The constituency of Central Finsbury elected Britain’s first Asian MP in 1892. This album and its presentation box were gifted by the people of Bombay (now Mumbai) to commemorate Dadhabai Naoroji’s election. He served as MP for Central Finsbury until his defeat in 1895.
Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) was born near Bombay and was the first Indian appointed as a Professor at Elphinstone College there. He moved to England in 1855 and became Professor of Gujurati at University College London (UCL) in 1856. Naoroji was a founder member of the East India Association and the London India Society. Within both of these organisations he promoted Indian rights in trade and the Civil Service.
During his time as MP for Central Finsbury, Naoroji’s position provoked further discussion of imperial citizenship in Britain. Naoroji also supported Home Rule for Ireland during this period, referring to the ‘ghostly persistence’ of Irish suffering in his public speeches. In these, Naoroji continued to represent himself as an imperial citizen. In the Pall Mall Gazette, he was described as holding his audience in his hands within the first five minutes of his speech at Holborn Town Hall in 1886. In 1901, he published Poverty and UnBritish Rule in India which is now regarded as a work which contributed to the founding of Indian nationalist economics.
Before his success in the 1892 election, Naoroji campaigned unsuccessfully as a Liberal party candidate in the staunchly Conservative area of Holborn. After losing his seat in Central Finsbury in 1895, Naoroji stood for election in Lambeth North in 1906 but was unsuccessful. He left England the following year to retire to India. Naoroji died at Versova in Bombay in 1917. Today there is a street named after Naoroji and a plaque at Finsbury Town Hall bearing his name.