A Timeline of Dadabhai Naoroji’s Life

The current premises of Elphinstone College at Kala Ghoda, where the college has been located since 1888. When Dadabhai Naoroji attended Elphinstone, the college was located near the current-day site of St. Xavier’s High School near Dhobi Talao.

1820s

4 September 1825: Dadabhai Naoroji born in Khadak in Bombay’s Native Town.

1829 (?): father Naoroji Palanji passed away.

1830s

1836 (?): married to Gulbai Shroff, aged seven.

1839: underwent the Zoroastrian navar ceremony (first initiation ceremony for the Zoroastrian priesthood) at Wadia Atash Behram, Bombay.

1840s

1 May 1840: enrolled at Elphinstone College.

1845: completed studies at Elphinstone College.

1 November 1845: appointed as assistant master at Elphinstone College.

A sketch of a young Dadabhai Naoroji, age 20.

1848: led efforts to found the Students’ Literary and Scientific Society.

1848 or 1849: appointed as assistant professor at Elphinstone College.

1850s

3 August 1851: joined Navrozji Fardunji in founding the Rahnumae Mazdayasnan Sabha, a vehicle for Zoroastrian religious reform in the Parsi community.

15 November 1851: published the first edition of Rast Goftar.

26 August 1852: delivered his maiden political speech at the meeting that inaugurated the Bombay Association.

October 1852: appointed as acting professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Elphinstone College.

1854: appointed as full professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Elphinstone College, becoming the first-ever Indian to hold this rank at a British-administered institution of higher education.

27 June 1855: departed Bombay and sailed to to Great Britain to help establish Cama & Co., the first Indian commercial firm in the United Kingdom.

March 1856: appointed as professor of Gujarati at University College in London.

1858: resigned from Cama & Co. and returned to Bombay.

1859: Ardeshir, a son, born in Bombay.

1860s

13 March 1861: delivered “The Manners and Customs of the Parsees” to the Liverpool Philomathic Society.

18 March 1861: delivered “The Parsee Religion” to the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society.

22 September 1861: the Zoroastrian Fund, the modern-day Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe, established in London. This was the first-ever Asian religious organization established in the United Kingdom. Naoroji was elected as a trustee.

1864 or 1865: Shirin, a daughter, born.

27 March 1866: delivered “The European and Asiatic Races” to the London Ethnological Society.

June 1866: Dadabhai Naoroji & Co., based in London, went bankrupt.

1 December 1866: established the East India Association in London.

2 May 1867: delivered “England’s Duties to India” at the first meeting of the East India Association in London.

10 October 1868: Maki, a second daughter, born in Bombay.

1870s

27 July 1870: delivered “Wants and Means of India” to the Society of Arts in London.

15 February 1871: delivered “On the Commerce of India” to the Society of Arts in London.

Monsoon 1871: toured south Gujarat, Kathiawar, and Kutch to investigate local poverty.

1872: first considered standing for a seat in the House of Commons.

11 & 15 July 1873: delivered testimony in London before the Select Parliamentary Committee on East India Finance. The committee chairman and the secretary of state for India refused to publish a statement authored by Naoroji in its final report. Naoroji eventually delivered this statement to the Bombay branch of the East India Association in 1876 in under the title of “Poverty of India.”

Malharrao Gaikwad, ruler of the princely state of Baroda who employed Dadabhai Naoroji as his diwan (prime minister).

Early December 1873: arrived at Baroda in order to begin diwanship (prime ministership) of the princely state of Baroda, ruled by Malharrao Gaikwad.

Early July 1874: offered to resign as diwan after the gaikwad ordered him to revive the older, more corrupt judicial system. The gaikwad ultimately relented.

31 July 1874: listed his demands to the gaikwad for reforms in Baroda state, including the abolition of nazarana (payments to judges), the resignation of particular officials, and his direct involvement in any future government appointments.

9 August 1874: tendered his resignation as diwan due to the gaikwad’s administrative interference. Naoroji withdrew his resignation after Malharrao relented.

9 November 1874: Robert Phayre, British resident of Baroda, nearly poisoned.

21 December 1874: Naoroji and his ministers tendered their resignations from office.

11 January 1875: Naoroji and his colleagues departed Baroda.

Late January 1875: Malharrao deposed as the gaikwad of Baroda by British authorities after evidence is found linking him to Phayre’s poisoning.

July 1875: elected as a member of the Bombay Municipal Corporation and town council.

28 February 1876: delivered “Poverty of India, Part I” to the Bombay branch of the East India Association.

27 April 1876: delivered “Poverty of India, Part II” to the Bombay branch of the East India Association.

1880s

24 May 1880-4 January 1881: corresponded with the secretary of state for India on the economic productivity of Punjab. The correspondence was eventually published as “Condition of India.”

April 1881: returned to Bombay from Great Britain, intending to stay in India for good, after closing down Dadabhai Naoroji & Co. in London.

16 September 1882: submitted a statement to the Hunter Commission on Indian Education, analyzing the British Indian government’s dismal underfunding of education.

January 1883: started Voice of India in Bombay with Behramji Malabari.

29 November 1884: delivered a speech in Bombay to mark the retirement of the viceroy, Lord Ripon. Naoroji invoked, for the first time in public, the idea of self-government for India.

September 1885: appointed to the Bombay legislative council by the governor, Lord Reay.

28-30 December 1885: first session of the Indian National Congress session held in Bombay.

Late March 1886: departed Bombay for London with the ambition of standing for the British Parliament.

12 April 1886: arrived in London and began meeting with prominent Liberal Party officials for campaign support.

18 June 1886: unanimously endorsed as the Liberal parliamentary candidate for Holborn by the Holborn Liberal Association.

5 July 1886: polling day in Holborn. Naoroji, who polled 1,950 votes, was defeated by the Conservative incumbent, Francis Duncan, who polled 3,651 votes.

27-30 December 1886: served as president of the Congress’ second session, held in Calcutta.

25 May 1888: in a letter to the Freeman’s Journal of Dublin, Michael Davitt encouraged Charles Stuart Parnell to choose Naoroji for an open parliamentary seat in Sligo, Ireland.

15 August 1888: selected as the official Liberal candidate for the London constituency of Central Finsbury, although the proceedings of the Central Finsbury Liberal and Radical Association’s meeting were eventually challenged.

Cartoon from around the time of the “black man incident,” featuring Dadabhai Naoroji and Lord Salisbury.

29 November 1888:  Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, in Edinburgh, called Naoroji a “black man.”

27 July 1889: British Committee of the Indian National Congress established in London.

1890s

16 July 1890: spoke at an international women’s conference in London organized by the Women’s Franchise League.

January 1891: Frederick A. Ford launched a challenge to Naoroji for the Liberal candidacy in Central Finsbury.

Mid-June 1892: Frederick A. Ford terminated his candidacy, leaving Naoroji as the recognized Liberal candidate in Central Finsbury.

6 July 1892: polling day in Central Finsbury. Naoroji won, polling 2,959 votes to Conservative rival Frederick Thomas Penton’s 2,956 votes. In a subsequent recount, Naoroji’s margin of victory was widened to five votes.

9 August 1892: delivered his maiden address to the House of Commons.

1 March 1893: tabled a bill in the House of Commons for simultaneous civil service examinations. The bill failed to muster sufficient support for debate.

2 June 1893: resolution for simultaneous civil service examinations passed in the House of Commons.

27 July 1893: helped to found the Indian Parliamentary Committee, a group of MPs sympathetic towards Indian concerns.

7 October 1893: son Ardeshir passed away in Kutch.

17 November 1893: departed London for Bombay, returning to India to preside at the Lahore Congress.

Front page of the Bombay Anglo-Gujarati Kaiser-i-Hind with an image of Dadabhai Naoroji’s homecoming procession.

3 December 1893: arrived in Bombay and greeted by as many as 500,000 people during a procession through the city.

25 December 1893: arrived in Lahore after a whistle-stop train tour through western and northern India.

27-30 December 1893: served as president of the Lahore Congress.

5 July 1894: Mohandas K. Gandhi wrote his first letter to Naoroji, asking for guidance in South African political matters.

16 July 1895: polling day in Central Finsbury. Naoroji, who polled 2,873 votes, was defeated by the Conservative Unionist candidate, William Frederick Barton Massey-Mainwaring, who polled 3,588 votes. Mancherji Bhownaggree, standing as a Conservative, won election to Parliament from Bethnal Green.

10 February 1897: held a mass meeting in Westminster with Henry Hyndman addressing the Indian famine.

25 March 1897: testified before the Welby Commission.

1900s

September-October 1900: general election held in Great Britain. Naoroji was unable to contest a parliamentary seat due to illness.

29 August 1901: selected as the official Liberal candidate for North Lambeth by the North Lambeth Liberal and Radical Club and National Democratic League.

October 1901: published Poverty and Un-British Rule in India, a compilation of his economic writings from the past thirty years.

3-6 July 1903: outlined the objective of “Self-Government Under British Paramountcy” in correspondence with Romesh Chunder Dutt.

14-18 August 1904: attended the International Socialist Congress in Amsterdam along with Hyndman.

15 January 1906: polling day in North Lambeth. Naoroji, running as an independent Liberal candidate, was defeated, earning only 733 votes.

12 July 1906: asked by Surendranath Banerjea to preside at the upcoming Calcutta Congress. Banerjea apprised Naoroji of a likely split between moderate and radical factions unless Naoroji accepted the presidency.

8 November 1906: accompanied Gandhi to a meeting with Lord Elgin, secretary for the colonies, at the Colonial Office.

13 November 1906: unanimously invited by the Congress reception committee to preside at the upcoming Calcutta Congress.

22 November 1906: accompanied Gandhi to a meeting with John Morley, secretary of state for India, at the India Office.

29 November 1906: departed London for Bombay.

14 December 1906: arrived in Bombay and greeted with a procession through the city.

26-29 December 1906: served as president of the Calcutta Congress. He delivered his presidential address on 26 December, calling for swaraj.

19 January 1907: departed Bombay for London, hoping to continue his political work in the imperial capital.

8 February 1907: returned to London.

Early October 1907: after months of ill health, Naoroji, resolving to return to India “for good,” departed London.

An image of Dadabhai Naoroji’s home during his retirement, “The Sands,” located in Versova (and one of the original “saat bangla” of the area). The home survived until the 1980s, when it was demolished.

7 November 1907: arrived in Bombay and began his retirement in Versova.

15 May 1909: wife Gulbai Naoroji passed away.

1910s

12 January 1915: Gandhi, who had recently arrived in India after completing his South African career, visited Naoroji before attending a welcoming reception at the Petit family house in Bombay. 

28 January 1916: conferred with an honorary doctorate of law by Bombay University. After the convocation ceremony, Naoroji was taken on one final public procession through Bombay.

30 June 1917: passed away at Palitana House, Cumballa Hill, Bombay.