Sir Dinshaw Petit, First Baronet (1823 - 1901)

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About Sir Dinshaw Petit, First Baronet

Sir Dinshaw Maneckji Petit, 1st Baronet (30 June 1823 – 5 May 1901), Parsi entrepreur and founder of the first textile mills in India.

As broker to European firms he amassed a large fortune during the period of speculation in Bombay at the time of the American Civil War.

In 1854 Dinshaw Maneckji Petit founded the "Persian Zoroastrian Amelioration Fund" with the aim of improving the conditions for the less fortunate Zoroastrian co-religionists in Iran. The fund succeeded in convincing a number of Iranian Zoroastrians to emigrate to India (where they are today known as Iranis), and may have been instrumental in obtaining a remission of the jizya poll tax for their co-religionists in 1882.

In 1886 he became a member of the governor-general's legislative council. He devoted his wealth to philanthropic objects, among the public and private charities which he endowed being the Towers of Silence and fire temples of the Parsi, a hospital for animals, a college for women, and the Petit hospital. He was knighted in 1887, created a baronet in 1890, and died in 1901.

The Petit surname is not traditionally Parsi and had come about in Sir Dinshaw's great grand-father's time in the 1700s. He had worked as a shipping clerk and interpreter for the British East India Company. French merchants who dealt with the lively, short Parsi clerk called him 'le petit Parsi'.

Sir Dinshaw was survived by Sir Dinshaw Petit (2nd Baronet).

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