In 19th century settler colonies such as Upper Canada, New South Wales and New Zealand, governors not only administered, they stood at the head of colonial society and ordered the festivities and ceremonies around which colonial life centred. Governors were also expected to be repositories of political wisdom and constitutional lore. In addition, they were popularly credited with responsibility for prosperity, education and culture. So much prominence brought criticism as well. Governors were almost always burned in effigy and were frequently the target of scurrilous and libellous comment in their colony. They were transfigured as ideal rulers and disfigured as the embodiments of tyranny and personal vices. They played the symbolic roles of hero and sacrificial victim in the emerging settler societies. This is an exploration of the public and private beliefs of governors such as Sir Thomas Brisbane, Sir John Colborne, Sir George Grey and Lord Elgin as they struggled to survive in colonial cultures which both defied and vilified their personal qualities.