Firoz Khan Noon

Locations

52 Parliament Hill Hampstead
London, NW3 2SSP
United Kingdom
51° 33' 28.278" N, 0° 9' 43.7544" W
49 Putney Hill
London, SW1 SQP
United Kingdom
Date of birth: 
07 May 1893
City of birth: 
Hamoka
Country of birth: 
India
Current name country of birth: 
Pakistan
Date of death: 
09 Dec 1970
Location of death: 
Lahore, Pakistan
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jul 1912
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Y
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1912-18, 1936-41

About: 

Firoz Khan Noon arrived in England in July 1912 to study. He initially lived at the student hostel on 21 Cromwell Road, London. Because of colour prejudice, it was difficult for Indian students to find accommodation. The students’ department of the India Office made arrangements for him to stay with the family of the Reverend Lloyd who was a vicar at Ticknall, 10 miles from Derby. Lloyd helped Noon to be admitted to Wadham College, Oxford University. Initially Noon had applied to Balliol College, but he did not gain admission. Firoz Khan Noon built up a close relationship with the family and lived with them until October 1913. 

While at Oxford, on his father's advice, Noon mixed with very few Indian students. In his autobiography, Noon explained that ‘his idea was that I could see a lot of Indians in my own country but when I was abroad I must learn something about foreign people’ (From Memory, p. 70). At Oxford, Noon was a keen football player. He also played hockey for the Isis Club. Noon travelled regularly to London where he attended dinners at the Inner Temple, under the tutelage of Dr Hubbard. He also studied Persian with Professor Browne at the University of Cambridge. He graduated from Oxford with a BA in History in 1916. In later years, Noon was made an Honorary Fellow of Wadham College. During his time at Oxford he did not attend the meetings of the Majlis, preferring to devote most of his time to his studies.

After he finished his degree, Noon moved to London to sit his law examinations. He became a Barrister-at-Law of the Inner Temple within nine months and returned to India in September 1917. He set up a practice as a lawyer in the District Courts of Sargodha. He stood for the 1920 Lahore Legislative Council elections and won with a majority of nearly 10,000. He subsequently moved to Lahore, where he practised at the High Court. He was a member of the Provincial Legislative Council of the Punjab from 1920 to 1936 and a Minister for ten years. He was appointed High Commissioner for India in London in July 1936, a position he held for five and a half years.

Noon led the Indian delegation at the International Labour Organization meetings in Geneva in 1938-9. In 1938, Firoz Khan Noon, received a delegation from the Jamiat-ul-Muslimin who presented a petition to him in protest against H. G. Wells’ A Short History of the World. While in London he met Ernest Bevin, with whom he became good friends. Noon liked him for his outspokenness and his support for Indian independence. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he moved into the bomb shelter at India House. He fulfilled night-watch duties on the roof of India House. Furthermore, Noon was instrumental in helping to set up the Indian Comforts Fund, offering it space at India House. In 1939, he assumed the role of mediator to broker a deal to end the strike of Indian seamen that commenced with the outbreak of the Second World War in relation to pay and conditions. Noon was approached by the Board of Trade with a brief to minimize concessions to the sailors. However, Noon’s negotiating tactics with the lascars were unsuccessful, with shipping lines going back on terms agreed in the High Commissioner’s office. When a deal was brokered in December 1939, the India Office wanted to make sure that credit was accorded not to Surat Alley, London representative of the All India Seamen’s Federation, but rather to Noon and the Shipping Companies.

Firoz Khan Noon was present at the Caxton Hall meeting when Udham Singh shot Michael O’Dwyer in 1940. Noon returned to India having been appointed a Member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council in 1941 where he became responsible for the defence portfolio. After independence, Firoz Khan Noon became Foreign and Prime Minister of Pakistan. He published Wisdom for Fools (1940), a book of stories for children, and the novel Scented Dust (1941). He died in 1970.

Connections: 

Surat Alley, Lady Amery, Lord Amery, Ernest Bevin, Z. A. Bokhari, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Weldon Crossland (American student friend from Oxford), Lady Curry, Edward VIII, Hari Singh Gour, Sudhindra Nath Ghose, Malcolm Hailey, Ali Khan (fellow Indian student at Oxford), Reverend Lloyd of Ticknall, Edwin Lutyens, Malcolm Macdonald, Mrs Nanda, Percy Nichols (student friend from Oxford) Said Amir Shah, Uday Shankar, Rex Smith (student friend from Oxford), Geoffrey Wells (Noon’s tutor at Oxford), James Wilson (Indian civil servant), Lord Zetland.

Indian High Commisssion in London

Network: 
Involved in events: 
Published works: 

Canada and India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1939)

Wisdom from Fools (Lahore: Rai Sahib M. Gulab Singh & Sons, 1940)

Scented Dust (Lahore: R.S.M. Gulab Singh & Sons 1942)

‘India’, in Walter James Turner (ed.) The British Commonwealth and Empire (London: William Collins, 1943)

From Memory (Lahore: Ferozsons 1966)

Contributions to periodicals: 
Secondary works: 

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)

Archive source: 

MT 9/315, National Archives, Kew

L/I/1/1479, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras