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Bentinck, Lord William

Bentinck, Lord William (1774–1839). Soldier and administrator. Bentinck joined Marshal Suwarrof's army in Italy and served with the Austrian forces during the campaigns of 1799 and 1801. In 1803 he became governor of Madras but was recalled after being held responsible for the sepoy mutiny at Velore in July 1806. He subsequently saw action in the Mediterranean, commanding the British forces in Sicily (1811) and conducting a successful expedition against Genoa (1814). From 1827 to 1835 Bentinck acted as governor-general of Bengal. He instituted financial reforms to eradicate debts created by the recent Burmese War, reorganized the legal system, abolishing such practices as suttee (widow-burning), improved communications, introduced education programmes, and opened up official posts to natives. In 1833 he became the first governor-general of India after the East India Company Charter Act.

Richard A. Smith

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Bentinck, Lord William Cavendish

Lord William Cavendish Bentinck (bĕn´tingk, –tĬk), 1774–1839, British administrator in India. He served in the Napoleonic Wars and was (1803–7) governor of Madras. He was appointed governor-general of Bengal in 1827, assuming the title governor-general of India in 1833. Bentinck was strongly influenced by British utilitarianism and introduced many reforms in the interest of the people. He admitted Indians to important office, fostered communication and education, and revised the system of landholding. He also abolished suttee and began suppression of the Thugs.

See biography by J. Rosselli (1974).

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