Sir Walter Lawrence and India 1879-1918

Wilson, Catherine Mary (1991) Sir Walter Lawrence and India 1879-1918. Doctoral thesis, Polytechnic of North London.


Walter Roper Lawrence was born in Herefordshire on 9 February 1857; he was educated at Cheltenham College (1867-76) and Balliol College, Oxford (1877-1879), being head of the Indian Civil Service exam list in 1877. Lawrence's career was unusually varied but there are two themes which unify his wide-ranging experiences.

The first is a reflection of Lawrence's education and early training especially in the Punjab; his approach to administration was one of "benevolent paternalism" and he was motivated by the ideal of service. The second theme is that of Lawrence's own personal character and abilities. He was a very likeable man and an able administrator. He combined an eye for detail with the capacity to understand the broad sweep of policy. These themes are illustrated and discussed within each chapter.

This study begins with an examination of the importance of Lawrence's education and his early years in the Indian Civil Service. His service in the Punjab, in Rajputana and in the Government of India between 1879 and 1889 moulded his approach to Indians and to the administration of India.

In Kashmir from 1889 until 1895 Lawrence undertook the land revenue assessment and settlement. This chapter discusses the problems he faced; the mechanics of the survey; the implementation of the settlement and its aftermath.

Lawrence returned to India in December 1898 as Private Secretary to Lord Curzon. Lawrence's role was to facilitate implementation of Curzon's policies. His second function was to act as confidant and adviser to Curzon. This chapter highlights these differing roles and reviews Curzon's style of administration from the perspective of his subordinates.

The management of the Prince and Princess of Wales' Tour of India in 1905-06 illustrates Lawrence's abilities in liaison and organisation. Lawrence served on the Council of India from 1907 until 1909. During the First World War he was responsible for monitoring the provision of medical care for the Indian troops serving in France (1914-15). Once again his coordinating powers were utilised to the full. The study concludes with an account of the activities of Lawrence's last years; he died on 25 May 1940.

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