women's organisations

Sophia Duleep Singh


Sophia Duleep Singh was the fifth child of six children of the Maharaja Duleep Singh. Her father became the Maharaja of Punjab in 1843 when he was aged just five years old, but the Punjab was subsequently annexed in 1849. The Maharaja, of Sikh background, converted to Christianity and eventually settled in England, becoming a naturalized British citizen and receiving a British pension. Sophia's mother, Bamba Müller, came from German and Ethiopian ancestry. The family settled in Elveden Hall in Norfolk where Sophia was born in 1876. In 1896, Queen Victoria gave Sophia 'Faraday House' in Hampton Court as a 'grace and favour' home, and it is here that she lived for most of her adult life. Sophia was a keen cyclist and fond of her three dogs - she showed her pets at Ladies Kennel Association shows.

Sophia was highly involved in the patronage of Indians in Britain, such as in the establishment of the Lascars' Club in the East End of London. Her main focus of activity, however, was in the women's suffrage movement. She had joined the Women's Social and Political Union at the home of Una Dugdale and became an active campaigner at the Richmond, Surrey, branch of the WSPU. On 18 November 1910, she took part in the first deputation to the House of Commons, 'Black Friday', with Emmeline Pankhurst, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and others. Sophia joined the Tax Resistance League (WTRL). She refused to pay taxes on the principle that women should not have to pay taxes when they did not have the vote to determine the use of those taxes. This stance led to various fines where jewellery was impounded but then bought back in auction by members of the WTRL. These actions created a high profile stand for the women's movement.

Sophia was also involved in bringing attention to the contribution of Indian soldiers in the First World War. Sophia visited wounded Indian soldiers in Brighton. She organized Flag Days to raise money for wounded soldiers - the first of which was on 19 October 1916 at Haymarket - where British and Indian women sold Indian flags decorated with elephants, stars or other objects. Sophia also entertained Indian soldiers who were part of a peace contingent at her home in Hampton Court in September 1919. Sophia joined the Suffragette Fellowship after World War One and remained a fellow until her death. During the Second World War, Sophia evacuated London and her home in Hampton Court to live in the village of Penn in Buckinghamshire, in a bungalow named 'Rathenrae'.


Letter from Princess Sophia Duleep Singh to Nancy Grant, from Faraday House, 29 April 1911. Autograph Collection, 9/01 Women's Suffrage, Women's Library, London Metropolitan University

Date of birth: 
08 Aug 1876

Sophia is responding to an invitation to a Suffrage meeting in Richmond at which Nancy Grant has requested that she speak a few words to support their resolution.


E. J. Beck, K. Chowdry (founder of Lascar Club), Charlotte DespardMillicent Garrett Fawcett, Mithan Lam, Emmeline Pankhurst, John Pollen, Mrs N. C. Sen, Maharaja Duleep Singh (Father), Frederick Duleep Singh (brother), Catherine Duleep Singh (sister), Victor Duleep Singh (brother), Herabai Tata, Queen Victoria, Ada Wright.

British Dominions Woman Suffrage Union, Women's Social and Political Union, Women's Tax Resistance League.


Asiatic Review

Indian Magazine and Review

The Sketch (1896)

The Suffragette

The Times

Votes for Women


I will come on the 9th to the meeting with pleasure. I hope you have found someone else to support the resolution, if not I will do so, but very much prefer not to, + I shall only say about 5 words!

Secondary works: 

Alexander, Michael and Anand, Sushila, Queen Victoria's Maharajah: Duleep Singh 1838-1893 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1980)

Bance, Peter, The Duleep Singhs: The Photograph Album of Queen Victoria’s Maharajah (Stroud: Sutton Publishing Ltd, 2004)

Crawford, Elizabeth, The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 (London: UCL Press, 1999)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain. 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)

Visram, Rozina, 'Duleep Singh, Princess Sophia Alexandra (1876–1948)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/index/64/101064781/]


This letter reveals not only Sophia's intimate involvement with the Richmond Women's Suffrage Movement, but also her fear of public speaking, which is evident in other letters. Despite her fears, Sophia did take up an extremely high profile stand for female suffrage in Britain.

Archive source: 

Papers of Maharaja Duleep Singh and children, Mss Eur E377, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Correspondence in Sandhwalia Family Papers (private)

Letter from a Sikh soldier describing her visit at Milford-on-sea, Mss Eur F143/91, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Suffragette Fellowship Collection, Museum of London, London 

Letters to Miss Newsome and Nancy Grant, Autograph Collection, Women's Library, London Metropolitan University, London


City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh

Sophia Alexandra Duleep Singh


Elveden, Suffolk
IP24 3TA
United Kingdom
52° 23' 6.7776" N, 0° 41' 13.2648" E
Hampton Court Green, Surrey
United Kingdom
51° 23' 28.986" N, 0° 20' 41.784" W
Date of death: 
22 Aug 1948
Location of death: 
Buckinghamshire, England

Elveden Hall, Norfolk (childhood home)

Faraday House, Hampton Court (home during adulthood)

Richmond (location for Suffrage meetings)

'Rathenrae', Penn, Buckinghamshire (home where she died)

Golders Green (where she was cremated)

Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya


Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya was born in Mangalore in 1903. Her father was a senior civil servant and her mother was a supporter of both Pandita Ramabai and Sri Aurobindo. At the age of 11 she was married to Krishna Rao, but he unfortunately died just over a year later. As a child widow and with her father also dead, Kamaladevi moved with her mother to Madras in 1917. She met the Chattopadhyaya family from Hyderabad and married Harindranath in 1919 in a civil registry ceremony. A few months after their marriage, Harindranath travelled to Cambridge to study for a PhD at the university. Kamaladevi was left behind in India.

It was up to Kamaladevi’s family to finance her to travel to Britain to join her husband in 1921. Kamaladevi too wished to study in the UK. Her interest in social work led her to enrol in a Social Work Diploma Course at Bedford College, London. The course in sociology combined with practical training which allowed Kamaladevi to visit slums in London. Before she left for England, Kamaladevi had been inspired by her mother’s contacts and the political climate in India to pledge herself to Gandhi’s work. Husband and wife returned to India in 1922 via Europe and a visit with Harindranath’s brother, the exiled revolutionary, Virendranath.

After her return to India, Kamaladevi became actively involved with the All-India Women’s Conference (AIWC) and became friends with Margaret Cousins. She became involved in Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha in 1930 and was arrested for entering the Bombay Stock Exchange to sell packets of salt. In the meantime she had divorced Harindranath. Kamaladevi continued to be engaged in politics and social work, particularly in promoting handicrafts, until her death in 1988. 

Published works: 

(ed.) The Awakening of Indian Women (Madras: Everyman’s Press, 1939)

At the Crossroads: Collection of Essays by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, edited by Yusuf Meherally (Bombay: Nalanda Publications, 1947)

Tribalism in India (Delhi: Vikas Publishers, 1978)

Indian Woman’s Battle for Freedom Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1983)

Inner Recesses, Outer Spaces (Delhi: Navrang, 1986)

Date of birth: 
03 Apr 1903

Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, Mrinalini Chattopadhyaya, Margaret Cousins, M. K. Gandhi, Aurobindo Ghose, Sarojini Naidu.

All-India Women's Conference (AIWC)

Secondary works: 

Bakshi, S. R., Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya: Role for Women’s Welfare (Faridabad: Om, 2000)

Brijbhushan, J., Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya (Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1976)

Chattopadhyaya, Harindranath, Life and Myself (Bombay: Nalanda, 1948)

Nanda, Reena, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya: A Biography (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002)

Archive source: 

Personal Papers, Nehru Memorial Library, Delhi

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 


Bedford College
47 Bedford Square
London, WC1B 3JA
United Kingdom
51° 31' 8.1588" N, 0° 7' 52.8564" W
Date of death: 
29 Oct 1988
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1921
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 


Tags for Making Britain: 

Mithan J Lam


Mithan Lam was the daughter of Ardeshir and Herabai Tata. Born in 1898, her father was a manager of a textile mill and had been to Lancashire in 1913 to learn new ideas about the cotton industry. In 1911, on a holiday in Kashmir, Herabai and Mithan met Sophia Duleep Singh, who told them about the suffrage movement in Britain and inspired Herabai to become involved in women's rights.

Mithan was awarded a first class degree in economics from Elphinstone College, Bombay, winning a medal for the highest marks. Through her mother's connections, who was Honorary Secretary of the Women's Indian Association in Bombay, they were invited to go to Britain in 1919 to give evidence to a Royal Commission on Indian Reforms chaired by Lord Southborough.

Mithan spoke to MPs in the House of Commons and at public meetings in London on the issue of female suffrage in India. She then decided to stay on in England, enrolling on a Masters Course at the LSE in October 1919. Her mother remained in England to look after her. In 1920 the Inns of Court were opened for women and Mithan joined Lincoln's Inn in April 1920. She was one of the first ten women to be called to the Bar in 1923.

Upon her return to Bombay in December 1923, Mithan enrolled in the Bombay High Court and became active in womens' organizations and reform. She edited Stri Dharma, the journal of the All India Women's Conference, for five years. She married Jamshed Shorab Lam in 1933. 


Mss Eur F341/147, manuscript memoir 'Autumn Leaves', Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras, chapter VII.

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1898

On work for deputation to Southborough Committee in 1919. On the leaders of the British Women's Suffrage movement - Mrs Despard, Mrs Ogilvie Gordon, Mrs Millicent Fawcett and Mrs Corbett-Ashby.


Annie Besant (through Theosophical Society in India and then through women's rights), Madame Cama (met in Paris), Margaret Cousins, Charlotte Despard, Millicent Fawcett, Mrs Ogilvie Gordon, Ramsay MacDonald, Sarojini Naidu, Sankaran Nair, Sophia Duleep Singh, Agnes Smedley (president of the Lyceum Club), Lord Southborough, Herabai Tata (mother).

Contributions to periodicals: 

Jus Suffragii: The International Woman Suffrage News

Precise DOB unknown: 

I would like to mention and acknowledge here the unstinted support and help these fine women of the various associations gave us; not only in arranging lecture meetings for us in London, but in many other places in England and Scotland, finding hospitality for us when we were speaking out of London, and passing resolutions supporting our cause, forwarding these resolutions to their M.P.’s etc.

Secondary works: 

Forbes, Geraldine, Women in Modern India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)


The networks and co-operation between British and Indian suffragettes.

Archive source: 

Mss Eur F341/147, manuscript memoir 'Autumn Leaves', Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Herabai Tata's Correspondence with Jaiji Petit, Nehru Memorial Library Archives, New Delhi

Involved in events: 

Address, 'Indian Women and the Vote', to public meeting of Women's Freedom League at Minerva Cafe, London, 3 December 1919.

City of birth: 
Near Nagpur
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

née Tata


London School of Economics
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
51° 30' 50.1948" N, 0° 6' 59.6736" W
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1919 - December 1923

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