Naoroji Street in Finsbury is named after Dadabhai Naoroji, an Indian who became a politician in Finsbury at the end of the 19th century. He was the first Asian to be a British MP.
There is a Plaque in memory of Dadabhai Naoroji on the wall outside the Finsbury Town Hall on nearby Rosebery Avenue.
Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) led the way for Indians in Britain to take a full part in public life. His book Poverty and Un-British Rule in India brought attention to the draining of India’s wealth into Britain. He is also credited with the founding of the Indian National Congress – of which he was elected President twice – along with A.O. Hume and Dinshaw Edulji Wacha.
Naoroji was a mentor to both Gopal Krishna Gokhale and to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Naoroji died in Bombay on 30 June 1917, at age 92. In addition to Naoroji Road in the Finsbury/Bloomsbury area the Dadabhai Naoroji Road, a heritage road of Mumbai, is named after him. So, too, is the Dadabhoy Naoroji Road in Karachi, Pakistan.
Naoroji was a partner in the firm of Cama & Company, the first Indian corporation to be established in the UK. He was a Parsee from Bombay who came to London in 1850 as a businessman. He left Cama and set up his own cotton trading company. But when this collapsed in 1881, he turned to politics. He also became Professor of Gujarati at University College, London, and the founder/president of the Zoroastrian Society.
He stood unsuccessfully for election as an MP in Holborn in 1890, and tried again in 1892 in Central Finsbury, where he won by 5 votes after a recount.
Naoroji was an Indian nationalist who unsettled British opinion by stating that India’s poverty was to a large extent due to having been drained of its resources by Britain to the tune of £40 million in effect being exported to the UK every year. His supporters included the by-then aged Florence Nightingale. When Naoroji won Central Finsbury the National Liberal Club threw a banquet for him. But he lost in 1895, and returned to India.
The above information has been supplied by Professor John Spiers, with thanks.