Charles Metcalfe, 1st Baron Metcalfe

From Academic Kids

Charles Theophilus Metcalfe, 1st Baron Metcalfe (January 30, 1785September 5, 1846), Indian and colonial administrator, was born at Calcutta.

He was the second son of Thomas Theophilus Metcalfe, then a major in the Bengal army, who afterwards became a director of the East India Company, and was created a baronet in 1802. Having been educated at Eton, he in 1800 sailed for India as a writer in the service of the Company. After studying Oriental languages as the first student at Lord Wellesley's College of Fort William, he, at the age of nineteen, was appointed political assistant to General Lake, who was then conducting the final campaign of the Mabratta war against Holkar.

In 1808 he was selected by Lord Minto for the responsible post of envoy to the court of Ranjit Singh at Lahore; here, on April 25, 1809, he concluded the important treaty securing the independence of the Sikh states between the Sutlej and the Jumna. Four years afterwards he was made resident at Delhi, and ~fl 1819 he received from Lord Hastings the appointment of secretary in the secret and political department. From 1820 to 1825 Sir Charles (who succeeded his brother in the baronetcy in 1822) was resident at the court of the nizam, and afterwards was summoned in an emergency to his former post at Delhi.

In 1827 he obtained a seat in the supreme council, and in March 1835, after he had acted as the first governor of the proposed new presidency of Agra, he provisionally succeeded Lord William Bentinck in the governor-generalship. During his brief tenure of office (it lasted only for one year) he carried out several important measures, including that for the liberation of the press, which, while almost universally popular, complicated his relations with the directors at home to such an extent that he resigned the service of the Company in 1838.

In the following year he was appointed by the Melbourne administration to the governorship of Jamaica, where the difficulties created by the recent passing of the Negro Emancipation Act had called for a high degree of tact and ability. Sir Charles Metcalfe's success in this delicate position was very marked, but unfortunately his health compelled his resignation and return to England in 1842.

Six months afterwards he was appointed by the Peel ministry to the post of Governor General of the Province of Canada and Lieutenant Governor of Canada West and Canada East from 1843-1845 with instructions to resist further development of responsible government. A clash soon emerged between Metcalfe and the leaders of the legislative assembly, Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine. Despite suffering from worsening cancer, he fought to preserve the prerogatives of the Crown and the governor's control over the administration and patronage. He nonetheless had to make some concessions to win support, and the most notable of these was persuading the Colonial Office to grant amnesty to the rebels of 1837-38, and to abandon forced anglicization of the French-speaking population. His success in carrying out the policy of the home goyernment was rewarded with a peerage shortly after his return in 1845. But his success did not endure and responsible government would be conceded by his successor James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin. He died of cancer at Malshanger, near Basingstoke, on the 5th of September 1846.

External links


Kaye, J.W. Life and Correspondence of Charles Lord Metcalfe (London, 1854).

Preceded by:
The Lord William Bentinck
Governor-General of India
(pro tempore)
Succeeded by:
The Lord Auckland
Preceded by:
Sir Charles Bagot
Governor General of the Province of Canada
Succeeded by:
The Earl Cathcart

Template:End boxpl:Charles Metcalfe


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