MP Study Notes: Governor-General and Viceroy of India

By Trupti Thool|Updated : June 6th, 2022

Governor-General and Viceroy of India: In India, the British were able to establish this control through Governor-General & Viceroys. When East India Company came to India, it controlled Bengal through a post named “Governor of Bengal” (first Governor of Bengal: Robert Clive).
Other Presidencies, Bombay and Madras, had their own governors. However, after the passing of Regulating Act 1773, the post of Governor of Bengal was converted into “Governor-General of Bengal” (1st Governor-General of Bengal was Warren Hastings).

Governor-General and Viceroy of India

Governors of Bengal (1757–74)

Robert Clive

  • Governor of Bengal during 1757–60 and again during 1765–67 and established Dual Government in Bengal from 1765–72.
  • Clive’s initial stay in India lasted from 1744 to 1753.
  • He was called back to India in 1755 to ensure British supremacy in the subcontinent against the French.
  • In 1757, Clive along with Admiral Watson was able to recapture Calcutta from the Nawab of Bengal Siraj Ud Daulah.
  • In the Battle of Plassey, the Nawab was defeated by the British despite having a larger force.
  • Clive ensured an English victory by bribing the Nawab’s army Commander Mir Jaffar, who was installed as Bengal’s Nawab after the battle.
  • Clive was also able to capture some French forts in Bengal.
  • For these exploits, Robert Clive was made Lord Clive, Baron of Plassey.
  • As a result of this battle, the British became the paramount power in the Indian subcontinent.
  • Bengal became theirs and this greatly increased the company’s fortunes. (Bengal was richer than Britain at that time).
  • This also opened up other parts of India to the British and finally led to the rise of the British Raj in India. For this reason, Robert Clive is also known as “Conqueror of India”.
  • Vansittart (1760–65): The Battle of Buxar (1764).
  • Cartier (1769–72): Bengal Famine (1770).

Governors-General of Bengal (1774–1833)

Warren Hastings (1772–1785)

  • First Governor-General of Bengal.
  • Brought the Dual Government of Bengal to an end by the Regulating Act, 1773
  • Became Governor-General in 1774 through the Regulating Act, 1773.
  • Wrote an introduction to the first English translation of the ‘Gita’ by Charles Wilkins
  • In 1781, he founded the Calcutta Madrasa, for the promotion of Islamic studies
  • He founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal with William Jones in 1784.
  • Auctioned the right to collect land revenue to the highest bidder; Divided Bengal into districts and appointed collectors and other revenue officials.
  • Rohilla War (1774); 1st Anglo-Maratha War (1776–82): 2nd Anglo-Mysore War (1780–84).

Lord Cornwallis (1786–93)

  • Established lower courts and appellate courts
  • Sanskrit College established by Jonathan Duncan
  • Permanent Settlement in Bihar and Bengal in 1793
  • Introduction of Cornwallis Code
  • Introduction of Civil Services in India
  • 3rd Anglo-Mysore War (defeat of Tipu and the Treaty of Serinagpatanam, 1792).

Sir John Shore (1793–98)

  • Policy of Non-intervention
  • Charter Act of 1793
  • Battle of Kharda between Nizam and the Marathas (1795).

Lord Wellesley (1798–1805)

  • He adopted the policy of Subsidiary Alliance- a system to keep the Indian rulers under control and to make British the supreme power.
  • Fort William College at Calcutta.
  • Formation of Madras Presidency in 1801.
  • 4th Anglo-Mysore War (1799)-defeat and the death of Tipu Sultan; 2nd Anglo-Maratha War (1803–05)-defeat of the Scindia, the Bhonsle and the Holkar; Treaty of Bassein (1802).

Subsidiary Alliance in India

  • The Subsidiary Alliance System was used by Wellesley to bring Indian Slates within the orbit the British political power. The system played a very important part in the expansion of the Company’s dominions and many new territories were added to the Company’s possessions.
  • There were four stages in it:- In the first stage, the Company undertook to lend its troops to the friendly Indian prince to assist him in his wars.
  • In the second stage, the Company’s sent troops to the field on their own account with the assistance of an Indian ally who made a common ally.
  • The next stage was reached when the Indian ally was not to supply men but money. The company undertook to raise, train and equip an army under English officers and render to the ally a fixed number of troops on receiving a sum of money towards the cost of these troops.
  • The final stage was the next logical step. The Company undertook to defend the territories of an Indian ally and for that purpose stationed a subsidiary force in the territory of the state. The Indian ally was asked not to pay money but surrender territory from the revenue of which the expenses of the subsidiary force were to be met.
  • The Indian states were to conduct negotiations with other states through the Company.
  • The state had to accept a British Resident at its headquarters.
  • The Alliance enabled the Company to maintain a large standing army at the expense of Indian princes. It disarmed the Indian states and threw British protectorate over them.
  • The states that accepted this policy were the Nizam of Hyderabad, the ruler of Mysore, the Raja of Tanjore, the Nawab of Awadh, the Peshwa, the Bhonsle Raja of Berar, the Scindia, the Rajputs of Jodhpur, Jaipur, etc.

George Barlow (1805–1807): Vellore Mutiny (1806)

Lord Minto I (1807–1813)

  • He concluded the Treaty of Amritsar (1809) with Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
  • Charter Act of 1813 was passed.

Lord Hastings (1813–1823)

  • Ended the policy of Non-intervention and adopted the policy of intervention and war.
  • Creation of Bombay Presidency in 1818.
  • Establishment of Ryotwari System in Madras.
  • Anglo-Nepalese War (1813–23); 3rd Anglo-Maratha War (1817–18). Hastings forced humiliating treaties on Peshwa and the Scindia

Lord Amherst (1823–28)

  •  First Anglo Burmese War (1824-26) 
  • Acquisition of territories in Malay Penisula; Capture of Bharatpur (1826).

Lord William Bentick (1828–33)

  • Most liberal and enlightened Governor-General of India; Regarded as the Father of Modern Western Education in India
  • He carried out social reforms such as the abolition of Sati Pratha with the help of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Suppression of Thuggee.
  • Annexation of Mysore (1831). 
  • Passed the Charter Act of 1833, which provided that no Indian subject of Company was to be debarred from holding an office on account of his religion, place of birth, descent and colour.
  • On the recommendation of Macaulay Committee made English the medium of higher education in India.
  • Established first Medical College in Calcutta.

Governors-General of India (1833–58)

Lord William Bentick (1833–35)

  • First Governor-General of India
  • Abolished provincial courts of appeal and circuit set up by Cornwallis, the appointment of Commissioners of revenue and circuit.
  • Annexed Coorg (1834), Central Cachar (1834) on the plea of misgovernment.

Sir Charles Metcalfe (1835–1836)

  • Passed the famous Press Law, which liberated the press in India (called Liberator the Press).

Lord Auckland (1836–42)

  • 1st Anglo-Afghan War (1839–42)—a great blow to the prestige of the British in India.

Lord Ellenborough (1842–44)

  • Brought an end to the Afghan War.
  • Annexation of Sindh (1843)
  • War with Gwalior (1843).

Lord Hardinge I (1844–48)

  • 1st Anglo-Sikh war (1845–46) and the Treaty of Lahore 1846 (marked the end of Sikh sovereignty in India.
  • Gave preference to English education in employment.

Lord Dalhousie (1848–56)

  • Shifted the headquarters of Bengal Artillery from Calcutta to Meerut.
  • Shimla was made the permanent headquarters of the army & summer capital.
  • Formation of Gurkha regiments took place in his reign.
  • Youngest Governor-General of India (36 Years), & also known as
  • Father of Indian Telegraph
  • Father of Indian Railways
  • Father of Indian Postal system
  • Father of Indian Engineering Services
  • Maker of modern India
  • Abolished Titles and Pensions, Widow Remarriage Act (1856).
  • Introduced the system of Centralized control in the newly acquired territories known as Bon-Regulation system
  • Recommended the Thomsonian system of Vernacular education for the whole of the Northwestern Provinces (1853)
  • Wood’s Educational Despatch of 1854 and opening of Anglo-Vernacular Schools and Government Colleges.
  • Started the first railway line in 1853 (connecting Bombay with Thana)
  • Started an electric telegraph service.
  • Laid the basis of the modern postal system (1854)
  • A separate public works department was set up for the first time.
  • Started work on the Grand Trunk Road and developed the harbours of Karachi, Bombay and Calcutta.
  • Introduced Doctrine of Lapse (Captured Satara (1848), Jaitpur and Sambhalpur (1849), Baghat (1850), Udaipur (1852), Jhansi (1853) and Nagpur (1854); Fought 2nd Anglo-Sikh War (1848–49) and annexed the whole of the Punjab; 2nd Anglo-Burmese War (1852) and annexation of Lower Burma or Pegu; Annexation of Berar in 1853; Annexation of Avadh in 1856 on charges of maladministration.

Lord Canning (1856–58)

  • The last Governor-General and first Viceroy of India
  • Revolt of 1857; Passed the Act of 1858, which ended the rule of the East India Company.
  • Withdrew Doctrine of Lapse.

Governor-General & Viceroys (1858–1947)

Lord Canning (1858–62)

  • He was the Governor-General during Mutiny of 1857 and after the war, he was made the first Viceroy of India.
  • The Indian Councils Act of 1862 was passed, which proved to be a landmark in the constitutional history of India
  • The Indian Penal Code of Criminal Procedure (1859) was passed
  • The Indian High Court Act (1861) was enacted
  • Income Tax was introduced for the first time in 1858
  • The Universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras founded in 1857.

Lord Elgin I (1862–63)

  • Wahabi Movement (Pan-Islamic Movement).
  • High Courts were established at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras in 1862

Sir John Lawrence (1864–69)

  • Telegraphic communication was opened with Europe;
  • Expanded canal works and railways
  • Bhutan War (1865)
  • Advocated State-managed railways
  • Created the Indian Forest Department and recognised the native Judicial service.
  • He introduced various reforms and became the member of Punjab Board of Administration after the second Sikh war.
  • He was known as the Saviour of Punjab.

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.
  • He was the only Viceroy to be murdered in office by a Pathan convict in Andamans in 1872.
  • For the first time in Indian history, a census was held in 1871.

Lord Northbrook (1872–76)

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

Lord Lytton (1876–80)

  • Most infamous Governor-General pursued free trade and abolished duties on 29 British manufactured goods which accelerated drain of the wealth of India
  • Arranged the Grand Darbar in Delhi (in 1877) when the country was suffering from a severe famine
  • Passed the Royal Title Act (1876) and Queen Victoria was declared as the Kaiser-i-Hind
  • Arms Act (1878) made mandatory for Indians to acquire a license for arms
  • Passed the infamous Vernacular Press Act (1878)
  • Proposed the plan of Statutory Civil Service in 1878-79 and lowered the maximum age limit from 21 to 19 years

Lord Ripon (1880–84)

  • Repeal of the Vernacular Press Act, 1882
  • The First Factory Act, 1881 to improve labour condition
  • Resolution of Local Self Government in 1882
  • Resolution on Land Revenue Policy
  • Appointed Hunter Commission (for education reforms) in 1882
  • The Ilbert Bill controversy erupted during his time (1883) which enabled Indian district magistrates to try European criminals. But this was withdrawn later.

Lord Dufferin (1884–88)

  • 3rd Burmese War (Annexation of Upper and Lower Burma) in 1885.
  • Establishment of Indian National Congress in 1885.

Lord Lansdowne (1888–94)

  • The second Factory Act of 1891; Categorization of Civil Services into imperial, provincial and subordinate.
  • Indian Council Act of 1892 (introduced elections which were indirect).
  • Appointment of the Durand Commission to define the line between British India and Afghanistan (1893).

Lord Elgin II (1894–99)

  • The Munda uprising (under Birsa Munda) of 1899.
  • Convention delimiting the frontier between China and India was ratified.
  • The great famine of 1896–97.
  • Lyall Commission appointed after famine (1897).
  • The assassination of two British officials-Rand & Amherst-by Chapekar Brothers in 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.
  • Partition of Bengal took place in 1905.
  • Created the NWFP and Archaeological Survey of India.

Lord Minto II (1905–10)

  • Swadeshi Movement (1905–08).
  • Foundation of the Muslim League, 1906.
  • Surat session and split in the Congress (1907).
  • Newspapers Act, 1908.
  • Morley-Minto Reforms, 1909.

Lord Hardinge II (1910–16)

  • 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 (1916–21)

  • Home Rule Movement launched by Tilak and Annie Besant (1916).
  • Lucknow Pact between Congress and Muslim League (1916).
  • The arrival of Gandhi in India (1915).
  • Champaran Satyagraha (1917).
  • Montague’s August Declaration (1917).
  • Kheda Satyagraha and Satyagraha at Ahmedabad (1918).
  • Government of India Act (1919).
  • Repressive Rowlatt Act (1919).
  • Jalianwala Bagh Massacre (1919).
  • Khilafat Movement (1920–22).
  • Non-cooperation Movement (1920–22).
  • Saddler Commission (1917) and an Indian Sir S. P. Sinha was appointed 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)
  • Foundation of CPI (1921)
  • Chauri Chaura Incident (1922)
  • Foundation of Swaraj Party (1923)
  • Kakori Train Dacoity (1925)
  • Foundation of RSS (1925)
  • Murder of Swami Shardhanand (1926).
  • Suppressed non-cooperation movement.

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).
  • 1st Round Table Conference (1930).
  • Gandhi-Irwin Pact (1931).
  • Martyrdom of Jatin Das (hunger strike).

Lord Willingdon (1931–36)

  • 2nd Round Table Conference (1931).
  • Civil Disobedience Movement (1932).
  • The announcement of MacDonald’s Communal Award (1932).
  • 3rd Round Table Conference.
  • Foundation of Congress Socialist Party-CSP (1934).
  • Government of India Act (1935).
  • Burma separated from India (1935).
  • All India Kisan Sabha (1936).
  • Poona Pact was signed between Ambedkar and Gandhi.

Lord Linlithgow (1936–43)

  • First General Election (1936–37).
  • Congress ministries in 1937 and Resignation of Congress ministries in 1939.
  • ‘Deliverance Day’ by Muslim League in 1939.
  • Foundation of Forward Block by S.C. Bose (1939).
  • Lahore Resolution (1940); August Offer (1940); Cripps Mission (1942); Quit India Movement (1942) and Outbreak of Second World War in 1939.

Lord Wavell (1943–1947)

  • R. Formula 1944; Wavell Plan and Shimla Conference in 1945.
  • End of 2nd World War in 1945.
  • INA Trials in 1945; Naval mutiny in 1946.
  • Cabinet Mission, 1946 and acceptance of its proposals by Congress.
  • Direct Action Day by the Muslim League on 16th August 1946 and the first meeting of the constituent assembly was held on Dec. 9, 1946.

Lord Mountbatten (March–August 1947)

  • Announced the 3 June 1947 Plan; Introduction of Indian Independence Bill in the House of Commons and passed by the British Parliament on July 4, 1947.
  • Appointment of 2 boundary commissions under Sir Cyril Radcliffe.

Governor Generals of Independent India (1947–50)

Lord Mountbatten (1947–48)

  • The first Governor-General of free India; Kashmir acceded to India (Oct. 1947); Murder of Gandhi (Jan. 30, 1948).

C. Rajagopalachari (June 1948–January 25, 1950)

  • The last Governor-General of free India; The only Indian Governor-General.

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