List of Governors-General of India: Who is 1st Governor General?

By Aarna Tiwari|Updated : July 13th, 2022

The List of Important Governors-General & Viceroys of India are:

  • Warren Hastings (1773-1785)
  • Lord Cornwallis (1786-1793)
  • Lord Wellesley (1798-1805)
  • Lord Hastings (1813-1823) 
  • Lord William Bentinck (1828-1835)
  • Lord Dalhousie (1848-1856)
  • Lord Canning (1856-1862)
  • Lord Lytton (1876-1880)
  • Lord Ripon (1880-1884)
  • Lord Curzon (1899-1905)
  • Lord Chelmsford (1916-1921)
  • Lord Reading (1921-1926)
  • Lord Irwin (1926-1931) 
  • Lord Willingdon (1931-1936)
  • Lord Linlithgow (1936-1944)
  • Lord Wavell (1944-1947) 
  • Lord Mountbatten (1947-1948)

The first Governor-General of Bengal was Warren Hastings, from 1772-1785. Charter Act of 1833 made the Governor-General of Bengal as Governor-General of British India. And, William Bentick was the first Governor-General of British India. The first Viceroy of India was Lord Canning.

Governors-General and Viceroys of India

The British started as a trading unit (East India Company) in India and received a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I on 31 December 1600. In due process of time, the East India Company, from a trading unit transformed into an administrative one and started interfering with the internal matters of the nation. In due process time, the British were able to establish their control over India. It was done through Governor-General & Viceroys.

Robert Clive was the first Governor of Bengal, and with the passing of Regulating Act 1773, the post of Governor of Bengal was converted into Governor-General of Bengal. 

The first Governor-General of Bengal was Warren Hastings, from 1772-1785. Charter Act of 1833 made the Governor-General of Bengal as Governor-General of British India. And, William Bentick was the first Governor-General of British India. 

The List of Important Governors-General & Viceroys of India are:

Governors-General & Viceroys of India

Tenure

Important Events/Reforms

Warren Hastings 

(First Governor-General of Bengal)

1772-1785

- Brought an end to the dual system of administration.

- Established Supreme Court at Calcutta and the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

- Fought the First Anglo-Maratha War and signed the Treaty of Salbai.

- Enforced the Regulating Act of 1773.

- Pitt’s India Act of 1784 was enacted.

Lord Cornwallis

1786-1793

- Established Appellate courts and lower grade courts

- Established Sanskrit college

- Fought the Third Mysore War (1790-92) and signed the Treaty of Seringapatam (1792)

- Introduced the Cornwallis Code (1793)

- Enacted the Permanent Settlement of Bengal, 1793

Sir John Shore

1793-1798

- Enacted Charter Act of 1793

- Introduced the Policy of Non-intervention

- Nizam was under his protection during the Battle of Kharda.

Lord Wellesley 

1798-1805

- Introduced Subsidiary Alliance System

- Fought Fourth Anglo- Mysore war and signed the - Treaty of Bassein

- Participated in the Second Anglo- Maratha war

- Established Madras presidency

- Established Fort William College at Calcutta

Sir George Barlow

1805-1807

- Acting Governor-General of India until the arrival of Lord Minto I

- Diminished the area of British territory because of his passion for economy and retrenchment

- Mutiny of Vellore (1806) took place under his regime

Lord Minto I

1807-1813

- Concluded the Treaty of Amritsar with Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1809.

- Introduced the Charter Act of 1813

Lord Hastings

1813-1823

- Ended the policy of Non-Intervention

- Fought the Anglo-Nepal War (1814-16) and signed the Treaty of Sagauli (1816).

- Fought the Third Anglo- Maratha War (1817-19) and dissolved the Maratha Confederacy (Peshwaship).

- Established the Ryotwari System and Mahalwari system in Madras & Bombay and in north-western Provinces & Bombay respectively.

Lord Amherst 

1823-1828

- Annexed Assam, which led to the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-26).

- Acquisition of territories in Malay Penisula.

- Mutiny of Barrackpore in 1824

- Capture of Bharatpur (1826)

Lord William Bentinck

(First Governor-General of India )

1828-1835

- Suppression of Thugee, infanticide, and child sacrifices.

- Abolished Sati system

- Annexation of Mysore (1831)

- Proposed English Education Act of 1835

- Regarded as the Father of Modern Western Education in India

- Established Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata

- Passed the Charter Act of 1833

Lord Charles Metcalfe

1835-1836

- Passed the famous Press Law, which liberated the press in India 

Lord Auckland

1836-1842

- Improved the conditions of native schools and is associated with the expansion of the commercial industry of India.

- Fought the First Afghan War (1838-42)

Lord Ellenborough

1842-1844

- Brought an end to the Afghan War.

- Annexation of Sindh (1843)

- War with Gwalior (1843)

Lord Hardinge I

1844-1848

- Fought the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–46) and signed the Treaty of Lahore (1846).

- Gave preference to English education in employment.

Lord Dalhousie

1848-1856

- Fought the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-49)

- Shifted the headquarters of Bengal Artillery from Calcutta to Meerut.

- Introduction of the Doctrine of Lapse

- Recommended the Vernacular education for the whole of the Northwestern Provinces (1853)

- Wood’s Dispatch 1854

- Formation of Gurkha regiments took place during his reign.

- Abolished Titles and Pensions, Widow Remarriage Act (1856).

- Started the first railway line in 1853 (connecting Bombay with Thana)

- Started an electric telegraph service 

- Laid the basis of the modern postal system through the Post Office Act, 1854.

- A separate public works department (PWD) was set up for the first time.

- Started work on the Grand Trunk Road and developed the harbors of Karachi, Bombay, and Calcutta.

Lord Canning

(Post-1857 Revolt, Governor-General of India was made Viceroy of British India )

1856-1862

- Last Governor-General and first Viceroy of India

- Passed the Act of 1858, which ended the rule of the East India Company.

- Withdrew Doctrine of Lapse.

- Passed the Indian Councils Act of 1862 

- Passed the Indian Penal Code of Criminal Procedure (1859)

- Enacted the Indian High Court Act

- Established three universities at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay in 1857

Lord Elgin I

1862-63

- Associated with Wahabi Movement (Pan-Islamic Movement).

- Established High Courts at Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras in 1862

Lord John Lawrence

1864-69

- Expanded canal works and railways

- Advocated State-managed railways.

- Fought the Bhutan War (1865)

- Created the Indian Forest Department and recognized the native Judicial service.

- Known as the Saviour of Punjab.

- He introduced various reforms and became a member of the Punjab Board of Administration after the second Sikh war.

Lord Mayo

1869-72

- Introduced financial decentralization in India

- Established Rajkot College at Kathiawar and Mayo College at Ajmer for the princes

- Organised the Statistical Survey of India

- Established the Department of Agriculture & Commerce.

- A census was held in 1871, for the first time during his tenure.

Lord Northbrook 

1872–76

- Kuka Movement of Punjab took a rebellious turn during his period.

Lord Lytton 

1876–80

- Pursued free trade and abolished duties on 29 British manufactured goods.

- Passed the Royal Title Act (1876) declared Queen Victoria as the Kaiser-i-Hind

- Arranged the Grand Darbar in Delhi (1877).

- Passed the infamous Vernacular Press Act (1878).

- Participated in the Second Afghan War (1878-80).

Lord Ripon

1880-1884

- Repeal of the Vernacular Press Act (1882)

- Introduced First Factory Act, 1881 to improve labor conditions.

- Introduced government resolution on local self-government (1882) and Land Revenue Policy.

- Appointed Hunter Commission (for education reforms) in 1882

- Ilbert Bill controversy (1883-84) took under his regime.

Lord Dufferin

1884–88

- Fought the Third Burmese War (Annexation of Upper and Lower Burma) in 1885..

- Accredited with the establishment of the Indian National Congress in 1885.

Lord Lansdowne

1888–94

- Introduced Factory Act (1891).

- Indian Councils Act (1892).

- Setting up of Durand Commission (1893) to define the line between British India and Afghanistan.

- Categorized Civil Services into imperial, provincial, and subordinate.

Lord Elgin II 

1894–99

- The Munda uprising of 1899 and the great famine of 1896–97 took in his reign.

- The convention on delimiting the frontier between China and India was ratified.

- Appointed Lyall Commission after famine (1897).

Lord Curzon

1899–1905

- Appointed a Police Commission in 1902 under Andrew Frazer.

- Set up the Universities Commission and accordingly the Indian Universities Act of 1904 was passed.

- Set up the Department of Commerce and Industry.

- Calcutta Corporation Act (1899).

- Passed the Indian Coinage and Paper Currency Act (in 1899) and - put India on a gold standard.

- The partition of Bengal took place in 1905.

- Created the NWFP and Archaeological Survey of India.

Lord Minto II

1905-1910

- Swadeshi Movement (1905–08) was started during his tenure.

- Foundation of the Muslim League, 1906 was laid during his tenure.

- Surat session and split in the Congress (1907).

- Newspapers Act, 1908 was passed.

- Enactment of the Morley-Minto Reforms, 1909

Lord Hardinge II

1910-1916

- Annulment of the partition of Bengal (1911).

- Transfer of Capital from Calcutta to Delhi (1911).

- Delhi Darbar and Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary (1911).

- Establishment of Hindu Mahasabha by Madan Mohan Malviya (1915).

Lord Chelmsford

1916-1921

- Home Rule Movement launched by Tilak and Annie Besant (1916) was his regime.

- Lucknow Pact between Congress and Muslim League (1916) was signed.

- The arrival of Gandhi in India (1915) and Champaran Satyagraha (1917) was during his tenure.

- Montague’s August Declaration (1917).

- Kheda Satyagraha and Ahmedabad Satyagraha (1918).

- Government of India Act (1919).

- Repressive Rowlatt Act (1919).

- Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (1919) took place during his tenure.

- Launch of Khilafat Movement (1920–22) and Non-cooperation Movement (1920–22).

- Enactment of Saddler Commission (1917)

- Appointed an Indian, Sir S. P. Sinha as the Governor of Bengal.

Lord Reading

1921–26

- Criminal Law Amendment Act and abolition of cotton excise

- Repeal of Press Act of 1910 & Rowlatt Act of 1919

- Violent Moplah rebellion in Kerala (1921)

- Chauri Chaura incident in 1922 was followed by the withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement.

- Foundation of Swaraj Party (1923)

- Kakori Train Dacoity (1925)

Lord Irwin

1926–31

- Simon Commission announced in 1927.

- Butler Commission (1927); Nehru Report (1928).

- 14 points of Jinnah (1929)

- Lahore session of Congress and ‘Poorna Swaraj’ declaration (1929).

- Civil Disobedience Movement (1930).

- Dandi march (1930).

- First Round Table Conference (1930).

- Gandhi-Irwin Pact (1931).

Lord Willingdon

1931-1936

- Second Round Table Conference (1931).

- The announcement of MacDonald’s Communal Award (1932).

- Third Round Table Conference.

- Government of India Act (1935).

- Formation of All India Kisan Sabha (1936).

- Poona Pact was signed between Ambedkar and Gandhi.

Lord Linlithgow

1936–43

- First General Election (1936–37).

- Resignation of the Congress ministries after the outbreak of the Second World War (1939).

- Tripuri Crisis & formation of Forward Bloc by S.C. Bose (1939).

- Lahore Resolution (1940)

 - August Offer (1940)

- Cripps Mission (1942)

- Quit India Movement (1942) 

Lord Wavell

1943–1947

- Wavell Plan and the Simla Conference (1942)

- Cabinet Mission (1946)

- INA Trials in 1945; Naval mutiny in 1946.

- Direct Action Day (1946)

- End of Second World War in 1945.

- Announcement of end of British rule in India by Clement Attlee (1947)

Lord Mountbatten

(First Governor-General of free India)

1947-1948

- June Third Plan (1947)

- Radcliffe commission (1947)

- India’s Independence (15 August 1947)

C Rajgopalachari

(last Governor-General of free India)

1948-1950

- The only Indian Governor-General, after him, the post was ended.

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List of Important Governors-General and Viceroys of India FAQs

  • Warren Hastings was the first Governor-General and Lord Mountbatten was the last Viceroy of India.

  • After the 1857 rebellion, the reign of British India moved on from the Company to the British Crown. Lord Canning was made the first Viceroy and Governor-General of India.


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