ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA, 1500-1800: NO ARMENIAN FOUNDATION FOR EUROPEAN EMPIRE?

BY

BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA*
Abstract Historical evidence points to the existence of Armenians in India in small numbers at least since the sixteenth century. Beginning with the Portuguese in that century, Europeans entered the spheres of Euro-Asian and intra-Asian trade in an increasing volume. Armenian contact with India received a boost following the settlement of a large number of Armenians in New Julfa that coincided with the coming of the European companies in India. The arrival of the Europeans opened up various possibilities for the Armenians. Consequently, Armenian trade, based to a great extent on various forms of community-based network and partnership, was not ‘exclusive’ in nature. In their social life too Armenians formed part of the pluralistic Christian community in India. Les données historiques suggèrent l’existence en Inde d’un petit nombre d’Arméniens depuis le XVI e siècle. A partir de l’arrivée des Portugais à cette époque, les Européens ont développé les échanges avec l’Asie et en ont pénétré de plus en plus le commerce intérieur. Les contacts des Arméniens avec l’Inde ont connu une rapide expansion à la suite de l’établissement d’un nombre important d’entre eux à New Julfa, dans la mouvance de l’arrivée des compagnies européennes qui leur offraient des possibilités variées. De ce fait, le commerce arménien, largement fondé sur diverses formes de réseaux et de partenariats internes à leur communauté, n’était pas de nature « exclusive ». Dans leur vie sociale, aussi, les Arméniens étaient partie prenante de la communauté chrétienne indienne, pluraliste. Keywords: Armenian commercial network, Asian trade, Armenian-European relationship, Armenians in India, commerce in India in the 17th and 18th centuries

* Bhaswati Bhattacharya, International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden, Netherlands, likhon26@rediffmail.com Research for this paper was carried out with a grant from the Indian Council of Historical Research in New Delhi. I would like to thank Gautam Bhadra for the encouragement and advice I received in connection with the research. I have benefited from conversations with Basudeb Chattopadhyay, Bhaskar Chakraborti, and Suranjan Das. Fr. Boghos Levon Zekiyan has been a source of inspiration. The paper was presented in a different form to the International Institute of Asian Studies Workshop on ‘Country Trade and Empire in the Arabian Seas, 17th-18th century’, Leiden, 9-10 October 2003. Shushanik Khachikian, Ina Baghdiantz-Mccabe and Sebouh Aslanian have helped in solving many puzzles. I would like to thank them Rene Barendse and René Bekius and the two anonymous experts of this journal for their comments on the paper.
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2005 Also available online – www.brill.nl JESHO 48,2

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The lively description of Oriental commerce and the profit accruing from it has enriched the genre of travel literature perhaps since the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea. In the aftermath of the discovery of the direct sea-route to the Indian Ocean, traffic in the region increased from the sixteenth century onwards. An increasing wealth of information on the port-to-port trade in Asia flooded in, inviting more and more adventurers seeking the blessings of Mammon in the wild waters of the East. Though it is not possible to pinpoint exactly when Armenians, specialised in the overland trade between Eurasia and Europe, entered the circuit of intra-Asian trade,1 European documents from the sixteenth century onwards mention the Armenians as actively participating in—in addition to the Europe trade—various branches of inter-Asian trade, better known as ‘country trade.’ By the seventeenth century, Armenians were well established in all important centres of trade in Europe and Asia. As merchants buying and selling in the same markets and trading in the same commodities, Europeans in the capacity of the East India Companies and private merchants were their competitors. The contempt often expressed in European travel accounts against Armenian merchants as an ubiquitous evil reflects the underlying concern of rivals in the same trade.2 Yet, as part of the pluralistic society of merchants (among people of other professions) that characterised the Asian market towns and ports in the early modern period, they shared the same lot. When the Portuguese arrived in the East in the sixteenth century, the other factor they shared with the Armenians was faith: Christianity. All this makes it interesting to see how Armenians and Europeans interacted with each other in Asian waters. In her recent study on the role of the Armenian merchants of Julfa in Persia and India, Baghdiantz Mccabe has suggested that in Persia, where a large number of Armenians were to be found outside of Armenia, Armenians did not co-operate with the Europeans. She does admit, that Armenians in India operating in individual capacity co-operated with the English in the eighteenth century, but adds that

Mesrovb Seth noted that already in the early part of the Christian era the Armenians had a settlement in Benares. Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day, London, 1897, 22. A recent work maintains that Armenians were engaged in maritime trade with India since the beginning of the sixteenth century. See V. Baibourtian, International Trade and the Armenian Merchants in the Seventeenth Century (Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 2004): 198. 2 See e.g. Tavernier, ‘wherever the Armenians see that money is to be made they have no scruple about supplying materials for the purposes of idolatry. . . .’, Tavernier’s Travels in India, Tr. from French by V. Ball, 2 vols. London, 1889, vol. 1, 261; cf. ‘a people in themselves despicable. . . . [the Armenians] are likewise educated in all the servilities of Asia, and understanding how to accommodate themselves to indignities, which the genius of a free nation will hardly submit to. . . .’ J. Hanway, An Historical account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea, 4 vols. (London: 1753), vol. 2: 31.

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until the English gained political power after the conquest of Bengal, ‘Armenian associations were with Indian merchants and nawabs’.3 This essay will try to trace the relationship between Armenians and Europeans in India from the sixteenth century till the late eighteenth century. Armenians were already present in India in the sixteenth century as traders, and it is not entirely impossible that a few religious personalities travelled over land to India. The arrival of the Europeans opened up new possibilities for the Armenians in India. With their unique position as one of the few Asian communities able to link up the European and Asian worlds of trade through a community based network that promoted both trade and intelligence, Armenians used these possibilities to maximize their profit. ORGANIZING THE TRADE Before delving into the actual relationship, an attempt will be made first to briefly compare the conditions under which Armenians and Europeans operated in India. Baghdiantz Mccabe has maintained that the Armenian merchants of New Julfa were member-participants in a company of merchants that ran along the pattern represented by the European East India Companies. The richest merchants of Julfa were the directors of this company. They invested capital at home and ruled the commercial affairs of fellow Armenians abroad by taking responsibility for their unpaid debts, and by pronouncing judgement in litigations.4 Since most of the Armenian merchants in India—at least for the greater part of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as we shall see below—were either representatives or partners, or both, of Armenian merchants based in Persia, it would be interesting to see if the organization of trade by Armenians in the former country reflected the same in the latter. There is a plethora of literature on the East India Companies, representing a form of trading organisation with certain characteristics quite unique in the seventeenth century. Niels Steensgaard in particular contrasted the company presence in the seventeenth century as a ‘productive enterprise’ with the Portuguese enterprise in the sixteenth century, which he termed as violent and ‘redistributive’.5 It is not my intention here to go into the details of how the East India
3 Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe, Shah’s silk for Europe’s silver: the Eurasian Trade of the Julfa Armenians in Safavid Iran and India, 1530-1750 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999), 344-45. 4 Ibid., ch. VIII, esp. 244-245. 5 Niels Steensgaard, ‘The Dutch East India Company as an institutional innovation’, in Dutch Capitalism and World Capitalism, ed. M. Aymard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 235-57; also his Asian Trade Revolution in the Seventeenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), passim.

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Companies were organized or how they functioned. I shall only point to the major characteristics of the company trade and those of the Armenian trade. Historians have written at length on the dual nature of the Companies; they enjoyed certain semi-sovereign rights abroad and a national monopoly at home delegated to them as a corporation by the government.6 The charter granted by Queen Elizabeth secured for the English East India Company exclusive privileges of trade with the countries beyond the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan for fifteen years.7 It has been suggested that the Companies were the first forms of the multi-national corporations we see today. Though a large part of the Company’s capital came from the investment made by merchants who were directly engaged in selling the commodities at home or re-exporting to other countries, a number of private citizens also delegated to the Company the right to dispose of parts of their property.8 The bulk of the working capital of the English East India Company for example, consisted of capital borrowed in London on short-term through the issue of quarterly and half-yearly bonds at fixed rates of interest. As a joint stock company trading with both equity and debenture type capital, the Companies represented a category of business organization in which management of capital was partially separated from its ownership. With their elaborate procedure of government reflected in the bureaucratic apparatus including the courts of law, the Companies were like a state within the state.9 By the beginning of the eighteenth century, whether it was Batavia, Madras or Calcutta, the semi-sovereign character of the European settlements yielding some revenue was clear. The privileges obtained from local sovereigns gave their trade a special status unknown to Asian merchants. The other feature that distinguished European trade from the existing pattern of trade in the Indian Ocean was the attempt to monopolize trade in certain commodities and over several routes. Although royal monopolies were not previously unknown, the way the Portuguese claimed their monopoly on pepper and the Dutch on spices, was new. An attempt was made to enforce this monopoly by the use of force. So, political power went side by side with armed

6 Niels Steensgaard, ‘The Companies as a specific institution in the history of European expansion’ in Companies and Trade: Essays on Overseas Trading Companies during the Ancien Régime, ed. L. Blussé and F. S. Gaastra (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 1981): 245264. According to Steensgaard the companies, with their new form of organization, revolutionized the trade in Asia. See his Asian Trade Revolution. 7 K. N. Chaudhuri, The English East India Company: the study of an early Joint-Stock Company, 1600-1640, London, (London: Cass, 1965): 28. In the case of the Dutch Verenigde Oost Indische Compagnie (henceforth V.O.C.) this monopoly was for 21 years. 8 Niels Steensgaard, ‘The Companies as a specific institution. . . .’, 247. 9 K. N. Chaudhuri, The English East India Company . . . ch. 2.

Though the Mughal historian Khafi Khan praised the Portuguese for leaving shipping in the Indian Ocean at peace (provided the latter bought the pass or cartaz). Gaastra ed.13 Baghdiantz Mccabe herself offers an excellent account of the career of Marcara. Not only were the Companies able to extract special privileges from the sovereigns. 12 The Armenian Trade of New Julfa and its commercial-economic ties with Russia during the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries. Calmard. (London.10 It should be remembered that armed trade was. Competitive trading in the markets of Europe combined with a fortified territorial presence in Asia provided the East India Companies with a sense of purpose and institutional cohesion. D. the best analysis of the organization and structure of Armenian trade is to be found in the works of Shushanik Khachikian. 1: 3-5. Thesis. Chaudhuri. it was precisely that nation that started using force systematically against Asian shipping. 13 The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. Oxford. 2: 58. With notes and an historical introd. also Robert Orme. In his letters to the Armenian merchant Khoja Wajid. who. after all. Edmund Herzig has made an important contribution toward the understanding of the commercial organisation of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa in his thesis and articles.14 Neither K. 14 ‘Armenian merchants in the Textile Trade in the 17th and 18th centuries: a Global Enterprise’ (unpublished) paper presented at the Conference ‘Carpets and textiles in the 10 . the nawab mentioned that the Armenians. (Paris Teheran: Institut Français de recherche en Iran. 1500-1800 281 force. 1991. S. 1775-77) vol. 29-46. 1988 (in Armenian). also foreigners in Bengal. had not built any fort and traded under the protection of the Mughal government. one of the main reasons for dispute between Siraj-uddaula. Hill. Rene Bekius’s research on the textile trade of the Armenians touches upon their trade in Persia. 1993). (henceforth Military Transactions) 2 vols. 1905) vol. in her study on the Julfa Armenians in Russia. 11 Bengal in 1756-57. (London: John Murray. A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan. L. N. A selection of public and private papers dealing with the affairs of the British in Bengal during the reign of Siraj-uddaula ed. 287-303. shows that Armenians did not have European type companies. All of the independent territorial bases the Europeans possessed in Asia were fortified. Phil. C. the nawab of Bengal and the English in the middle of the eighteenth century. This legacy was continued by the East India Companies. the privileges were backed up by the threat of the use of force. ed. Yerevan. Edmund Herzig (see note below) and Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe refer to her work in detail. J. By S. in Etudes Safavides. also ‘The family firm in the commercial organisation of the Julfa Armenians’. Isfahan: a Study in Pre-Modern Asian Trade.12 In addition. 3 vols. 2003.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 21 September. and F. Companies and Trade. I have communicated with Khachikian who kindly confirmed her position through e-mail. ‘The Engish East India Company in the 17th and 18th centuries: a pre-modern Multi-national Organization’ in Blussé. Why should the Europeans—the English in particular—insist on fortifications?11 So far.

Herzig. 1999). . P. Baibourtian. 16 On the deportation of the Armenians see E. though Baghdiantz Mccabe has suggested that there was a company of Armenian merchants in New Julfa directing the Armenian commerce worldwide. an Armenian merchant was more like himself than the western European who could point to his company. . stop the Armenians from referring to. she has not given any evidence and has drawn on the work of Khachikian who does not claim there was an East India Company type association of the Julfa Armenians. Armenian merchants were not backed by any national monopoly that would empower them to represent Persia in India. 2003. Shah’s silk. revenue and information. 1600-1730 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. the factory and the fort belonging to his nation and use these symbols either as carrot or as stick as the situation would permit. 203. . No one could. 17 R.282 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Herzig nor Bekius subcribes to the thesis that Julfa Armenians conducted trade as a centrally organized company. pp. International Trade . ‘The deportation of the Armenians in 1604-1605 and Europe’s myth of Shah Abbas 1. for the Indian merchant at an Indian port. . 30-31 August. Consequently. 73-74. V. . See David Marshall Lang. Secondly..17 But that notwithstanding. 18 Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe. The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver. In India they traded at the market places and ports side by side with the Indians. Ashmolean Museum. for example. Matthee. and were dependent on the favours they received from the Mughals in Delhi and their representatives in the provinces. Most of the Armenians trading in India were from Persia. to settle them in the outskirts of Isfahan. (1990). who was aware of the expertise of the Armenians in trans-continental commerce. Persians and Turks among others. 1400-1700’. and using their connections back in Persia and Europe.18 Iranian World. The Armenians: A People in Exile (London: Allen & Unwin.16 It was a conscious attempt on the part of Shah Abbas. This connection. including knowledge of Persian. however. often gave them an edge over others in that they had easy access to the Mughal court. organised by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Iran Heritage Foundation. Oxford. Mathee and Baibourtian have pointed to the symbiotic relationship between the Safavid state and the Armenian merchants of Iran—a relationship in which the court granted those merchants a favoured status in return for certain commodities. During the following two centuries the Armenians would traverse the Indian Ocean and sail up to the coast of China.15 The Safavi Emperor Shah Abbas deported a large number of Armenians to New Julfa from the commercial town in Armenia bearing the same name in the early years of the seventeenth century. 1981): 81. . M. 59-71. Jews. 15 Armenians lived in Persia since pre-Christian times.’ Pembroke Papers 1. where they had long been living.

the Ahmedabad industrialist Kasturbhai Lalbhai created companies for his nephews.21 In the seventeenth century. S. Burton Stein and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. for example. being nine years travels. 1500-1800. . 285-305. and by being factors of their own kindred’s honesty. See S. John Fryer left a description of the trading method of the Armenians: The Armenians being skilled in all the intricacies of trade at home. in Commerce and culture in the Bay of Bengal.23 However. 1982): 150. the eldest son Mukesh Ambani took over the charge of the business. Civilization and Capitalism. if the family firm provided the basics of the business organization. F. 20 19 . in Institutions and Economic Change in South Asia. 1999). whose money they adventure upon. Baghdiantz Mccabe. has shown that family firms with extended patriarchal household as the basis of business organization were a major organ of this trade. 1986 passim and B. M. there seems to have been no European-type chartered joint-stock Armenian company. edited with notes and an introd. The Tamil Muslim merchants of the Coromandel coast known as Marakkayars organised their trade on the basis of extended kinship. Braudel. often family members.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. . . 237-248. Herzig. vol. Reynolds.24 E. Herzig. The Wheels of Commerce.20 Baghdiantz Mccabe herself admits that family was the basic unit and the preferred system of Armenian merchant associations. ed. Delhi. 24 A New Account of East India. (London: Harper & Row. ed. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel in the eighteenth century: a case for continuity’. companies and commerce on the Coromandel coast. 23 After the demise of Dhirubhai Ambani of the Reliance Industries recently. O. Trans. and on return. (London: the Hakluyt Society. 2. Bhattacharya. 3 vols. Arasaratnam. Cf. Merchants. 249. 190915). and travelling with these into the remotest kingdoms. see Claude Markovits. 1650-1740. ‘The Tata paradox’. the other system that was part and parcel of the development of the long distance financial and trading networks of the Armenians was the sending out of factors or agents. Prakash and D. Shah’s silk . 1672-1681. by William Crooke. 21 Shah’s silk: 245-250. . Lombard (Delhi: Manohar. A description of this system was also provided by Fryer: they [the Armenians] enter the theatre of commerce by means of some benefactor. ‘The family firm’ also. . 1996). the wealthiest men. 22 A New Account of East India and Persia.22 This is the organizing principle still followed in many modern Indian industrial firms. become by their own industry. 1500-1800 283 So far as Armenian trade in India and the Indian Ocean was concerned. 249. Braudel noted that the family offered the most natural and sought after solution for commercial networks. a quarter part of the gain is their own: from such beginnings do they raise sometimes great fortunes for themselves and Masters.19 Organizing commerce on the basis of family connections has been common in pre-modern societies in Europe and Asia.

George amply testify to the existence of the system until the end of the eighteenth century. and Margaret Makepeace ed. He had three sons: Hovannes. Gregory.D. Antony’s College. where the whole capital was provided by the investor (sleeping partner) and active partner or agent invested the labour. ‘De’ or ‘di’ in Armenian names are abbreviation of the word ‘vordi’ meaning son. 2000). 237. ibid. Khoja Avetik of Isfahan. and Avetik. In Amsterdam. in this sense. ‘The ledger of the Merchant Hovannes Joughayetsi’. known as Avetik di Petros. referred to as ‘master’ in the will was most probably the father of Zachary de Avetik. 3. Zachary must have been well established in the trade to Europe. 146. . loan. September 21. 1991. Bekius. Papazian. The shah-gumastha partnership existing among the Sindhi merchants of Shikarpur. he seems to have had transactions with Sarhad. Armenian merchants of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: English East India Company sources. 182. 5. was a variant of this system. Ph. It is also possible that our Avetik was another person. The Global World of Indian Merchants. By the time he came to Madras. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. This ledger book has been edited in Armenian recently by L. and in few cases. and Aga Piri as the son of Khoja Panous. e-mail. means Zachary the son of Avetik. These were commenda partnership. commission agency and representation. Khoja Zachary di Avetik of Isfahan came to Madras from Amsterdam in 1714. ch. 3 offers a detailed account of the different kinds of partnership known among the Armenians and how these worked. under which a small group of sahukars and sarrafs controlled financial and commercial transactions over a vast area encompassing Khorassan and Turkestan. no. 153-86. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade’.26 A classic account of this system as it existed among the Armenians was left by Hovannes of Julfa in the pages of his ledger book. The commenda contracts were basically of two types: unilateral. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. 1998) (henceforth Armenian Merchants). This volume offers a unique collection of documents on Armenian merchants and their relationship with the English East India Company. 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama.284 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA This kind of partnership was prevalent among different merchant communities of South Asia in different forms. 28 Shushanik Khachikian suggested that Khoja Avetik. I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for this clarification. where a part of the capital invested came from the active partner. University of Oxford. operating in Amsterdam in the late 1690s. his wife Azis was in Isfahan. Isfahan: a study in pre-modern Asian trade. Journal of the Asiatic Society. 27 L. true partnership. thesis. (1966). 2003. 8. 26 Edmund Herzig. 175. Khachikian and H. no.28 At the time Zachary wrote his will. For reference to Khoja Avetik Kalantar as brother of Aga Piri see See Vahe Baladouni. the English records of the Fort St. and bilateral. Khachikian. For Avetik di Petros see R. employment. ch. One of the principal merchants Zachary represented was his father. a merchant from New Julfa who 25 Claude Markovitz. incorporating features of partnership.25 The most popular type of partnership prevalent among the Armenians of New Julfa was the commenda contract. St. nos. Zachary di Avetik.27 Though such detailed accounts are available mostly in Armenian documents. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Armenian Merchants .30 He was one of those merchants who travelled between different places in Europe. 1718: 56. Tamil Nadu Archives. 241. . 23 September. Isfahan. .C. He was related to Khoja Zachary and replaced him as the Armenian alderman when Zachary left for Pegu. The family tree of Khoja Minasean family p. 1719: 177. He had four other accounts running—two of these were partnership accounts between himself. . no. Issa Cooly was noted by the Dutch at Surat as a person friendly with the Mughal official Salabat Khan. One of these accounts 29 Shushanik Khachikian informed the author that the Armenian Sarhad trading in Russia had transactions with a Zachar. when he visited India. 30 Armenian Merchants. one worth 150 tomands on Zachary di Avetik in India and the other of similar value on [?his son] Khoja Avetik in Europe. In 1718 he replaced Khoja Simon as the Armenian alderman of the Madras municipality and was known to have owned the ships Bon Voyage and Silliman. Diary and Consultation Book. among other places. he had three other large accounts with Gregory de Agazar. (film 1035) f. dated 10 September. Armenian Merchants.O. like Zachary himself.32 In lieu of a factorage bond worth 300 tomands.). sailing to Pegu. Zachary traded on multiple accounts. documents 241. Similarly. 249.1599v. Apart from the account together with his master Khoja Avetik. henceforth ‘the last will of Zachary’. who were also. he had a partnership account with Macartoon Yanhoopa (the second part does not resemble Armenian names). Siraz. 34 English East India Company sources refer to one Persia de Marketon freighting goods on the company ships.33 Since 1714. Zachary does not mention Tarkhan as his master but mentions that the latter. 2004. his master [in Isfahan] issued two bills of exchange. handed Gregory (son of Zachery) a full discharge for 300 tomands. V. 1409. 231. 169. vol.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.29 Already in 1697 we find Zachary shipping glass-ware and broad cloth on English Company ships. Magan di Aga Piri was a son of Aga Piri Kalantar of Surat and Madras (see more on him below).31 He represented at least another merchant of Isfahan. 2003 and 1 February. factors of other principal merchants. 171 and 1719: 93 and 120. the Hague (henceforth N. Probates. Gombroon. The Armenian Merchants.A. 451. 253. See RFSG.34 Zachary seems to have had an agent called Beethan in Gombroon. who was however. 31 Records of Fort St. Madras and Pegu. not known as a ‘khoja’. nos. (henceforth TNA). Records of the Mayor’s Court. Diary and Consultation Book. Copy of Wills. etc. Khoja Zachary and the latter’s master [?Khoja Avetik]. 141. E-mails to the author. 1: The Last Will and Testament of Zachary De Avateek. Zachary had two more accounts with the prominent Bengal/Madras merchant Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. 33 It is very much likely that this Issa Gully was the same person as the Armenian Issa Coolly/Coollyan at the Mughal court. 1500-1800 285 traded with Russia and Holland. George (henceforth RFSG). 1736. Dag Register Surat. Ma[natsa]gan di Aga Piri and Issa Gully di Avateek Shaudullah. see Nationaal Archief. 32 Was he a grandson of Khoja Minas? See Edmund Herzig. 14 June 1685. another factor of Khoja Avetik. Khoja Tarkon [?Tarkhan]. his masters [not named] and Avid de Zeany and two other between Macartoon Yanhoopa.

a son of Aga Piri (son of Khoja Panous)39 and was member of a family firm consisting of three generations operating simultaneously from different parts of the globe. Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day—a work of Original Research (Delhi: Oxford etc. as the latter possessed a ‘factorage’ bond worth Rs. Though the term ‘Calandar’. R. 146. Khoja Sarkies di Agavelly and Khoja Gregory of Fort St. 74. 77) and one with the title kalantar (documents 153. For a lively discussion on the agreement see M. All further references to this work are from this edition. 188-89 and passim)—though indexed together under one name ‘Coja Aveatick Calendar’ p. ‘The agreement of the EIC with the Armenian Nation’. documents 261 and 262 for example. 37 Armenian Merchants. 39 Aga Piri was active in Surat during the 1690s. 1937). of indigo was purchased by De Keyser at Agra through the broker Aga Piri for f. 38 Ibid. no. 179. 112 for the text of this agreement.35 Was Zachary’s father (Avetik) a son of the famous Armenian Khoja Panous Kalantar. 231-44. ed. 24. refers to two Avetiks—one without (documents 62. He was a ‘well known’ Armenian inhabitant of Surat and broker for the Dutch East India Company. He was part of a wide-ranging network of commercial transactions in which the interests of his principals (including his father). his own interests as well as those of his sons were intertwined in an extremely intricate cris-cross pattern of partnership. 183. the English expected Aga Piri or some other member of the family to go to London in order to look after his business. seems to have acted as factor of Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. together with his sons. George. no. Seth. Generale Missiven v. alternately ‘Calendar’.38 Zachary had a partnership contract with Ma[natsa]gan. See Armenian Merchants. no. Later he became the Armenian Alderman of the Mayor’s Court at Fort St. 281.000 in the name of Zachary and his sons. Armenian Merchants.5 1686-97.286 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA was part of Zachary’s account with his masters [not named]. it referred to kalantar (alderman or mayor). Also.. When his father was returning from London to Julfa in 1692. In another case in 1732. In 1688 he signed a contract with the directors of the English East India Company in London on behalf of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. it is evident that the widespread network of transactions Zachary mentioned in his will was facilitated by the connections established over more than one generation. 36 35 . Ph. 264. George had Khoja Simon as ‘The last will of Zachary’. Ferrier.37 Moreover. it appears that the number of Armenian families involved in the Euro-Asian trade in the Company’s bottoms at the end of the seventeenth century was limited. 1975): 770.. the very influential merchant of New Julfa and London in the second half of the seventeenth century?36 Though there is no direct evidence connecting the two Avetiks. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. or ‘Callenter’ is treated in European records as surname.79662. In the other account Zachary. J. W. Armenian Merchants. 52250 lb. a city official appointed by central government in Iran. the will does not specify the type of partnerships Zachary had with all these different partners. Unfortunately. Aga Piri settled in Madras somewhere at the turn of the century. their other factors.

Old Will no. On his arrival at Madras in September 1740.40 Again. Khoja Simon acted as the Pegu agent of other Armenians and sailed as nakhuda on ships sailing between Madras and Pegu.41 In a distinct case of commenda partnership. Aveat signed a ‘factorage bond’ with the said firm valid for five years and set out for Pegu with a sum of Pagodas 2. Khoja Thaddeus Aga Piri & co. At Pegu he worked together with one Petrus. During his stay in Pegu. 40 RFSG. 8-9. . ‘Principal sum’ advanced by the Aga Piri brothers to be employed in their interest. when he set out from Isfahan in May 1740. Brothers. in the wills and testaments of Armenian merchants suggests that the organization of Armenian trade was left to individual initiatives.42 The references we come across to Armenian trade in Persia and India. and the informal networks formed by the representatives of these formal companies in their private capacity were crucial for country trade. This was.000. 1737. The reliance on the ethno-religious community provided the Armenians of New Julfa with a network that spanned at least half the globe. 18. as defined by Markovits. however. The last will and testament of Coja Catchick Cojamaul deceased. Upon accepting the ‘factorship’. The Companies with their modern structure co-existed with this pre-modern structure of trade. Partnership among these individuals in different capacities was indeed a salient feature of this trade. and here the profit was to be equally divided between the two partners. whose structure. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court 1731-32. a merchant firm of Fort St. 224.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Khojamal was employed by the famous Khoja Petrus Woskan who advanced him Rs. Khojamal particularly mentioned in his testament that the two accounts were entirely separate and should not be mixed up. Aveat received several consignments from the Aga Piri brothers amounting to more than Pagodas 17. 42 Calcutta High Court. far from the formal superstructure represented by the East India Companies. 43 There were of course informal connections behind this formal structure of the companies. based on personal networks of extended kinship and the pursuit of similar goals. 220 parts together with the principal sum would go to Khoja Nazar while 100 part of the profit would be Khojamal’s. 41 RFSG. 17 November. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court. received from Khoja Nazar di Abid Aga the sum of 320 tomands on the condition that out of the profit made.750. size and scale made the nature of commercial operations impersonal. 1500-1800 287 their ‘factor’ in Pegu. but the basic differences are clear. He had another account with his nephew Marcar di Sattoor.43 Armenian merchants in the Indian Ocean were rather like the multitude of other Asian merchants engaged in networks of private trade. Khoja Cachick Khojamal. 75. 1755.000. George appointed Khoja Aveat their factor at Pegu. The network of the Armenian merchants indeed reflected a structure.

George Council to discharge that debt fully. with many Persian loan words) was the medium of all commercial transactions. But to their dismay. a parcel containing cash or a few precious stones. When the separate stock ship Windsor arrived in Madras in 1713. One is struck by the continuous circulation of even the leading members of the community. there was no possibility of disclosure of a confendential information. that the council of Fort St. 46 S. a few bales of cloth— was bound to reach the destination. The merchants of Masulipatnam must have sought assistance of Armenians in soliciting the Company’s favour in London. It must have been Aga Piri who referred the case to Babur. Bombay. In addition to caravans. 25. 2. information and human resources. Aga Piri Kalantar. The letter acquainted him.3. or representatives of agents. or both. Hill. George had been directed to satisfy the merchants’ demands on the New Company as far as these were just. vol. 1712. by order of the Court of Directors. rumour had it that the Armenians had received advice that the directors of the Company had ordered the Fort St. George wanted to buy up the new company’s debt to Masulipatnam merchants amounting to Pagodas 80. a copy of a contract. 144. the consignment—no matter if it contained an important message related to business or family. We have noted the case of Zachary above. a couple of bills of exchange or promissory notes. It is not known exactly when he Claude Markovitz. Through a multitude of partners and agents.288 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA facilitating a continuous circulation of capital. then residing in Madras. Bengal in 1756-57. As the Julfa dialect (Armenian. 45 44 . 262. or leaving an Asian port for a destination in Europe could be used for sending agents. In 1711 the governor and council of Fort St. nos. 261. and Manila. or even the kin of acquaintances working at different levels. Madras and Calcutta in particular—seem to have come up as places where Armenian capital was concentrated. produced an original letter to Khoja Babur di Sultan [Piri’s agent in London] dated January 29. pattamars or messengers were used for sending messages overland. no. Initially the council did not take notice of this rumour. Despatches to England. Khoja Petrus Woscan left New Julfa at for Madras in 1705 when he was about twenty-five years of age. The Global World of Indian Merchants.000.46 From the seventeenth century onwards centres in India—Surat. 1711-14.45 The news of the Anglo-French War starting in Europe in 1756 reached the Armenian Khoja Wajid in Bengal through his kothi in Surat. in some or other way related to the community. Wealthy Armenian merchants of such ports had agents at places like Pegu. See Armenian Merchants. or consignments. 133. who got the order issued. Khoja Babur di Sultan seems to have functioned as the London agent of other Armenians too. C. credit. RFSG. v. goods. after the arrival of the ship King William.44 Almost any ship sailing between two ports in Asia.

both overland and overseas trade connected India with the world outside. Even before the rise of Islam that led to the expansion of commerce along the Indian Ocean littoral. Prior to the seventeenth century. he travelled frequently between Madras. It is clear from his testament that the beginnings of his fortunes were made in Manila. F. ff. he would take care of the commercial transactions of his compatriots in Pegu. but recovered his ancestral property in that town. from the original Turkish text by Annette Susannah Beveridge (rep. He never went back to New Julfa. Uzbek Turan. 1994). 7-13. Arabs. The flexible and unassuming character of the members of their network.47 Armenian aldermen of Madras often left for Pegu. . vol. ARMENIANS AND THE MILIEU OF THE INDIAN TRADING WORLD As noted above.48 At least since the close of the sixteenth century onwards. the last will of Petrus Uscan). Masulipatnam and Pondicherry in connection with his trade and was kept informed about the transactions of his agents through other itinerant members of the community. Calicut. probates etc. Dale. Pulicat. and Mughal India provided a broadly similar commercial and liguistic environment. the Arabian Seas especially provided the major thoroughfare in transcontinental commerce. the founder of the Mughal empire already noted the importance of Kabul and Kandahar in the overland route to India. He came back to Coromandel in 1722 when he settled down permanently at Madras. Babur. Armenians coming to India seem to have used the overland route to a greater extent than the overseas route. 1970): 202. Copies of wills. See my work on the Armenian merchants of Madras (under preparation). While ports like Cambay. offered Armenians the potential to exploit the existing and newly opened channels of commerce and communication to the maximum. Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade. 1600-1750 (First Indian edition. 49 S. 5. in addition and to the overland route. While someone else from his family or community would take over the absentee’s duties. Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint. Syrian Christians and Persians had traded and settled at Indian ports. 1500-1800 289 sailed for Manila where he spent about twenty years. Cochin and Quilon housed merchants of international communities. 48 Babur-Nama: (Memoirs of Babur). that had been mortgaged to others. willing to take up almost any role that suited the occasion. tr. Safavid Iran.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Though the overseas transactions of his network stretching from Constantinople to Manila were made mostly through his agents and their partners.212-311: the last will and testament of Coja Petrus Uscan (henceforth. Mangalore. with Persian as the most widely used language for administrative and cultural purposes. Records of the Mayor’s Court. since very ancient times. no doubt in connection with their business.49 In the 47 TNA.

that in the pre-Mughal period. the major route from Kabul to Agra underwent few modifications since the close of the sixteenth century. 1: The Beginnings to A. and Sind on the west to Assam and Bengal in the east. vol. Akbar and the Jesuits. Turkish. ed. 1984-85). Persian. P. Transport and Communications in India prior to Steam Locomotion. Levi. tr. 158.1. The Global World of Indian Merchants and Scott C. S. could easily take as long as six months. 1550-1900 (Leiden: Brill. Multan.. See his ‘Armenians in India’ especially 15-21.54 Moreover. it would take a few years to accumulate some profit from all the accounts. which usually took two months.50 Except for short segments. Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. most of the Armenians coming to India were travelling merchants who came here for business and returned to their own country each year. tr. 384. H. Khojamall’s account is not reliable. ‘Two Armenian graffities from Ziârat. Pakistan’. An account of the Jesuit Missions to the Court of Akbar. Grover. however.51 Indian rural economy. J. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Markovitz. It has been suggested. Russell. From the French by James Walker. Armenian. 34. 51 Jean Deloche. it seems unlikely that one year was enough to travel all the way from Eurasia or western Asia—wherever these merchants came from—to carry out such business and return. R. 52 B. The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade. attracting commodities from far and near brought by merchants of all the nationalities mentioned above. testifying to relatively stable urban setting. 2 vols. Bukhara. 53 S. The Arabian Seas. with introduction and notes by C. 11001700. a journey from Goa to Lahore via Daman and Cambay (up to Cambay by ship). 471-75.290 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA same way as Indian Sindhi firms and Hindu merchants operating in this route spread to Kandahar. Payne (London: Routledge & Sons. as many of these itinerant traders traded in multiple (relatively small) accounts. Seth. 2 vols. Neill. J. A History of Christianity in India. Neill’s information here is based on the account left by the eighteenth century Armenian merchant-cum-historian Thomas Khojamall. 54 A journey from Surat to Agra took 86 days. du Jarric. Barendse. According to M. XVI. Lahore was a principal commercial centre of India. 2002). 1994): 219-255.53 But considering the distance and the nature of the overland or caravan trade.52 In the early seventeenth century. 1707. with its commercial production. Delhi. v. Revue Etude Armeninnes (1988-89). connected through road and river routes. and other merchants followed this caravan route to different market and production centres in north and northwest India. 1993-94. The description provided by the ledger book of Khoja Hovannes in the late seventeenth century can again be taken as examplary: one set out on a journey that covered several years during which the traveller-cum-trader invested his master’s 50 For the Sindhi diaspora see C. Isfahan and beyond. D. for Armenians taking this route see J. See R. 1926): 52-59. was very much geared to an integrated pattern of trade through networks of mandis and qasbas stretching from Lahore. . ‘An Integrated Pattern of Commercial Life in the Rural Society of North India during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’ in Money and Market in India.

58 Pires accompanied both the first and the third Jesuit missions to the Mughal court as interpreter. 1944). Thome in 1517.56 At Pulicat.57 Akbar’s farman to the Jesuit Provincial at Goa asking the latter to send him learned priests capable of informing the emperor about Christianity was carried by the ambassador Abdallah and Dominic or Domingo Pires. that Diogo Fernandes and Bastião Fernandes made the pilgrimage to the house of the Apostle St. 59 E. A.59 Though it is not clear if Akbar met the parents of Mirza Zu’lqarnain. 58 M. Maclagan. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 24. and Turks. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne. Armenians were elsewhere in India and also engaged in the overseas trade to Southeast Asia. In the end.2:268-69. among other Armenians. 52-1542 (Bombay: Manaktalas. vol. carried goods from one place to another for sale and noted the demand for new ones. the ones lucky enough to survive the odds of the weather and the roads. made new acquaintances and renewed the old ones. vol. Seth suggested that this Portuguese name was perhaps assumed by the person for strategic purposes. 56 G. an Armenian Christian. 1500-1800 291 (partner)s as well as his own capital. Thomas at St. . A History of Christianity: 466 fn. who come from Armenia. See E. The Suma Oriental. Moraes. together with Arabs. because with the people of this country. Neill. and to make enough profit to settle the accounts with the master. 55 Tome Pires. no one can succeed but these bishops. Thomas in Coromandel gave hearing to none except their bishops. A History of Christianity in India . Moraes was not sure if these Christians were Armenians or Syrians. Armenians were to be found at different places in India and at least a few Armenian settlements seem to have been there. S. J. M. Francis Xavier.55 In the course of the sixteenth century. It was at the invitation of Coja Escandel (?Iskandar). vol. 41. Portuguese merchants coming from Melaka stayed with Armenian Christians. Maclagan.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 57 A. 1932): 271 and S. sailing from Cambay as part of the four Gujarati ships annually leaving that port for Melaka where many of them stayed back. Neill. A History of Christianity in India: from Early Times to St. went back. (London: the Hakluyt Society. 1: From the Beginning up to the middle of the Sixteenth century (up to 1542) (Bangalore: Theological Publications in India. During the intermittent period the trader had to live at different places along the route. the Christians of St. 1964): 226. Mathias Mundadan. 1: 170. Parsees. v. but it is possible that the Christian priests the Portuguese came across in Coromandel were Syrians.D. 1984): 407. History of Christianity in India. . 196. 39. 2 vols. At the beginning of the sixteenth century we find Armenians. 1:46. It is true that early Portuguese sources referred to all Eastern Christians as Armenians. Portuguese missionaries in the early sixteenth century noted that in matters of faith. .

R. and that the stone was not in situ. Surat (by 1579) and Calcutta (by 1630).61 Though we have such accounts of Armenians in different parts of the country in the sixteenth century.292 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the well-known Armenian Catholic with close contact with the Jesuit fathers at Agra or somewhere in Kashmir. Armenians in India: 102-7. 1: 137. 64 C. (henceforth Early Annals of the English in Bengal) 3 vols. See his Armenians in India: 110. see below. 62 Robert. it is clear that they were living in (Mughal) India where both Zu’lqarnain and his brother were born. J. a hypothesis based on the discovery of the tombstone of Reza Bibi dated July 11. they were based mainly at Chinsura. Maclagan. Except for two tombstones from 1557 and 1560. Hewsen bases himself on Mesrobv Seth’s work. 2001). E. Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia. 1603-1721 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. See Early Annals of the English in Bengal: being the Bengal Public Consultations for the first half of the 18th century. 4. About Seth’s position that no Armenian women came to India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.62 At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jesuit Fr. who remained with Goes till the end. 63 E. T. On pp. It is more likely that if Armenians were there in Bengal in the early 17th century. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 213-215. Hewsen. (London: W.60 The brief account of the merchant pilgrim Khwaja Martyrose in Seth’s work reminds us of a Sufi saint. Calcutta became an important centre of commerce in the 18th century following the foundation of the English settlement there in 1690.g. 1630 in the churchyard of the Holy Church of Nazareth (Calcutta). 1895-1919). and not in Calcutta. Jerome Xavier from Lahore in 1603 was accompanied by the Armenian Isaac. difficult to accept Hewsen’s position that there were large settlements of Armenians already at Agra (by 1562). As regards the possibility of a large Armenian colony in Calcutta by 1630. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271. who had a close contact with Armenians. 160). Seth. According to the account of Khojamall. Maclagan. Akbar had allowed an Armenian church to be built in Agra as early as 1562. whom Seth elsewhere dismissed as untrustworthy. vol. Calcutta in the 17th Century (Calcutta: Firma KLM. Seth’s assumption that a large number of Armenians had flocked to Agra during the reign of Akbar was not corroborated by any historical source. Armenians living in India were See below for more on Mirza Zu’lqarnain.64 At this stage of settlement. small town and city) but refer to the size of the community on the map (p. it is. the Armenian had breathed his last near Lahore. 61 60 . Emmanuel Pinheiro at Lahore came across the books and a copy of the Gospels being carried by an Armenian merchant from Jerusalem for the Emperor Akbar. however. As far as South Asia is concerned. Thacker. Hewsen’s atlas is a bit confusing because the symbols explained on p. 1924): 1-42. He suggested that the stone was probably brought to Calcutta from somewhere else at a later date. 22-23 he gives the names of seven Armenian priests who died at Agra between 1614 and 1675. Travelling overland from Ormuz. village. H. Armenia: A Historical Atlas (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Wilson already dismissed it on the ground that the tombstone in question was an isolated instance. 1986): 443-46. also P. do not mention any Armenian church in Agra. Nair.63 The mission of the lay brother Benedict Goes to China sent by Fr. xvii point to the size of the place (e. n. Wessels. M. the rest of the tombstones of Armenians at Agra dated back to 1611. But the Jesuit priests. C.

who married him to Juliana. was carried out with merchants of different origins. ed. One account that was widely known among the European missionaries and travellers in seventeenth-century India was that of Mirza Zu’lqarnain mentioned above. E. Mirza seems to have enjoyed the favour of Jahangir and Shah Jahan who entrusted him with various responsibilities. in charge of the royal harem. Also.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. was in the service of the imperial harem of Akbar.67 It was not uncommon for Armenians during this period to conceal their faith under some real or assumed political pressure. M. According to Fr. 1968). (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. the three 65 For the legend about the (Armenian) Christian wife of Akbar see M. His daughter was married to Iskandar who was also in the service of Akbar. But he also quoted the paper of Fr. Maclagan. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 157-61. together with his brother. When the governor of Lahore threatened in 1604 to arrest all the Christians of that city. E. 14 November 1916. 66 Abdul Hai. also called Iskandar. Iskandar had two sons: the elder son. 2 vols. Pinheiro. Hosten. it also provided Armenians with the experience of living under Muslim domination. Armenians in India: 151-61. acquired great favour at the court of Akbar. Mirza Sikandar.. Maclagan. 22-87. as we have noted above. Tuzuk I Jahangiri. Hosten published in the Statesman. Zu’lqarnain did not practise Islam but became an adherent of the Roman Catholic Church. 2: 194. vol. was later named Mirza Zu’lqarnain. 67 Except for the period 1633-35 when he suffered from Shah Jahan’s anti-Christian outbursts. J. some twenty-three Armenian merchants seem to have fled the city hastily. Seth maintained that Akbar indeed had an Armenian wife. Seth. tr. Overseas commerce too.65 As regards the conversion of Armenians to Islam. where Hosten left the issue open as he had no conclusive evidence. This seems to have been more of a political show as after his conversion. the daughter of the Armenian Mir Abdul Hai. an Armenian. Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. For his carreer see Fr. 1500-1800 293 well integrated into the existing socio-economic fabric of India. The life of Mirza Zulkarnain attracted the attention of many contemporary accounts perhaps because of the fact he was. J. At the same time. Familiarity with Persian provided them access to the Mughal court. For commerce overland they travelled in caravans consisting of merchants of different Indian and west Asian communities. J. forcibly circumcised by Jahangir. The relationship of the Armenians with non-Christians was often not limited to trade alone. By Henry Beveridge. Hosten’s work in Armenians in India. which often employed them as trusted interpreters. His father. not much is known so far. The relationship between Armenians and Muslims of different denominations has never been free from tensions as historical Armenia has often fallen prey to the aggressive policies of Turkey and Persia. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 170-80.66 After Jahangir succeeded to the throne. H. both Zu’lqarnain and his brother Sikandar were forcibly converted to Islam. By Alexander Rogers. . 1916. Seth quoted extensively from Fr.

Robinson and Wylde at Swally Marine to the Company. Hill. was a nephew of Wajid. W.’ a term indicating Muslim. is that of Khoja Wajid. 75 See the letters from the Dutch chief Bisdom quoted in S. C. ed.73 The indigenous historian Gulam Hussain noted that Khwaja Ashraf Kashmiri. Letter from the president Fremlen &messrs. Breton. Dutch and French sources refer to him as a ‘moor. 73 For details on Khoja Wajid see below. Maclagan.69 Contemporary accounts suggest that Armenians in India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries cohabited with Hindu and Muslim women. Seth suggests that this was perhaps an adopted name. who has written extensively on Wajid. cf. The name Dominic Pires is not Armenian. English Factories in India. 1892). 2 vols. .”. Sushil Chaudhury. . Appendix III. son of Mir Afzal. Foster. 13 vols. as they wished not to be recognised as Christians. 2 vols.72 Another interesting case. passim. 2: 400. an introd. ed. the greater part of whom [Armenians] here call themselves ‘Mussulman’ . see S.1:126-30. du Jarric. though we have not come across any conclusive evidence about this one so far.294 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA to four Armenians he met did not want to be seen talking to him.70 These Hindu and Muslim concubines were later either abandoned or accepted as partners through marriage in the church. 3. translation of the first part of the memoir of Jean Law: 187. 70 P. Bengal in 1756-57.75 and historians have wondered about this confusion. With a life of the author. Hill refers to him as Armenian. who was undoubtedly an Armenian. (Lahore: 1975). The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 194. had ever converted to Islam. . 6: 281. 1640: “. 1906-27). Maclagan. . v. Akbar and the Jesuits: 135. C. a sufficient reason for this belief was founded on the very considerable losses which this Moor had just suffered by the English capture of Hugli’. Seir i Mutakherin. a colourful personality of Bengal trade and politics in the eighteenth century. And notes by Edward Grey. Bengal 1756-57. 72 E. 69 The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India. December 29. the chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar in 1756-57 also referred to Wajid as a ‘Moor’: Wajid ‘passed for the Nawab’s [Siraj-uddaula] confidential agent with the Europeans.74 Though S. vol. Hill.68 The Italian traveller Pietro Della Valle’s Persian Christian servant Cacciatur (the name suggests he was an Armenian) had declared himself at the customs at Surat to be a Muslim as he was afraid he would be persecuted in the Mughal dominions. vol. (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Jean Law. 74 Saiyid Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai. 71 Ibid. Chaudhury assumes that Wajid perhaps added ‘Muhammed’ to his name to enhance his 68 E. Havers. From the old English translation of 1664 by G. has noted that there is no evidence to show that Wajid. .71 Such co-habitation would be logical even if for entirely strategic purposes. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72. vol. (London: Hakluyt Society. C. Akbar himself seems to have been present at the wedding ceremony of his Armenian interpreter Dominic Pires and his Indian bride in 1582.

79 Repeated reference to him as ‘moor’ in the records of the Dutch East India Company. he was not considered Armenian any more. It should be noted that Mirza Zu’lqarnain. who spoke of him as ‘brother’ and procured for him the title of ‘Founder of Agra College. nationality was not the issue. Ray. after his forced conversion to Islam. 1998): 161.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Appendix E. Polashir Shorojontro o Sekaler Somaj (The Conspiracy of Plassey and the Contemporary Society) (Calcutta: Ananda Publishers. in the light of the history of the Armenians sketched above. vol. Mirza was a generous supporter of the conversion of the indigenous population by the Jesuits. . XVI. 82 The Travels of Peter Mundy. converted to the Catholic Church. 1628-1634. Zu’lkarnain was referred to as ‘the pillar of Christianity’ extending his liberality not only to the Jesuits. . Zekiyan adds that as Armenians did not have a state. 81 E. 1608-67 in Europe and Asia. 79 Seth refers to Khoja Wajid only in passing. Rajat Ray wondered how the Muslim Mir Afzal could be related to the Armenian Wajid. also Seth. the eighteenth century Armenian historian. 1907-36). (London: Hakluyt Society. 77 It is extremely interesting to note that Thomas Khojamall.. while adherence to the church was. Maclagan. Khachikian and Zekiyan relate that if an Armenian was converted.78 Curiously enough. it was possible for the latter to convert some of the Armenians. 78 I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for drawing my attention to this point.80 Armenians seem to have lived in close social contact with Christians of other denominations. but also to the rest of the Christians. 1500-1800 295 business prospects. v. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72. Chaudhury. The Indian Historical Review. who referred to Khoja Petrus and Khoja Gregory—two other well known Armenian personalities in Bengal in the eighteenth century— did not mention Khoja Wajid. (July 1989-Jan. and the silence of Armenian sources about this personality leads one to think.76 Writing about Bengal in 1757.’82 Even 76 S. 80 Scholars like Baghdiantz Mccabe. Seth. 77 R. Letters written by Jesuit fathers from Goa attest to the good relationship between Mirza Zu’lkarnain. then governor of the province of Sambhar in Rajasthan and the Jesuits. 1990). did not have much to say about Wajid. 22-87. as matrimonial relationships between the Armenians and Muslims were not usual. This would also explain why Wajid’s grave cannot be found either in Chinsura or in Calcutta. 5 vols. who was at pains in putting together the history of the Armenians in India. K.81 Though Armenians were initially opposed to the activity of the fathers. that either Khoja Wajid or his father had embraced Islam at some point of time. . 1-2: 137-48. Armenians in India . Armenians in India: 364-65. with reference to the question of monopoly in salt. ‘Khwaja Wazid in Bengal Trade and Politics’. no. 2: Travels in Asia. The Jesuit fathers considered all Armenians of northern India to be under their charge and paid special attention to the conversion of Armenians to the Catholic Church.

1905-07). the envoy of King James II. and Hawkins felt obliged to obey the emperor.C. There is evidence to show that Armenians. 84 83 . Van Santen. Van Santen maintains that this list underestimated the overland trade as it did not include the quantity of indigo from Byana transported overland. But the emperor outwitted him by finding a match in the daughter of a lately deceased Armenian. The proximity of India. Hawkins replied that as a Christian he could marry only a Christian woman. indigo and sugar exported overseas to Persia to those taken overland at 70:30.. Jahangir wanted him to settle down in India and offered him all accommodations.A. especially because the same list also indicated that transporting cotton piece-goods from the area around Agra and Delhi overland to Isfahan was cheaper (20% of the cost) than transporting them by caravan to Surat.87 It was noted that every year 20. III: 15-16. Extremely embarrassed. 30 July. vol. V.86 An estimate made in the 1630s put the ratio of textiles.000 camels. 6: 134-138. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan. Ph. But the settlement of Armenians in New Julfa and other places in Persia which coincided with the arrival of the western European companies in the Indian Ocean. 1630.O. H. the main trading partner of Iran. carrying chiefly See Purchas: His Pilgrims (Glasgow: MacLehose. 1099. acted as a boost to the first major eastward surge of Armenian trade. vol.84 prompted an increasing number of Armenian merchants to frequent India. 85 See Henry Bornford’s account of his journey from Agra to Tatta [? March 1639] in English Factories in India. The Economy of Safavid Persia (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. Leiden University (Meppel: 1982): 64-65.This list suggests that it would be more profitable to send textiles coming from the centres of production in north India overland. W. including a wife. but not daring to refuse the imperial offer. and again to Isfahan by caravan (27% of the cost). then to Bandar Abbas by ship. 1620-1660.85 A Dutch source written in 1630 claimed that Armenians and Persians transported indigo from Byana in huge quantities and textiles from the region around Agra and Delhi to Isfahan via the overland route to Persia and Turkey. together with Persian merchants continued to use the overland route to India in the seventeenth century. Surat-Heeren XVII. Armenians were thus already established in the field.D. 87 Another estimate put the cost of both the routes at about 50%. 312v. 86 N.83 When the Dutch and the English were struggling to initiate commerce in the western Indian Ocean and Mughal India from their base at Surat. Pleased with Captain William Hawkins. thesis. 2000): 245.296 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the Great Mughals were not in a position to (or did not) make a distinction between Christians of different denominations. Willem Floor.to 25.

90 H. Beneffens verscheidene tot noch onbekende. Van Santen. (Amsterdam: Halma. Willem Floor. Generale Missiven. 2 vols. was being shipped from Surat at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries. 1: 426. I am grateful to René Bekius for drawing my attention to this work. en plaetzen. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. the famous burgomaster of Amsterdam was informed by a certain Armenian merchant of Julfa about the major places along the overland route connecting Persia and India.89 Due to the import of a large quantity of cotton textiles in Isfahan by a caravan consisting of 6. 89 88 .88 In 1638 the Dutch factors at Surat noted that Armenian and Muslim merchants carrrying more than 100 cartloads of indigo and textiles overland to Persia could not pass the region around Kandahar due to a war in the region. for the question of the continuity of overland trade from India in the seventeenth century see R. The Economy of Safavid Persia: 200-10. The Indo-Gangetic plains and the sub-Himalayan zones. landstreken. 91 Nicolaes Witsen. Distance between Isfahan and the major cities in India as calculated by an Armenian merchant of Julfa. vol.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. in de Noorder en Oosterlyke gedeelten van Asia en Europa enz. arrived at Isfahan from India. 1705). and were forced to return to Surat for shipment to Persia on board Dutch and English ships. followed by the Afghan occupation of Persia (1722-30) and then by the invasion of India by Nadir Shah made the roads unsafe and had a negative impact on overland trade. Ibid. en meest nooit voorheen beschreve Tartersche en nabuurige gewesten. Table. rivieren. 1: 725. Van Santen De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. 1500-1800 297 piece-goods. Bulk of the commodities that had earlier been taken overland.000 camels in 1644.92 The rebellion at Kandahar (1709). W. 166891 From Isfahan Isfahan Kandahar Multan Lahore To Kandahar via Mashed Kandahar via desert route Multan Lahore Agra Distance in miles 375 250 160 50 110 It has been assumed that the growth of the overseas trade of Surat in the second half of the seventeenth century did not automatically imply an increase in the total export from India. J. Barendse. steden. there was little demand for the textiles carried by the Dutch Company. W. of te bondig ontwerp van eenige dier landen en volken. Noord en Oost tartarye. 92 H. welke voormaels bekent zijn geweest. The Arabean Seas: 154-64. vol.90 In 1668 Nicolaes Witsen.

1: 29. who considered women as a pre-condition for trade. contrary to those of the English. Seth. . January-June: 136.96 The relationship between the Armenians and the two northwest European nationalities at Surat was rather close. 99 The travels of Pietro della Valle in India. After initial attempts of shipping marriageable women or entire families to Asia had failed. were married. 1627-1623.1 (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. He was informed that this pattern was encouraged in order to populate Batavia: At Batavia Dutchmen settled with their family enjoyed many privileges. 97 See Om Prakash. Armenia. J. vol. the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies. India and other countries. with their families seems to have increased. v. ‘Surat—its past and present’ Calcutta Review. 1986): 158-62. Coen. Strange Company: Chinese Settlers. 95 Ibid. 1984): 19n. (1848) 9. Blussé van Oud-Alblas.95 Subsequent to their settlement in New Julfa. 94 M. 1986): 141-43. he was touched by the demonstration of affection on the part of the English president Thomas Rastel.g. 98 L. A Catholic Armenian called Iskandar Beg. That is why many of them are married to women from Syria. e. 96 The large proportion of women among the Armenians of Surat drew attention of an Englishman even two centuries later. the number of Armenian merchants settling in India . worked as interpreter for Pieter van den Broecke who arrived there as director of the Dutch East India Company in 1620. The Crisis of Empire in Mughal India: Awadh and the Punjab 1707-48 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. and the fact that no Armenian woman was buried at Agra between 1611 and 1777 led him to conclude that no Armenian ladies travelled to India with their husband in those days. It was the time when Jan Pietersz. advocated the policy of populating Batavia. Isfahan.94 This is inaccurate and simplistic. Dutch Factories in India. who often sent Della Valle his own coach and his interpreter. This was particularly so in major trading settlements like Surat where quite a few Armenian women were to be found already in the first half of the seventeenth century.99 93 Muzaffar Alam.97 When Della Valle was in Surat with his Georgian wife. the Dutch decided to follow the Portuguese example. 263. and quite a few to Armenian women. because Seth was aware of the presence of Armenian women in India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Armenians in India: 126.93 Seth found only one tombstone of an Armenian woman at Surat in the sixteenth century (dating from 1579).98 Della Valle noticed that many of the Dutch Company’s servants.298 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA however. Anonymous. continued to be connected with Persia and Central Asia through Kabul and Kandahar during the period that followed. Mestizo Women and the Dutch in VOC Batavia (Leiden: KITLV. the interpreter of the English lodge at Surat.

formed part of one Christian society. together with other Europeans. in Gujarat en Hindustan: 10. was not performing his duty and was giving preference to his own interests above those of the Company. 101 100 . H. vol. It has been assumed that before it was shifted to another building. an assistant in the Dutch lodge. accompanied by a few female servants for the convenience of Mrs. 78. was the godmother. van Santen. vol. the senior merchant of the Dutch lodge. 104 Ibid. who looked upon the girls as his own daughters. 1. As godfather. n. he lodged at the palatial building owned by the director Van den Broecke. ed. the wife of Yadgar.102 On his trip to Ahmedabad. Kolff and H. H.O. . 28. 2: 265.108 Della Valle. 1. 107 De Geschriften van Francisco Pelsaert over Mughal Indië. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. van Santen (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. Van den Broecke was the godfather and Angela.C. an Armenian woman from Baghdad. too. W. 1962-63). vol. De V.107 Some Armenians informed Van den Broecke that Huijbert Vissnich. . 124. where Armenians were active in the indigo trade. Ph. the girl child of the well known Armenian Yadgar. gifted them with 600 and 500 guilders respectively as presents on this occasion.100 The way Van den Broeke mentioned the Armenians in his journal leads one to think that in the early stage of settlement in India the Dutch were quite friendly to the Armenians. . vol. 123. 105 Ibid. 1500-1800 299 At Surat. 1627: Kroniek en Remonstrantie. 331. Van den Broecke was witness to the event. This time. A. W. 1: 120. 2: 268. the Company could borrow money from Mariam at an interest of 1 per cent per month. W..101 On Christmas Day in 1621 the slave girl of Sebalt Wonderaar. who. The junior merchant Paulus Stigel van Neurenberg married the daughter of Khoja Rafael.. ed. 103 Ibid. 108 Pieter van den Broecke . Van den Broecke. Van den Broecke stayed at their sarai. who sent the young Armenian wife of one of the Dutch factors. Della Valle. D. 106 The travels of Pietro Della Valle . along with the English and other Christians of Surat.106 When in 1621-22 the Dutch Company was facing a shortage of capital.105 The merchant Anthoni Claesz. the Company chief in Persia. . 102 Pieter van den Broecke in Azië.103 On another occasion in 1626 the baptism of an Italian child by the Dutch priest David Sijmonssen took place in the house of Iskander Beg.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. was present at the wedding party Ibid. vol. the lodge of the Dutch at Surat was initially set up in the house of Mariam Gomez. 325. 2: 5. vol. journaal: 265. Visscher was married to Mariam Gomez. 2 vols.104 Next year Yadgar’s daughter Marican was married to Issack Scholliers. was baptised along with Catherina. 1979): 22. Cf.

1: 120. 113 See Armenian Merchants e. Aga Piri appealed to the chiefs of all the European Companies in the name of Christianity. ‘Christians are obliged.111 When an Armenian merchant was framed by the Bohra community of Surat in a murder case that actually involved the servant of the Armenian merchant. documents 116. 110 109 .g. Persia and Arabia written in the 1630s suggested that the Dutch could attract the Armenian merchants who were deserting Goa and other Portuguese settlements because of the lack of trade at those places. 148. A. addresserende. for a description of Surat in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. 184.113 Whenever there were forty Armenians resident in a town under the jurisdiction of the Company.300 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA of the assistant Willem Jacobsz. 507. 123. the spirit of the Company’s over-enthusiastic messages about the utility of the Armenians had set the tone of the day and paved the way for a new phase of Armenian settlement in India. versekeringe ende ook verbeteringhe der comptoiren en negotien van Guseratte ende Persia. ff.109 A critical insight into the situation in Gujarat. en affbreuke des algemeijnen vijants. f. Armenians were to trade and settle at all English ports on the same terms as English freemen.’112 What was the situation like in European settlements like Madras and Calcutta? As per the agreement signed between Khoja Panous Kalantar. a temporary The travels of Della Valle vol. 140. Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. Though the agreement was not put into effect due to the opposition of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. 111 De Geschriften: 17-25. ch. and possess all rights enjoyed by British subjects. 146.505v. 117.’ Piri pointed out to the director of the Dutch lodge. the daughter of an Armenian merchant from Ahmedabad. Perzien en Arabien ook eenighe noodwendighe procedures welke in die quartieren dienen gehouden te worden tot preservatie. A. inv. 1. Wiesbaden. 9. pr consequent tot merkelijke voordeel van honorable Comp. as all trees whether bearing fruit or not deserve dewdrops from the heaven. Collectie Sweers. 122. inviting entire Armenian families with nice promises and civil measures and employing them at the Company’s factories at Dabhol and Surat would help the Company to populate those settlements. 1700-1750. 112 N. an eminent merchant of Isfahan and the East India Company in London in 1688. c. VOC 1549. 136. the attitude of Van den Broecke towards these marriages and the relationship between the English director Thomas Rastel and his Portuguese fiancée. have inspired Kolff and Van Santen to reflect on the homogenous nature of the pluriform Christian ‘nation’ at Surat. N.119-125. Natalia Tojo for drawing my attention to this document. ‘to stand by and protect each other if need be. no. 1979. als mede tot restauratie van de gelden schade in Mocha. and Mariam.110 The Dutch-Armenian marriages. 124. ‘Corte Remonstrantie van de gelegentheijd van Guseratte. see Ashin Das Gupta. Surat. I am grateful to Ms. Dag Register.

and to whom we pay no wages being as good a security to our garrison and trade as hired English soldiers . v. As they wanted to 114 H. no. . and with that our strength 200 Armenian Christians living in Madrass [sic] by whom we get money in every thing they eat or drink or trade for as well as by the ground rents of the houses they live in. (London: Murray.119 The regulations of the European Companies prohibiting trade with rival establishments could be avoided through a network based on kinship. and ground granted them for the erection of a permanent place of worship. . 119 B. the Company allowing £50 a year for seven years for the maintenance of a priest. 117 Ibid.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. the English East India Company was recommending that its employees attract Armenians to the English settlements and encourage their trade in every possible way. Love. Since the English left the port to port trade in Asia to private enterprise already in the late 1660s. 127. 131. which will in a few years aggrandize our revenue. 163. As India goods were very much in demand. they were in a position to procure goods at a cheaper rate.115 Experienced Armenians like Aga Piri were entrusted with training freshly arrived factors of the Company in language and the method of trading. 120. Vestiges of old Madras: 1640-1800: traced from the East India Company’s Records preserved at Fort St.g.1: 543. stick lac. Because the Dutch Company was a direct participant in the intra-Asian trade. The tendency to seek support in European settlements was particularly noticeable in Coromandel where the close proximity of the ports made it possible for Indian merchants to operate from more than one base at a time. 1693/94. the Company was sure it would profit from the freight. George and the India Office and from other sources. Armenians were allowed to freight the Company’s Europe-bound ships with commodities like shellac. 3 January. pig-iron and wax. documents 121. many private Asian merchants serving the Europeans in numerous ways.118 It should be remembered here that as the central political power in India was disintegrating towards the end of the seventeenth century and the centre of gravity was shifting towards the littoral. crowded the English settlements. ship owning merchants often avoided their settlements. 124. 116 Ibid. 115 Armenian Merchants. documents 116. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel’. e. the growth of the European settlements provided the Asian merchants with alternate bases of operation. 141. document 156. .116 As the Armenians were familiar with the centres of production and market places in India. Bhattacharya. and passim. 1913). 142. D. Company in London to Fort St. 117. 4 vols. 1500-1800 301 church was to be built for their use.117 Moreover. 118 Ibid. they would populate the settlements: It is undoubtedly our interest to make our garrisoned ports in India marts for nations.114 In the 1680s and 1690s. George.

quoted in S. Elihu Yale noted that recently ‘a few more’ Armenians had come to settle in Fort St. while more were expected.121 The English were willing to pay as much as Rs. George. 20. The East India Company and the Economy of Bengal (from 1704 to 1740). 2: 147. Bhattacharyya. vol. and/or trading with the king’s camp. 50. Aceh. too. Persia and other places. A case in point was that of the Armenian merchant Khwaja Nazar. Bengal Public Consultations. 124 RFSG. the council noted that though there were a few Armenians constantly residing at Madras. George.302 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA attract local shipping magnates to their ports. Zulfiqar Khan’s camp and Golconda and thus by the bulk of their trade contributed greatly to the revenues of Fort St. 1: 1694-96. 17 April. Bhattacharyya presents other cases as well. The case was later settled by Nazar’s vakil at the darbar. the European settlements were a place of refuge. 126 RFSG. Despatches to England. Madras and Calcutta in the eighteenth cen- Ibid.123 In 1696. 125 Armenian Merchants. also made it sure that he did not fall in the hands of the nawab’s people. 123 Armenian Merchants. 55-60. 59. Khoja Nazar built the Armenian Apostolic Church (called St. document 139. many of them were annually sailing to Bengal. 1733. They were determined not to submit [sic] their merchants being carried off the place which would be of the utmost ill consequence to the Hon’ble Company’s affairs as it would be a precedent for the darbar to demand every man of substance out of the place.000 to make up the case.125 By 1711 Armenians had become ‘numerous and opulent’ in Madras. ibid. 1969): 55. Indian merchants could use the Companies against one another.124 One year later the council noted that Khoja Gregory’s [resident of Madras] invitation to his countrymen at Julfa to repair to and reside at Madras has mett with a good effect esteeming it our advantage to have Madrass as populous especially with Christians as possible.126 With the growth of the ports of Bombay. document 239.122 In 1691. 121 120 . Manila. 122 Ibid. For merchants trying to escape the wrath of indigenous elites. (Calcutta: Graphic Art Press. the English in Calcutta. 35. Despatches to England. vol. In analysing the relationship between the nawab and the English. Nazareth after him) in Calcutta in 1724.000. As there were some proceedings against him in the nawab’s (Shuja Khan) darbar in Murshidabad. while stopping him from sailing for Europe. but the nawab demanded Rs.120 Armenians followed the same pattern.

405. dealing in real estate. As many Armenians travelled frequently to distant places organizing the business. Hugli. O. nine in Calcutta and one each in Serampore. Love. George were many good buildings belonging to Armenian and rich Indian merchants. Ghulam Husain noted that Khoja Wajid. Military Transactions. the Armenian merchant prince of Bengal.129 The legendary merchant Khoja Petrus Woscan. Patna and Dhaka. yet the three major Armenian churches that were built in India in the course of the eighteenth century were at the three principal English settlements along the coast. as we have noted above that there was a constant flow of Armenians in and out of the town.132 However.W. provided housing to the lesser members in the diaspora. George wanted to levy a land tax for the construction of a town wall in 1718. 131 The ‘last will of Petrus Uscan’. Khoja Sultan David. The eminent Armenian. Khoja Petrus Aratoon. Orme noted that north of the White Town in Fort St. 426. 1500-1800 303 tury. 2: 162. 1: 65. the eminent merchant of Bengal and brother of Khoja Gregory owned twelve houses. albeit against the payment of rent. Nadjarian.127 When the council of Fort St. had a harem with 125 women. Only Khoja Petrus Woscan was allowed to continue at his Choultry Gate Street redidence. Most of the promises made by the English were geared to securing their own trade and revenue. 132 H. 129 Khoja Shawmir Sultan’s petition on behalf of his father Khoja Sultan David and himself for permission to continue in the White Town was rejected. The income from the rent would be invested in the welfare of the town of New Julfa and the Armenians there. 494. the Armenians pleaded exemption from payment on the ground that they were only six in number. D. M. 400 fn. the number of permanent residents of a place could have been small. Vestiges of old Madras. A. who constructed the Marmalong bridge and the fifty-six stone staircases leading to the mount of San Thome. the course of events in the eighteenth century had changed the situation in Madras. 2. Chinsura and Dacca. Calcutta High Court. M.128 The number is misleading.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. vol. especially English settlements became the major habitat of the Armenian community in India. Life story of Mr. He expressed the wish that Armenian merchants coming to Madras for trade should feel obliged to stay in those buildings. ibid. but it is possible that many relatives and other families were housed in the same building. owned landed property in Madras.131 The church also offered lodging to travelling Armenians. though many of them were settled at places like Surat. George in The church at Saidabad was built in 1758. vol. 130 Robert Orme. 128 127 . 1958): 9. owned at least forty-two houses in Madras. The survey seems to have included only very wealthy Armenian residents owning extensive landed property. Saidabad.130 It is possible that such wealthy merchants. The information may not be entirely correct. Arathoon (Calcutta. H. Their house in Charles Street was rented by the Company for ‘public purposes’. hence many women. Ghulam Husain Khan Seir ul Mutakherin vol. 2623. European. Armenians were suspected to have assisted the French when the latter attacked Fort St.

133 Those who possessed landed property in the White Town.137 As late as 1758 the Court of Directors were anxious not to discourage Armenians and other inhabitants of Calcutta from settling within their bounds. 1680-1800 (Madras: Madras Government Press. However. especially the Armenians. 467. as ‘no bad consequences from their residence’ were apprehended. 135 P.134 Calcutta. Greeks and Armenians were settled from the pre-colonial times. Long. it is interesting to note that in all the cases that have come down to us. were to sell it to European Protestants.136 The Black Town gradually drove wedges into the White Town. 140 Records of Fort St.138 Many of the magnificent buildings in the White Town of Calcutta were built by the Armenians. Sinha. Selections from Unpublished Records of Government: for the years 1748 to 1767 inclusive. The Grand Hotel. or the ‘Grey Town’ where the Portuguese. Calcutta in Urban History (Calcutta: Firma KLM. 1916). the brides were Armenian and the bridegrooms European. Ed. George to direct the Armenians to leave the White Town. 137 Ibid. T. became an embellishment. Relating mainly to the Social Condition of Bengal with a map of Calcutta in 1784. Dodwell ed. Nair. 138 J. The fort.. 134 133 . M. Ibid. List of marriages registered in the Presidency of Fort St. vol. 2: 403-404. also suffered from the phenomenon of dualism reflected in the Europeans’ concern for defence and security. manifested in the fort and the fence. and by 1750 the English Company ordered the council of Fort St. with its accommodational function. the Nizam Palace.’ Armenians were to be allowed to inhabit the Black Town. 1973): 161. Love. Vestiges of old Madras. 1978): 7-8. as ‘very useful people. especially into the intermediate zone. 139 I owe this information to P. George registered only 9 marriages between Armenian and western European individuals between 1680-1800. the Park Mansions—to name only a few— bear testimony to the zeal of the Armenian pioneers of the real estate business in Calcutta. As far as Armenian-European marriage is concerned. 136 Ibid. the urban area began to grow and spread and the component elements began to interpenetrate. See H.304 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA 1746. 426. One well-known marriage in Surat in the late eighteenth century was that between Hripsimah. resulting in the development of new areas. the second city in the British colonial empire. D.140 H.139 The formation of bigger Armenian settlements around the church did not reduce social contact between Armenians and western Europeans. Saha (Calcutta: Mukhopadhyay. The chapel and other buildings built by Petrus Woscan at Vepery were transferred to the Danish missionaries. George. the fence gradually fell down. where no Armenian was to live in future.135 In the colonial period.

143 See his ‘The Armenians and the East India Company in Persia in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries’. has maintained that Armenian merchants’ relationship with their European counterparts was ambivalent. The English Company explicitly mentioned how by catering to their trade. The Economic History Review.141 A more important element. 142 The tension of the Europeans could be noted in their account of Armenians. Seth. ‘Julfa Armenians were more willing to have financial dealing with foreigners than to enter into trading partnership with them. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa.’ ‘Grey. 141 See Armenian Merchants. 2nd series. See note 2 above. it should be pointed out that the potential of conflict was very much present as the Europeans in the Indian Ocean. 245 for the Company’s arguments in connection with the trade in Persia. Armenians in India: 263-66. Armenians themselves would also profit. COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH EUROPEANS: COMPETITION OR CO-OPERATION? Considering the relationship between Armenians and Europeans.’144 Baghdiantz Mccabe’s position is that it was the Companies that solicited co-operation of the Armenians. 212.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. were at the same time aiming at the commerce which had so far been the mainstay of the livelihood of many Armenians. while wooing the Armenians. in his study of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. M. It should be remembered that the presence of the Europeans in the Asian waters opened up various possibilities and opportunities for expanding the existing networks of Asian trade. Isfahan: 203-6. As the daughter of the wealthy Armenian merchant Eleazer Woskan. Armenians were suspicious of the Europeans and often openly hostile towards them. 79. so far as the intra-Asian trade was concerned. or in the ‘White.142 Ferrier noted the importance of the Armenians and other local merchants as suppliers of credit to the European Companies in Persia. Herzig. until at least the middle of the eighteenth century Armenians provided a major source of strength for the European presence in India. . no.’ or ‘Black’ town of the European settlements. not the other way round. they co-operated with the European Companies. J. was the private trade of the Europeans.143 Herzig. The next section will focus on the interaction of Armenians and Europeans in the field of commerce in India. Hripsimah was first married to an old Armenian called Stephen Agabob. See M. also see documents 5. Following the death of the latter she was remarried to Leembruggen. 26 (1973): 38-62. 107 and passim in Armenian Merchants . 144 E. and Robert Henry Leembruggen of the Dutch East India Company. On the other hand. On the one hand. 1500-1800 305 Whether in the traditional port towns like Surat. . In the final analysis. . 23.

transporting them to the port of embarkation. does not imply that it was only the Europeans who needed Armenians. 148 De Geschriften: 21-22. agricultural surplus was extracted by the state. 151 J.148 Marriage relationships often went hand in hand with business interests. getting them ready for shipping. It is true that Armenians were already established in the trade of the Indian Ocean. was. Early Annals of the English in Bengal vol. and reaching the ultimate destination.151 Steensgaard. and consequently.306 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the trade carried on by the European Companies was no match for that of the Armenians. Shah’s silk: 327-47. The trade that was carried on here was small-scale and in luxury goods. C. East India Companies were no competitors of the Armenians. in their opinion.149 This however. Kolff and Van Santen have pointed to the greater relevance of the marriages between Armenians and Europeans in this respect. 149 Ibid. that Armenians both competed and co-operated with Europeans.146 In India. 283-84. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade. Van Leur. on the other hand. Indonesian Trade and Society: Essays in Asian social and economic history (The Hague: Van Hoeve. starting from the procurement of goods at the centres of production. Many of them possessed their own shipping. Armenians did not have to enter into any trading partnership with them. 150 It was part of the policy of the English East India Company to employ small vessels owned by Armenians for coasting trade. Armenians intermarried with western Europeans and flocked to the European towns.’ 147 Armenian Merchants enumerates 114 cases where Armenians served the English East India Company in different capacities between 1617 and 1708/09. In his study of Indonesian trade and society. That so many servants of the Dutch East India Company—much more than their English counterparts—got married to Armenian women. as we have seen. who studied the I. by merchants whom he termed peddlers.145 Bekius has shown. was a long drawn and extremely intricate process. 1955): 133. 3: 141. the ‘market’ where the goods were disposed at a reasonable profit.150 Yet.147 What was the role of the Armenians in the networks of European trade in the Indian Ocean? The capital that the Armenians possessed seems to have gone a long way to rid European trade of its want of ready money in Persia and Mughal India. an attempt to get access to the credit and extensive network of trade of the Armenian merchants. It was noted that the married servants of the Dutch Company bought textiles at a low cost and sold the same to the Company at a higher price through middlemen. Baghdiantz Mccabe. and not the other way round. Van Leur’s thesis has been criticised by many 146 145 . index 3. Van Leur noted that in the primarily agricultural societies of Asia. R. Bekius.

A. Steensgaard. Subrahmanyam ed.. 1770-1870: 242-65. also S.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. While all this pushed up the cost of transport. 154 Even a very wealthy merchant like Abdul Ghafur of Surat at the beginning of the eighteenth century was also not free from such insecurity.W. 152 N. introduction. 1500-1800 307 caravan trade of the Middle East.512. Chaudhuri. supply in the peddlers’ market was limited and could not be adjusted to the fluctuation in demand. Merchants. upheld Van Leur’s characterization of Asian trade by characterizing Asian merchants as peddlers and the markets as peddlers’ markets. 48. 157 C. 1660-1670 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. As markets were non-transparent and information incomplete. See his Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. prices fluctuated making trading operation extremely insecure. P. K. 135. Dewey and A. g. While many of the Armenian merchants trading on behalf of a principal were peddlers. O. 1978): 186. 2 to Rs. also S. 4926. ‘Portfolio capitalists and political economy in early modern India’. Khoja Catchick Khojamal. A. 1640-1700 (Leiden: Centre for Non-Western Studies. M. and many others like them seem to have been like those merchants termed by Bayly as ‘port-folio capitalists. Bayly. 1978). It is possible that he started as an agent of Khoja Petrus Aratoon who was paid Rs. The Political Economy of Commerce in Southern India. a merchant often divided his investments among various partners and pursuits with a view to spreading the risk and sharing the profit. J. 155 See e. in S. Barendse. Calcutta High Court. 1. To this was added the hazards in the transportation of the commodities from the centres of production to the ports of shipment. and when supply and demand were unpredictable. Bayly. 200 toward the discharge of a bond.155 merchants like Zachary Avetik. N. A. See e. in C.156 Khoja Petrus. 1796 had a credit of little over Rs. a reason that inspired Ashin Das Gupta to characterise that merchant prince as peddler. The Arabian Seas. no. 1962). 1993): 299-300. Khoja Minas.. 327-36. . 1998). The Asian Trade Revolution: 22-31. ‘Indian merchants in a Traditional setting: Varanasi 1780-1830’. 138-39. The merchant Abraham Isaac who passed away in Calcutta on August 18. Chris Bayly noted that when operating in a market that was intransparent. 153 The cost of transporting cloth from Agra to Surat.153 Not only was overland transport slow.152 Due to limited production. The Imperial Impact: Studies in the Economic History of India and Africa (London: Athlone Press for the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.’157 In historians. Asian Trade and European Influence in the Indonesian Archipelago between 1500 and about 1630 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Hopkins ed. Hence the payment of protection cost to the local rulers of all the territories through which the caravans passed. The Trading World of Asia and the East India Company. 1550-1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The cost of the other transactions made by Isaac varied from Rs.154 Analysing the modus operandi of the merchants in early modern India. Meilink Roelofsz. Subrahmanyam. could amount to 40 per cent of the cost price. c. Markets and Trade in Early Modern India. it was exposed to the dangers of the road.g. See R. G. including the customs duties. delay in reaching the port might mean missing a sailing season. 136-37. A. 156 See below. Subrahmanyam and C.

acting as agents or suppliers. 160 See English Factories in India. documents 62. Armenians were using Danish company ships for their Europe trade. encouraged the procedure as some empty space in the Asia-bound ship was utilised in this way.. . the correspondent of Aga Piri Kalantar of Madras in London. following a ban on the trade of the Europeans. f. 1646 and reached Swally in November of the same year. Long before the agreement of 1688. and the Armenians had to pay freight charges. Though wills and testaments do not throw much light on this aspect—except when an unrecovered due was involved—. During 1693-94. traces of such co-operation are to be found in the archives of the European companies. 68.308 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA spite of all the elements of tension and conflict involved. De Keijser and the Council at Surat to the Directors. and providing cover when necessary. carried Armenians. mentioned above. co-operated with Europeans because the presence of the latter provided Asian merchants with further opportunities of spreading the risks. It is possible that Khoja Zachary. 65. . In the Asian waters the ships belonging to European Companies ensured security 158 The dichotomy in the relationship between the English at different levels of the Company on the one hand and the Armenian merchants on the other has not escaped the attention of Baladouni in the introduction to Armenian Merchants . From the reading of their testaments it would appear that the network based on extended kinship was trusted so far as investment in their own trade was concerned. The actual carrying out of the trade. however.000 pounds of indigo and 30.A. also Armenian Merchants . of course. 161 RFSG. 71 for similar evidence. De Keijser. Despatches to England. . 3 (1711-14): 18. . XXXII-XXXIII. it should be added that Armenian merchants appear to have acted in different capacities and were dexterous at keeping the accounts separate. The Dolphin. 11 (1661-1664): 328. 8 (1646-1650): 86 and vol.161 The Companies. Khoja Baba Sultan.000 pieces of chadar Dariabadi under the cover of Aga Piri. But it also ensured direct shipping of goods and persons and was less hazardous than the route via the Levant and then Middle East.159 Such cover was indispensable so far as trade to Manila was concerned. freighting their ships. 11 December 1694 (copy) VOC 1548. vol. 67. This trade was organized by Armenians in Holland. vol. and two Armenians of Madras.160 In the eighteenth century. Armenians freighted Asia-bound ships of the English Company. bought 200. was part of a broader framework and it is here that the Armenian merchants cooperated with Europeans in numerous other accounts by lending money. 159 N. the Dutch director at Surat. like many other groups of Asian merchants.158 This being said. sailing as nakhuda on board European ships. Their agents carried piece goods from Bengal and Coromandel to Europe and took back Dutch and English broad cloth to Tranquebar.656. was one of the Madras Armenians involved in this trade. Armenians. which left London on April 29. .

Barendse.1. 1: 369-71. vol. 1992).170 The French ship Pontchartreijn renamed Queen Louise carried freightgoods worth Rs. who owned at least five ships himself. VOC 1264. Maloni. Muslim merchants freighted their money. 6. Coolhaas. was permitted to carry any horse that would be shipped by the agent of Khoja Minas. Generale Missiven.163 The Armenians. Dag Register.171 All the three ships that arrived in Armenian Merchants. freighted English company ships. v. Wilson. Despatches to England. 1268. The ship could not. with their contacts in India.166 Minas had purchased two ships from the English who again rented the ships and sent them to Persia. R. ed. ff. (1694-96): 35.168 In December 1702 Sarhad offered the English company Rs. 1706: 52-53. sail to Persia as it hit the shore near Point Palmyras and had to unload the goods at Tranquebar.F. ff. document 209.S. in obtaining a good freight of fine piece goods in Bengal for the Sedgewick he was planning to send to Persia in September 1700. 1500-1800 309 against pirates and other dangers at sea. For Armenian merchants freighting Dutch company ships on the Surat—Bandar Abbas run see R. .162 Especially in the seventeenth century both the Dutch and English Companies often chartered whole ships to local merchants for voyages to the Persian Gulf. vol. 170 RFSG. took the responsibility for collecting the piece goods and other commodities and loading them on the company’s ships.169 The same year the council of Fort St. In Basra.1275-87.165 The George that left Surat for Gombroon in December 1669. 367-69.G. 164 Armenian Merchants. European Merchant Capital and the Indian Economy: a Historical Reconstruction based on Surat Factory Records. however. 165 R. Compare: ‘. Bengal Past and Present. 171 This was in 1704.A. 168 C.. was hired by the French (in huur bij de Fransen).164 Khoja Minas. George let out the Phoenix to an Armenian for a voyage to Persia via Bengal. R. W. 38.1616-1617. Ph. 167 N. and goods and sailed on board the same ship for Surat. 169 S. Chaudhuri. J.A. the leading Armenian merchant in Bengal. 300. . 159-60. It is expected that the Armenians will freight the Little London for Persia’. 163 162 . The English Company servants in Bengal stated that Armenians bought textiles 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than them. belonging to the Armenian Khoja Minas of Surat. The Arabian Seas . . 90 (1971): 182-216. The Sulleiman. Despatches to England. (1698-1713): 271. N. vol. Surat.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.000 for freighting the Colchester for a voyage to Gombroon and Basra. 4 March. . 2. ibid. 1630-1638 (Delhi: Manohar. Thomas Pitt referred to his acquaintance with Sarhad and his uncle Khoja Panous Kalantar in London. September 12 and October 9.167 While soliciting the ‘favour and assistance’ of Khoja Israel Sarhad. 2 1701/02—1710/11. document 257. 336. 1685.. 166 English Factories in India. VOC 1409. Surat-Batavia.000 belonging to Armenian merchants. 29 August. Early Annals of the English in Bengal. 13 (1668-69): 204. ‘Bengal merchants and commercial organisation in the second half of the seventeenth century’.

Despatches to England. 176 Generale Missiven. vol. B.176 Researches of G. 177 ‘Cinnamon. Minn. the agent of the English at that place proposed that the subjects of the king of Persia and their effects at Fort St. 175 RFSG. Korea.310 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Tranquebar from Denmark in 1709 were to be freighted by the Armenians to Persia. 3: 56. one Portuguese and one Armenian were entrusted with the task of collecting the outstanding debts of the Company amounting to more than f. 1976): 285. silver and opium: Foreign shipping and trading activities at Batavia. RFSG.: 689. August 15-18. ARMENIANS AS EMISSARIES Equally. vol. George be seized. Juan that left Madras for Manila carried goods freighted by Armenian and Indian merchants. 178 In 1712 the St. 174 English Factories in India. Manila and China. Seoul. Sending emissaries to the head of a state is a practice common since ancient times. At least till the middle of the eighteenth century European merchants needed Asian merchants. Pegu and Manila seems to have been common. Furber. H. In the early modern period. George maintained that such a step would put a stop to the freighting of the Company’s ships that year and drive away all Armenians from their settlements.178 Throughout the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries Armenians assisted Europeans in their investment in India. if not more important aspect of Armenian-European relationship was the role of the Armenians as emissaries of especially the English to the Mughals.: University of Minnesota Press. Despatches to England.177 Using European bottoms for consigning goods to factors. the trading companies sent embassies Ibid. Souza have pointed to the involvement of Armenians in the commerce carried on by the Portuguese of Macao to Manila and India.172 Again. The Council of Fort St. vol. It was a relationship of accepting each other for mutual profit.175 The other routes where Armenian and European interests were intertwined were the routes to Southeast Asia. including Armenians.’ unpublished paper presented to the 11th Annual Conference of the World History Association.173 Similarly. 6: 106. Armenian merchants taking passage on board European ships in Asia was common.30.000. 173 172 . Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient. in 1737 Armenian merchants of Madras freighted the Galatea. mostly a relative or a member of the community settled at ports like Mergui. 16841792. under Captain Mylne to Kung and Bushire. vol.174 In the wake of troubles in Persia in the early eighteenth century. 3: 56. When the Dutch East India Company decided to close their factory at Pegu. 4 (1675-1685): 446. 2002. 1600-1800 (Minneapolis.

It was this delegation that secured for the English the right to farm the three townships of Sutanuti...180 Sir William Norris. Sarhad was able to win the friendship of the young prince Farrukhsiyar. Commerce and Culture. . Van Donzel. the English company approached Khoja Israel Sarhad. (London. Wilson. Old Fort William in Bengal.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. It was a period when many attributes of Persian culture were visibly adopted by the courts in countries in South and Southeast Asia. .’184 They had promised the young prince three small pieces of brass cannon. Foreign Relations of Ethiopia. General of the Mughal’s forces who was suppressing the revolt of Sobha Singh in Bengal. I am greatful to Dirk Kolff for drawing my attention to this work. 2 vols. 1698 the Sutanuti council noted that Mr. 180 E. . The embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of Jahangir is a well known case. 16. At this the English decided to send another delegation. 1500-1800 311 to heads of various countries for trading privileges. 1979). ed. 36-38. interlopers also were able to secure some trading favours for themselves from the same general. When the king of Ethiopia sent an embassy to the Mughal emperor. 182 C. Das. had the advantage of gaining information about the court (through his accessory Pedro Pereira) from an Armenian who had been to the Emperor’s camp twice and had lived there some time in attendance on the Dutch envoy. who was accompanied by Mr. R. 181 H. he appointed Khoja Murad. an Armenian.185 179 S. 1959): 211-12.182 In spite of that. 184 Ibid. Walsh. A Selection of Official Documents dealing with its History. (1699-1702) (Calcutta: Firma KLM. Sarhad procured a parwana from the general for the governors of Hugli and Balasore to prevent the interlopers from taking part in the trade of Bengal. in Prakash and Lombard eds. 1400-1700’. 185 Ibid. 1906) vol. Govindpur and Calcutta in Bengal in 1698 for the sum of Rs.000. In order to secure the rights of the company against the activities of the interlopers. On September 22.. Indian Records Series. We have noted above that Emperor Akbar had employed an Armenian as his interpreter. 1: 25-27. Subrahmanyam. to head the delegation.183 At the camp. the nephew of Khoja Panous. The Norris Embassy to Aurangzeb. 183 Ibid. 1642-1700: documents related to the journeys of Khodja Murad (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut.181 In the late 1690s. J. also headed by Khoja Sarhad. the English company wanted to send a delegation to Zabardast Khan.179 Familiarity with Persian offered the Armenians easy access to the Mughal court and made them extremely suitable as emissaries. ‘Persianization and Mercantilism: two themes in the Bay of Bengal History. on his embassy to Aurangzeb. who was sent to the camp of Zabardast Khan as the ‘Political Agent’ of the English. Walsh and Khoja Sarhad went back from the camp having ‘finished all business to our greatest satisfaction. .

Secondly. 187 The next we hear of Khoja Sarhad is in 1713 when the English intended to send a deputation to Farrukhsiyar. . By his prudent conduct. He was also obliged to try RFSG. the Calcutta council unanimously agreed that Cojah Surhaud. Sarhad was to try to confirm all the privileges that the English enjoyed in the Mughal’s dominions to date in a new farman. Aga Piri appealed to the English in Bengal to oblige Khoja Sarhad to adjust his accounts. the fittest man we can send. who was engaged in sea-borne trade. be sent. More importantly. Ibid. John Surmon was appointed the first. 3. 1714. 187 186 . and we know no man so qualified in both these respects as Cojah Surhaud. 188 The following information on the Surmon Embassy (including the quotations) is based on Early Annals of the English in Bengal. vol.188 At the meeting held on January 27. vol. . Consequently. on June 5. and acted as vakil or agent of (his cousin) Aga Piri Kalantar of Fort St. vol. Therefore. Sarhad knew the Emperor personally who would be favourably disposed to him as the latter had presented the Emperor with diverse toys in his youth. The council apprehended that sending Sarhad as vakil. The Dutch referred to him as the ‘notorious Armenian bankrupt’ (berugten Armeensch banquerottier). Khoja Sarhad second and Mr. Sarhad had been able to procure the grant of Calcutta for the English. 7 (1713-1725): 106.312 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Khoja Sarhad. Generale Missiven. whose interest &c. now Emperor at Delhi. George. John Pratt third in the embassy to Farrukhsiyar. It is absolutely necessary that some person who is perfect master of the Persian language and understands our affairs very well. He was to see that the boundary of the English territory would be extended towards the south so as to include Kidderpore and the shore on the other side of the river in Howrah. seems to have been less successful in trade and was indebted to Aga Piri for a considerable sum.186 This debt was not recovered as late as 1709. 1714 the council noted the reasons for appointing Khoja Sarhad on the mission to the court of the Great Mughal. 2: 157-58. Despatches to England. at Court has already had the good effect of procuring us the Hasbull-Hukum and several other useful orders from Court be sent to assist in suing for the King’s Phirmaund. and inferior to the Englishmen in the embassy would draw the Emperor’s attention to the Armenian. Mr. and that he sit and vote in the Council along with the three English gentlemen . 2: 67. Unable to recover his dues. and what may be useful for us. He is therefore. for the renewal of their privilege of trading free of duties in return for a lump sum payment of Rs.000.

193 RFSG. 70. 191 After the sanad from the diwan at Murshidabad was obtained. It was apprehended that Sarhad. vol. 2: 193. Mr. the son of Prince Azîmush-shân. Edward Stephenson was appointed secretary and accountant to the negotiation with the responsibility to take down the minutes of consultation.5 percent. Sarhad stayed on in Delhi. when the embassy left Delhi after the imperial firman had been obtained. if not well looked after. its fleet and the country trade of the British. 50. K. Historical Introduction to the Bengal Portion of the Fifth Report (Calcutta: Indian Studies Past & Present. Hamilton. from whom he procured permission to rent the three townships.193 When it was considered necessary to send presents to the nawab of Arcot. would play tricks and enrich himself at the cost of the Company. The farman that Farrukhsiyar granted the English in 1717 was more respected than the old one and made them the most favoured nation in Bengal. indispensable in all political negotiations of the English in India in the eighteenth century. was not unanimous about the inclusion of Khoja Sarhad in it. 281. Wilson about Khoja Sarhad: ‘He is said to have been personally known to Prince Farrukhsiyar. 2: 154-55. R. Secondly. cured Farrukhsiyar from a malignant distemper he had been suffering from. Early Annals. Wilson. George often consulted Aga Piri. however. 24. A reward of Rs. the company’s surgeon. . 190 Early Annals. Sarhad was to obtain for the English the privilege to trade free of customs at Surat for which he would get another Rs. Compare the following statement made by C. 1713: 4. R. for their negotiation with the governor of Golconda. Khoja Petrus and Hodjee Addy were entrusted 189 M. George. K. Seth quoted from William Bolts to show that contemporary Englishmen knew the contribution Sarhad made in getting the farman renewed in 1717. J. Historical Introduction: 87. the Fort William Council. But in any case Sarhad was to try to get the customs duty paid by the English at Surat reduced to 2. The following decades saw the growth of Calcutta. 1500-1800 313 to obtain the island of Diu off Masulipatnam for the council of Fort St. 71. He afterwards played a conspicuous. .190 His attitude during the journey evoked suspicion and irritation among the English. 3. Sarhad had left for Patna when the rest of the embassy was still in Murshidabad. Firminger. 1962): 87.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. among others. The council of Fort St. He would not get anything if he failed.000 would be given to Sarhad if he was successful in all these efforts. Also in this case he was not to receive anything if he was not successful. n. William Hamilton. Old Fort William: 25. vol. 427.191 The success of the Surman Embassy was ascribed to the services of Dr. Dr. . 192 W. 67. however.189 Even before the formation of the embassy. 56. See Armenians in India . Firminger.192 The service of the Armenians was. 50.000. Diary and Consultation Book. 214. but not altogether creditable part in the Surman Embassy to Delhi in the years 1715 to 1717’. C. W.

When war broke out between the English and Mir Qasim in 1763. Wajid was ‘the principal merchant of the province’ of Bengal. a brother of Petrus. 196 H. in their eyes. Prakash eds. Together with a Jewish friend.197 The role of Khoja Wajid during the Plassey Conspiracy marked the culmination of the Armenian-European relationship prior to the establishment of colonial rule in India. The Armenians in India . Petrus was kept as a hostage by Major Adams in his camp lest Ellis. Hill. He was employed as confidential agent by Clive to negotiate with Mir Jafar for overthrowing Siraj-uddaula.195 He was employed again for negotiating with Mir Qasim for deposing Mir Jafar. Petrus was never rewarded for his services to the Company. S. J. A. P. in J. a town in the silk producing region near the court at Murshidabad. and English troops suffer at the hands of his brother. A Narrative of the Transactions in Bengal 1760-1764. J. passim. pointed out that it would be arbitrary to order a merchant of long standing out of the settlement.314 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA with the task of procuring items suitable for the occasion.196 A few members of the council in Calcutta wanted to have Petrus ousted from the town on the grounds that he was a spy of the nawab. . He appeared on the scene after the siege of Calcutta by Sirajuddaula in 1756. Bhattacharya. popularly known as the Armenian Petrus of Clive. Gommans and O. document 647 and note. Seth. C. was the commander-in-chief of the army of Mir Qasim. 2003): 133-58. But the English never completely trusted Khoja Petrus who. L. Kolff (Leiden: Brill.194 Khoja Petrus Aratoon. C. 1743: 55. J. by A. Military Transactions. According to Orme. vol. Circumambulations in South Asian History: essays in honour of Dirk H. he supplied provisions to the English at Fulta for six months before the arrival of Robert Clive and Admiral Watson from Madras. was a spy of the nawab in Calcutta. This was due to the fact that Khoja Gregory. bankers and foreign trading companies combined to create a rupture that changed the course of the history of India. 1976) henceforth Narrative. Ghosh (Kolkata: K. Bagchi. K. the ‘evil genius’ of Mir Qasim”. 195 194 . Armenians in India: 328-32. passim. “Between Fact and Fiction: Khoja Gregory alias Gurguin Khan.198 He was settled in Hugli and had transactions with the French and the Dutch through lodges at both Chandernagore and Chinsura. Petrus was forbidden to act as vakil to the nawab in future. for Khoja Petrus. for a recent biography of Khoja Gregory see B. M. president of the council of Fort William. His Ibid. was an Armenian merchant-diplomat of Saidabad. 198 Robert Orme. Banerjee and B. Vansittart. indigenous merchants. 197 James Long. Bengal in 1756-1757. ed. 2: 58. Selections from Unpublished Records: 421. It is well known that Plassey witnessed how the vested interests of the officials of the court. M. . Vansittart. the chief of Patna. Seth.

Hill. S. Hill. 125-6 (no. 200 199 . vol. C. Bengal in 1756-57. vol. C. English and French Companies. ibid. 93-94. he maintained diplomatic negotiations with the Danish. in S. 202 S. In 1756.205 For a long time Wajid wanted to counterbalance the English with the French in the nawab’s court. Wajid enjoyed the monopoly of saltpetre and salt. in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. Hill.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 203 S. vol. C. As the leader of the Asian merchants.199 Through his lodges at Patna and Surat he was engaged in inland trade. 3. 1500-1800 315 step brother Jubbo lived in Chinsura. Wajid owned five ships and had extensive overseas trade with Mocha and Basra. During the few years before the battle of Plassey. Bengal in 1756-57.’200 He had close contact with the Jagat Seths and other merchants of Patna. He S. v. chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar: 187. through whom he negotiated with the Europeans. 205 Nawabi troops. he was able to secure the salt farm in 1752 and the saltpetre farm in 1753. vol. no.203 When the English plundered Hugli during the dispute with Siraj. were. But the growing political and military power of the English manifested in their activity in Coromandel—as pointed out by Clive in his letter to Wajid—and the recapture of Calcutta and the plunder of Hugli seems to have persuaded Wajid not to alienate the English and to join in the conspiracy against the nawab. Chatterjee. described him as a ‘confidential agent with the Europeans. Wajid wanted the nawab to assist the French with his troops and arranged a meeting between Law and the nawab. Through his contacts in the nawab’s darbar.201 He had large stakes in the salt trade of Bengal and the opium trade of Bihar. Collet and Watts described Khoja Wajid as the ‘greatest merchant in Bengal’ having ‘great influence with the Nabab. Hill. C. 1: 3-5. But as war with the French was imminent. Wajid was in favour of having the dispute settled through the mediation of the French. He represented the French in the nawab’s darbar and Monsieur Law. however. Appendix III. 2: 110 (no.204 As the English attacked Chandernagore. politics and society in early modern India: Bihar: 1733-1820: 72. On behalf of the nawab. companies and rulers: Bengal in the Eighteenth Century’. the chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar who kept a watchful eye on the affairs of the court in Murshidabad. XXXI. Bengal in 1756-57. Chaudhuri. Bengal in 1756-57. Dutch. 167. 2. ‘Merchants. Merchants. translation of the first part of a memoir by Monsieur Jean Law. not sent. Clive did not agree to the proposal and wanted Wajid and the banker financier Jagat Seth to settle the dispute.’202 It appears from the letters Siraj wrote to Wajid that the nawab confided in the latter. 175). 201 K. 204 Letter from Khoja Wajid to Clive. 166) and Clive’s letter to Khoja Wajid. he mediated in conflicts between Asian and European merchants.

the nawab had asked Law to leave Patna for Murshidabad.316 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA sent his chief gumastah. Whereas the Companies drew their strength from the state that backed them. In doing so. private networks of trade maintained by members of the community remained the source of strength of the Armenians. Both the structures co-existed with each other. one can only emphasize their differences. 2: 368-69. Law informed Wajid that he was on his way to Murshidabad. could make use of the increasing European—in addition to Asian—shipping in the Indian Ocean region. . The deportation of a large number of Armenians to Persia by Shah Abbas in the beginning of the seventeenth century was instrumental in a major eastward surge of Armenians. One cannot compare the two structures. Armenians were part of a pre-modern structure of trade operating on the basis of extended family and other kinship networks. Mobility and flexibility had always been characteristics of this ethno-religious network. it has been necessary first to understand how the Armenian merchants organized their trade. and these characteristics reached their height in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He again informed the English that Bussy had written the nawab that he would not be able to go to Bengal and that on receiving this news. Arriving at Bhagalpur. Familiarity of the Armenians with the trading world of Asia added a different dimension to their relationship with Europeans—the English in particular—and helped the Armenians in further extending their activities. Unlike the modern joint-stock European Companies. Shibbabu.206 It was Wajid who told Watts that he had seen the nawab writing to the French commander Bussy asking him to proceed for Bengal. Wajid was imprisoned on the grounds that he was conspiring with the Dutch and the French. Within two years after the battle of Plassey (1757) that yielded the English political power in Bengal. but the parameters of the two structures were totally different. as neutral Christians. Bengal in 1756-57. (no. 206 Letter from Clive to Pigot. It coincided with the arrival of the European Companies in Asia when Armenians. 371). to Clive who informed Pigot in Madras that he was conspiring with powerful persons including Jagat Seth and Khoja Wajid. This letter also was handed over to the English by Wajid. CONCLUSION This paper has sought to examine the relationship between Armenian merchants and the increasing European trade that paved the way for creating the colonial empire in India.

exemplified in the classic cases of Calicut and Cochin. Baghdiantz Mccabe. Seth showed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries how the English owed their position in India to the Armenians. Company documents and contemporary travel accounts confirms the position of Seth. this was the theme of the collection of essays in B. Kling and M. J. the 207 H. and elsewhere in Asia. 1979). it was in this light. there were places where they received co-operation. N. the position of Seth was politically motivated. guided by the idea to attract the attention of the Imperial crown to the state of the Armenians in India and elsewhere. For further discussion on this issue. Subrahmanyam. formed part of the existing structure of trade. B. the nawab of Bengal. According to her. The Age of Partnership: Europeans in Asia before Dominion (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii. in her work on the Armenians in Persia. Political Economy of Commerce. as pointed out by Siraj-uddaula. But Sarhad himself was hardly aware of the future implications of the benefits he was securing for the English. 1969 (4). ‘Asia and the West as partners before ‘Empire’ and After’. v. as the ‘political stepping stone’ of the English. Our study of the last wills and testaments of Armenian merchants. Furber. as M. . Armenians in India. He called Khoja Sarhad Israeli. The different forms of co-operation between the Asians and the Europeans in the Asian waters in the early modern period led the American historian Holden Furber to term this period as ‘the age of partnership. welcomed the presence of Europeans. merchants of foreign origin traded side by side with indigenous merchants.’207 Writing extensively on the Armenians in India M. 711-21. see S. has dismissed the notion of co-operation between Armenians and Europeans stating that co-operation was exception and not a regular practice.. Seth noticed. 1500-1800 317 The second issue evolved around the relationship between the Armenians and Europeans. This paper has tried to show that Armenian support for European endeavour went far beyond the horizons of mere trading activities. and their representatives in different parts of India. It was only gradually that leading Armenians and indigenous merchants would comprehend the difference between the prevalent structure and the new overpowering structure that was being imposed on them. Journal of Asian Studies. When the Mughals. J. In that structure. Pearson ed. The logic of the growth and development of European trade in Asia was that while from the sixteenth century onwards there had been a section of Asian rulers and merchants who opposed the Europeans. XXVIII. Khoja Sarhad was the political stepping stone for the English in India.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Khoja Wajid. Indeed. the merchant who negotiated with the nawab of Bengal and then with the Mughal Emperor to obtain territories and privileges that really laid the foundation of British empire in India.

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