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The rise of the British empire - India
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Papers from the trial of Warren Hastings, British Governor of Bengal, 1785
(Catalogue ref: PRO 30/8/357 f117)
  • This document is an extract from the list of charges against Warren Hastings in 1785. Warren Hastings was the Governor of Bengal from 1773 onwards.
  • When he first took on the role he reorganised the British East India Company's administration in Bengal, overhauling its financial and justice systems.
  • Hastings also encouraged British officials in India to study Indian languages and culture in order to understand and govern the people better.
  • Unfortunately for Hastings, he also became involved in various disputes with Indian rulers. This caused severe financial losses to the Company. This in turn allowed his political opponents in Britain to turn opinion against him.
  • In 1785 he was put on trial for corruption. He was accused of making himself and his friends rich instead of running Bengal properly.
  • It is likely that many East India Company officials did make themselves rich by corruption, but Hastings was probably not one of them. Hastings was acquitted, but the controversy led to the end of his career as a politician.
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