Quick Revision Series for Prelims 2021: Governor-Generals and Viceroys of India Part 1

By Aman|Updated : July 23rd, 2021

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Governor-Generals and Viceroys of India Part 1

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.


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