British Viceroys in India

Lord Canning History (1856 – 1862) :

  • The last Governor General and the first Viceroy.
  • Mutiny took place in his time.
  • On November, 1858, the rule passed on to the crown.
  • Withdrew Doctrine of Lapse.
  • The Universities 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.
  • High Courts were established at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras in 1865.
  • Expanded canal works and railways.
  • Created the Indian Forest department.

Lord Mayo History (1869 – 1872) :

  • Started the process of financial decentralization in India.
  • Established the Rajkot college at Kathiarwar and Mayo College at Ajmer for the Indian princes.
  • For the first time in Indian history, a census was held in 1871.
  • Organised 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 to reverse characters.
  • Organised 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 license for arms.
  • Passed the infamous Vernacular Press act (1878).

Lord Ripon (1880 – 1884) :

  • Liberal person, who sympathized with Indians.
  • Repeated the Vernacular Press act (1882)
  • Passed the local self government act (1882)
  • Took steps to improve primary & secondary education (on William Hunter Commission’s recommendations).
  • The I Factory act, 1881, aimed at prohibiting child labour.
  • Passed the libert 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 But this was withdrawn later.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) :

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

Lord Elgin II (1894 – 1899) : Great famine of 1896 – 1897. Lyall Commission was appointed.

Lord Curzon (1899 – 1905) :

  • Passed the Indian Universities act (1904) in which official control over the Universities was increased.
  • Partitioned Bengal (October 16, 1905) into two provinces Bengal (proper) & East Bengal & 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 (NWFP).
  • Passed the Ancient Monuments Protection act (1904), to restore India’s cultural heritage. Thus the Archaeological Survey of India was established.
  • Passed the Indian Coinage and Paper Currency act (1899) and put India on a gold standard.
  • Extended railways to a great extent.

History of Lord Minto (1905 – 1910) :

  • There was great political unrest in India. Various acts were passed to curb the revolutionary activities. Extremists like Lala Laipat Rai and Ajit Singh (in May, 1907) and Bal Gangadhar Tilak (in July, 1908) were sent to 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 cancelled (1911), capital shifted from Calcutta to Delhi (1911).
  • A bomb was thrown at him; but he escaped unhurt (December 23, 1912).
  • 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 reforms) 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 repeated 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.
  • Ahmedabad session of 1921.
  • Formation of Swaraj Party.
  • Vishwabharati University started functioning in 1922.
  • Communist part was founded in 1921 by M.N. Roy.
  • Kakory Train Robbery on August 9, 1925.
  • 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 communal orgy.

Lord Irwin (1926 – 1931) :

  • Simon Commission visited India in 1928.
  • Congress passed the Indian Resolution in 1929.
  • Dandi March (March 12, 1930).
  • Civil Disobedience Movement (1930).
  • First Round Table Conference held in England in 1930.
  • Gandhi Irwin Pact (March 5, 1931) was signed and Civil Disobediance Movement was withdrawn.
  • Martydorm of Jatin Das after 64 days hunger strike (1929).

Lord Willington (1931 – 1936) :

  • Second Round Table conference in London in 1931.
  • On his return Gandhiji was again arrested and Civil Disobedience Movement was resumed in January, 1932.
  • Communal Awards (August 16, 1932) assigned seats to different religious communities. Gandhiji went on a epic fast in protest against this division.
  • Third Round Table conference in 1932.
  • Poona Pact was signed.
  • Government of India act (1935) was passed.

Lord Linlithgow (1936 – 1944) :

  • 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 till October 1939, when they gave up offices on the issue of India having been dragged into the II World War. The Muslim League observed the days as ‘Deliverance Say’ (22 December)
  • Churchill became the British PM in May, 1940. He declared that the Atlantic Charter (issued jointly by the UK and US, stating to give sovereign rights to those who have been forcibly deprived of them) does not apply to India.
  • Outbreak of World War II in 1939.
  • Cripps Mission in 1942.
  • Quit India Movement (August 8, 1942).

Lord Wavell (1944 – 1947) :

  • Arranged the Shimla Conference on June 25, 1945 with Indian National Congress and Muslim League; failed.
  • Cabinet Mission Plan (May 16, 1946).
  • Elections to the constituent assembly were held and an Interim Government was appointed under Nehru.
  • 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 independent on August 15, 1947.
  • Retried in June 1948 and was succeeded by C. Rajagopalachari (the first and the last Indian Governor General of free India)

18 thoughts on “British Viceroys in India

  1. A slight correction : Arms act disallowed Indians to hold Arms instead of
    “Arms act (1878) made it mandatory for Indians to acquire license for arms.”

    • I think it would be better if you quote your source. In effect it meant that. However, if you read the terms of the Acts, then the government had to provide license if any one wants to acquire arms(Part IV, Section 13). So, it didn’t directly disallowed Indians to hold Arms but required everyone including Indians to acquire license of Arms.

      It has clauses which gave the government the arbitrary power to decide when a person could be arrested without warrant and when the existing license is not valid or can be canceled.

  2. sir.we know that Calcutta,bombay ,madras high court was established on 1862.
    i read this from many books even wikipedia website ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcutta_High_Court )…

    but

    Lord Lawrence (1864 – 1869) :High Courts were established at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras in 1865

    my question is “who was the VICEROY OF INDIA when Calcutta,bombay ,madras high court established”???

    sir please explain it…….

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