Significant viceroys & their period with important decisions 

Governor Generals of Bengal

Warren Hastings (1772-1785)

  • First Governor General of Bengal
  • Brought the Dual Government of Bengal to an end by the Regulating Act, 1773.
  • Deprived Zamindars of their judicial power and Civil and Criminal court were established.
  • Maintenance of records was made compulsory.
  • A great patron of oriental learning founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal with William Jones in 1784. He wrote an introduction to the English translation of ‘The Gita’ by Charles Wilkins.
  • Impeachment proceedings started against him when he returned on the charges of taking the bridge. After a trial of 7 years, he was finally acquitted.

Lord Cornwallis (1786-1793)

  • Did the Permanent Settlement of Bengal (also called Zamindary System)
  • First person to codify laws. The code separated the revenue administration from the administration of Justice.
  • Police Reforms: Each district was divided into 400 sq. miles and placed under a police superintendent.
  • The civil service was brought into existence.

Sir John Shore (1793-1798)

Lord Wellesley (1798-1805)

  • Adopted the police of Subsidiary Alliance- a system to keep the Indian rulers under control and to make the British the paramount power.
  • 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)

Lord Minto 1 (1807-1813)

  • Concluded the treaty of Amritsar with Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1809).
  • Charter Act 1813 was passed

Lord Hastings (1813-1823)

Lord Amherst (1823-1828)


Governor Generals of India

Lord William Bentinck (1828-1835)

  • Carried out the social reforms like Prohibition of Sati (1829) and Elimination of Thugs (1830)
  • Made English the medium of higher education in the country (after the recommendations of Macaulay).
  • Suppressed female infanticide and child sacrifice.
  • Charter Act 1833 was passed, made him the First Governor of India. Before him, the designation was Governor General of Bengal.

Sir Charles Metcalfe (1835-1836)

  • Abolished all restrictions on the vernacular press (called Liberator of the Press).

Lord Auckland (1836-1842)

  • The most important event of his reign was the first Afghan War, which proved to be a disaster for the English.

Lord Ellenborough (1842-1844)

Lord Hardinge I (1844-1848)

Lord Dalhousie (1848-1856)

  • Opened the first Indian Railway in 1853 (From Bombay to Thane).
  • Laid out the telegraph lines in 1853 (First was From Calcutta to Agra).
  • Introduced the Doctrine of Lapse and captured Satara (1848), Jaipur and Sambhalpur (1849), Udaipur (1852), Jhansi (1853) and Nagpur (1854).
  • Established the postal system on the modern lines through the length and breadth of the country, which mode communication easier.
  • Started the Public Works Department. Many bridges were constructed and work on Grand Trunk Road was started. The harbors of Karachi, Bombay, and Calcutta were also developed.
  • Made Shimla the summer capital.
  • Started Engineering College at Roorkee.
  • Encouraged science, forestry, commerce, mineralogy, and industry.
  • In 1854, ‘Wood’s Dispatch’ was passed, which provided for the properly articulated system of education from the primary school to the university.
  • Due to Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s efforts, remarriage of the window was legalized by Window Remarriage Act, 1856.

Viceroys of India

Lord Canning (1856-1862)

  • The last Governor General and the first Viceroy.
  • The mutiny took place in his time.
  • On November 1858, the rule passed on to the crown.
  • Withdrew Doctrine of Lapse.
  • The University of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras were established in 1857.
  • Indian Councils Act was passed in 1861.

Lord Elgin (1862-1863)

Lord Lawrence (1864-1869)

  • Telegraphic communication was opened with Europe.
  • The high court was established at Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras in 1865.
  • Expanded canal work and railways.
  • Created the Indian Forest Department.

Lord Mayo (1869-1872)

  • Started the process of financial decentralization in India.
  • Established the Rajkot College at Kathiawar and Mayo College at Ajmer for the Indian Princes.
  • For the first time in Indian history, a census was held in 1871.
  • Organized the Statistical Survey of India.
  • Was the only Viceroy to be murdered in office by a Pathan convict in the Andamans in 1872.

Lord Northbrook (1872-1876)

Lord Lytton (1876-1880)

  • Known as the Viceroy of reverse characters.
  • Organized the Grand ‘Delhi Durbar’ in 1877 to decorate Queen Victoria with the title of ‘Kaiser-I-Hind’.
  • Arms Act (1878) made it mandatory for Indians to acquire a license for arms.
  • Passed the infamous Vernacular Press Act (1878).

Lord Ripon (1880-1884)

  • A liberal person, who sympathized with Indians.
  • Repealed the Vernacular Press Act (1882).
  • Took steps to improve primary and secondary education (on William Hunter Commission’s recommendations).
  • The 1 Factory Act (1891), aimed at prohibiting child labor.
  • Passed the Bill (1883) which enabled Indian district magistrates to try European Criminals. But this was withdrawn later.

Lord Dufferin (1884-1888)

  • Indian National Congress was formed during his tenure.

Lord Lansdowne (1888-1894)

  • 2nd Factory Act (1891) granted a weekly holiday and stipulated working hours for women and children, although it failed to address concerns such as work hour for men.
  • Categorization of Civil Service into Imperial, Provincial and Subordinate.
  • Indian Council Act 1892 was passed.
  • Appointment of Durand Commission to define the line between British India and Afghanistan.

Lord Elgin II (1894-1899)

  • The great famine of 1896-1897. Lyall Commission was appointed.

Lord Curzon (1899-1905)

  • Passed the Indian University Act 1904 in which official control over the Universities was increased.
  • Partitioned Bengal (October 16, 1905) into two provinces – Bengal (proper), East Bengal and Assam.
  • Appointed a Police Commission under Sir Andrew Frazer to enquire into the police administration of every province.
  • The risings of the frontier tribes in 1897-98 led him to create the North Western Frontier Province (NWEP).
  • Passed the Ancient Monuments Protection Act (1904), to restore India’s culture heritage. Thus the Archaeological Survey of India was established.
  • Passed the Indian Coinage and Paper Currency Act (1899) and put India a gold standard.
  • Extended railways to a great extent.

Lord Minto (1905-1910)

  • There was great political unrest in India. Various acts were passed to curb the revolutionary activities. Extremists like Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh (in May 1907) and Bal Gangadhar Tilak (in July 1908) were sent Mandalay jail in Burma.
  • The Indian Council Act of 1909 or the Morley-Minto Reforms was passed.

Lord Hardinge (1910-1916)

  • Held a durbar in December 1911 to celebrate the coronation of King George V.
  • Partition of Bengal was canceled (1911) t, capital shifted from Calcutta to Delhi (1911).
  • A bomb was thrown at him, but he escaped unhurt (Dec.13, 1919).
  • Gandhiji came back to India from South Africa (1915).
  • Annie Besant announced the Home Rule Movement.

Lord Chelmsford (1916-1921)

  • August Declaration of 1917, whereby control over the Indian Government would be gradually transferred to the Indian people.
  • The Government of India Act in 1919 (Montague-Chelmsford) was passed.
  • Rowlatt Act of 1919, Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (April 13, 1919).
  • Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • An Indian Sir S.P. Sinha was appointed the Governor of Bengal.
  • A Women’s University was founded at Poona in 1916.
  • Saddler Commission was appointed in 1917 to envisage new educational policy.

Lord Reading (1921-1926)

  • Rowlatt act was repealed along with the Press act of 1910.
  • Suppressed non-cooperation movement.
  • Prince of wales visited India in November 1921.
  • Moplah rebellion (1921) took place in Kerala.
  • Ahmadabad session of 1921.
  • Formation of Swaraj Party.
  • Vishwabharti University started functioning in 1922.
  • Communal riots of 1923-25 in Multan, Amritsar, Delhi, etc.
  • Swami Shraddhanand, a great nationalist and a leader of the Arya Samajists, was murdered in a communal orgy.

Lord Irwin (1926-1931)

  • Simon Commission visited India in 1929.
  • Congress passed the Indian Resolution in 1929.
  • Dandi March (March 5, 1930).
  • First Round Table Conference held in England in 1930.
  • Gandhi-Irwin Pact (March 5, 1931) was signed and Civil Disobedience Movement was withdrawn.
  • Martyrdom of Jatin Das after 64 days hunger strike (1929).

Lord Willingdon (1931-1936)

  • Second Round Table Conference in London in 1931.
  • On his return, Gandhiji was again arrested and Civil Disobedience Movement was resumed in Jan. 1932.
  • Communal Award (August 16, 1932) assigned seats to different religious communities. Gandhiji went on an epic fast in protest against this division.
  • Third Round Table Conference in 1932.
  • Poona Pact was signed.
  • The government of India Act (1935) was passed.

Lord Linlithgow (1936-1944)

  • The government of India Act enforced in the provinces. Congress ministries formed in 8 out of 11 provinces. They remained in power for about 2 years until October 1939, when they gave offices on the issue of India having been dragged into the 2 World War. The Muslim League observed the day as ‘Deliverance Day’ (22 December).
  • Churchill became the British PM in May 1940. He declared that the Atlantic Charter (issued jointly by the UK and US, starting to give sovereign rights to those who have been forcibly deprived of them) does not apply to India.
  • The outbreak of World War 2 in 1939.
  • Cripps Mission in 1942
  • Quit India Movement plan (May16, 1942).

Lord Wavell (1944-1947)

  • Arranged the Shimla Conference on June 25, 1945, with Indian National Congress and Muslim League, failed.
  • Elections to the constituent assembly were held and an Interim Government was appointed under Nehru.
  • The first meeting of the constituent assembly was held on December 9, 1946.

Lord Mountbatten (March 1947-August 1947)

  • Last viceroy of British India and the first Governor General of free India.
  • Partition of India decided by the June 3 plan.
  • Indian Independence Act passed by the British Parliament on July 4, 1947, by which India became independence on August 15, 1947.
  • Retired in June 1948 and was succeeded by C. Rajgopalachari.

C. Rajgopalachari (1947-1950)

  • The first and last Indian Governor General of Independent India.
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