Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lord William Bentinck

Lord William Bentinck (1774-1839)
Lord William Bentinck , governor-general of India, was the second son of the third duke of Portland and his wife, Lady Dorothy Cavendish (1750–1794), only daughter of William Cavendish, fourth duke of Devonshire. Bentinck was born on the 14th of September 1774 at Burlington House in London.
He entered the army in 1791 as an ensign in the Coldstream guards, and having been promoted in 1792 to a captaincy in the 2nd light dragoons, on 20 March 1794 was gazetted lieutenant-colonel of the 24th light dragoons. In the same year he served on the staff of the Duke of York in the Netherlands.
He was M.P. for Camelford (March-May 1796), for Nottinghamshire (1796-1803, 1812-14, and 1816-26) and for Lynn (1826-7). In May 1799 he was attached to the headquarters of Marshal Suwarrof's army in the north of Italy, and remained in that country throughout the campaign of 1799, and subsequently until 1801 with the Austrian forces, being present at the battles of the Trebbia, Novi, Savigliano, and Marengo, the passages of the Mincio and the Adige, the sieges of Alessandria and Coni, and various other affairs. In 1803 he was nominated governor of Madras, where he quarrelled with the chief justice, Sir Henry Gwillim, and several members of his council.
The event which led to his removal from the government was the mutiny at Vellore, when the sepoys of the native regiments quartered at that station rose upon their European officers and upon the British part of the garrison, killing thirteen officers and a considerable number of men. By some this catastrophe was attributed to a wide-spread plot instigated by the family of Tippoo, who were detained under surveillance in the fort at Vellore, the object of the plot being to restore Muslim rule in Mysore and in other parts of southern India. Others ascribed it to certain regulations recently introduced by the commander-in-chief at Madras and sanctioned by the government, prohibiting the sepoys from wearing, when in uniform, the distinctive marks of their caste, and from wearing beards, and prescribing a head-dress which was supposed by the sepoys to have been ordered with the intention of compelling them to become Christians. The latter was the view taken by the court of directors, who recalled Bentinck and also the commander-in-chief, Sir John Cradock.His name was considered at this time for the post of Governor General but Lord Minto was selected instead; and it was not until twenty years later that he succeeded Lord Amherst in that office