Sophia Duleep Singh

Sophia Duleep Singh

Princess Sophia Alexandra Duleep Singh (b. Elveden Hall, 8 August 1876; d. Hilden Hall, Tylers Green, 22 August 1948) was a prominent suffragette in the United Kingdom. She is best remembered for her leading role in the Women's Tax Resistance League, but she also participated in other women's suffrage groups including the Women's Social and Political Union.

Sophia Duleep Singh was the daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh and his first wife Bamba Müller, and Sophia combined Indian, European and African ancestry with an upbringing among the British aristocracy. Duleep Singh had been the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire in Punjab and was exiled from India by the British at the age of fifteen, while Müller was of mixed German and Ethiopian descent. Sophia's four brothers included Frederick Duleep Singh, while among her four sisters was the suffragette Catherine Duleep Singh. Sophia inherited substantial private wealth from her father upon his death in 1893, and in 1898 her godmother, Queen Victoria, granted Sophia a grace and favour apartment in Faraday House, Hampton Court.

Sophia marched at the head of the Black Friday deputation to parliament in 1910, alongside Emmeline Pankhurst, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Dorinda Neligan. Sophia obtained particular prominence through the Women's Tax Resistance League, appearing in court several times due to her refusal to pay taxes, and remarking, "When the women of England are enfranchised I shall pay my taxes willingly. If I am not a person for the purposes of representation, why should I be a fit person for taxation?"

Sophia's public life was mostly spent campaigning for women's rights, although she also supported the interests of lascars.

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    Punjabi proverb, trans. by Gurinder Singh Mann.