Dictionary of Indian Biography/Hastings, Warren

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HASTINGS, WARREN (1732–1818)

Governor-General : born Dec. 6, 1732 : son of Pynaston Hastings : educated at Newington Butts and Westminster : first King's Scholar, 1747 : went to Calcutta in civil employ of the E. I. Co. 1750 : to Kasimbazar in 1753 : Member of Council there : imprisoned at Murshidabad, 1756, joined the British refugees from Calcutta at Falta : Resident at Murshidabad, 1757–60, corresponding with Clive, the Governor of Calcutta : had difficulties with Raja Nuncomar (q.v.) : Member of Council in Calcutta, 1761 : sent to Patna to negotiate about inland trade : was struck in Council by a colleague : to England, 1764–9 : sent to Madras as second in Council there, 1769, the Baron and Baroness von Imhoff being fellow-passengers on his ship : Governor of Bengal from April 13, 1772 : the whole revenue and judicial administration was revised, and the conduct of superior native officials investigated : Hastings sent troops, according to an existing treaty, to assist the Nawab of Oudh against the Rohillas, who were defeated : by the Regulating Act of 1773, Hastings was appointed Governor-General, with four colleagues : the new regime took effect from Oct. 20, 1774 : Francis, Clavering, Monson opposed him, Barwell siding with him : Nuncomar accused Hastings of corruption, Hastings charged Nuncomar and others with conspiracy : Nuncomar was himself arrested on a charge of forgery, tried, convicted and hanged on Aug. 5, 1775. Hastings sent George Boyle (q.v.) on a mission to the Teshu Lama of Tibet : and, later, Samuel Turner (q.v.) to Tashilhunpo in Tibet : originated the acquisition of revenue by farming out the opium trade. Hastings' conditional resignation of his office, accepted by the Court of Directors, but annulled by the Supreme Court : by the deaths of Monson and Clavering, he obtained predominance in Council : he married the divorcee. Baroness Imhoff, in Aug. 1877 : he frustrated the operations of the Mahrattas and of Hyder Ali : on Aug. 17, 1780, he fought a duel with Francis (q.v.) and wounded him. By a force under Sir Eyre Coote, he drove Hyder Ali out of the Carnatic and made the treaty of Salbai on May 17, 1782, with Sindia for the Mahrattas : his demand on Chait Singh, Raja of Benares, for a war contribution, being resisted, he went to Benares to levy it; had to flee to Chunar, but eventually succeeded, and deposed Chait Singh : the Court of Proprietors approved his action : large sums of money were recovered by the Nawab of Oudh from "the Oudh Begams" to meet Hastings' demands, and he has been much blamed for his share in the occurrence. He established the Calcutta Madrasa and assisted in the foundation of the Asiatic Society of Bengal : he embarked for England Feb. 1, 1785 : wrote his Review of the State of Bengal at sea. His impeachment, for maladministration, began in Feb, 1788, Burke and others being the managers, with the assistance of Sir P. Francis : Hastings was acquitted on all the charges in April, 1795, after a trial lasting 145 days : the trial cost him £70,000: the E. I. Co. gave him a grant of money. He received no honours. When he attended the House of Commons, in 1813, the whole House rose and did him honours. He was made Privy Councillor and D.C.L. of Oxford. He repurchased the family estate of Daylesford. He died Aug. 22, 1818. His great public services are admitted : his character and the means he employed have been keenly criticised, and will probably be always discussed, but later writings have done much to remove the unfavourable impression which Mill and Macaulay created against him. His motto, "Mens aequa in arduis," represents the tranquil fortitude with which he met the difficulties of his troubled career. His statue is in Calcutta.