Rivaz was born in 1845, the son of John Theophilus Rivaz, of Watford Hall, Watford, who served as a civilian for 30 years in the North-Western Provinces. His maternal grandfather had also served in India, in the Bengal Civil Service, and three brothers all served or held office in British India, including Colonel Vincent Rivaz, CB (d. 1924). He was educated at Blackheath Proprietary School, and went to the Punjab in 1864.
Rivaz served in various posts in Punjab. He was for a time superintendent of the Kapurthala State, later a 1st Finance Commissioner and Member of the Legislative Council of Punjab Province. He was a temporary Member of the Council of the Viceroy of India from 1897, and a permanent member from May 1898. In 1899, he was responsible for proposing what became the Punjab Land Alienation Act, 1900. On 6 March 1902 he took up the position as Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, where he is remembered for promoting irrigation.
He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Star of India (CSI) in the Birthday Honours List 25 May 1895, and in the 1901 New Year Honours list was promoted to a Knight Commander (KCSI) of the same order.
Rivaz married, in 1874, Emilie Agnew, daughter of Major-General Agnew. Lady Rivaz died at Kensington 2 January 1941. They had three sons; Frank was a farmer in Palermo, Ontario, another, Cecil, was in the civil service in India, and the youngest, Percy, was a ship's surgeon for the British fleet in the Mediterranean. 
- "Obituary - Sir Charles Rivaz". The Times (44400). London. 12 October 1926. p. 19.
- "No. 26974". The London Gazette. 3 June 1898. p. 3446.
- Jones, Kenneth W. (1976). Arya Dharm: Hindu Consciousness in 19th-century Punjab. University of California Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-52002-920-0.
- "Court circular". The Times (36683). London. 5 February 1902. p. 10.
- "No. 26628". The London Gazette. 25 May 1895. p. 3079.
- "No. 27261". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1900. p. 1.
- "Deaths". The Times (48816). London. 6 January 1941. p. 1.
- "Farmer at Palermo Son of Sir Charles". The Daily Star. Toronto ON. 15 October 1926. p. 13.
- WikiTree: Percy Montgomery Rivaz, https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Rivaz-24
- WikiTree: Cecil Arthur Gleneairn Rivaz, https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Rivaz-23
Sir Mackworth Young
| Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab
Sir Denzil Ibbetson