'Peabody of the East'
Ralph Lucey, Peabody's Commercial Property Manager, writes about a 19th century philanthropist described as the "Peabody of the East".
In the Broadwalk in Regent's Park there is an ornate Victorian drinking fountain (pictured below), known as the "Readymoney Fountain".
It is called after Cowasjee Jahangir Readymoney (1812–1878, pictured right), but less well known is his other title: "Peabody of the East".
His biography states: "When a man has fairly earned by the admission of his contemporaries the title of a 'Peabody of the East' as the late Sir Cowasjee Jahangir Readymoney Kt. CSI. did, any apology for telling the story of his life would be unnecessary".
His family fortune originated from trading in opium and he was one of a number of Parsi philanthropists who enabled the construction of schools and hospitals and most famously water fountains in late 19th century Bombay.
Unusually for this time his charity was granted without reference to race or religion. One donation in 1870 was to the wounded soldiers of the Franco-Prussian war, to be split 50/50 between the two sides.
He was a firm supporter and closely linked to the British colonial government and the Regent's Park statue was to show his "gratitude to the people of England".
His works included Elphinstone College, whose architect was a contemporary Parsi philanthropist: Bahadur Muncherjee Cowasjee Murzban, FRIBA, MICE (pictured right).
A skilled engineer and architect, in his professional life he managed to attain responsibilities which, in the colonial hierarchy, were normally restricted to British citizens.
A Peabody connection
He had corresponded with the Peabody Trustees of the time and was the founder of housing estates, or colonies, modelled on and managed in a similar manner to the Peabody estates in London.
Murzban Colony at Gilder Road Tardeo, Bombay 2006
His vision is still evident in modern Mumbai where it was estimated in 1966 that half of the Parsi population resided in such charitable housing.
Ralph Lucey, 2014
Full version of Ralph Lucey's 'Peabody of the East' (pdf, 236kb)
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