First and Last Viceroy of India, List of Viceroy of India (1857 to 1947)

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Explore the list of the Viceroy of India, from its inception in 1857 to its abolition in 1947. Discover the facts about the first and last Viceroys and gain insights into the individuals who held this influential position.

The Viceroy of India was the representative of the British monarch in India during the period of British colonial rule from 1858 to 1947. The title of Viceroy was established after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, marking the end of the East India Company’s rule and the beginning of direct British governance. The Viceroy held significant political and administrative authority, acting as the chief executive overseeing British interests in the Indian subcontinent.

Introduction

Imagine a powerful figure, a representative of the British Crown, tasked with overseeing India’s vast and diverse land. This was the role of the Viceroy of India, a position that held immense authority and responsibility during the British Raj.

Before the title of Viceroy was introduced, the British presence in India was managed by the East India Company. However, following the tumultuous events of the 1857 Rebellion, the British government sought to establish a more direct and centralized form of rule.

In 1858, the position of Governor-General of India was transformed into that of Viceroy, signalling a new era of British leadership in India. The Viceroy, assisted by the India Council, was entrusted with overseeing the implementation of British policies, maintaining law and order, and representing the British Crown in India.

The first Viceroy, Lord Canning, faced the daunting task of restoring stability after the rebellion. His successors, like Lord Curzon, implemented policies aimed at modernization and infrastructure development while navigating the growing nationalist movement.

The final Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, oversaw the momentous transition of India to independence in 1947. With the lowering of the British flag, the Viceroy era ended, marking a turning point in Indian history.

Viceroy of India

  • In 1947, India gained independence from the British Empire.
  • The Viceroy of India was the monarch’s representative in India.
  • The Viceroy’s position and power underwent a significant transformation following the 1857 uprising.
  • Lord Canning, who governed India from 1856 to 1862, became the first Viceroy.
  • The Viceroy, assisted by the India Council, was entrusted with overseeing the implementation of British policies, maintaining law and order, and representing the British Crown in India.
  • The final chapter of the Viceroy era unfolded with Lord Mountbatten, who oversaw India’s momentous transition to independence in 1947.

First Viceroy of India

  • In 1858, Lord Canning was appointed as the first Viceroy of India, marking a shift from the rule of the East India Company (EIC) to direct British rule under the Crown.
  • The transition to the Viceroy system was prompted by the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, a major uprising that challenged British rule in India.
  • Lord Canning, as the first Viceroy, faced the challenge of restoring stability and order in the aftermath of the mutiny.
  • The Viceroy system established direct British control over India’s governance.
  • The Viceroy, appointed by the Crown, represented the British monarch and oversaw British policies, maintaining law and order, and representing the Crown’s interests in India.
  • The establishment of the Viceroy system marked a turning point in Indian history, signalling a new era of direct British rule that shaped the country’s political landscape for decades.

Last Viceroy of India

  • Lord Mountbatten was appointed as the last Viceroy of India in 1947.
  • His primary responsibility was to prevent the partition of India.
  • After India’s independence, he remained the first governor-general of an independent India until June 1948.
  • He was tasked with the partition of India and Pakistan by the British monarchs.
  • After his retirement, C. Rajagopalachari became the first Governor General of India.

Last Governor General of India

Sure, here is a summary of the text about Chakravarti Rajagopalachari in bullet points:

  • Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was the last Governor-General of India before the office was abolished in 1950.
  • He was the first and only Indian to hold the position of Governor-General.
  • Rajagopalachari was a prominent Indian statesman, activist, and leader of the Indian National Congress (INC). He served as Chief Minister of the Madras Presidency.
  • He founded the Swatantra Party in 1959 to promote his liberal principles.
  • Rajagopalachari actively participated in key Indian independence movements, including the Non-Cooperation Movement, Vaikom Satyagraha, Dandi March, and the Quit India Movement.
  • He was among the first recipients of the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.
  • He advocated for the upliftment of Dalits and played a significant role in the temple entrance movements in India.

List of Viceroy in India (1857 – 1947)

  • The British Viceroy of India held both diplomatic and administrative powers.
  • The Governor General of India primarily held administrative powers.
  • 20 viceroys were appointed during British rule in India.
  • Lord Canning was the first viceroy of India.
  • Lord Mountbatten was the last viceroy of India.

Viceroy of India List

Below is a comprehensive list of Viceroys of India from 1857 to 1947, along with details of their respective tenures and significant events during each Viceroy’s term.

Viceroys of IndiaTenureSignificant Events
Lord Canning – First Viceroy of British India1856-1862
  • The Revolt of 1857;
  • The establishment of 3 universities at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay in 1857;
  • The rule of the East India Company was abolished, and the control was transferred to the Crown by the Government of India Act, of 1858;
  • Indian Councils Act of 1861;
Lord Elgin (Second Viceroy of India)1862-1863
  • The Wahabi Movement
Lord John Lawrence1864-1869
  • The Bhutan War (1865);
  • The High Courts at Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras were established in 1865;
Lord Mayo1869-1872
  • The financial distribution between the center and the state was introduced;
  • India’s first Census was done in 1872;
  • The Mayo College for the royal elite was set up;
  • Establishment of the Statistical Survey of India;
  • The only Governor-General to die in India was Lord Mayo. Sher Ali Afridi murdered him in Port Blair
Lord Northbrook1872-1876
  • Civil Marriage under the Universal Marriage Act was introduced in 1872. This act allowed inter-caste marriage;
  • Arya Samaj was established;
  • The Kuka Movement was observed in Punjab
Lord Lytton1876-1880
  • Several acts were introduced; the Vernacular Press Act (1878), and the Arms Act (1878);
  • The Second Afghan War happened from 1878 – 1880;
  • Queen Victoria took the title of ‘Kaiser-i-Hind,’ which translates to Queen Empress of India;
Lord Ripon1880-1884
  • Upon receiving backlash, the Vernacular Press Act (1882) was repealed;
  • The first Factory Act of 1881 was introduced;
  • There was a government resolution passed on the establishment of local self-government (1882);
  • Ilbert Bill controversy (1883-84);
  • Hunter Commission on Education (1882)
Viceroy in 1887 – Lord Dufferin1884-1888
  • The Third Burmese War (1885-86);
  • One of the most noteworthy events was the establishment of the Indian National Congress in 1885
Lord Lansdowne1888-1894
  • Another Factory Act was introduced in 1891;
  • Indian Councils Act, 1892;
  • The Durand Commission was set up in 1893;
Lord Elgin II1894-1899
  • Ramkrishna and Damodar Chapekar orchestrated the assassination of the first British officer, Rands. This event marked the inaugural political assassination during British rule in India.
Lord Curzon1899-1905
  • The Police Commission was appointed in 1902;
  • The appointment of the Universities Commission happened in 1902;
  • Indian Universities Act of 1904 was introduced;
  • Partition of Bengal 1905 was Curzon’s master move towards the British Policy of Divide and Rule
Lord Minto II1905-1910
  • Surat Split of Congress (1907);
  • The Muslim League was established in 1906;
  • Morley-Minto Reforms came in 1909
Lord Hardinge II1910-1916
  • The Partition of Bengal was annulled in 1911;
  • The British capital shifted from Calcutta to Delhi (1911);
  • Establishment of the Hindu Mahasabha (1915)
Lord Chelmsford1916-1921
  • Chelmsford’s India saw a lot of change and tragedy;
  • The Lucknow pact occurred in 1916;
  • The Champaran Satyagraha was launched in 1917;
  • Montagu’s August Declaration (1917);
  • The Government of India Act (1919) was introduced;
  • The Rowlatt Act (1919) or the Black laws were introduced. There were nationwide protests;
  • This led to one of the most tragic events in Indian history, the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre (1919);
  • Launch of Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movements
Lord Reading1921-1926
  • The Chauri Chaura incident (1922) happened, which led to the withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1922 by Mahatma Gandhi;
  • Establishment of Swaraj Party (1922);
  • Kakori Conspiracy, train robbery (1925)
Lord Irwin1926-1931
  • The Simon Commission came to India in 1927;
  • Harcourt Butler, Indian States Commission (1927);
  • Nehru Report (1928);
  • Deepavali Declaration (1929);
  • The Lahore session of the Congress where the Purna Swaraj Resolution was taken happened in 1929;
  • The revolutionary Dandi March was from 12 Mar 1930 to 6 Apr 1930, successfully launching the Civil Disobedience Movement the same year;
  • First Round Table Conference (1930);
  • Gandhi-Irwin Pact (1931)
Lord Willingdon1931-1936
  • Establishment of the Communal Award (1932);
  • Second & Third Round Table Conference (1932);
  • The Poona Pact 1932 resolved the issues between Dr. BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi over separate Dalit electorates;
  • Government of India Act of 1935
Lord Linlithgow1936-1944
  • Resignation of the Congress ministries after the outbreak of the Second World War (1939);
  • Tripuri Crisis & formation of forward Bloc (1939);
  • Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League (demand for a separate state for Muslims) 1940;
  • August Offer’ of 1940;
  • Formation of the Indian National Army (1941);
  • Cripps Mission (1942);
  • Quit India Movement (1942);
Lord Wavell1944-1947
  • Wavell Plan and the Simla Conference (1942);
  • C. Rajagopalachari’s CR Formula (1944);
  • Cabinet Mission (1946);
  • Direct Action Day by the Muslim League (1946);
  • Announcement of the end of British rule in India by Clement Attlee (1947)
Lord Mountbatten1947-1948
  • June Third Plan or Mountbatten Plan (1947);
  • Redcliff Commission (1947);
  • India’s Independence (15 August 1947)

Viceroy of India Key Points

  • The British government appointed the Viceroy of India.
  • The first Viceroy of India was Lord Canning.
  • The Viceroy of India represented the British throne.
  • The Viceroy of India took over the duties of the Governor-General of India.
  • The last Viceroy of India was Lord Mountbatten.
  • Between 1948 and 1950, the last governor-general of India was Chakravarti Rajagopalachari.

Viceroy of India FAQs

Q1: Who was Warren Hastings, and what contributions are associated with him?

Answer: Warren Hastings was the first Governor-General of Bengal. He founded Madrasa ‘Aliya’ and supported the foundation of the Bengal Asiatic Society.

Q2: Under whose Viceroy-ship was the First Factory Act introduced in India to improve labour conditions?

Answer: The First Factory Act in India to improve labor conditions was introduced under the Viceroy-ship of Lord Ripon.

Q3: Who was the Viceroy of British India during the second round table conference?

Answer: The Viceroy of British India at the time of the second round table conference was Lord Willingdon.

Q4: Who was the first British Viceroy of India?

Answer: The first British Viceroy of India was Lord Canning.

Q5: Which Viceroy partitioned Bengal in 1905?

Answer: Viceroy Curzon partitioned Bengal in 1905.

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