All Governor Generals and Viceroys of India at one place.

Here is the list of Governor Generals and Viceroys of India. There was a question that appeared in Mains 2013, on one of these, in fact there have been frequent questions on them. So I felt it is apt to have their contribution at one place and we could as well do a linkage with the events that took place in their tenure. I feel, this will give us a holistic view of our history prior to Independence.

Before we begin with the list, I am sure, when you heard of their names, you would have been surprised as to why we need to call them Lord, Sir etc. Unfortunately, we need to mention their names as they have been the titles, they are ranks in British Peerages or the titles of British Nobility and we are ought to be politically correct while addressing them in the answer or in your interview.

So before I put up the timeline, here is a small background on these ranks.

In the British Nobility, the order of the peerages is give below.

  • Duke: The highest rank and title in the British peerage.
  • Marquess/Marquis: The second order of the British peerage, in rank next to that of the Duke.
  • Earl: Also called as Count, now the third degree of rank and dignity in the British peerage.
  • Viscount: The fourth degree of rank and dignity in the British peerage.
  • Baron: The lowest rank in the British peerage.
  • Baronet: A hereditary rank, lower than the peerage.
  • Knights: Lowest rank, or sometimes considered at par with Baronet, but is not heritage but awarded for the Service to Crown.

The ranks usually which are hereditary are prefixed with Lords and those of who are given the prefix Sir, are usually awarded for their service to the crown or for their extraordinary contribution in one or the other fields. The Lords or Sirs can be of any of the above ranks in British peerage not to be confused with the titles.

<disclaimer: In the below list I have excluded some names which are totally insignificant those of who served only for 1 year or less, the bold ones, I consider them to be important.>

This is quite a long and content heavy post. You can follow the blog, and send a me a PDF request, fill out the form given below for your convenient offline reading, if not you can read here on the blog anytime.

1.Warren Hastings 1774-1785

Warren Hastings (1772-1785)
Administrative reforms And of the dual systems; shifting of treasury froom Murshidabad to Calcutta.
Revenue reforms Collection of revenue was taken over by the Company.
Judicial reforms Zamindars were given judicial powers; establishment of civil and criminal courts in each district.
Social reforms In 1781, he founded the Calcutta Madrasa for promotion of Islamic studies. This was the first educational institute established by the Company’s government.
Impeachment Warren Hastings tendered his resignation in protest against the Pits India Bill in 1785. He was accused for the Rohilla bar; Nand Kumar’s murder; the case of the Chet Singh and accepting of bribes. His impeachment lasted for seven years from 1788 to 1795. He was exonerated for all the charges.

2. The Earl Cornwallis 1786-1793

Lord Cornwallis (1786-1793)
Permanent settlement of Bengal The land was given on permanent basis to the zamindar in 1793, instead of giving it to the highest bidder each year. This system got prosperity to both the Company and zamindar had the cost of the common peasantry.
Judicial reforms Re-organisation of the revenue courts; the re-organisation of the criminal courts; depriving the Collectors of the judicial functions; compilation of the Cornwallis Code based on principle of Separation of Powers in 1793
Police reforms Depriving zamindar of their police functions; establishment of the thanas. Present police system in India is largely derived from these reforms, Superintendent of Police was made head of district.

3. Sir John Shore 1793-1798 : Followed a policy of non-intervention.

4. The Earl of Mornington 1798-1805: He was also known as Lord Wellesley, so this one is a trick here, you may note this point.

  • He is the famous for introducing Subsidiary Alliance system . He opened college to train the Company’s servants in Calcutta. That is why he is also called the Father of the Civil Services in India .

5. Sir George Hilaro Barlow 1805-1807:

  •  An important event was the Mutiny of Vellore in 1806 in which the Indian soldiers killed many English officials.

6. The Lord Minto 1807-1813

  •  His rule famous for a treaty with Shah of Persia and Treaty of Amritsar (1809) with Ranjit Singh.

7. The Earl of Moira 1813-1823

  • Also called Marquess of Hastings.
  • He was the first to appoint Indians to the highest Ops of responsibility. The first vernacular newspaper Samachar Patrika begin to be published during his time.

8. The Lord Amherst 1823-1828

  • the first Anglo Burmese War (1824-26)
  •  mutiny of Barrackpur (1824).

9. Lord William Bentinck 1828-1835

Lord William Bentinck (1828-1833)
Administrative and judicial reforms Abolition of provincial courts of appeal and circuit, power of the magistrate increased, appointment of Indians as judges, replacement of Persian by vernaculars and Scott language, introduction of the residuary system, Sardar Diwani Adalat at Allahabad; Codification of Laws.
Educational reforms English accepted as the medium of instruction after the famous Macaulay’s recommendation; Medical colleges at Calcutta in 1835.
Social reforms Abolition of sati in 1829. Suppression of thuggee in central India; banning of female infanticide; banning of human sacrifice; reform in the Hindu Law of Inheritance.

10. The Lord Auckland 1836-1842:

  • outbreak of first Afghan war
  • Tripartite Treaty among the English, Ranjit Singh and Shah Shuja of Afghanistan.

11. The Lord Ellenborough 1842-1844

  • Annexation of Sindh

12. Sir Henry Hardinge 1844-1848

  • First Sikh War. (1846-48)

13. The Earl of Dalhousie 1848-1856


Lord Dalhousie (1848-1856)
About Lord Dalhousie He was the youngest to hold the office of the Governor General. He is famous for the the Doctrine of Lapse . The second Burnese war, 1852, took place because of Lord Dalhousie’s desire to exclude all European power from Burma. The second Anglo Sikh War and did Sikh power and Punjab was annexed.
Administrative reforms Separate Lieutenant Governor appointed for Bengal; Shimla made the summer capital.
Military reforms Arillery Headquarters moved from Calcutta to Merrut; Army headquarters shifted to Shimla; formation of Gurkha regiments.
Railways First railway line was led from Bombay to Thana, in 1853.
Post and Telegraph Reforming the defects of the Postal System and linking all the important towns Telegraphically.
Education Served Charles Woods despatch on Education (1854) recommended the setting up of universities in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. In 1853, competitive examination for the Indian Civil Services began.

14. The Viscount Canning 1856-1858 as Governor General of India

Lord Canning (1856-1858)
Annexation of Avadh; enactment of Hindu Widow Remarriage Bill, 1857; establishment of universities at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay; the revolt of 1857 who were some of the important events during his post of Governor General.

15. The Viscount Canning 1858-1862 as a Viceroy of India

Following the Queen’s recommendation in 1858, transferring the Government from the company to the British Crown, Lord Canning was made the first Viceroy of India. Important developments in his regime were as follows:
Financial reforms Hey 5% income tax was imposed on all are links beyond Rs. 500 a year.
Judicial reforms Penal code was prepared by incorporating the suggestions earlier made by the First Law Commission headed by Lord Macaulay. High courts were set up at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras under the provisions of the Indian High Courts act of 1861.

16. Sir John Lawrence 1864-1869

Lord John Lawrence (1864-1869)
An important event of this time was war against Bhutan in 1865. The Punjab and Oudh Tenancy Act, 1860, was enacted. Two famines hit India; first in Orrisa and second in 1868-69 in Bundelkhand and Rajputana. A Famine Commission was set up under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Campbell .

Followed a policy of rigid non-interference in Afghanistan called Policy of Masterly Inactivity.
Set up High Courts at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras (1865).

17. The Earl of Mayo 1869-1872

Lord Mayo (1869-1872)
For the first time in my Indian history census was held in 1871. The college was setup and Ajmer to impart suitable education to the sons of the Indian princess. Subsequently, this college came to known as the ‘Mayo College”. And agricultural department was setup. In 1872, a convict Sher Ali stabbed him to death at Port Blair.

18. The Lord Northbrook 1872-1876

  • The main events of this period were: deposition of Gaekwad in 1874; the Kuka movement; visit of Prince of Wales; abolition of income tax; famine in Bihar and Bengal in 1873-1874.

19. The Lord Lytton 1876-1880

Lord Lytton (1876-1880)
Main events of his time period were :

1. Famine in 1876-1878; Famine Commission was appointed in 1878 headed by General Richard Strachey.

2. Passed the Royal Title Act of 1876, was held to decorate Queen Victoria with the title Kaiser-i-Hind.

3. The Delhi Durbar, January 1, 1877,

4. The Vernacular Press Act, 1878 was passed, putting several curbs on the vernacular newspapers.

5. Indian Arms act, 1878 forbade the Indian people from keeping or dealing in arms without the permission of the Government.

6. Foundation of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College was laid by Lord Lytton in 1877 at Aligarh.

7. Statutory Civil Service in 1879. It was also laid down that the candidates had to appear and pass the civil services examination which began to be held in England. The maximum age for these candidates were reduced from 21 to 19 years in an attempt to prevent Indians from entering into the civil services.

20. The Marquess of Ripon 1880-1884

Lord Ripon (1880-1884)
Important events during Ripon’s stint as viceroy were as follows:-

1. First Factory Act for welfare of child labour 1881.

2. first Decennial and Regular Census in 1881, estimated total population to be 254 million.

3. Financial decentralisation in 1882 which was earlier initiated by Lord Mayo under Hunter commission on education (1882).

4. Repeal of Vernacular Press act, 1882.

5. Resolution in 1882 for institution of local self-government in India.

6. The maximum age of admission to civil services raised to 21.

7. Introduction of the Ilbert Bill which would authorize India judges to hear cases against the Europeans as well thereby abolished judicial disqualification based on race. There was a 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 European to claim trial by jury of 12, out of which at least 7 were to be Europeans.

8. Famine Code in 1883

21. The Earl of Dufferin 1884-1888

  • His period witnessed the third Anglo Burmese war which led to the accession of upper Burma. Three Tenancy Acts were passed to give greater security of tenure or to the tenants.
  • Indian National congress was formed during this period and he commented on Congress saying it was microscope minority

22. The Marquess of Lansdowne 1888-1894

  • enactment of second factory act; demarcation of the Indo-Afghan border (Durand Line);
  • Second Indian council Act (1892).
  • Age of Consent Act in 1891 which forbade marriage of girl below 12

23. The Earl of Elgin 1894-1899

A bubonic plague in Bombay in 1896 and sever draught in Bikaner and Hissar district were some of the important events of his period.

24. The Lord Curzon of Kedleston 1899-1905

Lord Curzon (1899-1905)
Highlights of his period were as follows:

1. Lord Curzon set up a Famine Commission under Mac Donnell.

2. The Punjab Land Alienation Act of 1900, prohibited the sale of agricultural lands for its attachment in execution of a decree.

3. Agricultural banks were established.

4. In 1904, the cooperative credit societies act was passed.

5. The Department of agriculture was established in 1901. Moncrief commission on Irrigation in 1902

6. He founded on agriculture research Institute at Pusa.

7. Commission was appointed in 1901 to consider the problems of education.

8. In order to preserve and protect ancient monuments of India, he passed the Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1904, and Archaeological Department was established in 1901.

9. The setup of Police Commission under the Chairmanship of Sir Andrew Frazer in 1902. It recommended for enhancement in salaries and creation of a department of Criminal intelligence. A Criminal Investigation Department was opened in each district. In 1901 the Imperial Cadet Corps was set up.

10. Creation of a new Department of Commerce and Industry.

11. Partition of Bengal; Creation of a new province called the North West Frontier Province; Swadeshi movement.

25. The Earl of Minto 1905-1910

  • Minto-Morley Reforms of 1909 which provided for separate electorate to Muslims.
  • S.P. Sinha was appointed a member of Governor-General’s council

26. The Lord Hardinge of Penshurst 1910-1916

Lord Hardinge II (1910-1916)
1. In the honour of King George V and Queen Mary of England, Coronation Darbar was held at Delhi.

2. In 1911 the capital of country was announced to be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. In 1912, Delhi became the new capital.

3. The First World War broke out in 1914. In 1916, Lord Hardinge laid the foundation of the Benaras Hindu University. Madan Mohan Malaviya was the Founder-Chancellor of this university.

27. The Lord Chelmsford 1916-1921

Lord Chelmsford (1916-1921)
1. Enactment of the Government of India, 1919 (Montague-Chelmsfor Reforms) which introduced dyarchy in the provinces;

2. enactment of Rowlatt Act (1919);

3. the Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy (1919); and the beginning of the Non-cooperation Movement were some of the important events in his period.

4. Foundation of Women’s University at Poona in 1916.

5. Hunter Committee was constituted on Punjab wrongs.

6. Chambers of Princess was established in 1921.

28. The Earl of Reading 1921-1926

Lord Reading (1921-26)
1. Held of the Non-Corporation Movement (1922);

2. arrival of the Prince of Wales (1921);

3. outbreak of the Moplah Revolt (1921); Chauri Chaura Incident in U.P; Mahatma Gandhi was sent to prison for the first time in India.

4. Foundation of Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sang (RSS) by K.B. Hedgewar at Nagpur in 1925.

5. Beginning of Indianisation of the officers cadre of the Indian army.

6. Railway budget was separated from General Budget in 1925.

7. Skeen Committee or Indian Sandhurst Committee on Army reforms was appointed in 1925. It submitted its report to 1926.

8. Lee Commission on Public Service in 1924, Report Submitted in 1924.

9. Young Hilton Committee on Currency (1926).

29. The Lord Irwin 1926-1931

Lord Irwin (1926-31) (Popularly known as Christian Viceroy)
1. Appointment of Simon commission in 1928.

2. Passing of the resolution for complete independence (purna smarajya) in 1929.

3. Launching of the civil Disobedience movement.

4. Gandhi-Irwin Pact in 1931;

5. First Around Table Conference (1930).

6. 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.

7. Deepavali Declaration (1929) that India would be granted Dominion status in due course.

8. Royal commission on Indian Labour was appointed (1929), Report (1931).

9. Sard Act was passed in 1929 Marriages of girl below 14 and boys below 18 years of age was prohibited.

30. The Earl of Willingdon 1931-36

Lord Willingdon (1931-1936)
Important events were :

1. The second Around Table Conference, 1931 ;

2. Restarting of the Disbodience Movement, 1931

3. The communal award, 1932; the Poona act;

4. Third Round Table Conference, 1932

5. White Paper on political reforms in India was published (1933).

6. The Government of India Of 1935;

7. Earthquake in Bihar on January 15, 1934.

8. Burma and Aden was separated from the British Empire (1935).

9. Separate State of Bihar and Orissa.

10. Lees-Mody Pact (October 1933) by this Bombay textiles group agreed to further preferences for British textiles in place of Japanese Imports in return for a Lancashire promise to buy more Indian raw cotton.

11. Muslim Conference was founded in Kashmir (1932), renamed National Conference in 1938. Important leaders Sheikh Abdullah and P.N. Bazaz.

31. The Marquess of Linlithgow 1936-1943

Lord Linlithgow (1936-44)
Highlights of his reign were :

1. Longest reign as viceroy of India

2. Beginning of the Second World War.

3. Coming into force of the Government of India Act 1935 with provinces going to elections.

4. Arrival of the Cripps Mission.

5. Beginning of the Quit India Movement,

6. Great Famine of Bengal (1943)

7. October offer by the Viceroy in which he declared the Dominion status as the ultimate goal of British policy in India.

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

32. The Viscount Wavell 1943-1947

Lord Wavell (1944-1947)
1. His period is famous for the Shimla conference, 1945;

2. arrival of the Cabinet Mission, 1946;

3. the Constituent Assembly boycotted by the Muslim League which launched the heinous “Direct Action Day” on August 16, 1946;

4.the Interim Government under Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s leadership;

5. Attlee’s Declaration that his government was intended to hand over the Administration of India to her people before June 1948, even if no agreement was reached between the Congress and the Muslim League.

33. The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma 1947 as GGI and Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma: 1947-1948 as GGI of Independent India

Lord Mountabatten, (March 1947-June 1948)
1. Declaration of third June, 1947- > His plan to make India free on August 15, 1947. Earlier proposed Plan-Balkan 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.

2. Indian Independence Act, Partition of the country between two independent states of India and Pakistan with Lord Mountbatten and Mr M.A. Jinnah as their respective Governor generals.

G.G. Council held meeting of two kinds one was ordinary meetings which were associated with executive business. Second was known as legislative meetings which were for making laws & regulations. Executive Council & Legislative Council were two terms used to indicate two separate functions of council. Act introduced concept of porfolio system. Members of G.G. Council were made incharge of separate departments.

34. Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari: 1948-1950: Became the first GGI of India 

  • Impressed with his abilities, Mountbatten made Rajagopalachari his second choice to succeed him after Vallabhbhai Patel, when he was to leave India in June 1948. Rajagopalachari was eventually chosen as the Governor-General when Nehru disagreed with Mountbatten’s first choice, as did Patel himself.
  • Rajagopalachari fondly called as Rajaji, then served as Governor-General of India from June 1948 until 26 January 1950, and was not only the last Governor-General of India, but the only Indian national ever to hold the office.
  • By the end of 1949, an assumption was made that Rajagopalachari, already Governor-General, would continue as President. Backed by Nehru, Rajagopalachari wanted to stand for the presidential election but later withdrew, due to the opposition of a section of the Indian National Congress who were concerned about Rajagopalachari’s non-participation during the Quit India Movement.

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