Saturday, May 8, 2010


This position was created by Lord North’s Regulating Act (1773), which also set up a four-member governing council.

1774 - 1785
Warren Hastings - (1732 - 1818)
The first man to hold the position of Governor-General of India was Warren Hastings. He became a clerk by the East India Company in 1750 and soon became manager of a trading post in Bengal. After the British recapture of the Calcutta in 1757, he was made British resident at Murshidabad. In 1761 Hastings was appointed to the Calcutta council. He returned to England in1764 disgusted with administrative corruption in Bengal. In 1769 Hastings went back to India as a member of the Madras council and became governor of Bengal 1772 where he carried out judicial and financial reform, law codification, and the suppression of banditry, set up a civil service, dismissed native tax-collectors and appointed British collectors who were strictly forbidden to take bribes, and measures that laid the foundation of direct British rule in India. Hastings was a patron of Indian learning and was keenly interested in Indian literature and philosopy. In 1774, he was appointed Governor-General of India. In the succeeding years Hastings was greatly hampered by opposition in the council. He resigned his position in India in 1784 and returned to Britain where he was impeached in Parliament for the acts of extortion and other charges pertaining to his conduct of Indian affairs. His prosecution lasted ten years and although he was vindicated he was financially ruined.
1785 - 1886Sir John MacPherson - (c1745 - 1821)
From Sleat, Isle of Skye, Scotland, Sir John MacPherson (1st baronet) was appointed as an Acting Governor-General. He later became a member of the British Parliament for Horsham from 1796 to 1802.
1786 - 1795Charles Cornwallis – 2nd Earl Cornwallis (1738-1805)
Cornwallis joined the army 1757 as an Ensign in the 1st Foot Guards as Ensign. In 1760 he became a Member of Parliament for Wye in Kent. Two years later he succeeded his father as 2nd Earl Cornwallis. Over the next years he served the British Army in Germany, as a staff officer to Lord Granby and was assigned to the 85th Regiment of Foot then the 11th Foot. At the Battle of Villinghausen in 1771 he was noted for his gallantry. Cornwallis was a British general during the American War of Independence. His defeat in 1781 at the Siege of Yorktown is considered the end of the war as the majority of British soldiers surrendered then although minor skirmishes continued for a further two years. In 1786 Cornwallis was appointed Governor General and Command in Chief in India. He instituted land reforms and reorganised the British army and administration. He defeated the Sultan of Mysore in 1792, the same year he was given the title of Marquis. He returned to England in 1793. Cornwallis was made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland just before the outbreak of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. The execution of prisoners of war after the Battle of Ballinamuck in Ballinalee for which he gained notoriety that remains to this day.
1795 - 1798Sir John Shore – (1751-1834) -----(Non-intervention policy)
Shore joined the East India company in 1768 as a writer in Kolkata. For a time he worked with Warren Hastings in the Secret Political Department where he learnt Persian and Bangla. He was principal revenue adviser during Hastings’ tenure are Governor General. He married an Indian woman and had an immense knowledge of Bengal revenue affairs, institutions, customs and habits, which influenced the Court of Directors to appoint him as a member of the Council of the Governor General in 1787. In 1793 Shore was appointed Governor General of India. His policy was to consolidate and govern well without indulging in avoidable foreign adventures. Shore was renowned for his absolute honesty at a time when company officials were generally corrupt and the norm was making quick fortunes by plundering. Shore was honoured with a baronet in 1792. His tenure lasted until 1798. His love of oriental culture saw him appointed president of the Asiatic Society in 1794. In 1798 he was made an Irish Peer.
1798 - 1805Richard Colley Wellesley – Marquess Wellesley (1760-1842)
He was born at Dangan Castle, Ireland on 20 June 1760, eldest son of the 1st Earl of Mornington. His younger brother was the 1st Duke of Wellington. In 1781 Richard Wellesley became the 2nd Earl of Mornington. He entered the English House of Commons in 1784 and was made Lord of the Treasury in 1786. In April 1798 in arrived in India as Governor-General. He expanded British power in India by annexation and sub alliances with native princes, often against the orders of the East India Company. Intense criticism in England of Wellelsey’s policy forced his resignation in 1805. Several attempts, which failed, were made to impeach Wellelsey. During 1809 he was ambassador to Spain and in 1821 he became lord lieutenant of Ireland. Wellesley died at Kingston House, Brompton, England, on 26 September 1842 and was buried in the Eton College Chapel.
1805 Charles Cornwallis – 2nd Earl Cornwallis (1738-1805)
Cornwallis was appointed Governor-General of India for a second term in 1805 at the age of 67. His task was to put an end to "this most unprofitable and ruinous warfare" between rival native factions. He was not long in India when he was stricken by fever. On October 5, 1805, Cornwallis died at Ghazipore on the Ganges River where his grave and monument are still maintained by the Indian government.
1805 - 1807Sir George Hilaro Barlow (1762-1847)
He was appointed to the Bengal Civil Service in 1778, and in 1788 was responsible for the permanent settlement of British in Bengal. In 1803 he was created a baronet. When the Marquess of Cornwallis died in 1805, Barlow was nominated provisional governor-general but his nomination was rejected in England. The appointment went instead to the 1st Earl of Minto. Barlow was created governor of Madras, where his lack of tact caused a mutiny of officers in 1809. In 1812 he was recalled to England and lived in retirement until his death in February 1847.
1807 - 1813Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound – 1st Earl of Minto (1751-1814)
Born Gilbert Elliot in Edinburgh, Scotland on 23 April 1751.He entered the law profession after leaving university. In 1771 he became an independent Whig MP for Morpeth. He was appointed to govern Corsica in 1794. In 1797 he assumed the additional names of Murray-Kynynmound and was created Baron Minto. He had only been a member of the Board of Control for a few months when he was appointed Governor-General of India at the end of 1806. During his time in India the British consolidated their power in the subcontinent and extended their influence into South East Asia. He governed with great success until 1813. In that year he was created Viscount Melgund and Earl of Minto. He died at Stevenage, England on 21 June 1814 and was buried in Westminster Abby.
1813 - 1823Francis Rawdon-Hastings – 1st Marquess of Hastings and 2nd Earl of Moira (1754-1826)
He joined the British army in 1771 and served in the American Revolutionary War. In 1793 he succeeded his father as the 2nd Earl of Moira. He entered the British parliament in 1806 as a Whig but resigned the following year. He was appointed Governor-General of India in 1813. His time there was noted for his overseeing the victory in the Gurkha War (1814-1816), the conquest of the Marathas in 1818 and the purchase of the island of Singapore in 1819. He was raised to the rank of Marquess of Hastings in 1817. Although his tenure in India was largely successful it ended 1823 when he was removed from office for refusing to lower the field pay of offices in the Bengal Army during peacetime. In 1824 he was appointed Governor-General of Malta. He died at sea off Naples two years later.
1823 John Adam
He was acting Governor-General in 1823, filling in during the period between when Francis Rawdon-Hastings was removed from office until William Pitt Amherst took up his appointment to Governor-General.
1823 - 1828William Pitt Amherst – 1st Earl Amherst (1773-1857)
He was the nephew of Jeffrey Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst and succeeded to his title in 1797. In 1816 he was sent as ambassador extraordinary to the court of China’s Qing Dynasty with a view of establishing better trading relations between China and Britain. He was unable to enter Perking(Beijing) because he refused to kowtow to the Chinese Emperor with the consequence that his mission to China was unsuccessful. He was appointed Governor-General when Francis Rawdon-Hastings was removed from that office in 1823. He was created Earl of Amherst, of Arracan in the East Indies, and Viscount Holmesdale, in the County of Kent, in 1826. He was an inexperienced governor heavily influenced by senior military officers in Bengal. He ordered troops to the Anglo-Burmese border over a territorial dispute that developed into a war that lasted two years, cost 13 million, contributed to an economic crisis in India and saw 15,000 British soldiers killed. Powerful friends ensured he was not recalled in disgrace. He was replaced in 1828. On his return to England he lived in retirement till his death in March 1857.
1828-1835Lord William Bentinck – (1774-1839)
He joined the army and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. In 1803 he was nominated governor of Madras, but quarrelled with the chief justice and members of his council. The sepoy mutiny at Vellore in 1807 led to his recall. He had been considered for the post of Governor-General at that time but it was awarded to Lord Minto instead. He was appointed twenty years later, in 1827, when he succeeded Lord Amherst to the position. His tenure was notable for the suppression of the Thugs, the abolition of suttee and for making the English language the basis of education in India. He allowed the appointment of Indians as subordinate judges, enhanced their salaries and increased their jurisdiction. He allowed the use English in the higher courts and local languages in the lower courts, which made the justice system accessible to all kinds of people. His administration was mostly peaceful, progressive and successful. He died at Paris on 17 June 1839.
1835 - 1836Charles Theophilus Metcalfe – Baron Metcalfe (1785-1846)
Charles Metcalfe, born in Calcutta in 1785, was the second son of Thomas Theophilus Metcalfe, a major in the Bengal Army who later became a director of the East India Company, and was created a baronet in 1802. Charles Theophilis Metcalfe was educated at Eton and returned to India in 1800 as a writer in the service of the East India Company. In 1813 Metcalfe was made Resident at Delhi, and from 1820 Resident at the Court of the Nizam until 1825 when he returned to his post in Delhi. He succeeded his brother to the baronetcy in 1822. He later became the first governor of the new Presidency of Agra. In March 1835 he became Governor-General of India. He tenure lasted only one year. He was a popular Governor but his relationship with the directors of the East India Company in London was complicated and he resigned in 1836. The following year he was Governor of Jamaica but resigned because of his health and returned to England in 1842. Six months later he was appointed Governor-General of Canada. He was rewarded with a peerage on his return to England in 1845. Metcalfe died at Malshanger, near Basingstoke on 5 September 1846.
1836 - 1842George Eden – 1st Earl of Auckland (1784-1849)
After the death of his father, the 1st Baron Auckland, and his elder brother he became the 2nd Baron Auckland. In 1809 he was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn and entitled to practice as a Barrister-at-Law. In 1830 he was made president of the Board of Trade and master of the Mint and in 1835 he was appointed Governor-General of India. He was a laborious legislator and was devoted to the improvement of native schools and the expansion of commercial industry. In 1838, during the early success of the war with Afghanistan, he received the title of Earl of Auckland and 1st Baron Eden, of Norwood, Surrey. However, in later campaigns the British troops suffered severe disasters. In 1841 he was succeeded in office by Lord Ellenborough and returned to England the following year. In 1846 he became First Lord of the Admiralty, which he retained until 1 January 1849 when he died of a stroke. He never married so the earldom of Auckland the Barony of Eden became extinct but the Barony he had inherited from his father passed to his brother Robert.
1842 - 1844Edward Law – 1st Earl of Ellenborough (1790–1871)
He held a seat in the House of Commons until his father’s death in 1818 gave him a seat in the House of Lords. Ellenborough was appointed to succeed Lord Auckland as Governor-General of India. His administration lasted two and a half years and from beginning to end was subject to hostile criticism. Ellenborough went to India intending to restore peace to Asia but the whole of his term of office was occupied in war. During his tenure he annexed Sind and subjugated Gwalior. Often criticised as vain and theatrical, Ellenborough’s despatches to England were haughty and disrespectful and the directors of the Board of Control had no control over Ellenborough and his policies. In June 1844 they exercised their power by recalling him. On his return to England he was created an earl and received thanks from parliament. In 1846 he became First Lord of the Admiralty. In 1846 he took on the office of President of the Board of control for the fourth time. However he wrote a caustic despatch censuring Lord Canning that was published in The Times, which resulted in Ellenborough resigning. He never held office again. He died at Southam House, near Chelthenham in 1871.
1844 - 1848Charles Stewart Hardinge – 2nd Viscount Hardinge of Lurran (1822-1894)
Hardinge lost his left hand in the Napoleonic wars. He became a Tory MP in 1820 and served a Secretary at War from 1828 to 1830 and again from 1841 to 1844. He was appointed Governor-General of India in 1844. The first Sikh war was fought during his tenure. He served in that position until 1848. In 1855 he was made a Field Marshall. Lord Hardinge – Viscount Hardinge (1785-1856)
In 1844 Hardinge succeeded his brother-in-law Lord Ellenborough who had been recalled. He had been a professional solider before his assignment in India. During his tenure he promoted the plans for the railway system in India and for the Ganges Canal. He continued Bentinck’s initiative to suppress sati, infanticide and human sacrifices, which Hindus still practised, particularly in the hilly areas of Orissa. He established schools and introduced Sunday as the weekly holiday for government offices. The first Sikh war (1845-46), which ended with the Treaty of Lahore, occurred during his tenure, and after which he was made a Viscount. Hardinge retired from the position of Governor-General of India in 1848. In 1852 he succeeded the Duke of Wellington as commander-in-chief of the British Army, which he did much to improve and modernise. He died on 24 September 1856 and a statue of him was erected in Calcutta.
1848 - 1856James Andrew Broun-Ramsay Dalhousie – 10th Earl and 1st Marquis of Dalhousie (1812–1860)
He was the third son of the 9th Earl of Dalhousie. He was a member of Parliament for Haddingtonshire until his father’s death in 1838 when he succeeded to the title of 10th Earl of Dalhousie. He was Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856. He was considered a very arrogant man and it was his action that precipitated the Sepoy rebillion. He ruled India energetically, annexed territory, developed the resources, communication and transportation lines. He returned to Britain because of his health, received the thanks of parliament, and was elevated to Marquis of Dalhousie. He died in 1860.

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