Council of Four (India)
The Council of Four was established in 1773 to limit the influence of the Governor-General of India, Warren Hastings. It is sometimes referred to as the Calcutta Council. It consisted of Sir Philip Francis, Lt. General Sir John Clavering, The Honourable Sir George Monson and a designated East India Company servant, Sir Richard Barwell. Phillip Francis was a close friend of the previous Governor, Clive of India. Francis attempted to persuade the other council members that Hastings was a corrupt despot.
Before they arrived in Bengal, Francis, Clavering and Monson met Joseph Fowke, who had been severely affected by the policies of Warren Hastings. He explained to the council the 'detrimental effects' of the Governor-General's policies. The meeting was probably engineered by Francis. Francis owed an allegiance to Clive, and moulded the opinions of Clavering and Monson, who grew to oppose the policies of Hastings. This was to create great turmoil in the following years. Monson, Clavering and Francis strove to undermine Hastings' policies and attempted to depose the Governor-General.
The situation climaxed with the Maharaja Nandakumar affair, in which Francis through Nandakumar (also known as Nuncomar), the last important member of the Moghul bureaucracy, accused Hastings of fraud and high corruption. This attempt to impeach Hastings was unsuccessful and Nandakumar was hanged in 1775 after being found guilty of forgery by Sir Elijah Impey, the Chief Justice of the newly established Supreme Court of India in Calcutta. Hastings was accused of committing a judicial murder with Sir Elijah's connivance during his impeachment by Edmund Burke.
The 'majority', (Francis, Clavering and Monson), within the council was ended with the death of Monson, and Clavering died a year later. Francis was left powerless, but he remained in India and consistently strove to undermine the work of the Governor-General. Eventually the bitter rivalry between the two men culminated in a duel, where Francis was shot in the arm by Warren Hastings; he left India in the hope of impeaching Hastings. A lengthy attempted impeachment by Parliament lasting from 1788 to 1795 eventually ended with Hastings being acquitted.
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