Linlithgow, Lord

views updated


LINLITHGOW, LORD (1887–1952), viceroy of India (1936–1943). Victor Alexander John Hope, second marquis of Linlithgow, was viceroy of India from 1936 through October 1943. A graduate of Eton, and a colonel in World War I, Lord Linlithgow chaired Parliament's Select Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform from 1933 to 1934. His committee's plan was adopted as the Government of India Act of 1935. Linlithgow went out to India a year later to implement that act, succeeding Lord Willingdon as viceroy. A Tory landlord and avid hunter, "Hopey," as friends called him, expanded the Council of India from seven to fifteen members by the end of his long tenure, hoping perhaps to foist an illusion of representative government on his Indian subjects, despite keeping India's most popular leaders of the Congress, especially Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, at bay or locked behind British bars. His hatred and distrust of Mahatma Gandhi was no less irrational than Winston Churchill's.

During World War II, Sir Stafford Cripps was sent to India on his famous mission to try to win wartime cooperation from the leaders of India's National Congress and of the Muslim League. He was authorized to offer India full dominion status after the war ended, though any province wishing to "opt out" of that dominion would be permitted to do so, thus implicitly conceding Mohammad Ali Jinnah's "Pakistan." Linlithgow so resented Cripps's private meetings with Nehru and Gandhi, as well as with Colonel Louis Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt's special emissary to India, that he angrily wired Prime Minister Churchill, undermining Cripps's negotiating power, forcing that one and only wartime Cabinet overture to India to collapse. Then, as soon as Gandhi attempted to launch a final satyagraha movement against the British Raj in August 1942, Linlithgow ordered Gandhi's predawn arrest, together with that of members of Congress's Working Committee, doomed to rust for the remaining years of the war behind British bars.

Like Churchill, Linlithgow preferred dealing with Muslim leaders, primarily Jinnah, the Muslim League's Quaid-i-Azam (Great Leader), than with any member of the Congress. The British Indian army remained heavily dependent on its Muslim and Sikh recruits. Linlithgow knew that as long as Jinnah's League remained strong, it would serve to contradict Congress's claim to represent "all" of India's population, not just its Hindu majority. Churchill and Linlithgow were not the only Tory leaders to play that Muslim "green card" in their political negotiations with Congress, but they were two of the most powerful.

Linlithgow was succeeded as viceroy by India's commander in chief, Field Marshal Lord Wavell. Linlithgow returned home to chair the Midland Bank, and also served as Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland. He died during a bird shooting party on his vast estate in 1952.

Stanley Wolpert

See alsoGandhi, Mahatma M. K. ; Government of India Act of 1935 ; Jinnah, Mohammad Ali ; Wavell, Lord


Amery, L. S. The Empire at Bay: The Leo Amery Diaries, 1929–1945, edited by John Barnes and David Nicholson. London: Hutchinson, 1988.

Glendevon, John. The Viceroy at Bay: Lord Linlithgow in India, 1939–1943. London, 1971.

Mansergh, N., and E. W. R. Lumby, eds. The Transfer of Power, 1942–7, vols. I–IV. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1970–1973.

Wolpert, Stanley. Jinnah of Pakistan. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

——. Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.