Governors-General of India and Significant events in their rule

The post of  Governor-general of India was the representative of British rule. The authority was created on 20 Oct. 1773 with the title of Governor-general with the presidency of Fort William

  • They had only power over the presidency of Fort William. However, the Regulating Act granted the governor-general additional powers relating to foreign affairs and defense.
  • Warren Hastings was the first Governor-general of Bengal. 
  • The Charter Act of 1833, made the Governor-general of Bengal as Governor-general of British India.
  • The Charter Act of 1833 granted “superintendence, direction, and control of the whole civil and military Government” of all of British India.
  • The Charter Act of 1833 also granted legislative powers to the governor-general and council.

The governor-general was always advised by a Council on the exercise of his legislative and executive powers. The governor-general, while exercising many functions, was referred to as the “Governor-General in Council.”

List of Governor generals:

Governor-General of Bengal

1. Warren Hastings (1772-1785)

Significant events during his reign:

  • Warren Hastings became governor of Bengal in 1772 and governor-general in 1773 through the Regulating Act of 1773.
  • Termination of dual administration in Bengal – 1772
  • Creation of Board of Revenue – 1772, created Diwani and Faujdari Adalat at the district level and Sadr Diwani and Nizamat Adalat. Confined Hindu and Muslim law, known as the “father of Judicial Reforms in India’.
  • The power of jurisdiction was divided between the Governor-general and the supreme court of Calcutta under the Act of 1781.
  • The first Indian newspaper “Bengal Gazette” was published in 1980.
  • The Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in 1774 was established. 
  • Pitts India Act of 1784
  • Foundation of Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784.

Wars during his ruling time

  • In 1774 the Rohilla War.
  • First Maratha War in 1775-82 and Treaty of Salbai in 1782
  • 2nd Mysore War (Haidar Ali against British) in 1780-84
2. Lord Cornwallis (1786-1793)

Significant events during the reign of Lord Cornwallis:

  • Third Mysore war 1790-92 (death of Tipu Sultan in 1792) and the treaty of Seringapatam in 1792.
  • Cornwallis Code – 1793, incorporated many judicial reforms, separation of civil jurisdiction, and revenue administration.
  • In 1793, the Introduction of permanent revenue settlement or Zamindari system in Bengal and Bihar.
  • Introduction of civil services to improve administration.
  • The district Faujadari Adalats presided over by Indian judges was abolished and in their place, four circuit courts were established, presided over by the European covenanted servants.

Cornwallis code: It was introduced in 1793. The code was based on the concept of separation of powers. The collector was the head of revenue administration and divested him of all the judicial and magisterial powers. A District Judge was appointed as the head of the judiciary at the district level. The distinction between revenue and civil cases was abolished.

3. Sir John Shore (1793- 1798)
  • The Charter Act of 1793
  • In 1795, the Battle of Kharda between Maratha and Nizam.  
  • A regulation prohibiting female infanticide was passed in 1795.
4. Lord Wellesley (1798-1805)

Significant events during the tenure of Lord Wellesley:

The subsidiary alliance system was introduced in 1798, the first Alliance was with the Nizam of Hyderabad.

  • In the subsidiary Alliance, the Indian states were forced or compelled to have a British official as a resident at court and also to accept permanent British force and pay a subsidy for its maintenance.
  • The fourth Mysore War 1799; the defeat and death of Tipu and the annexation of many parts of Mysore.
  • Christian missionaries established a printing press at Serampore.
  • Foundation of Fort William College.
  • He took the administration of Tanjore-1799, Surat-1800, and Carnatic- 1801.
  • Treaty of Bassein- 1802.
  • 2nd Maratha war 1803- 05, in which the defeat of the Sindhia, the Bhonsle, and the Holkar.
  • Formation of Madras Presidency.

Subsidiary Alliance:

  • Nizam of Hyderabad: 1798
  • Mysore, Tanjore: 1799
  • The Nawab of Oudh: 1801
  • The Peshwa: 1801
  • The Bhonsle, raja of Berar: 1803
  • The Sindhia: 1804.
5. Sir George Barlow (1805-1807)
  • Mutiny of Vellore-1806.
6. Lord Minto I – (1807- 1813)
  • In 1809 the Treaty of Amritsar with Ranjit Singh.
7. Lord Hastings (1813-1823)

Significant events during the reign of Lord Hastings:

  • The Anglo-Nepal war (1814-1816) – Nepal was defeated, and the Treaty of Sagauli in March 1816.
  • Third Maratha War (1817-19)- Maratha was defeated, and Bombay’s presidency was created in 1818.
  • Treaty of Sindhia in 1817.
  • Thomas Munro the Governor of Madras established the Ryotwari system in 1820.
  • Bengal Tenancy Act, 1822
  • In the fort of Gloster (Bengal), the first plantation of coffee was in 1823.
8. Lord Amherst (1823-1828)
  • First Burmese War – (1824-1826).
  • Barrackpore Mutiny in 1824.
  • Bharatpur was captured in 1826.

Governors-General of India

9. Lord William Bentinck (1828-1835)

Significant events in the reign of Lord William Bentinck:

  • Abolition of Sati and other cruel rights in 1829.
  • Subduing Thugs in 1830.
  • Revolt of Khasi
  • Charter Act of 1833.
  • Educational reforms and English were introduced as an official language.
  • Occupation of Mysore (1831), Coorg (1834), and central Cachar in 1834.
  • Treaty of friendship with Ranjeet Singh.
  • Abolition of the provincial court of appeal and other circuits settled by Cornwallis, the appointment of commissioners of revenue and circuit.  
  • Educational reforms on the basis of Macaulay’s Minto (1835) and the introduction of English as an official language and the medium of instruction in India.
10. Lord Metcalfe (1835-36)
  • He removed restrictions on the press by New press law.
  • Also known as the liberator of the Indian Press.
11. Lord Auckland (1836-42)
  • During his time- the First Afghan War (1838-42)
  • In 1838, the Treaty of Tripartite, between Shah Shuja, Ranjit Singh, and the British.
  • Death of Ranjeet Singh (1839).
12. Lord Ellenborough (1842-1844)
  • Abolition of slavery – 1843
  • Invasion of Sindh – 1843, by Charles Napier.
  • War with Gwalior- 1843.
13. Lord Harding- I (1844-1848)
  • The Danish possession was sold to the English in 1845. 
  • First Anglo-Sikh war in 1845-46, Punjab army defeated, Treaty of Lahore in 1846.
  • Abolition of female infanticides and other social reforms like Human sacrifice among the Khonds of central India.
  • The rebellion of Khonds in 1846.
14. Lord Dalhousie (1848- 1856)

Significant events during the tenure of Lord Dalhousie:

  • 2nd Anglo-Sikh war 1848-49, invasion of Punjab.
  • Second Anglo-Burmese War and Invasion of Pegu or Lower Burma in 1852.
  • The doctrine of Lapse was introduced and the occupation of Satara- in 1848, Jaitpur and Sambalpur- in 1849, Udaipur- in 1852, Jhansi- in 1853, Nagpur- in 1854, and Awadh- in 1856.
  • Charter Act of 1853
  • in 1853, recruitment of the covenanted civil service by competitive exam.
  • ‘Wood’s Educational dispatch- 1854, Anglo vernacular schools and Government colleges opened.
  • The first railway line lay down in 1853, connecting Bombay and Thane.
  • Telegraph (1851) connecting- Calcutta with Bombay, Madras, and Peshawar.
  • Postal reforms – Post Office Act- 1854, postage stamps were issued for the first time. 
  • 1855- Santhal Rebellion.
  • Widow Remarriage Act-1856.
  • Establishment of the first engineering college: Thomson College for civil engineering was established at Roorkee.

Picture of India during the time of governor general Dalhousie
India During Dalhousie’s Administration
15. Lord Canning (1856- 1857)
  • University of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay was established in 1857.
  • revolt of 1857.


Governors General of India

List of Governors-General of India

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Nishant Pandey · November 19, 2020 at 7:05 pm

Very helpful for me.

    Sushma · November 19, 2020 at 11:29 pm

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