Dadabhai Naoroji


Dadabhai Naoroji, of Bombay Parsee origin, was the first Indian to be elected to Parliament in Britain. Naoroji travelled to Britain in 1885 as a business partner of Cama and Company. A member of several businesses, he became Professor of Gujarati at University College, London (1856-65). He had also been founder-editor of the journal Rast Goftar in Bombay in 1851. He founded the London Zoroastrian Association in 1861. He was also founding member of the East India Association and London Indian Society, and became vocal in promoting Indian rights in regard to the ICS and trade. Naoroji was an economist and proponent of the 'drain theory', building up a detailed economic critique of British imperialism in India. He also established links with Irish MPs and was one of the founders of the Indian National Congress in 1885 in Bombay.

In 1886, Naoroji campaigned as Liberal Party candidate for the strongly Conservative seat of Holborn. In 1888, referring to Naoroji's defeat, the Conservative Party Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, remarked that an English constituency was not ready to elect a 'Blackman', drawing greater notoriety to Naoroji. In 1892, he contested the seat of Central Finsbury, campaigning on Gladstone's platform of Liberalism, and was successfully elected with a majority of five. He lost his seat in the General Election of 1895. In 1906, Naoroji stood as a candidate at Lambeth North but was again unsuccessful. In 1907, Naoroji left England to retire at Versova in Bombay, where he died in 1917.

Published works: 

Poverty of India (1876)

Mr D. Naoroji and Mr Schnadhorst (London: Chant & Co., 1892)

Poverty and Un-British Rule in India (1901)

Date of birth: 
04 Sep 1825

Syed Ameer Ali, John Archer (Naoroji encouraged him to go into politics), Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree, W. C. Bonnerjee, Charles Bradlaugh, Josephine Butler, Madame Bhikaiji Cama, William Digby, Lalmohan Ghose, H. M. Hyndman, Mohammed Ali Jinnah (helped out in campaign), Frank Hugh O'Donnell, Elizabeth Adelaide Manning (through NIA), Florence Nightingale, Badruddin Tyabji, Alfred Webb, William Wedderburn, Henry Sylvester Wiliams (Naoroji encouraged him to go into politics).


The First Indian Member of the Imperial Parliament (Madras: Addison & Co., 1892)

Fair Play, India and Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji MP (Madras: Higginbotham & Co., 1893)

For press reaction to Naoroji's election as MP in 1892 see Biographical Magazine, Evening News and Post, Punch, Pall Mall Gazette, among others

Secondary works: 

Burton, Antoinette, 'Tongues Untied: Lord Salisbury's "Black Man" and the Boundaries of Imperial Democracy', Society for Comparative Study of Society and History (2000), pp. 632-61

Hinnells, John R., Zoroastrians in Britain (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996)

Masani, R. P., Dadabhai Naoroji. The Grand Old Man of India (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1939)

Monk, C. J. , ‘“Member for India?” The Parliamentary Lives of Dadabhai Naoroji (MP: 1892-1895) and Mancherjee Bhownaggree (MP: 1895-1906)’, unpublished MPhil thesis (University of Manchester, 1985)

Mukherjee, Sumita, ‘‘Narrow-majority’ and ‘Bow-and-agree’: Public Attitudes Towards the Elections of the First Asian MPs in Britain, Dadabhai Naoroji and Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree, 1885-1906’ Journal of the Oxford University History Society 2 (Michaelmas 2004)

Ralph, Omar, Naoroji. The First Asian MP. A Biography of Dadabhai Naoroji: India's Patriot and Britain's MP (St John's Antigua: Hansib, 1997)

Schneer, Jonathan, London 1900: The Imperial Metropolis (London: Yale University Press, 1999)

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

Parekh, C. L. (ed.), Essays, Speeches, Addresses and Writings of the Honourable Dadabhai Naoroji (Bombay: Caxton, 1887)

Patwardhan, R. P. (ed.), Dadabhai Naoroji Correspondence (Bombay: n.p., 1977)

Archive source: 

Dadabhai Naoroji Parliamentary Centenary Celebrations, Mss Eur F279, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Letters in William Digby Collection, Mss Eur D767, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Minute books of East India Association, Mss Eur F147/27, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Papers and correspondence, National Archives of India, New Delhi

Notes relating to possible candidature in 1903-1910, Labour History Archive, Central Lancashire

Involved in events: 

General Elections, 1886, 1892, 1895, 1906

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Other names: 

The Grand Old Man of India


Central Finsbury
London, EC1R 4QT
United Kingdom
51° 31' 42.618" N, 0° 6' 3.7512" W
Date of death: 
30 Jun 1917
Location of death: 
Bombay, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1855
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

On and off between 1855 and 1907

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