A proprietary governor is an individual authorized to govern a proprietary colony. Under the proprietary system, individuals or companies were granted commercial charters by the monarchs of the Kingdom of England to establish colonies. These proprietors then selected the governors and other officials in the colony. This system was used to establish several colonies on the island of Newfoundland. The provinces of Maryland, Carolina and several other colonies in the Americas were initially established under the proprietary system.
These colonies were distinct from crown colonies in that they were commercial enterprises established under authority of the crown. Proprietary governors had legal responsibilities over the colony as well as responsibilities to shareholders to ensure the security of their investments.
The proprietary system was a mostly inefficient system, in that the proprietors were, for the most part, like absentee landlords. Many never even visited the colonies they owned. By the early 18th century, nearly all of the proprietary colonies had either surrendered their charters to the crown to become royal colonies, or else had significant limitations placed on them by the crown.