Sir Cowasji Jehangir Readymoney - Encyclopedia


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SIR COWASJI JEHANGIR READYMONEY (1812-1878), "the Peabody of Bombay." Early in the 18th century three Parsee brothers moved from Nowsari, near Surat, in Gujarat, to Bombay, and became the pioneers of a lucrative trade with China. They gained the sobriquet of "Readymoney," which they adopted as a surname. Only Hirji Jewanji Readymoney left issue, two daughters, the elder of whom married a Banaji, and the younger a Dady Sett. The son of the former, Jehangir Hirji, married Mirbae, the daughter of the latter, and was made the heir not only of his grandfather, but of his two granduncles. The younger of their two sons was Cowasji Jehangir. His only English education was at the then well-known school kept by Serjeant Sykes in the Fort of Bombay. At the age of 15 he entered the firm of Duncan, Gibb & Co. as "godown keeper," or warehouse clerk. In 1837 he was promoted to the responsible and lucrative appointment of "guarantee broker" to two of the leading European firms of Bombay. In 1846 he was able to begin trading on his own account. He was made a J.P. for the town and island of Bombay, and a member of the board of conservancy; and in 1866 was appointed a commissioner of income tax, his tactful management being largely responsible for the fact that this tax, then new to Bombay and unpopular, was levied with unexpected financial success. He was made C.S.I. in 1871; and in 1872 he was created a Knight Bachelor of the United Kingdom, and his statue, by T. Woolner, R. A., was erected in the town hall. His donations to the institutions of Bombay amounted to close on £ 200,000. His health broke down in 1871, and he died in 1878, being succeeded by his son, Sir J. Cowasji Jehangir [Readymoney], who was created a Knight Bachelor in 1895, and a Baronet in 1908.

See J. Cowasji Jehangir, Sir Cowasji Jehangir Readymoney (1890).

(M. M. Bx.)

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