List of Viceroys in India

By Devyani Singh|Updated : August 25th, 2022

Viceroys were a representative of the British Crown in India that overlooked the implementation of all of the policies set by the government and maintained their rule. Initially called the Governor-General of India, the post has gone through some changes over time.

The Viceroys of India and the role they played under the British Crown and EIC is important to the UPSC Syllabus and candidates must prepare well for this topic. This article shall cover all necessary details. This article consists of the list of viceroys in India from 1858 to 1947 as the title of viceroy was sanctioned after the revolt of 1857.

Table of Content

Viceroys of India

The British rule in India was steady and paced out. It took its time by starting off as a trading unit after Queen Elizabeth I gave the Royal Charter to the East India Company on 31 December 1600. What started as a trading power, turned Britain into one of the most powerful countries in the world.

Despite being a geographically small island county, Britain established one of the largest empires in the world. It was famously called the empire on which the Sun never sets.

This success that Britain enjoyed was backed up by the strongly rooted and efficient form of bureaucracy that they established in each of their colonies. This formed a proper chain of command and hierarchy in the system, making it very systematic. In India, the British were able to establish this control through Governor-General & Viceroys. The progression from a Governor-general to a Viceroy has been explained below;

Governor-General of Bengal (1773-1833)

Upon the inception of the East India Company's settlement in India, the company ran its order in Bengal through a post called the Governor of Bengal'. The first Governor of Bengal was Robert Clive who played a vital role in the subsequent battles with regional kingdoms to strengthen the British stronghold over India.

  • Besides Bengal, the EIC had two other presidencies, namely Bombay and Madras. Each had its own Governor.
  • It was after the Regulating Act of 1773 was passed when the post of Governor of Bengal was changed into Governor-General of Bengal', giving it control over the other two presidencies of Bombay and Madras.
  • The first Governor-General of Bengal was Warren Hastings.

Governor-General of India (1833-58)

It was under the Charter Act of 1833 that the post name of Governor-General of Bengal was changed into Governor-General of India'.

  • This post was primarily administrative in nature that tended to the official matter. The Governor-General of India detailed to the Court of Directors of the East India Company.
  • The first Governor-General of India was William Bentinck.

Viceroy of India (1858-1947)

The revolt of 1857 was the first organised rebellion attack that the somewhat docile Indian population has launched on the EIC. It worried the English monarch back in Britain who feared losing India as its cash cow. To appease the crowds with the promise of a better administration and efficient rule-making, the company rule was terminated by the Crown and India came under its direct control.

  • The Government of India Act of 1858 was passed that changed the name of the post of Governor-General of India to the Viceroy of India'.
  • The Viceroy was to be directly appointed by the British government.
  • The first Viceroy of India was Lord Canning.

List of the Viceroys of India

Viceroys of India- Relevant Facts for UPSC

Tenure

Significant Events

Lord Canning

1856-1862

The Revolt of 1857 happened during his service.

The establishment of three universities at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay in 1857

The rule of the East India Company was abolished and the control was transferred to the Crown by the Government of India Act, 1858

Indian Councils Act of 1861

Lord Elgin

1862-1863

Wahabi Movement happened under his reign.

Lord John Lawrence

1864-1869

The Bhutan War (1865) happened in his service.

The High Courts at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were established in 1865.

Lord Mayo

1869-1872

The financial distribution between the centre and the state was introduced for the first time.

India's first Census was done in 1872

The Mayo College for the royal elite was set up

Establishment of Statistical Survey of India

The only Governor-General to die in India was Lord Mayo. Sher Ali Afridi murdered him in Port Blair.

Lord Northbrook

1872-1876

Civil Marriage under the Universal Marriage Act was introduced in 1872

This act allowed intercaste marriage.

Arya Samaj was established.

Kuka Movement was observed in Punjab

Lord Lytton

1876-1880

Several acts were introduced; the Vernacular Press Act (1878), and the Arms Act (1878).

The Second Afghan War happened from 1878-80

Queen Victoria took the title of Kaiser-i-Hind' which translates to Queen Empress of India

Lord Ripon

1880-1884

Upon receiving backlash, the Vernacular Press Act (1882) was repealed.

The first Factory Act of 1881 was introduced.

There was a government resolution passed on the establishment of local self-government (1882)

The Ilbert Bill controversy (1883-84)

Hunter Commission on education (1882)

Lord Dufferin

1884-1888

The Third Burmese War (1885-86).

One of the most noteworthy events was the establishment of the Indian National Congress in 1885.

Lord Lansdowne

1888-1894

Another Factory Act was introduced in 1891.

Indian Councils Act (1892)

The Durand Commission was set up in 1893.

Lord Elgin II

1894-1899

Brothers Ramkrishna and Damodar Chapekar killed the first British officer, Rands. During the time of British control in India, it was the very first political assassination.

Lord Curzon

1899-1905

The Police Commission was appointed in 1902.

The appointment of the Universities Commission happened in 1902.

Indian Universities Act of 1904 was introduced.

Partition of Bengal of 1905 was Curzon's master move towards the British Policy of Divide and Rule'.

Lord Minto II

1905-1910

The Swadeshi Movement was observed from 1905 to 1911.

Surat Split of Congress (1907)

The Muslim League was established in 1906.

Morley-Minto Reforms came in 1909.

Lord Hardinge II

1910-1916

The Partition of Bengal was annulled in 1911.

The British capital shifted from Calcutta to Delhi (1911)

Establishment of the Hindu Mahasabha (1915)

Lord Chelmsford

1916-1921

Chelmsford's India saw a lot of change and tragedy.

The Lucknow pact occurred in 1916.

The Champaran Satyagraha was launched in 1917.

Montagu's August Declaration (1917)

The Government of India Act (1919) was introduced.

The Rowlatt Act (1919) or the Black laws were introduced. There were nationwide protests.

This led to one of the most tragic events in Indian history, the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre (1919).

Launch of Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movements

Lord Reading

1921-1926

The Chauri Chaura incident (1922) happened which lead to the withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1922 by Mahatma Gandhi

Establishment of Swaraj Party(1922)

Kakori train robbery (1925)

Lord Irwin

1926-1931

The Simon Commission came to India in 1927.

Harcourt Butler, Indian States Commission (1927)

Nehru Report (1928)

Deepavali Declaration (1929)

Lahore session of the Congress where the Purna Swaraj Resolution was taken happened in 1929

The revolutionary Dandi March was from 12 Mar 1930 – 6 Apr 1930 which successfully launched the Civil Disobedience Movement the same year.

First Round Table Conference (1930)

Gandhi-Irwin Pact (1931)

Lord Willingdon

1931-1936

Establishment of the Communal Award (1932)

Second & Third Round Table Conference (1932)

The Poona Pact (1932) resolved the issues between Dr BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi over separate electorates for Dalits.

Government of India Act of 1935

Lord Linlithgow

1936-1944

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

Tripuri Crisis & formation of forward Bloc (1939)

Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League (demand for a separate state for Muslims) 1940

August Offer' of 1940

Formation of the Indian National Army (1941)

Cripps Mission (1942)

Quit India Movement (1942)

Lord Wavell

1944-1947

C. Rajagopalachari's CR Formula (1944)

Wavell Plan and the Simla Conference (1942)

Cabinet Mission (1946)

Direct Action Day was announced by the Muslim League (1946)

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

Lord Mountbatten

1947-1948

June Third Plan (1947)

Redcliff commission (1947)

India's Independence (15 August 1947)

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari

1948-1950

The last Governor-General of India, before the office, was permanently abolished in 1950

Viceroy of India UPSC Questions

Viceroy of India is a common topic of inquiry in the UPSC Exam. Candidates must prepare this topic properly and commit the factual information to their memories. Practice these questions to test your knowledge.

Viceroy of India UPSC

Viceroy of India is a relevant topic in the History syllabus for UPSC. they have been pivotal in the Indian independence struggle, making it an often enquired-about topic in the UPSC Prelims, UPSC Mains, and optional papers. Candidates should brush up on their basics well and commit all the facts to their memory. Follow appropriate History books for UPSC exam preparation. You can also refer to our collection of Indian History notes for UPSC for a concise way of cracking the huge syllabus.

Viceroy of India UPSC Notes PDF

Viceroy of India is an important topic for your IAS Exam Preparation. The aspirants should be well-versed in the topic. For that, our Viceroy of India UPSC notes shall prove to be helpful.

Other Important UPSC Notes
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Schedules of Indian ConstitutionGovernment of India Act 1935
Wholesale Price IndexNational Development Council in India
Article 21 of Indian Constitution Delhi Sultanate
History of Medieval IndiaElectoral Reforms in India
Ramappa TempleSelf Help Groups in India

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FAQs on Viceroy of India

  • After the mutiny of 1857, the British parliament passed an act that ended the rule of the East India company in India. It means the control of Indian rule was transferred to the British Crown. In this development, Lord Canning was made the first Viceroy of India.

  • William Bentick was the first Governor-General of British India. It was after the Charter Act of 1833 was passed that the Governor-General of Bengal was made the Governor-General of British India.

  • Under the Government of India Act of 1858, power was transferred from East India Company to the British Crown. The Governor-General was given the title of Viceroy or Crown's personal representative. Lord Canning became the first Viceroy.

  • Lord Mountbatten was the viceroy of India in 1947 when India got its independence. Hence, he was the last Viceroy of India.

  • Lord Ripon was one of the viceroys in India during the British rule who served between 1880-84. He is known to be the most liberal viceroy, popularly known as the 'Good Viceroy of India' who launched several reform programs as soon as he took office on 8th June 1880.

  • Lord Linlithgow was the longest-serving Viceroy of India from 1936 to 1944 (8 years).

  • In accordance with the provisions of the Regulating Act of 1773, Warren Hastings became the first governor-general.

  • Lord Linlithgow was the Viceroy of India in 1942. He was also the longest-serving Viceroy of India.

  • 1945 was a tumultuous year of the world as the Second World War culminated with the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Viceroy of India in 1945 was Lord Wavell.

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