Warren Hastings

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Hastings, Warren,

1732–1818, first governor-general of British India. Employed (1750) as a clerk by the East India Company, he soon became manager of a trading post in Bengal. When Calcutta (now Kolkata) was captured (1756) by Siraj-ud-Daula, Hastings was taken prisoner but soon released. After the British recapture (1757) of the city, he was made British resident at Murshidabad. Good service there brought appointment to the Calcutta council (1761), but he returned to England (1764) disgusted with administrative corruption in Bengal.

Hastings went back (1769) to India as a member of the Madras council and became (1772) governor of Bengal, immediately embarking on a course of judicial and financial reform, law codification, and the suppression of banditry, measures that laid the foundation of direct British rule in India. In 1774, he was appointed governor-general of India. This position was created by Lord North's Regulating Act (1773), which also set up a four-member governing council. In the succeeding years Hastings was greatly hampered by opposition in the council, especially from Sir Philip FrancisFrancis, Sir Philip,
1740–1818, British statesman and pamphleteer. He may have been the author known as Junius. He held several minor posts in government offices before being appointed to the council of Bengal in 1773.
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. Another problem he encountered in his new position was the ill-defined relationship with and resulting lack of control over the subordinate provincial governors. The interference of the Bombay government in Maratha affairs led to a war with the Marathas, while the blunders of the Madras government provoked conflict with Haidar AliHaidar Ali
or Hyder Ali
, 1722–82, Indian ruler. A Muslim of peasant stock, he rose by military brilliance to command the army of the Hindu state of Mysore.
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 of Mysore. In both cases Hastings, conscious of the danger of French intervention, dispatched armies from Bengal that saved the British position. Nonetheless he was criticized for interference with the provincial governments.

Hastings resigned (1784) and returned to England, where he was charged with high crimes and misdemeanors by Edmund BurkeBurke, Edmund,
1729–97, British political writer and statesman, b. Dublin, Ireland. Early Writings

After graduating (1748) from Trinity College, Dublin, he began the study of law in London but abandoned it to devote himself to writing.
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 and Sir Philip Francis, whom he had wounded in a duel in India. The chief charges against him concerned his extortion of money from the rajah of Benares and the begum of Oudh, his hiring out of British troops to the nawab of Oudh to subdue the Rohillas (an Afghan tribe), and his alleged responsibility for the judicial murder of an Indian merchant, Nandkumar. He was impeached in 1787; but the trial, begun in 1788, ended with acquittal in 1795, despite the bitter prosecution of Burke, Francis, Richard B. Sheridan, and Charles James Fox. Hastings's fortune was spent in the defense, but the East India Company contributed to his later support. He became popular and was made a privy councilor (1814).


See biographies by A. M. Davies (1935), K. G. Feiling (1955, repr. 1967), and J. Bernstein (2000); studies by P. Moon (1947, repr. 1962) and P. J. Marshall (1965).

Hastings, Warren


Born Dec. 6, 1732, in Churchill, near Daylesford, Oxfordshire; died Aug. 22, 1818, in Daylesford. British colonial figure.

In 1750, Hastings arrived in India as an employee of the British East India Company and later played a role in organizing the conquest and sacking of Bengal. He was a member of the India Council at Calcutta from 1761 to 1764 and at Madras from 1769 to 1772; he was made governor of Bengal in 1772. In 1773, under the newly passed Regulating Act for India, Hastings was appointed the first governor-general of India. Serving in this position until 1785, he consolidated the British conquests in India.

Hastings used every means possible to fill the coffers of the British East India Company. He methodically plundered the Indian peasantry by farming out the land tax in return for bribes, discontinued the pensions allotted to the nabob of Bengal and the Great Mogul (1773), sent troops in return for a large sum of money to Siraj-ud-daula, the nabob of Oudh, to be used to conquer the Rohillas (1774), annexed the vassal state of Benares to the company’s domains (1781), and confiscated property of the begums of Oudh (1782). Hastings ruthlessly suppressed popular uprisings against the British colonialists, including the sannyasi movement (1760–75), the uprisings in Benares (1781) and Oudh (1782), and the peasant revolt in Dinajpur (1783).

Hastings retired in 1785 under pressure from the Whig Party, which opposed the monopoly of the British East India Company in India. In 1788 he was brought to trial in the House of Lords on charges of cruelty, acts of injustice, and corruption. The trial dragged on for several years, and in 1795 Hastings was acquitted, despite the evidence against him. The materials of Hastings’ trial are an important source for the history of the British colonial seizure and ruthless pillaging of India.


Antonova, K. A. Angliiskoe zavoevanie Indii v XVIII v. Moscow, 1958.
Feiling, K. Warren Hastings. London-New York, 1955.


References in periodicals archive ?
Wellesley had Buchanan's sermon circulated throughout India and soon appointed Buchanan Vice-President of the East India Company College at Fort William, recently established, in the wake of the impeachment proceedings against Warren Hastings, to ensure the moral probity and technical efficiency of the Company's administrative cadre.
The second section of the book, "Women and the Trials of Imperial Masculinity," uses the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings as a means of focusing on the interweaving of imperialism and gender: women appear in this section both as political and theatrical critics of the trial and as part of the prosecutions oratorical attack on Hastings.
According to Peter Marshall: `That there was a coterie of potential scholars and a foundation of knowledge, which made the [Indological] feats of the 1780s and 1790s possible, was largely the achievement of Warren Hastings, Governor or Governor-General of Bengal from 1772 to 1785' (p.
What global drug trade founder Warren Hastings called the `pernicious commodity' -- opium -- is now both a mirror and means of production, distribution and exchange.
Part I reviews the facts, circumstances, and outcome of the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings, who served from 1772 until 1785 as the first Governor of Bengal, on charges of bribery and corruption.
As I read the journals, and the fascinating and wonderfully written letters which Bogle wrote to his family, I kept coming across the figure of Warren Hastings.
The first, and the chief figure in the book, is the Scots-born George Bogle, associate to Warren Hastings and agent of the British East India Company.
While her main focus is on "Irish writing about India," apart from Edmund Burke's speeches during the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings (1786-95), there is little evidence that Maria Edgeworth, Lady Morgan, or Thomas Moore provoked any "public debate" in England on imperialism and its discontents.
Topics include the many meanings of the Black Hole of Calcutta, the view of Warren Hastings on the rhetoric of empire, the piety and power of Tipu Suntan's dreams, the rise of Arthur Wellesley from novice to hero at Assaye, the contributions of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to nineteenth-century sensibilities, the real story behind the thugs and William Sleeman, Rajput violence in the insurgency of the Indian Revolt of 1857 and 1858, and the question of Hindu nationalism as expressed in the life of Madan Mohan Malaviya.
His first of three visits to Lucknow coincided with that of his principal patron, the Governor General Warren Hastings.
The use of impeachment against the abuse of power and neglect of duty, a feature of the famous case which took place at the same time as the US Constitution was being written and which influenced those who wrote it was the prosecution of Warren Hastings, the Governor General of India, by Edmund Burke over a seven-year period at the end of the eighteenth century.
Obviously, you held Lord North responsible for prosecuting the war against America; you held George Grenville responsible for the absurd Stamp Tax; and you held Warren Hastings responsible for England's tyrannical oppression of India.