Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee

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Description Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee was an Indian barrister and was the first president of Indian National Congress. He was the first Indian to contest the election for the British House of Commons although he lost the election. He made two unsuccessful attempts to enter the British parliament.Early daysWomesh Chunder Bonnerjee was born on 29 December 1844 at Calcutta (now Kolkata), in the present-day state of West Bengal. He studied at the Oriental Seminary and the Hindu School. In 1859, he married Hemangini Motilal. His career began in 1862 when he joined the firm of W. P. Gillanders, attorneys of the Calcutta Supreme Court, as a clerk. In this post he acquired a good knowledge of law which greatly helped him in his later career. In 1864 he was sent to England through a scholarship from Mr. R. J. Jijibhai of Bombay where he joined the Middle Temple and was called to the Bar in June, 1867. On his return to Calcutta in 1868, he found a patron in Sir Charles Paul, Barrister-at-Law of the Calcutta High Court. Another barrister, J. P. Kennedy, also greatly helped him to establish his reputation as a lawyer. Within a few years he became the most sought after barrister in the High Court. He was the first Indian to act as a Standing Counsel, in which capacity he officiated four times 1882, 1884, 1886-67. In 1883 he defended Surendranath Banerjee in the famous contempt of court case against him in the Calcutta High Court. He was the fellow of Calcutta University and was the president of its law faculty and often represented it in the legislative council. He retired from the Calcutta bar in 1901. His daughter Janaki Bonnerjee studied natural science, chemistry, zoology and physiology at Newnham College, Cambridge University.
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