Pherozeshah Mehta was born on August 4, 1845, into the family of a middle-class Parsi trader. After studying in the Elphinstone College and taking his Master's degree with the Bombay University, he went to England to study law. He was called to the bar in 1868.
During a legal defence of Arthur Crawford he noted the need for reforms in the municipal government. He was responsible for drafting the Bombay Municipal Act of 1872, and is known as the "Father of Municipal Government in Bombay". He was the Municipal commissioner in 1873 and the Chairman in 1884-5 and again in 1905.
He gave up his successful career as a lawyer to enter public life as a nationalist, and was elected the president of the Indian National Congress in 1890. He became a member of the Bombay Legislative Council in 1893. He founded the newspaper Bombay Chronicle in 1910. His remarks about the treatment of Indians in South Africa, in 1913, led to Gandhi's passive resistance movement there. When Gandhi arrived in India, Pherozeshah Mehta presided over the public meeting, held on January 12, 1915, to welcome him.
He was appointed a fellow of the Bombay University in 1867 and remained a member of the senate and the syndicate for several decades. He was responsible for many academic and administrative reforms. In 1910 year he was made the vice-chancellor of the Bombay University. In this capacity, he laid the foundation stone for the convocation hall of the University and the Rajabai Tower a few months before his death on November 5, 1915.