Mithan J Lam

Location

London School of Economics
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
51° 30' 50.1948" N, 0° 6' 59.6736" W
Other names: 

née Tata

1
Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1898
Precise DOB unknown: 
Y
City of birth: 
Near Nagpur
Country of birth: 
India
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1919 - December 1923

2
About: 

Mithan Lam was the daughter of Ardeshir and Herabai Tata. Born in 1898, her father was a manager of a textile mill and had been to Lancashire in 1913 to learn new ideas about the cotton industry. In 1911, on a holiday in Kashmir, Herabai and Mithan met Sophia Duleep Singh, who told them about the suffrage movement in Britain and inspired Herabai to become involved in women's rights.

Mithan was awarded a first class degree in economics from Elphinstone College, Bombay, winning a medal for the highest marks. Through her mother's connections, who was Honorary Secretary of the Women's Indian Association in Bombay, they were invited to go to Britain in 1919 to give evidence to a Royal Commission on Indian Reforms chaired by Lord Southborough.

Mithan spoke to MPs in the House of Commons and at public meetings in London on the issue of female suffrage in India. She then decided to stay on in England, enrolling on a Masters Course at the LSE in October 1919. Her mother remained in England to look after her. In 1920 the Inns of Court were opened for women and Mithan joined Lincoln's Inn in April 1920. She was one of the first ten women to be called to the Bar in 1923.

Upon her return to Bombay in December 1923, Mithan enrolled in the Bombay High Court and became active in womens' organizations and reform. She edited Stri Dharma, the journal of the All India Women's Conference, for five years. She married Jamshed Shorab Lam in 1933. 

Connections: 

Annie Besant (through Theosophical Society in India and then through women's rights), Madame Cama (met in Paris), Margaret Cousins, Charlotte Despard, Millicent Fawcett, Mrs Ogilvie Gordon, Ramsay MacDonald, Sarojini Naidu, Sankaran Nair, Sophia Duleep Singh, Agnes Smedley (president of the Lyceum Club), Lord Southborough, Herabai Tata (mother).

Involved in events: 

Address, 'Indian Women and the Vote', to public meeting of Women's Freedom League at Minerva Cafe, London, 3 December 1919.

3
Contributions to periodicals: 

Jus Suffragii: The International Woman Suffrage News

Secondary works: 

Forbes, Geraldine, Women in Modern India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

4
Example: 

Mss Eur F341/147, manuscript memoir 'Autumn Leaves', Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras, chapter VII.

Content: 

On work for deputation to Southborough Committee in 1919. On the leaders of the British Women's Suffrage movement - Mrs Despard, Mrs Ogilvie Gordon, Mrs Millicent Fawcett and Mrs Corbett-Ashby.

Extract: 

I would like to mention and acknowledge here the unstinted support and help these fine women of the various associations gave us; not only in arranging lecture meetings for us in London, but in many other places in England and Scotland, finding hospitality for us when we were speaking out of London, and passing resolutions supporting our cause, forwarding these resolutions to their M.P.’s etc.

Relevance: 

The networks and co-operation between British and Indian suffragettes.

Archive source: 

Mss Eur F341/147, manuscript memoir 'Autumn Leaves', Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Herabai Tata's Correspondence with Jaiji Petit, Nehru Memorial Library Archives, New Delhi