Source: Famous Parsis (Madras: G.A Natesan & Co., 1930, [New Delhi: Mittal Publications, 1990]), 480

Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree

Sir Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree was born in 1851, the son of Merwanjee Bhownaggree, a distinguished Parsi merchant in Bombay.

As a student, Sir Bhownaggree displayed considerable literary ability, and eventually adopted the profession of journalism in which he excelled. His career as a journalist was cut short in 1872, when the death of his father led the Bombay State Agency take charge of his care. Sir Bhownaggree subsequently served on a variety of public organisations.

In 1881, he was appointed by the Bombay Government as ‘Justice of the Peace’ and subsequently left for England to study Law. He was then called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1885.

In 1887, under the request of the Maharaja of Bhavanagar, he was tasked with the difficult assignment of introducing a constitutional administration in the state of Bhavanagar, and the complete re-arrangement of the Legal and Police Departments. The experiment proved to be a successful one and was subsequently reproduced by other states. This struck a raw chord with a powerful body of individuals who sought to resuscitate the old autocratic system by denouncing Sir Bhownaggree, the Maharaja, as well as the other Councillors of State. These individuals involved in the defamations Sir Bhownaggree were eventually convicted and sentenced in 1890.

Sir Bhownaggree ran as a Conservative for Parliament, representing North-East Bethnal Green and was elected in 1895. However, while Sir Bhownaggree was lionised by the British public and the British press, he failed to gain the sympathies of his own countrymen for his conduct in England. He was wont to speak of Nationalist aspirations in India, and was a strong supporter of British Rule in India, as he held that India was greatly indebted to Britain for the peace, security and intellectual guidance essential to India’s progress and well-being.

In his later years, Sir Bhownagree particularly interested himself in the cause of Indians overseas. He was the executive Chairman of the Committee of British Indian sympathisers which was formed to safe keep Indian interests in the British Colonies.

Sources: Bhargava Parag Narain, Who’s Who in India, Part VII (Lucknow: Newul Kishore Press, 1911), 81; Famous Parsis (New Delhi: Mittal Publications, 1990), 477-488

Works

The Verdict of India (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1916)

Ideas of IndiaIdeas of India