Up to 1891, the Governors were responsible for running Christ’s Hospital, this being done through their votes in the Court of Governors. Procedures of governance had evolved over time, in particular in the mid-1670s the largely informal arrangements were tightened by the establishment of a scheme whereby, on making a donation, an individual would come before the Court for election as a Governor. On being appointed, the Governor would receive his ‘charge’ (terms of office) and also his staff of office; further, he could now vote in the Court and would have the life-long privilege of presenting children to Christ’s Hospital (although not more than two at any one time), this scheme being extremely rare, if not unique, amongst major public schools. Governor presentations became responsible for about four-fifths of admissions to the School, the rest coming largely from Trusts. The level of donation for a Benefaction Governor (now known as Donation Governors) was £200, this being doubled to £400 in 1790, and raised to £500 in 1841. One particular task of the Governors was the regular visitation to the schools, to ensure that standards of education, accommodation and care were being satisfactorily maintained.

In 1891, a Scheme of Administration for the running of the School was introduced. The Scheme had a major impact on the role of the Governors, in particular they no longer ran the School, this now being in the hands of a Council of Almoners, and their presenting rights were curtailed. The level of the donation for a Donation Governor remained at £500 for some years into the 20th century. It was then progressively increased, being raised to £1,000 in 1947 and is now reviewed each year in line with boarding fees. There are now over 600 Governors, of whom about a half are Old Blues. This total is rather higher than in the pre-Scheme era, in part a reflection of increased longevity.

Up to 1843, when Her Majesty Queen Victoria was elected, all Governors were male. However, it took until 1878 before female Governors could be elected generally, five then being appointed. Amongst other royalty, the Victorian era saw the election of HRH Prince Albert and three children, Princes Edward, Alfred and Arthur. The School has also benefitted from other Royal Governors. Across the years, there have been sundry Dukes, Marquesses, Earls, Viscounts, Barons, Lords, Knights, Bishops, MPs and Military personnel, with some famous individuals including Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Christopher Wren, Samuel Pepys, Robert Hooke, John Flamsteed and John Ruskin.