had a personal staff of about 30-40 individuals, including personal assistants, secretaries, police officers, couriers, accountants and clerks. Some of the staff would have been slaves or freedmen. There was also a legatus iuridicus, or law-officer, who could go around the province and deal with some of the legal matters to leave more of the Governor’s time free for campaigns and peace-keeping.

Governors of Britannia

The list of governors is complete from the Roman invasion until the recall of Julius Agricola, either in AD 83 or 84, and often with a margin of error of no more than a year.  From from 83 AD to 409 AD, record-keeping became patchier, with frequent gaps in the records and elements of unreliability in all dating.  The situation becomes worse following the division of Roman Britannia into two provinces, and records for the fourth century are almost nonexistent.

#NamePeriod
1 Aulus Plautius 43 – 46 AD
2 Publius Ostorius Scapula 47 – 52 AD
3 Aulus Didius Gallus 52 – 57 AD
4 Quintus Veranius 57 – 58 AD
5 Publius Petronius Turpilianus 61/2 – 63 AD
6 Marcus Trebellius Maximus 63 – 69 AD
7 Marcus Vettius Bolanus 69 – 71 AD
8 Quintus Petillius Cerialis 71 – 73/4 AD
9 Sextus Julius Frontinus 73 – 78 AD
10 Sallustius Lucullus 83/4 – 96 AD
11 Publius Metilius Nepos c. 94 – 98 AD
12 Tiberius Avidius Quietus c. 97 – c. 101 AD
13 Lucius Neratius Marcellus 101 – 104 AD
14 Marcus Appius Bradua 115 – 118 AD
15 Quintus Pompeius Falco 118–122 AD
16 Aulus Platorius Nepos 122 – ?125 AD
17 Trebius Germanus c.126 AD
18 Sextus Julius Severus c.131AD – 132/3 AD
19 Publius Mummius Sisenna c.132/3 – 135 AD
20 Quintus Lollius Urbicus 138/9 – ?144 AD
21 Gnaeus Papirius Aelianus c. 145 – c. 147 AD
22 Longinus 158 – 161 AD
23 Marcus Statius Priscus 161 – 162AD
24 Sextus Calpurnius Agricola By 163/4 – ?166 AD
25 Quintus Antistius Adventus Period 169 – 180 AD
26 Caerellius Priscus Period 169-180 AD
27 Ulpius Marcellus 180 – c.184 AD
28 Publius Helvius Pertinax 185AD – c.187
29 Virius Lupus 197 – 200/202 AD
30 Marcus Antius Crescens Calpurnianus c. 202 AD
31 Lucius Alfenus Senecio 205/207 – c.208/9 AD
32 Gaius Suetonius Paulinus 58 – 61 AD
33 Gnaeus Julius Agricola 77/8AD – 83/4 AD
34 Gnaeus Julius Verus by 158 AD
35 Decimus Clodius Albinus c. 187 – c. 191 AD

Around 197 AD, the Severan Reforms divided Britain into two provinces: Britannia Superior and Britannia Inferior. Roman tradition was to name divided provinces in line with their actual distance from Rome. The closest or upper (in rank) province was the superior and the further away, lower province was the inferior. The superior had a consular governor, while the inferior was ruled by someone of the praetorian rank. 

Governors of Britannia Inferior

#NamePeriod
1 Gaius Julius Marcus c. 213 – 214 AD
2 Marcus Antonius Gordianus 214 – 216 AD
3 Modius Julianus AD 219
4 Tiberius Claudius Paulinus 220 AD
5 Marius Valerianus 221 – 223 AD
6 Claudius Xenephon 223 AD
7 Maximus 225 AD
8 Valerius Crescens Fulvianus 225 – 235 AD
9 Calvisius Ruso 225 – 235 AD
10 [T]uccianus? 237 AD
11 Claudius Apellinus
12 Egnatius Lucilianus 238 – 244AD
13 Maecilius Fuscus 238 – 244 AD
14 Nonius Philippus 242 AD
15 Marcus Valerius Felix 244 AD
16 Octavius Sabinus 262 – 266 AD

Governors of Britannia Superior

  • Tiberius Julius Pollienus Auspex (sometime during c. 223 – 226)
  • Gaius Junius Faustinus Postumianus (probably sometime during 222–235)
  • Rufinus (probably early 3rd century)
  • Marcus Martiannius Pulcher (3rd century)
  • Titus Desticius Juba (253–255)