The Presidencies in India c.1890

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Map Code: Ax02290

As the East India Company grew it recruited guards and watchmen to to protect its possessions scattered around India. This group evolved into field armies that were then organized under its three ‘presidencies’, Bengal, Bombay and Madras, hence the Bengal Army, Bombay Army and Madras Army. In 1748 these were all placed under the command of Major General Stringer Lawrence, the first commander in chief, and regarded as the father of the Indian Army. By 1825 the three armies together numbered around 200,000 men. These forces were deployed to protect the Company’s holdings and, if necessary, enlarge them in India and beyond. The Company had acquired sovereignty over large parts of India, the presidencies. The Company held all rights to rule up to the Indian Rebellion of 1857, now called the First War of Independence by many. In August 1858, by the terms of the Government of India Act, the Company passed all its ruling powers to the British Crown. From this date onwards the increasingly unwieldy presidencies were broken up into more manageable provinces. By the turn of the 20th century India under the British Raj comprised eight major provinces, each administered by a Governor or Lieutenant-Governor and a few minor provinces administered by a Chief Commissioner. The settlement of Aden was a dependency of the Bombay Presidency from 1839–1932.

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