World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Lord William Bentinck

Article Id: WHEBN0000611493
Reproduction Date:

Title: Lord William Bentinck  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of governors-general of India, Charles Metcalfe, 1st Baron Metcalfe, Governor-General of India, British Raj, Hazarduari Palace
Collection: 11Th Hussars Officers, 1774 Births, 1839 Deaths, Alumni of Christ Church, Oxford, Bentinck Family, British Army Commanders of the Napoleonic Wars, British Army Personnel of the Napoleonic Wars, British Commander-in-Chiefs of India, British Mps 1790–96, Children of Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Coldstream Guards Officers, Governors-General of India, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Knights Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order, Members of the Parliament of Great Britain for Constituencies in Cornwall, Members of the Parliament of Great Britain for English Constituencies, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for English Constituencies, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for Glasgow Constituencies, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for Scottish Constituencies, Uk Mps 1801–02, Uk Mps 1802–06, Uk Mps 1812–18, Uk Mps 1818–20, Uk Mps 1820–26, Uk Mps 1826–30, Uk Mps 1835–37, Uk Mps 1837–41, Younger Sons of Dukes
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Lord William Bentinck

Lieutenant General The Right Honourable
Lord William Bentinck
Governor-General of India
In office
1833 – 20 March 1835
Monarch William IV
Prime Minister
Succeeded by Sir Charles Metcalfe, Bt
As Acting Governor-General
Governor-General of the Presidency of Fort William
In office
4 July 1828 – 1833
Monarch George IV
William IV
Prime Minister The Duke of Wellington
The Earl Grey
Preceded by William Butterworth Bayley
As Acting Governor-General
Personal details
Born 14 September 1774 (1774-09-14)
Buckinghamshire, England
Died 17 June 1839(1839-06-17) (aged 64)
Paris, France
Nationality British
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Lady Mary Acheson (d. 1843)
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Royal Guelphic Order
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1791–1839
Rank Lieutenant-General
Commands 11th Regiment of Light Dragoons
Battles/wars Napoleonic Wars

Lieutenant-General Lord William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck GCB GCH PC (14 September 1774 – 17 June 1839), known as Lord William Bentinck, was a British soldier and statesman. He served as Governor-General of India from 1828 to 1835.


  • Background 1
  • Early career 2
    • Bentinck in Sicily 2.1
  • Governor-General of India 3
  • Personal life 4
  • The Charter Act of 1833 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


Bentinck was born in Buckinghamshire, the second son of Prime Minister William Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, and Lady Dorothy, only daughter of William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire. Upon the third duke's marriage to Lady Dorothy, he changed the family name to Cavendish-Bentinck.[1]

Early career

Bentinck joined the Coldstream Guards on 28 January 1791 at the age of 16, purchasing an ensign's commission.[2] He was promoted to captain-lieutenant (lieutenant) in the 2nd Regiment of Dragoons on 4 August 1792,[3] and to captain in the 11th Regiment of Light Dragoons on 6 April 1793.[4] He was promoted to major in the 28th Foot on 29 March 1794[5] and to lieutenant-colonel in the 24th Dragoons that July.[6] On 9 January 1798, Bentinck was promoted to colonel.[7] In 1803 he was, to some surprise, appointed Governor of Madras, and was promoted to major-general on 1 January 1805.[8] Although his tenure was moderately successful, it was brought to an end by a mutiny at Vellore in 1806, prompted by Bentinck's order that the native troops be forbidden to wear their traditional attire. Only after serious violence was order restored and the offending policy rescinded, and Bentinck was recalled in 1807.

After service in the Peninsular War, Bentinck was appointed commander of British troops in Sicily. He was brevetted to lieutenant-general on 3 March 1811.[9] A Whig, Bentinck used this position to meddle in internal Sicilian affairs, effecting the withdrawal from government of Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies in favour of his son, Francis I of the Two Sicilies, the reactionary Queen's disgrace, and an attempt to devise a constitutional government for the troubled island, all of which ultimately ended in failure. In 1814, Bentinck landed with British and Sicilian troops at Genoa, and commenced to make liberal proclamations of a new order in Italy which embarrassed the British government (which intended to give much of Italy to Austria), and led, once again, to his recall in 1815.

Bentinck in Sicily

As conditions in Sicily began to deteriorate at the beginning of the 19th century, England began worrying about its interests in the Mediterranean. Internal dissensions in the Sicilian government and an ever increasing suspicion that Queen Maria Carolina was in correspondence with the French Occupation of Sicily as its object led to the appointment of Bentinck as British representative to the Court of Palermo in July 1811.[10] At the beginning of his time at the head of Sicilian affairs, politicians in London opposed the Bourbon rule and appealed for Sicilian annexation. Bentinck was sympathetic to the cause and plight of the Sicilians and "was quickly convinced of the need for Britain to intervene in Sicilian affairs, not so much for Britain's sake as for the well-being of the Sicilians."[11] He was also one of the first of the dreamers to see a vision of a unified Italy.[10]

The English, however, were content to support the Bourbons if they were willing to give the Sicilians more governmental control and a greater respect of their rights. Bentinck saw this as the perfect opportunity to insert his ideas of a Sicilian constitution. Opposition to the establishment of a constitution continued to surface, Maria Carolina proving to be one of the toughest. Her relationship with Bentinck can be summed up in the nickname that she gave him: "La bestia feroce" or the ferocious beast.[11] Bentinck, however, was determined to see the establishment of a Sicilian Constitution and shortly thereafter exiled Maria Carolina from Palermo. On 18 June 1812 the Parliament assembled in Palermo and, about a month later, on 20 July 1812 the constitution was accepted and written on the basis of 15 articles. With the establishment of the constitution the Sicilians had now gained an autonomy they had never experienced before. The constitution set up the separation of the legislative and executive powers and abolished the feudalistic practices that had been established and recognised for the past 700 years.[10]

Bentinck's success in establishing a Sicilian constitution lasted only a few years. On 8 December 1816, a year after 1848.[11]

Governor-General of India

On his return to England, Bentinck served in the House of Commons for some years before being appointed Governor-General of Bengal in 1828. His principal concern was to turn around the loss-making Honourable East India Company, to ensure that its charter would be renewed by the British government.

Lady William Cavendish-Bentinck (c 1783–1843) (Ellen Sharples)

Bentinck engaged in an extensive range of cost-cutting measures, earning the lasting enmity of many military men whose wages were cut. Although historians emphasise his more efficient financial management, his modernising projects also included a policy of westernisation, influenced by the Utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, which was more controversial. Reforming the court system, he made English, rather than Persian, the language of the higher courts and encouraged western-style education for Indians to provide more educated Indians for service in the British bureaucracy.[12][13]

Bentinck tried to suppress sati, the prescribed death of a widow on her husband's funeral pyre. He also targeted other customs that offended Western sensibilities, often with the help of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who was not only a social reformer but also known as "Maker of Modern India" or "Father of Modern India".[14] The "superstitious practices" Rammohan Roy objected to included sati', caste rigidity, polygamy and child marriages and Lord Bentinck helped him to enforce the law.[15] Although his reforms met little resistance among native Indians at the time, Indian enemies repeated a story to the effect that he had once planned to demolish the Taj Mahal and sell off the marble. According to Bentinck's biographer John Rosselli, the story arose from Bentinck's fund-raising sale of discarded marble from Agra Fort and of the metal from the Great Agra Gun, the largest cannon ever cast, a historical artefact which dated to the reign of Akbar the Great.[16][17]

Bentinck returned to the UK in 1835 and refused a peerage, partly because he had no children and partly because he wanted to stand for Parliament again. He again entered the House of Commons as a Member for Glasgow.[18]

Personal life

Memorial at the Bentinck family vault in St Marylebone Parish Church, London

Bentinck married Lady Mary, daughter of Arthur Acheson, 1st Earl of Gosford, on 18 February 1803.[19] The marriage was childless. He died in Paris on 17 June 1839, aged 64. Mary died in May 1843.[20] Lord William Bentinck and his wife are buried in the Bentinck family vault in St Marylebone Parish Church, London.

The Charter Act of 1833

The Charter Act of 1833 was passed during the time of Lord William Bentinck. Accordingly monopoly of the company was abolished. The Governor-General in Bengal became the Governor-General of India. This Act added a law member to the executive council of the governor-general. The bishops of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta were to be appointed for the benefit of the Christians in India.


  1. ^  
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 13278. p. 64. 29 January 1791. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 13446. p. 606. 31 July 1792. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 13516. p. 269. 2 April 1793. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 13635. p. 264. 25 March 1794. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 13686. p. 748. 19 July 1794. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 14080. p. 23. 6 January 1798. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 15770. p. 47. 8 January 1805. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 16460. p. 406. 2 March 1811. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d Lackland, H.M.. "Lord William Bentinck in Sicily, 1811 – 12." The English Historical Review 42.167 (1927): 371 – 396. JSTOR. 4 March 2009.
  11. ^ a b c Hearder, Harry. Italy in the Age of the Risorgimento 1790–1870. New York: Longmans, 1983.
  12. ^ James S. Olson and Robert S. Shadle, Historical Dictionary of the British Empire (1996) p 131
  13. ^ Belliapa, C P (21 April 2014). "On William Bentinck's trail" (Bangalore). Deccan Herald. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  14. ^ Beck,, Rodger B.; et al. "Modern World History: Patterns of Interaction". 
  15. ^ Bandyopadyay, Brahendra N. "Rommohan Roy". (London: University Press, 1933) 351. 
  16. ^ Randolf Cooper, The Anglo-Maratha Campaigns and the Contest for India. Cambridge, England. Cambridge University Press, 2003. p. 198.
  17. ^ Rosselli, J., Lord William Bentinck: the making of a Liberal Imperialist, 1774–1839, London Chatto and Windus for Sussex University Press 1974, p. 283
  18. ^ Boulger, p. 208.
  19. ^ Boulger, p. 17.
  20. ^ Boulger, p. 148.

Further reading

  • "Bentinck, Lord William Henry Cavendish". (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)  
  • Rulers of India: Lord William Bentinck – available at the Internet Archive
  • Great Gun of Agra: Randolf Cooper, The Anglo-Maratha Campaigns and the Contest for India. Cambridge, England. Cambridge University Press, 2003. p. 198.
  • Harrington, Jack (2010), Sir John Malcolm and the Creation of British India, Ch. 5., New York:  

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Lord William Bentinck
  • Biography of Lord William Bentinck, with links to online catalogues, from Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
James Macpherson
William Smith
Member of Parliament for Camelford
With: William Smith
Succeeded by
William Joseph Denison
John Angerstein
Preceded by
Lord Edward Bentinck
Charles Pierrepont
Member of Parliament for Nottinghamshire
With: Evelyn Pierrepont
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Member of Parliament for Nottinghamshire
With: Evelyn Pierrepont 1801
Lord Pierrepont 1801–1803
Succeeded by
Lord Pierrepont
Anthony Hardolph Eyre
Preceded by
Viscount Newark
Anthony Hardolph Eyre
Member of Parliament for Nottinghamshire
With: Viscount Newark
Succeeded by
Viscount Newark
Frank Sotheron
Preceded by
Viscount Newark
Frank Sotheron
Member of Parliament for Nottinghamshire
With: Frank Sotheron
Succeeded by
Frank Sotheron
John Lumley
Preceded by
John Walpole
Lord John Bentinck
Member of Parliament for King's Lynn
With: John Walpole
Succeeded by
John Walpole
Lord George Bentinck
Preceded by
James Oswald
Colin Dunlop
Member of Parliament for Glasgow
With: James Oswald 1836–1837
John Dennistoun 1837–1839
Succeeded by
John Dennistoun
James Oswald
Government offices
Preceded by
William Butterworth Bayley (acting)
Governor-General of India
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Metcalfe, Bt (acting)
Military offices
Preceded by
The Lord Heathfield
Colonel of the 20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
Succeeded by
Sir Stapleton Cotton, Bt
Preceded by
The Marquess of Lothian
Colonel of the 11th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
Succeeded by
Lord Charles Manners
Preceded by
Sir Edward Barnes
Commander-in-Chief, India
Succeeded by
Sir James Watson
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.