Governor generals of British India

Warren Hastings (1772-85)

     Introduced Quinquennial settlement of land revenue in 1772 farming out lands to the highest bidder, later on he revised to annual settlement (1777) on the basis of open auction to the highest bidder. Made appointments of Collectors and other Revenue officials. Codified Hindu and Muslim laws. Trial of Nand Kumar and his judicial murder in 1775.  Foundation of Asiatic Society of Bengal with the help of William Jones in 1784.

     Associated with the Chait Singh (Benaras Raj) Affair, 1778. After his return to England in 1785. impeachment proceedings were initiated against him in the house of Lords. but after a long trial of 7 years he was eventually acquitted. Dual Government was abolished by him in 1772.

            In 1776, Manu‘s law was translated into English as Code of Gentoo Laws.

      In 1791. William Jones and Colebrook prepared Digest of Hindu Laws. Fatwa-i-Alaingiri was also translated. In 1772, created a Diwani and Faujdari Adalat. The Regulating Act 1773, appointed him the first Governor General along with four councilors-Clavering, Francis, Monson and Barwell. First Anglo Maratha War took place. Wilkins translated Gita and Hitopadesa in English. In 1780. James August Hickey started a weekly paper called Bengal Gazette or Calcutta General Advertiser. Syed Ghulam Hussain wrote Siyar-ul-Mutqherin.

Lord Cornwallis (1786-93)

     In 1791 Sanskrit College in Benaras, founded by Jonathan Duncan.  The Permanent Settlement introduced in 1793.  The Police System was introduced. The district; Faujdari Adalats presided over by Indian Judges abolished and in their place four Circuit Courts were established presided by European covenanted servants. The Sadr Nizamat Adalat also replaced.  Cornwallis code was introduced.  It was based on separation of powers. The Collector was divested of Judicial and Magisterial powers, he was the head of Revenue Administration. District Judge was appointed as the Head of Judiciary at the District level.

Lord Wellesley (1798-1805)

     Described himself a Bengal Tiger. Created the Madras Presidency after the annexation of the Kingdoms of Tanjore and Carnatic. Introduced the System of Subsidiary Alliance. The States that signed the alliance were first Hyderabad in 1798 and then Mysore, Tanjore, Awadh, Peshwa, Bhonsle, Sindhia, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Mecheri, Bundi, Bharatpur, Berar.

     Signed treaty of Bassein with the Peshwa and fought Second Anglo-Maratha War.  Lord Lake captured Delhi and Agra and the Mughal emperor was put under Company’s protection. Raja Ram Mohan Roy writes the Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhiddin. 

Lord Minto (1807-13)

      Signed treaty of Amiritsar in 1809 between Ranjit Singh and the English. Sent in 1808, Mission of Malcom to Persia and that of Eliphinston to Kabul.

Lord Hastings (1813-24)

     He was made Marquess of Hastings due to his success in the Gorkha war of the Anglo Nepalese war. Signed treaty of Sagauli in 1816 after defeating Gorkha leader Amar Singh. Abolished Peshwaship and annexed his territories 1n the Bombay Presidency after the third Anglo-Maratha War (1818). Introduction of Ryotwari Settlement in Madras Presidency by Governor, Thomas Munro (1820) Mahalwari (Village Community) System of land revenue was made in North-West Province by James Thomson.

Lord Amherst (1824-28)

     Received by the Mughal emperor (Akbar II) on terms of equality in 1827. Signed treaty of Yandaboo in 1826 with lower Burma or Pegu by which British merchants were allowed to settle in southern coast of Burma and Rangoon.

Lord Willian Bentinck (1828-35)

     First Governor General of India by Government of India Act 1833. Known as benevolent Governor General. Banned Practice of sati in 1829, suppressed Thugi 1n 1830 (military operation led by William Sleeman). Banned female infanticide Created the Province of Agra in 1834. English was to be Court language in Higher Court but Persian continued in Lower Courts.

      The regulation of 1833 on land revenue settlement by Mertins Bird (called father of Land Revenue Settlement in North). Use of fields maps and filed registers were prescribed for the first time.   Inquiry into titles of lnam lands. I830 annexation of Cachar took place. 1831 rebellion of Titu Mir and Kols. 1831, annexation of Mysore. Abolished Provincial Circuit Courts a separate Sadr Dwiani Adalat was set up in Allahabad and Sadr Nizamat Adalat at Delhi. Education reforms.   Appointed Macaulay as President of Committee of Public Instruction.

Sir Charles Metcalfe (1835-36)

     Abolished restriction on press. He was called ‘Liberator of Press’.

Lord Auckland (1836-42)

     Tripartite Treaty was signed between the company, Ranjit Singh and Shah Shuja. First Afghan War started Mandavi , State was annexed.

Lord Ellenborough (1842-44)

     Annexation of Sind to British Empire (1843). Charles Napier was replaced by Major Outrarn as the President in Sind. Slavery abolished.

Lord Dalhousie (1848-56)

     Introduced the policy of ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ or ‘Law of Escheat' which postulated that Indian states having no natural heir would be annexed to the British Empire. The Indian states thus annexed were Satara (1848), Jaitpur and Sambhalpur (1849), Baghat (1850), Udaipur (1852), Jhansi (1853) and Nagpur (1854).

     Introduced Wood’s dispatch known as the Magma Carta of English education in India prepared by Charles Wood, the President of the Board of Control in 1854. On education, it suggested a scheme of education from the Primary to the University level.  It recommended establishment of Anglo-vernacular schools in districts, government colleges in important towns and Universities in Presidency towns and introduction of vernacular language as medium of instruction.

     Boosted up the development of railways-laid the first railway line in 1853 from Bombay to Thane and second from Calcutta to Raniganj. Gave a great impetus to Post and Telegraph. Telegraph lines were laid (first line from Calcutta to Agra).  Organised a separate Public Works Department by divesting the military board of this power. Shimla was made summer capital and Army Head Quarter. Hindu Remarriage Act was passed in 1856 Annexed Awadh in 1856 on excuse of misgovernment, when Nawab. Wajid Ali Shah refused to abdicate. In 1853, recruitment of the covenanted Civil Service by competitive examination. Post Office Act was passed in 1854. Postage stamp were issued for the first time. In 1855, the Santhal uprising took place. Abolition of the title of Nawab of Carnatic. 

Lord Canning (1856-62)

     Revolt of 1857. Queen Victoria’s Proclamation and passing of the Indian Act of 1858. Doctrine of Lapse started by Lord Dalhousie was withdrawn in 1859. Foundation of the Universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras in 1857.  Indigo revolt in Bengal in 1859-60.     

     White muting by the European troops of East India Company in 1859. Bahadur Shah was sent to Rangoon. Enactment of Indian Penal Code. 1861, Indian Council Act.  Enactment of Code of Criminal procedure.

Lord Elgin (1862-65)

     Suppressed the Wahabi Movement. Famine Commission was constituted. Followed a policy of rigid non interference in Afghanistan called ‘Policy of Masterly inactivity’. Set up High Courts in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras (1865).

Lord Mayo (1864-72)

     Wahabi and Kuka Movement was active.  Mayo was murdered.

Lord Lytton (1876-80)

     Passing of the Royal Title Act of 1876 and the assumption of the title empress on India (Qaiser-i-hind) by Queen Victoria Holding of Delhi Durbar in 1877. Passing of the Vernacular Press Act of 1878 which empowered a Magistrate to call upon the printer and publisher of any vernacular newspaper to enter into an undertaking not to publish any news which would create antipathy against the Government. Passing of the Arms Act of 1878. Lowering of the maximum age from 21 years to 19 years for the Civil Services examination, an attempt to prevent Indians from entering Civil Services.

      Appointment of first famine commission under Sir Richard Stratchy. Policy of Masterly inactivity towards Afghanistan was replaced by forward policy. Started statutory Civil Services. Second Anglo-Afghan war in 1878. In 1879, Treaty of Gandamak. The famine of 1876-78.

Lord Ripon (1880~84)

     Passing of the First Factory Act in 1881 for the welfare of child labour. Repeal of Vernacular Press Act in 1882. Foundation of Local self government (1882), passing of Local self government acts in various Provinces during the period 1883-84. Holding of first decennial and regular census in 1881, which put the total population at 254 million. Appointment of an Education Commission under Sir William Hunter in 1882.

     The Ilbert bill controversy, 1883-84 relating to passing of a bill framed by the law member of the Viceroy’s Council Sir C.P. Ilbert which abolished Judicial disqualification based on race. There was strong protest on the part of the Europeans particularly the English and eventually under pressure the government amended the bill and provided for the rights of the Europeans to claim trial by jury of 12, out of which at least 7 were to be Europeans. Famine Code of 1883. Financial decentralization, the source of revenue was divided into imperial, provincial and divided.   Rendition of Mysore.

Lord Dufferin (1884-88)

     Foundation of Indian National Congress. Third Anglo-Burmese war. In 1886, upper Burma was annexed. Aitchison Committee Commented on the Congress being a microscopic minority.

Lord Lansdowne (1888-94)

      Passed the Age of Consent Act In 1891 which forbade marriage of girl below 12. In 1891, Second Factory Act was passed. In 1892, Indian Council Act passed.  In 1893, Dufand Mission was sent to Kabul.

Lord Elgin II (1894-99)

      Famine in part of Rajasthan-Lyall Commission appointed to look into the cause of famines.

Lord Curzon (1899-1905)

     Creation of a new Province called the North-West Frontier Province.

      Appointment of Police Commission under Sir Andrew Frazer to inquire into the Police Administration in 1902-03. It recommended enhancement in salaries and creation of a Department of Criminal Intelligence. Appointment of Universities Commission in 1902 under Sir  Thomas Releigh and passing of Indian Universities Act 1904. It provided for the increase in the official control over Universities by enhancing nominated member over elected ones.

      Creation of a new Department of Commerce and Industry. Passing of Ancient Monuments Protection Act In 1904 for the preservation of India’s cultural heritage. This was followed by the foundation of Archaeological Survey of India.

     Appointed MacDonneil Commission of famine in 1900. Appointment of Moncrief Commission on irrigation in 1902.  His biography has been written by RanaIdshay.  ‘The life of Lord Curzon’. Partition of Bengal.

Lord Minto II (1905-10)

   S. P. Sinha was appointed a member of Governor General’s Council Act of 1909 In 1906, Arundale Committee on political reforms submitted its report.

Lord Hardinge (1910-16)

     Coronation durbar in I911at Delhi in honour of George V. A separate state of Bihar and Orissa was created in 1911.  A bomb was thrown as he was entering Delhi at Chandini Chowk. Capital Shifted to Delhi in 1911. In I912 lslington Committee on civil Services. Kamagata Maru incident. I916, Saddler Committee on Universities appointed. BHU was founded. Human sacrifice practiced by Khonds abolished. Tilak founded Home Rule League.

Lord Chelmsford (1916-21)

     Foundation of Women’s University at Poona. Hunter Commission on Punjab wrongs. Chamber of Princes established in I921.  Home Rule League formed by Annie Besant. Rowlatt Committee submits its report. Third Afghan War started. Aligarh Muslim University founded in 1920.

Lord Reading (1921-26)

     Foundation of Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh by K. B Hedgewar at Nagpur in 1925. Beginning of lndianisation of the officers cadre of the Indian Army. Railway Budget was separated from General Budget in I921

     Skeen Committee or Indian Sandhurst Committee on Army reforms was appointed in I925. It submitted its report in 1926. Lee Commission on Public Services appointed in 1924, report submitted in 1924. Hilton Young Committee on currency (I926). Visva Bharti University started by Rabindra Nath Tagore. Train robbery at Kakori.

Lord Irwin (1926-31)

     Popularly known as Christian Viceroy. Appointment of the Indian States Commission under Harcourt Butler (1927) to recommend measures for the establishment of better relations between the Indian States and the Central government.  Royal Commission on Agriculture constituted in 1927. Deepavali declaration (1929) that India would be granted dominion status in due course. Royal Commission on Indian labour was appointed in 1929 gave its report in 1931. Sarda Act was passed in 1929. Marriage of girls below l4 and boys below 18 years of age was prohibited. Indian School of mines opened in Dhanbad.

     Simon Commission arrives in Bombay. Meerut conspiracy case. Jinnah formulates 14 points after Nehru report. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutta drop bombs in the Legislative Assembly. Gandhi starts his Dandi March. Chittagong  Annoury raid. First Round Table Conference without the Congress takes place. Gandhi-Irwin Pact, Gandhi leaves for London to participate in Second Round Table Conference.

Lord Willingdon (1931-36)

      Communal award in 1932.  Third Round Table Conference in 1932. White Paper on political reforms in India was r published in 1933. Burma and Aden were separated from the British Empire 1n 1935.  0rissa, Bihar and Sind were made new States.

Lord Linlithgow (1936-43)  

     August offer by the Viceroy in which he declared the dominion status as the ultimate goal of British policy in India.

     At its Haripura Session (1939), Congress declared Poorna Swaraj, ideal to cover native states and British India.

     In 1940, Individual Civil Disobedience movement. In 1942, Cripps Mission came. C. Rajgopalchari formula proposed Congress starts Quit India Movement.

Lord Wavell (1943-47) 

     Wavell Plan, Shimla Conference. Congress represented by Maulana Azad. RIN mutiny (1946).  Interim Government was formed (September 2, 1946). Prime Minister of Britian Clement Atlee announced independence of India by June I948 (February 20, 1947). Cabinet mission (I946). 16th August, 1946, Muslim League begins ‘Direct Action Day'.

Lord Mountbatten (1947-48)

     Earlier proposed plan Balkhan i. e, total dismemberment of the Indian territory, but soon left the idea. Made it clear to the princely States that they shall not be granted separate independence and they will have to join either India or Pakistan.  His plan to make India free on August 15, 1947 is also known as June 3rd plan. 

C. Rajagagopalachari (1948-50)

     First Indian Governor General. 


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