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, 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 – JESHO 48,2



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.




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.



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.

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

Ashmolean Museum. however.282 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Herzig nor Bekius subcribes to the thesis that Julfa Armenians conducted trade as a centrally organized company. 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. 73-74. . 30-31 August. P. who was aware of the expertise of the Armenians in trans-continental commerce. pp. ‘The deportation of the Armenians in 1604-1605 and Europe’s myth of Shah Abbas 1. The Armenians: A People in Exile (London: Allen & Unwin. Baibourtian. Herzig. 1981): 81. 1400-1700’. 59-71.18 Iranian World. . 17 R. M.’ Pembroke Papers 1. Most of the Armenians trading in India were from Persia. 16 On the deportation of the Armenians see E. No one could. often gave them an edge over others in that they had easy access to the Mughal court. . for the Indian merchant at an Indian port. an Armenian merchant was more like himself than the western European who could point to his company. The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver. 2003. stop the Armenians from referring to. Armenian merchants were not backed by any national monopoly that would empower them to represent Persia in India. 1600-1730 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. where they had long been living. for example. 15 Armenians lived in Persia since pre-Christian times. 18 Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe. Consequently. International Trade . . and were dependent on the favours they received from the Mughals in Delhi and their representatives in the provinces. including knowledge of Persian. and using their connections back in Persia and Europe. Oxford. See David Marshall Lang. organised by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Iran Heritage Foundation. . 203..16 It was a conscious attempt on the part of Shah Abbas. (1990). In India they traded at the market places and ports side by side with the Indians. 1999). Matthee. though Baghdiantz Mccabe has suggested that there was a company of Armenian merchants in New Julfa directing the Armenian commerce worldwide. During the following two centuries the Armenians would traverse the Indian Ocean and sail up to the coast of China. . revenue and information. the factory and the fort belonging to his nation and use these symbols either as carrot or as stick as the situation would permit. Persians and Turks among others.17 But that notwithstanding. Secondly. Jews. V. This connection. 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. to settle them in the outskirts of Isfahan.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. Shah’s silk.

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

146. 5. Zachary must have been well established in the trade to Europe. was a variant of this system. 3 offers a detailed account of the different kinds of partnership known among the Armenians and how these worked. 1998) (henceforth Armenian Merchants). Khachikian. For Avetik di Petros see R.D. 26 Edmund Herzig. no. employment. Bekius. in this sense. no. . a merchant from New Julfa who 25 Claude Markovitz. his wife Azis was in Isfahan. 8. and in few cases. University of Oxford. ch. (1966). Khoja Zachary di Avetik of Isfahan came to Madras from Amsterdam in 1714. 175.26 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. 2003. nos. where a part of the capital invested came from the active partner. The Global World of Indian Merchants. true partnership.284 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA This kind of partnership was prevalent among different merchant communities of South Asia in different forms. Journal of the Asiatic Society. incorporating features of partnership. Armenian merchants of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: English East India Company sources. the English records of the Fort St. referred to as ‘master’ in the will was most probably the father of Zachary de Avetik. The commenda contracts were basically of two types: unilateral. where the whole capital was provided by the investor (sleeping partner) and active partner or agent invested the labour. George amply testify to the existence of the system until the end of the eighteenth century.25 The most popular type of partnership prevalent among the Armenians of New Julfa was the commenda contract. One of the principal merchants Zachary represented was his father. St. Papazian. 1991. 2000). Ph. ‘The ledger of the Merchant Hovannes Joughayetsi’. means Zachary the son of Avetik. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. Antony’s College. ‘De’ or ‘di’ in Armenian names are abbreviation of the word ‘vordi’ meaning son. September 21. For reference to Khoja Avetik Kalantar as brother of Aga Piri see See Vahe Baladouni. 182. 27 L. commission agency and representation. 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. This volume offers a unique collection of documents on Armenian merchants and their relationship with the English East India Company. 28 Shushanik Khachikian suggested that Khoja Avetik. and Aga Piri as the son of Khoja Panous. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. operating in Amsterdam in the late 1690s. This ledger book has been edited in Armenian recently by L. He had three sons: Hovannes.28 At the time Zachary wrote his will. I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for this clarification. Khachikian and H. ch. he seems to have had transactions with Sarhad. The shah-gumastha partnership existing among the Sindhi merchants of Shikarpur. known as Avetik di Petros. These were commenda partnership. and Margaret Makepeace ed. In Amsterdam. and Avetik. Zachary di Avetik. Khoja Avetik of Isfahan. 3. 237. under which a small group of sahukars and sarrafs controlled financial and commercial transactions over a vast area encompassing Khorassan and Turkestan. thesis. It is also possible that our Avetik was another person. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade’. loan. ibid. Isfahan: a study in pre-modern Asian trade. Gregory. 153-86. and bilateral. By the time he came to Madras.27 Though such detailed accounts are available mostly in Armenian documents. e-mail.

he had a partnership account with Macartoon Yanhoopa (the second part does not resemble Armenian names). 1719: 177.29 Already in 1697 we find Zachary shipping glass-ware and broad cloth on English Company ships.31 He represented at least another merchant of Isfahan. 2004. One of these accounts 29 Shushanik Khachikian informed the author that the Armenian Sarhad trading in Russia had transactions with a Zachar. Copy of Wills.O. (henceforth TNA). Records of the Mayor’s Court. factors of other principal merchants.). Zachary does not mention Tarkhan as his master but mentions that the latter. Zachary traded on multiple accounts. 249. He had four other accounts running—two of these were partnership accounts between himself. not known as a ‘khoja’. (film 1035) f.30 He was one of those merchants who travelled between different places in Europe. Ma[natsa]gan di Aga Piri and Issa Gully di Avateek Shaudullah. He was related to Khoja Zachary and replaced him as the Armenian alderman when Zachary left for Pegu. 2003 and 1 February. dated 10 September.A. Khoja Tarkon [?Tarkhan]. The family tree of Khoja Minasean family p. Gombroon. see Nationaal Archief. Diary and Consultation Book. Armenian Merchants. Isfahan. 1500-1800 285 traded with Russia and Holland. handed Gregory (son of Zachery) a full discharge for 300 tomands. Armenian Merchants . 253. 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. no. like Zachary himself. among other places. documents 241. George (henceforth RFSG).C. V. 231. vol. nos. 1718: 56.1599v. Diary and Consultation Book. 33 It is very much likely that this Issa Gully was the same person as the Armenian Issa Coolly/Coollyan at the Mughal court. Magan di Aga Piri was a son of Aga Piri Kalantar of Surat and Madras (see more on him below). 1736. Khoja Zachary and the latter’s master [?Khoja Avetik]. when he visited India. E-mails to the author. henceforth ‘the last will of Zachary’. . Dag Register Surat. 31 Records of Fort St. another factor of Khoja Avetik. his master [in Isfahan] issued two bills of exchange. Apart from the account together with his master Khoja Avetik. 14 June 1685. The Armenian Merchants. 34 English East India Company sources refer to one Persia de Marketon freighting goods on the company ships. 241. etc. 451. 32 Was he a grandson of Khoja Minas? See Edmund Herzig. . sailing to Pegu. who was however.34 Zachary seems to have had an agent called Beethan in Gombroon. Similarly. 141. one worth 150 tomands on Zachary di Avetik in India and the other of similar value on [?his son] Khoja Avetik in Europe. 171 and 1719: 93 and 120. . 169.33 Since 1714. Tamil Nadu Archives. his masters [not named] and Avid de Zeany and two other between Macartoon Yanhoopa. he had three other large accounts with Gregory de Agazar. Madras and Pegu.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. See RFSG. 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. 30 Armenian Merchants. who were also. Siraz. Probates.32 In lieu of a factorage bond worth 300 tomands. Issa Cooly was noted by the Dutch at Surat as a person friendly with the Mughal official Salabat Khan. the Hague (henceforth N. 1409. 23 September.

264. 146.35 Was Zachary’s father (Avetik) a son of the famous Armenian Khoja Panous Kalantar.5 1686-97. See Armenian Merchants. his own interests as well as those of his sons were intertwined in an extremely intricate cris-cross pattern of partnership. 24. 1937). 112 for the text of this agreement. Armenian Merchants. alternately ‘Calendar’. He was a ‘well known’ Armenian inhabitant of Surat and broker for the Dutch East India Company. 39 Aga Piri was active in Surat during the 1690s. or ‘Callenter’ is treated in European records as surname. ‘The agreement of the EIC with the Armenian Nation’. Seth. When his father was returning from London to Julfa in 1692. it referred to kalantar (alderman or mayor). 179. Unfortunately. In the other account Zachary. a city official appointed by central government in Iran.000 in the name of Zachary and his sons. refers to two Avetiks—one without (documents 62.37 Moreover. no. 188-89 and passim)—though indexed together under one name ‘Coja Aveatick Calendar’ p. Also. their other factors. 281. George. 1975): 770. no.. 183. Generale Missiven v. 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.286 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA was part of Zachary’s account with his masters [not named]. the English expected Aga Piri or some other member of the family to go to London in order to look after his business. 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. seems to have acted as factor of Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. R. Later he became the Armenian Alderman of the Mayor’s Court at Fort St. ed. 37 Armenian Merchants. Ferrier. 77) and one with the title kalantar (documents 153. George had Khoja Simon as ‘The last will of Zachary’.. the will does not specify the type of partnerships Zachary had with all these different partners.38 Zachary had a partnership contract with Ma[natsa]gan. He was part of a wide-ranging network of commercial transactions in which the interests of his principals (including his father).79662. 74. In another case in 1732. 38 Ibid. Armenian Merchants. Aga Piri settled in Madras somewhere at the turn of the century. 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. documents 261 and 262 for example. W. of indigo was purchased by De Keyser at Agra through the broker Aga Piri for f. For a lively discussion on the agreement see M. 36 35 . as the latter possessed a ‘factorage’ bond worth Rs. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. together with his sons. no. 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. Khoja Sarkies di Agavelly and Khoja Gregory of Fort St. 52250 lb. J. Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day—a work of Original Research (Delhi: Oxford etc. Though the term ‘Calandar’. 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. Ph. 231-44. All further references to this work are from this edition.

Aveat received several consignments from the Aga Piri brothers amounting to more than Pagodas 17. 1737. Khojamal particularly mentioned in his testament that the two accounts were entirely separate and should not be mixed up.750. and here the profit was to be equally divided between the two partners. Partnership among these individuals in different capacities was indeed a salient feature of this trade. and the informal networks formed by the representatives of these formal companies in their private capacity were crucial for country trade. At Pegu he worked together with one Petrus. whose structure. in the wills and testaments of Armenian merchants suggests that the organization of Armenian trade was left to individual initiatives. far from the formal superstructure represented by the East India Companies. Khoja Simon acted as the Pegu agent of other Armenians and sailed as nakhuda on ships sailing between Madras and Pegu. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court 1731-32. The reliance on the ethno-religious community provided the Armenians of New Julfa with a network that spanned at least half the globe.41 In a distinct case of commenda partnership. The last will and testament of Coja Catchick Cojamaul deceased. a merchant firm of Fort St. 75. The Companies with their modern structure co-existed with this pre-modern structure of trade. however. but the basic differences are clear. This was. During his stay in Pegu. Brothers. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court. 8-9. Khojamal was employed by the famous Khoja Petrus Woskan who advanced him Rs. ‘Principal sum’ advanced by the Aga Piri brothers to be employed in their interest.42 The references we come across to Armenian trade in Persia and India. 224. 41 RFSG. Aveat signed a ‘factorage bond’ with the said firm valid for five years and set out for Pegu with a sum of Pagodas 2.40 Again. 1500-1800 287 their ‘factor’ in Pegu.43 Armenian merchants in the Indian Ocean were rather like the multitude of other Asian merchants engaged in networks of private trade. when he set out from Isfahan in May 1740. 17 November. On his arrival at Madras in September 1740.000. received from Khoja Nazar di Abid Aga the sum of 320 tomands on the condition that out of the profit made. 42 Calcutta High Court. Khoja Thaddeus Aga Piri & co. 40 RFSG. size and scale made the nature of commercial operations impersonal. Old Will no. The network of the Armenian merchants indeed reflected a structure. . 43 There were of course informal connections behind this formal structure of the companies. as defined by Markovits. 1755. based on personal networks of extended kinship and the pursuit of similar goals. Khoja Cachick Khojamal. George appointed Khoja Aveat their factor at Pegu.000.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 18. 220 parts together with the principal sum would go to Khoja Nazar while 100 part of the profit would be Khojamal’s. Upon accepting the ‘factorship’. He had another account with his nephew Marcar di Sattoor.

information and human resources. 1711-14. Khoja Babur di Sultan seems to have functioned as the London agent of other Armenians too. 45 44 . 262. Bengal in 1756-57. In addition to caravans. Bombay. then residing in Madras. after the arrival of the ship King William. or both. When the separate stock ship Windsor arrived in Madras in 1713. Initially the council did not take notice of this rumour. Aga Piri Kalantar. See Armenian Merchants. 1712.46 From the seventeenth century onwards centres in India—Surat. and Manila. credit. produced an original letter to Khoja Babur di Sultan [Piri’s agent in London] dated January 29. George had been directed to satisfy the merchants’ demands on the New Company as far as these were just.000. The merchants of Masulipatnam must have sought assistance of Armenians in soliciting the Company’s favour in London. vol. But to their dismay. George Council to discharge that debt fully.44 Almost any ship sailing between two ports in Asia. 133. One is struck by the continuous circulation of even the leading members of the community. nos. pattamars or messengers were used for sending messages overland.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. 2. RFSG.3. It must have been Aga Piri who referred the case to Babur. The Global World of Indian Merchants. As the Julfa dialect (Armenian. Wealthy Armenian merchants of such ports had agents at places like Pegu. Khoja Petrus Woscan left New Julfa at for Madras in 1705 when he was about twenty-five years of age. George wanted to buy up the new company’s debt to Masulipatnam merchants amounting to Pagodas 80. who got the order issued. 144. a couple of bills of exchange or promissory notes. 25. a few bales of cloth— was bound to reach the destination. It is not known exactly when he Claude Markovitz. Hill. In 1711 the governor and council of Fort St. the consignment—no matter if it contained an important message related to business or family. there was no possibility of disclosure of a confendential information. no. C. or consignments. v. or representatives of agents. Despatches to England. Madras and Calcutta in particular—seem to have come up as places where Armenian capital was concentrated. that the council of Fort St. 261. a copy of a contract. rumour had it that the Armenians had received advice that the directors of the Company had ordered the Fort St. or even the kin of acquaintances working at different levels.288 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA facilitating a continuous circulation of capital. by order of the Court of Directors. with many Persian loan words) was the medium of all commercial transactions. Through a multitude of partners and agents. We have noted the case of Zachary above. 46 S. or leaving an Asian port for a destination in Europe could be used for sending agents. goods. in some or other way related to the community. The letter acquainted him. a parcel containing cash or a few precious stones.

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

XVI. Bukhara. The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade. 2 vols.51 Indian rural economy. J. H. From the French by James Walker. 2 vols. connected through road and river routes. Multan. Revue Etude Armeninnes (1988-89). could easily take as long as six months. Neill.54 Moreover. testifying to relatively stable urban setting. Lahore was a principal commercial centre of India. v. Neill’s information here is based on the account left by the eighteenth century Armenian merchant-cum-historian Thomas Khojamall. as many of these itinerant traders traded in multiple (relatively small) accounts. and other merchants followed this caravan route to different market and production centres in north and northwest India. 384. S. 1707. with introduction and notes by C. was very much geared to an integrated pattern of trade through networks of mandis and qasbas stretching from Lahore. 471-75. ‘Two Armenian graffities from Ziârat. ed. a journey from Goa to Lahore via Daman and Cambay (up to Cambay by ship). See R. ‘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..53 But considering the distance and the nature of the overland or caravan trade. attracting commodities from far and near brought by merchants of all the nationalities mentioned above. P. 53 S. with its commercial production. Pakistan’. 51 Jean Deloche. 1: The Beginnings to A. Grover.1. 1550-1900 (Leiden: Brill. Markovitz. R. It has been suggested. Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. D. Persian. 2002). which usually took two months. Turkish. Russell. however. that in the pre-Mughal period. Transport and Communications in India prior to Steam Locomotion. An account of the Jesuit Missions to the Court of Akbar. tr. 158. Barendse.50 Except for short segments.290 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA same way as Indian Sindhi firms and Hindu merchants operating in this route spread to Kandahar. Isfahan and beyond. A History of Christianity in India. 1926): 52-59. it would take a few years to accumulate some profit from all the accounts.52 In the early seventeenth century. 52 B. 11001700. du Jarric. most of the Armenians coming to India were travelling merchants who came here for business and returned to their own country each year. 1994): 219-255. Akbar and the Jesuits. The Global World of Indian Merchants and Scott C. vol. 34. . 1984-85). Delhi. The Arabian Seas. 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. tr. Seth. J. and Sind on the west to Assam and Bengal in the east. the major route from Kabul to Agra underwent few modifications since the close of the sixteenth century. 54 A journey from Surat to Agra took 86 days. Khojamall’s account is not reliable. Levi. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Payne (London: Routledge & Sons. for Armenians taking this route see J. 1993-94. Armenian. According to M. See his ‘Armenians in India’ especially 15-21. 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.

59 E. 2 vols. no one can succeed but these bishops. and Turks. 1984): 407. Neill. In the end. 1: 170. A History of Christianity in India . See E.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. During the intermittent period the trader had to live at different places along the route. It was at the invitation of Coja Escandel (?Iskandar). Maclagan. 1964): 226. sailing from Cambay as part of the four Gujarati ships annually leaving that port for Melaka where many of them stayed back. Francis Xavier. At the beginning of the sixteenth century we find Armenians. vol. among other Armenians. 196. 56 G. made new acquaintances and renewed the old ones. Neill.D. A. . (London: the Hakluyt Society. . but it is possible that the Christian priests the Portuguese came across in Coromandel were Syrians. the Christians of St. an Armenian Christian. Armenians were elsewhere in India and also engaged in the overseas trade to Southeast Asia. carried goods from one place to another for sale and noted the demand for new ones. Maclagan. History of Christianity in India. Moraes was not sure if these Christians were Armenians or Syrians. Portuguese missionaries in the early sixteenth century noted that in matters of faith. S. 55 Tome Pires. 1944). v. Thome in 1517. . together with Arabs.58 Pires accompanied both the first and the third Jesuit missions to the Mughal court as interpreter. who come from Armenia. Thomas at St. Portuguese merchants coming from Melaka stayed with Armenian Christians.55 In the course of the sixteenth century. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 24. vol. Seth suggested that this Portuguese name was perhaps assumed by the person for strategic purposes.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. and to make enough profit to settle the accounts with the master. 52-1542 (Bombay: Manaktalas. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne. Armenians were to be found at different places in India and at least a few Armenian settlements seem to have been there. 39.56 At Pulicat.2:268-69. Moraes. M. A History of Christianity in India: from Early Times to St. 1:46. 58 M. 1500-1800 291 (partner)s as well as his own capital. 57 A. The Suma Oriental. because with the people of this country. It is true that early Portuguese sources referred to all Eastern Christians as Armenians. 41. 1: From the Beginning up to the middle of the Sixteenth century (up to 1542) (Bangalore: Theological Publications in India. Mathias Mundadan. A History of Christianity: 466 fn. went back. J.59 Though it is not clear if Akbar met the parents of Mirza Zu’lqarnain. Thomas in Coromandel gave hearing to none except their bishops. 1932): 271 and S. that Diogo Fernandes and Bastião Fernandes made the pilgrimage to the house of the Apostle St. vol. the ones lucky enough to survive the odds of the weather and the roads. Parsees.

vol. 61 60 . 1895-1919). 62 Robert. Seth. n. who had a close contact with Armenians. H. Except for two tombstones from 1557 and 1560. 1603-1721 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.61 Though we have such accounts of Armenians in different parts of the country in the sixteenth century. 1924): 1-42. difficult to accept Hewsen’s position that there were large settlements of Armenians already at Agra (by 1562). See his Armenians in India: 110. however. 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. Calcutta became an important centre of commerce in the 18th century following the foundation of the English settlement there in 1690. Nair. do not mention any Armenian church in Agra. Armenians in India: 102-7. 4. J. He suggested that the stone was probably brought to Calcutta from somewhere else at a later date. also P. 64 C. According to the account of Khojamall. Surat (by 1579) and Calcutta (by 1630). 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. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 213-215. It is more likely that if Armenians were there in Bengal in the early 17th century. 160). small town and city) but refer to the size of the community on the map (p. 1630 in the churchyard of the Holy Church of Nazareth (Calcutta). who remained with Goes till the end.63 The mission of the lay brother Benedict Goes to China sent by Fr. T. About Seth’s position that no Armenian women came to India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. xvii point to the size of the place (e.292 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the well-known Armenian Catholic with close contact with the Jesuit fathers at Agra or somewhere in Kashmir. Armenians living in India were See below for more on Mirza Zu’lqarnain. Akbar had allowed an Armenian church to be built in Agra as early as 1562. 22-23 he gives the names of seven Armenian priests who died at Agra between 1614 and 1675. See Early Annals of the English in Bengal: being the Bengal Public Consultations for the first half of the 18th century. M. and that the stone was not in situ. Calcutta in the 17th Century (Calcutta: Firma KLM. village.62 At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jesuit Fr. a hypothesis based on the discovery of the tombstone of Reza Bibi dated July 11. it is. Hewsen. Wilson already dismissed it on the ground that the tombstone in question was an isolated instance. Maclagan. As far as South Asia is concerned. Travelling overland from Ormuz. On pp. the rest of the tombstones of Armenians at Agra dated back to 1611. Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia. 1: 137. see below. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271. R. 2001). C. Jerome Xavier from Lahore in 1603 was accompanied by the Armenian Isaac. As regards the possibility of a large Armenian colony in Calcutta by 1630. (henceforth Early Annals of the English in Bengal) 3 vols. Hewsen bases himself on Mesrobv Seth’s work. (London: W.60 The brief account of the merchant pilgrim Khwaja Martyrose in Seth’s work reminds us of a Sufi saint. they were based mainly at Chinsura. 1986): 443-46.64 At this stage of settlement. the Armenian had breathed his last near Lahore. whom Seth elsewhere dismissed as untrustworthy. Wessels. Thacker. But the Jesuit priests. Armenia: A Historical Atlas (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. E.g. 63 E. Hewsen’s atlas is a bit confusing because the symbols explained on p. it is clear that they were living in (Mughal) India where both Zu’lqarnain and his brother were born. and not in Calcutta. Maclagan.

2 vols.66 After Jahangir succeeded to the throne. tr. The relationship of the Armenians with non-Christians was often not limited to trade alone. Seth maintained that Akbar indeed had an Armenian wife. For commerce overland they travelled in caravans consisting of merchants of different Indian and west Asian communities.67 It was not uncommon for Armenians during this period to conceal their faith under some real or assumed political pressure. For his carreer see Fr. His father.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. was carried out with merchants of different origins. One account that was widely known among the European missionaries and travellers in seventeenth-century India was that of Mirza Zu’lqarnain mentioned above. 67 Except for the period 1633-35 when he suffered from Shah Jahan’s anti-Christian outbursts. At the same time. J. 1968). This seems to have been more of a political show as after his conversion. acquired great favour at the court of Akbar. According to Fr. together with his brother. Armenians in India: 151-61.. in charge of the royal harem. was later named Mirza Zu’lqarnain. Pinheiro. 2: 194. 66 Abdul Hai. H. But he also quoted the paper of Fr. an Armenian. Hosten published in the Statesman. both Zu’lqarnain and his brother Sikandar were forcibly converted to Islam. where Hosten left the issue open as he had no conclusive evidence. which often employed them as trusted interpreters. Hosten. Mirza seems to have enjoyed the favour of Jahangir and Shah Jahan who entrusted him with various responsibilities. 1500-1800 293 well integrated into the existing socio-economic fabric of India. E. not much is known so far. J. By Alexander Rogers. . 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: 170-80.65 As regards the conversion of Armenians to Islam. Iskandar had two sons: the elder son. By Henry Beveridge. Maclagan. The life of Mirza Zulkarnain attracted the attention of many contemporary accounts perhaps because of the fact he was. it also provided Armenians with the experience of living under Muslim domination. His daughter was married to Iskandar who was also in the service of Akbar. 22-87. Overseas commerce too. also called Iskandar. Mirza Sikandar. Hosten’s work in Armenians in India. 1916. ed. the three 65 For the legend about the (Armenian) Christian wife of Akbar see M. Seth. forcibly circumcised by Jahangir. Maclagan. Seth quoted extensively from Fr. Tuzuk I Jahangiri. E. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 157-61. was in the service of the imperial harem of Akbar. M. the daughter of the Armenian Mir Abdul Hai. When the governor of Lahore threatened in 1604 to arrest all the Christians of that city. who married him to Juliana. Zu’lqarnain did not practise Islam but became an adherent of the Roman Catholic Church. some twenty-three Armenian merchants seem to have fled the city hastily. (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. as we have noted above. J. 14 November 1916. Also. vol. Familiarity with Persian provided them access to the Mughal court. Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

”.’ a term indicating Muslim. du Jarric. 1640: “. Havers. Hill. had ever converted to Islam. a colourful personality of Bengal trade and politics in the eighteenth century. 74 Saiyid Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai. Hill refers to him as Armenian. Breton. . 72 E. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72. vol. though we have not come across any conclusive evidence about this one so far. Letter from the president Fremlen &messrs. 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. 13 vols. v. Appendix III. Maclagan. With a life of the author. Jean Law. Maclagan. (Lahore: 1975). . 71 Ibid. 73 For details on Khoja Wajid see below.74 Though S. Hill.69 Contemporary accounts suggest that Armenians in India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries cohabited with Hindu and Muslim women. (Oxford: Clarendon Press.1:126-30.294 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA to four Armenians he met did not want to be seen talking to him. Sushil Chaudhury. Seth suggests that this was perhaps an adopted name.75 and historians have wondered about this confusion.71 Such co-habitation would be logical even if for entirely strategic purposes. 1892). is that of Khoja Wajid. son of Mir Afzal.70 These Hindu and Muslim concubines were later either abandoned or accepted as partners through marriage in the church. . Foster. vol. The name Dominic Pires is not Armenian. And notes by Edward Grey. . 2 vols. English Factories in India. December 29. cf. 6: 281. C. 2: 400. 1906-27). Akbar himself seems to have been present at the wedding ceremony of his Armenian interpreter Dominic Pires and his Indian bride in 1582.72 Another interesting case. (London: Hakluyt Society. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 194. Bengal 1756-57. C.73 The indigenous historian Gulam Hussain noted that Khwaja Ashraf Kashmiri. as they wished not to be recognised as Christians. 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’. C. 3. was a nephew of Wajid. From the old English translation of 1664 by G. Bengal in 1756-57. Chaudhury assumes that Wajid perhaps added ‘Muhammed’ to his name to enhance his 68 E. the greater part of whom [Armenians] here call themselves ‘Mussulman’ . 70 P. 2 vols. . 75 See the letters from the Dutch chief Bisdom quoted in S. ed. Dutch and French sources refer to him as a ‘moor. has noted that there is no evidence to show that Wajid.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. an introd. ed. translation of the first part of the memoir of Jean Law: 187. Seir i Mutakherin. 69 The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India. W. vol. see S. Akbar and the Jesuits: 135. passim. who has written extensively on Wajid. Robinson and Wylde at Swally Marine to the Company. who was undoubtedly an Armenian.

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

84 83 . 30 July.This list suggests that it would be more profitable to send textiles coming from the centres of production in north India overland. Extremely embarrassed. 1099. but not daring to refuse the imperial offer. Willem Floor. and Hawkins felt obliged to obey the emperor. 86 N. Jahangir wanted him to settle down in India and offered him all accommodations. acted as a boost to the first major eastward surge of Armenian trade. 1620-1660. the envoy of King James II. Leiden University (Meppel: 1982): 64-65.A.86 An estimate made in the 1630s put the ratio of textiles.000 camels.84 prompted an increasing number of Armenian merchants to frequent India. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan. H. But the emperor outwitted him by finding a match in the daughter of a lately deceased Armenian.O. vol. Armenians were thus already established in the field. Surat-Heeren XVII. together with Persian merchants continued to use the overland route to India in the seventeenth century. Ph. 312v. 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 Another estimate put the cost of both the routes at about 50%. There is evidence to show that Armenians.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. including a wife. Van Santen.296 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the Great Mughals were not in a position to (or did not) make a distinction between Christians of different denominations. 2000): 245. the main trading partner of Iran. carrying chiefly See Purchas: His Pilgrims (Glasgow: MacLehose. Hawkins replied that as a Christian he could marry only a Christian woman. 1905-07). vol. 6: 134-138.D. Van Santen maintains that this list underestimated the overland trade as it did not include the quantity of indigo from Byana transported overland. indigo and sugar exported overseas to Persia to those taken overland at 70:30.87 It was noted that every year 20.85 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. 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. W. The proximity of 25. thesis. The Economy of Safavid Persia (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. and again to Isfahan by caravan (27% of the cost). Pleased with Captain William Hawkins. III: 15-16. then to Bandar Abbas by ship..C. 1630. 85 See Henry Bornford’s account of his journey from Agra to Tatta [? March 1639] in English Factories in India. V.

90 H.89 Due to the import of a large quantity of cotton textiles in Isfahan by a caravan consisting of 6. The Arabean Seas: 154-64. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65.88 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. Distance between Isfahan and the major cities in India as calculated by an Armenian merchant of Julfa. Van Santen De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. Beneffens verscheidene tot noch onbekende. for the question of the continuity of overland trade from India in the seventeenth century see R.000 camels in 1644. en plaetzen. W. arrived at Isfahan from India. 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. was being shipped from Surat at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries. Noord en Oost tartarye. there was little demand for the textiles carried by the Dutch Company. W. vol.92 The rebellion at Kandahar (1709).90 In 1668 Nicolaes Witsen.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Table. 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. Van Santen. Willem Floor. of te bondig ontwerp van eenige dier landen en volken. vol. landstreken. The Indo-Gangetic plains and the sub-Himalayan zones. en meest nooit voorheen beschreve Tartersche en nabuurige gewesten. Ibid. 2 vols. 1: 725. 1: 426. 1500-1800 297 piece-goods. rivieren. welke voormaels bekent zijn geweest. 89 88 . 1705). 91 Nicolaes Witsen. steden. The Economy of Safavid Persia: 200-10. Generale Missiven. 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. Bulk of the commodities that had earlier been taken overland. J. in de Noorder en Oosterlyke gedeelten van Asia en Europa enz. (Amsterdam: Halma. Barendse. and were forced to return to Surat for shipment to Persia on board Dutch and English ships. 92 H. I am grateful to René Bekius for drawing my attention to this work.

were married. who considered women as a pre-condition for trade. 1986): 141-43. Anonymous. Isfahan.94 This is inaccurate and simplistic.1 (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.g. the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies.298 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA however. e. 96 The large proportion of women among the Armenians of Surat drew attention of an Englishman even two centuries later. It was the time when Jan Pietersz. 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. The Crisis of Empire in Mughal India: Awadh and the Punjab 1707-48 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Armenia. Strange Company: Chinese Settlers. he was touched by the demonstration of affection on the part of the English president Thomas Rastel. the Dutch decided to follow the Portuguese example.93 Seth found only one tombstone of an Armenian woman at Surat in the sixteenth century (dating from 1579). 1627-1623. advocated the policy of populating Batavia. 99 The travels of Pietro della Valle in India. Blussé van Oud-Alblas. worked as interpreter for Pieter van den Broecke who arrived there as director of the Dutch East India Company in 1620. and quite a few to Armenian women. 263. January-June: 136.95 Subsequent to their settlement in New Julfa. 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. 97 See Om Prakash. 95 Ibid. because Seth was aware of the presence of Armenian women in India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. continued to be connected with Persia and Central Asia through Kabul and Kandahar during the period that followed. . ‘Surat—its past and present’ Calcutta Review. 1984): 19n. Seth.98 Della Valle noticed that many of the Dutch Company’s servants. 94 M. (1848) 9. 1: 29. contrary to those of the English. who often sent Della Valle his own coach and his interpreter. J. Dutch Factories in India. with their families seems to have increased. v. Mestizo Women and the Dutch in VOC Batavia (Leiden: KITLV. the interpreter of the English lodge at Surat. Armenians in India: 126. 1986): 158-62.96 The relationship between the Armenians and the two northwest European nationalities at Surat was rather close.97 When Della Valle was in Surat with his Georgian wife. 98 L. Coen. India and other countries. A Catholic Armenian called Iskandar Beg. the number of Armenian merchants settling in India . He was informed that this pattern was encouraged in order to populate Batavia: At Batavia Dutchmen settled with their family enjoyed many privileges. After initial attempts of shipping marriageable women or entire families to Asia had failed. vol. That is why many of them are married to women from Syria.99 93 Muzaffar Alam.

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

119-125. ‘Christians are obliged. versekeringe ende ook verbeteringhe der comptoiren en negotien van Guseratte ende Persia. A.109 A critical insight into the situation in Gujarat. 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.110 The Dutch-Armenian marriages. 1. 124. N. addresserende. ch. A. Collectie Sweers. the daughter of an Armenian merchant from Ahmedabad. 1979. 117. 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.g. Aga Piri appealed to the chiefs of all the European Companies in the name of Christianity. a temporary The travels of Della Valle vol. 122. 507. 111 De Geschriften: 17-25. documents 116. no. 146.113 Whenever there were forty Armenians resident in a town under the jurisdiction of the Company. VOC 1549. the attitude of Van den Broecke towards these marriages and the relationship between the English director Thomas Rastel and his Portuguese fiancée. and Mariam. 1700-1750. 184. Surat. Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. I am grateful to Ms.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. en affbreuke des algemeijnen vijants. Dag Register. Wiesbaden. for a description of Surat in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. 112 N. c. 140. ‘to stand by and protect each other if need be. Natalia Tojo for drawing my attention to this document.’112 What was the situation like in European settlements like Madras and Calcutta? As per the agreement signed between Khoja Panous Kalantar.300 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA of the assistant Willem Jacobsz. f. 148. als mede tot restauratie van de gelden schade in Mocha. 1: 120. Perzien en Arabien ook eenighe noodwendighe procedures welke in die quartieren dienen gehouden te worden tot preservatie. 110 109 . 113 See Armenian Merchants e. 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. 9. inv. as all trees whether bearing fruit or not deserve dewdrops from the heaven. ‘Corte Remonstrantie van de gelegentheijd van Guseratte. an eminent merchant of Isfahan and the East India Company in London in 1688. 123. pr consequent tot merkelijke voordeel van honorable Comp. and possess all rights enjoyed by British subjects. have inspired Kolff and Van Santen to reflect on the homogenous nature of the pluriform Christian ‘nation’ at Surat. Armenians were to trade and settle at all English ports on the same terms as English freemen. ff.505v. Though the agreement was not put into effect due to the opposition of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa.’ Piri pointed out to the director of the Dutch lodge. 136. see Ashin Das Gupta.

As India goods were very much in demand. crowded the English settlements. 1500-1800 301 church was to be built for their use. documents 116. which will in a few years aggrandize our revenue. e.117 Moreover. and passim. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel’.g. . . 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. 119 B. 117 Ibid.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. 116 Ibid. 142. the English East India Company was recommending that its employees attract Armenians to the English settlements and encourage their trade in every possible way. 118 Ibid. . 1693/94. Armenians were allowed to freight the Company’s Europe-bound ships with commodities like shellac. 131. George. D. George and the India Office and from other sources. the growth of the European settlements provided the Asian merchants with alternate bases of operation. Bhattacharya. pig-iron and wax. 1913). the Company allowing £50 a year for seven years for the maintenance of a priest. the Company was sure it would profit from the freight. 117. Vestiges of old Madras: 1640-1800: traced from the East India Company’s Records preserved at Fort St. 127.114 In the 1680s and 1690s. 141. they were in a position to procure goods at a cheaper rate. Company in London to Fort St. Love. and ground granted them for the erection of a permanent place of worship. and to whom we pay no wages being as good a security to our garrison and trade as hired English soldiers . no.119 The regulations of the European Companies prohibiting trade with rival establishments could be avoided through a network based on kinship. many private Asian merchants serving the Europeans in numerous ways.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 120.1: 543. 3 January. v. Because the Dutch Company was a direct participant in the intra-Asian trade. 115 Armenian Merchants. 4 vols. Since the English left the port to port trade in Asia to private enterprise already in the late 1660s.116 As the Armenians were familiar with the centres of production and market places in India. ship owning merchants often avoided their settlements. 124. As they wanted to 114 H. documents 121. stick lac. they would populate the settlements: It is undoubtedly our interest to make our garrisoned ports in India marts for nations. 163. document 156. 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.115 Experienced Armenians like Aga Piri were entrusted with training freshly arrived factors of the Company in language and the method of trading.

1733.122 In 1691. 1969): 55.125 By 1711 Armenians had become ‘numerous and opulent’ in Madras. also made it sure that he did not fall in the hands of the nawab’s people. Despatches to England. Bhattacharyya. Zulfiqar Khan’s camp and Golconda and thus by the bulk of their trade contributed greatly to the revenues of Fort St. As there were some proceedings against him in the nawab’s (Shuja Khan) darbar in Murshidabad. 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. 122 Ibid. Despatches to England. The East India Company and the Economy of Bengal (from 1704 to 1740). vol. A case in point was that of the Armenian merchant Khwaja Nazar. Indian merchants could use the Companies against one another. vol. Aceh. 126 RFSG. and/or trading with the king’s camp. 125 Armenian Merchants.123 In 1696. The case was later settled by Nazar’s vakil at the darbar. 121 120 . 50. For merchants trying to escape the wrath of indigenous elites. George.120 Armenians followed the same pattern. 55-60. but the nawab demanded Rs. 1: 1694-96. while more were expected. document 139. ibid.126 With the growth of the ports of Bombay.121 The English were willing to pay as much as Rs.000.000 to make up the case. many of them were annually sailing to Bengal. 20. Bengal Public Consultations. quoted in S. Bhattacharyya presents other cases as well. Madras and Calcutta in the eighteenth cen- Ibid. 123 Armenian Merchants. while stopping him from sailing for Europe. Elihu Yale noted that recently ‘a few more’ Armenians had come to settle in Fort St. the European settlements were a place of refuge. the English in Calcutta. Khoja Nazar built the Armenian Apostolic Church (called St. 17 April. 2: 147. Persia and other places. document 239. 35. too. the council noted that though there were a few Armenians constantly residing at Madras. George. Nazareth after him) in Calcutta in 1724.302 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA attract local shipping magnates to their ports.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. 59. 124 RFSG. Manila. (Calcutta: Graphic Art Press. In analysing the relationship between the nawab and the English.

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

as ‘no bad consequences from their residence’ were apprehended. George registered only 9 marriages between Armenian and western European individuals between 1680-1800. also suffered from the phenomenon of dualism reflected in the Europeans’ concern for defence and security. Selections from Unpublished Records of Government: for the years 1748 to 1767 inclusive. the brides were Armenian and the bridegrooms European. As far as Armenian-European marriage is concerned. T. Calcutta in Urban History (Calcutta: Firma KLM. 139 I owe this information to P. 137 Ibid.134 Calcutta. it is interesting to note that in all the cases that have come down to us. as ‘very useful people.136 The Black Town gradually drove wedges into the White Town. the fence gradually fell down. 138 J.140 H. especially the Armenians. with its accommodational function. were to sell it to European Protestants. and by 1750 the English Company ordered the council of Fort St. The Grand Hotel. The chapel and other buildings built by Petrus Woscan at Vepery were transferred to the Danish missionaries. 1680-1800 (Madras: Madras Government Press. resulting in the development of new areas. became an embellishment. Long. Dodwell ed.304 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA 1746. 135 P. Vestiges of old Madras. 134 133 . List of marriages registered in the Presidency of Fort St. the Nizam Palace. or the ‘Grey Town’ where the Portuguese. Ibid. George. The fort.133 Those who possessed landed property in the White Town. 467. Sinha.138 Many of the magnificent buildings in the White Town of Calcutta were built by the Armenians.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.. One well-known marriage in Surat in the late eighteenth century was that between Hripsimah. 136 Ibid. where no Armenian was to live in future. 1916).135 In the colonial period. Saha (Calcutta: Mukhopadhyay. the second city in the British colonial empire. Ed. manifested in the fort and the fence. Greeks and Armenians were settled from the pre-colonial times.’ Armenians were to be allowed to inhabit the Black Town. 140 Records of Fort St. Nair. George to direct the Armenians to leave the White Town. 426. the urban area began to grow and spread and the component elements began to interpenetrate. especially into the intermediate zone. D. 1973): 161. vol. 2: 403-404. However. Love. Relating mainly to the Social Condition of Bengal with a map of Calcutta in 1784. See H. 1978): 7-8.139 The formation of bigger Armenian settlements around the church did not reduce social contact between Armenians and western Europeans. the Park Mansions—to name only a few— bear testimony to the zeal of the Armenian pioneers of the real estate business in Calcutta. M.

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

and reaching the ultimate destination. 1955): 133. transporting them to the port of embarkation. does not imply that it was only the Europeans who needed Armenians. was. Baghdiantz Mccabe. that Armenians both competed and co-operated with Europeans.306 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the trade carried on by the European Companies was no match for that of the Armenians. who studied the I. It is true that Armenians were already established in the trade of the Indian Ocean.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.’ 147 Armenian Merchants enumerates 114 cases where Armenians served the English East India Company in different capacities between 1617 and 1708/09. getting them ready for shipping. an attempt to get access to the credit and extensive network of trade of the Armenian merchants. Armenians did not have to enter into any trading partnership with them.146 In India. the ‘market’ where the goods were disposed at a reasonable profit. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade. 283-84. Bekius. R. Van Leur’s thesis has been criticised by many 146 145 . and not the other way round. 151 J. 3: 141. by merchants whom he termed peddlers. on the other hand. That so many servants of the Dutch East India Company—much more than their English counterparts—got married to Armenian women. Kolff and Van Santen have pointed to the greater relevance of the marriages between Armenians and Europeans in this respect. Van Leur.150 Yet. 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.151 Steensgaard. Van Leur noted that in the primarily agricultural societies of Asia. 148 De Geschriften: 21-22. in their opinion. index 3.145 Bekius has shown. Armenians intermarried with western Europeans and flocked to the European towns. Indonesian Trade and Society: Essays in Asian social and economic history (The Hague: Van Hoeve. as we have seen. agricultural surplus was extracted by the state. Shah’s silk: 327-47. Many of them possessed their own shipping. starting from the procurement of goods at the centres of production.149 This however. Early Annals of the English in Bengal vol. 150 It was part of the policy of the English East India Company to employ small vessels owned by Armenians for coasting trade. and consequently. In his study of Indonesian trade and society. East India Companies were no competitors of the Armenians. C. 149 Ibid. The trade that was carried on here was small-scale and in luxury goods.148 Marriage relationships often went hand in hand with business interests. was a long drawn and extremely intricate process.

The merchant Abraham Isaac who passed away in Calcutta on August 18. The Asian Trade Revolution: 22-31. 1796 had a credit of little over Rs.156 Khoja Petrus. Meilink Roelofsz. g.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. See e. 4926. Subrahmanyam ed. Khoja Catchick Khojamal. prices fluctuated making trading operation extremely insecure. could amount to 40 per cent of the cost price.’157 In historians. Hopkins ed. it was exposed to the dangers of the road.512. 153 The cost of transporting cloth from Agra to Surat. Chaudhuri. The Political Economy of Commerce in Southern India. 156 See below. 1640-1700 (Leiden: Centre for Non-Western Studies. 1962). The Imperial Impact: Studies in the Economic History of India and Africa (London: Athlone Press for the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. supply in the peddlers’ market was limited and could not be adjusted to the fluctuation in demand.154 Analysing the modus operandi of the merchants in early modern India. A. See his Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. A.. 1993): 299-300. Merchants. 1. Asian Trade and European Influence in the Indonesian Archipelago between 1500 and about 1630 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. A.155 merchants like Zachary Avetik. K. 155 See e.152 Due to limited production. and when supply and demand were unpredictable. also S. 2 to Rs. Subrahmanyam and C. See R. 135.153 Not only was overland transport slow. a reason that inspired Ashin Das Gupta to characterise that merchant prince as peddler. including the customs duties. Subrahmanyam. ‘Indian merchants in a Traditional setting: Varanasi 1780-1830’. Bayly. Markets and Trade in Early Modern India. The Arabian Seas. . and many others like them seem to have been like those merchants termed by Bayly as ‘port-folio capitalists. Bayly. ‘Portfolio capitalists and political economy in early modern India’. 138-39. also S.W. 1500-1800 307 caravan trade of the Middle East. To this was added the hazards in the transportation of the commodities from the centres of production to the ports of shipment. 1770-1870: 242-65. A. a merchant often divided his investments among various partners and pursuits with a view to spreading the risk and sharing the profit. While all this pushed up the cost of transport. Dewey and A. N. Steensgaard. no. 1978): 186. Barendse. The Trading World of Asia and the East India Company. P. O. 327-36. c. 136-37. It is possible that he started as an agent of Khoja Petrus Aratoon who was paid Rs.g. 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. upheld Van Leur’s characterization of Asian trade by characterizing Asian merchants as peddlers and the markets as peddlers’ markets. in S. 152 N. 200 toward the discharge of a bond. J. introduction. 1978).. M. Hence the payment of protection cost to the local rulers of all the territories through which the caravans passed. in C. Calcutta High Court. 1660-1670 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chris Bayly noted that when operating in a market that was intransparent. G. 1998). 157 C. While many of the Armenian merchants trading on behalf of a principal were peddlers. The cost of the other transactions made by Isaac varied from Rs. Khoja Minas. As markets were non-transparent and information incomplete. delay in reaching the port might mean missing a sailing season. 1550-1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 48.

encouraged the procedure as some empty space in the Asia-bound ship was utilised in this way. . like many other groups of Asian merchants.656. The Dolphin.. also Armenian Merchants . Armenians freighted Asia-bound ships of the English Company. During 1693-94. 3 (1711-14): 18. Armenians. 161 RFSG. 8 (1646-1650): 86 and vol. was one of the Madras Armenians involved in this trade. however. 67. the correspondent of Aga Piri Kalantar of Madras in London. bought 200. vol. co-operated with Europeans because the presence of the latter provided Asian merchants with further opportunities of spreading the risks. of course. Armenians were using Danish company ships for their Europe trade. . was part of a broader framework and it is here that the Armenian merchants cooperated with Europeans in numerous other accounts by lending money. and providing cover when necessary.000 pieces of chadar Dariabadi under the cover of Aga Piri. The actual carrying out of the trade. documents 62.158 This being said. . 11 (1661-1664): 328. acting as agents or suppliers. traces of such co-operation are to be found in the archives of the European companies.160 In the eighteenth century. following a ban on the trade of the Europeans.000 pounds of indigo and 30. sailing as nakhuda on board European ships. carried Armenians. 71 for similar evidence.A.159 Such cover was indispensable so far as trade to Manila was concerned. which left London on April 29. and the Armenians had to pay freight charges. 11 December 1694 (copy) VOC 1548. De Keijser and the Council at Surat to the Directors. It is possible that Khoja Zachary. But it also ensured direct shipping of goods and persons and was less hazardous than the route via the Levant and then Middle East. Khoja Baba Sultan. vol. freighting their ships. Despatches to England.308 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA spite of all the elements of tension and conflict involved. 68. it should be added that Armenian merchants appear to have acted in different capacities and were dexterous at keeping the accounts separate. mentioned above. 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 . 160 See English Factories in India. and two Armenians of Madras. De Keijser.161 The Companies. This trade was organized by Armenians in Holland. . 1646 and reached Swally in November of the same year. the Dutch director at Surat. . f. Their agents carried piece goods from Bengal and Coromandel to Europe and took back Dutch and English broad cloth to Tranquebar. 159 N. XXXII-XXXIII. Long before the agreement of 1688. Though wills and testaments do not throw much light on this aspect—except when an unrecovered due was involved—. 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. 65.

000 for freighting the Colchester for a voyage to Gombroon and Basra. 2. In Basra. ‘Bengal merchants and commercial organisation in the second half of the seventeenth century’. ff.165 The George that left Surat for Gombroon in December 1669. The Arabian Seas . 167 N.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. . in obtaining a good freight of fine piece goods in Bengal for the Sedgewick he was planning to send to Persia in September 1700.168 In December 1702 Sarhad offered the English company Rs. 13 (1668-69): 204. took the responsibility for collecting the piece goods and other commodities and loading them on the company’s ships. 159-60. 164 Armenian Merchants. N. R. Maloni.163 The Armenians. Muslim merchants freighted their money. The Sulleiman. and goods and sailed on board the same ship for Surat. freighted English company ships. vol. (1698-1713): 271. 38. For Armenian merchants freighting Dutch company ships on the Surat—Bandar Abbas run see R. . Early Annals of the English in Bengal. Dag Register.170 The French ship Pontchartreijn renamed Queen Louise carried freightgoods worth Rs. 170 RFSG. 300. with their contacts in India. document 257. W. 6. The ship could not.A.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.A. ibid. Wilson.000 belonging to Armenian merchants. 1630-1638 (Delhi: Manohar. 166 English Factories in India.169 The same year the council of Fort St. ff.. Bengal Past and Present. J. was permitted to carry any horse that would be shipped by the agent of Khoja Minas.F. 171 This was in 1704. 2 1701/02—1710/11. . 165 R. 1: 369-71. European Merchant Capital and the Indian Economy: a Historical Reconstruction based on Surat Factory Records. Despatches to England. v.G. 1706: 52-53. belonging to the Armenian Khoja Minas of Surat. ed. Thomas Pitt referred to his acquaintance with Sarhad and his uncle Khoja Panous Kalantar in London. 90 (1971): 182-216. 168 C. however. 336. The English Company servants in Bengal stated that Armenians bought textiles 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than them..1616-1617. September 12 and October 9. Coolhaas. Surat.S. VOC 1409. Surat-Batavia. It is expected that the Armenians will freight the Little London for Persia’. vol. 4 March. Compare: ‘. the leading Armenian merchant in Bengal.1275-87. VOC 1264. was hired by the French (in huur bij de Fransen).166 Minas had purchased two ships from the English who again rented the ships and sent them to Persia. 367-69. Despatches to England. 1500-1800 309 against pirates and other dangers at sea. Barendse. vol. who owned at least five ships himself. R. 1685.164 Khoja Minas. 1992).167 While soliciting the ‘favour and assistance’ of Khoja Israel Sarhad. 163 162 . . Ph. Generale Missiven.171 All the three ships that arrived in Armenian Merchants. document 209. 29 August. George let out the Phoenix to an Armenian for a voyage to Persia via Bengal.1. 169 S. sail to Persia as it hit the shore near Point Palmyras and had to unload the goods at Tranquebar. 1268. (1694-96): 35. Chaudhuri.

Furber. vol. 1600-1800 (Minneapolis. B.: 689. Juan that left Madras for Manila carried goods freighted by Armenian and Indian merchants. 16841792. RFSG.175 The other routes where Armenian and European interests were intertwined were the routes to Southeast Asia. Armenian merchants taking passage on board European ships in Asia was common. Souza have pointed to the involvement of Armenians in the commerce carried on by the Portuguese of Macao to Manila and 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. 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. under Captain Mylne to Kung and Bushire. Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient.: University of Minnesota Press. 173 172 . 3: 56.000.’ unpublished paper presented to the 11th Annual Conference of the World History Association. H. Despatches to England.173 Similarly. 177 ‘Cinnamon. George be seized. Despatches to England.30. At least till the middle of the eighteenth century European merchants needed Asian merchants.177 Using European bottoms for consigning goods to factors. Seoul. In the early modern period. 176 Generale Missiven.174 In the wake of troubles in Persia in the early eighteenth century. 174 English Factories in India. When the Dutch East India Company decided to close their factory at Pegu. in 1737 Armenian merchants of Madras freighted the Galatea. the agent of the English at that place proposed that the subjects of the king of Persia and their effects at Fort St. It was a relationship of accepting each other for mutual profit. 3: 56. 175 RFSG. Manila and China. mostly a relative or a member of the community settled at ports like Mergui. vol. 4 (1675-1685): 446. the trading companies sent embassies Ibid. ARMENIANS AS EMISSARIES Equally. Korea.310 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Tranquebar from Denmark in 1709 were to be freighted by the Armenians to Persia. one Portuguese and one Armenian were entrusted with the task of collecting the outstanding debts of the Company amounting to more than f. August 15-18. 1976): 285. 2002. Minn. vol. vol.172 Again.178 Throughout the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries Armenians assisted Europeans in their investment in India. silver and opium: Foreign shipping and trading activities at Batavia. 178 In 1712 the St. The Council of Fort St. Pegu and Manila seems to have been common. Sending emissaries to the head of a state is a practice common since ancient times. including Armenians.176 Researches of G. 6: 106.

Old Fort William in Bengal. 183 Ibid.185 179 S. A Selection of Official Documents dealing with its History. 185 Ibid.’184 They had promised the young prince three small pieces of brass cannon. 1642-1700: documents related to the journeys of Khodja Murad (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut. 1979). 180 E. (1699-1702) (Calcutta: Firma KLM. 1698 the Sutanuti council noted that Mr.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. J. When the king of Ethiopia sent an embassy to the Mughal emperor. 16. ed. 1: 25-27. At this the English decided to send another delegation. On September 22. Subrahmanyam. In order to secure the rights of the company against the activities of the interlopers. who was accompanied by Mr. 1500-1800 311 to heads of various countries for trading privileges.. The Norris Embassy to Aurangzeb. the nephew of Khoja Panous. the English company approached Khoja Israel Sarhad. . 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. I am greatful to Dirk Kolff for drawing my attention to this work. 184 Ibid.181 In the late 1690s. he appointed Khoja Murad. Das. Walsh and Khoja Sarhad went back from the camp having ‘finished all business to our greatest satisfaction. (London. to head the delegation. 1959): 211-12. It was this delegation that secured for the English the right to farm the three townships of Sutanuti. who was sent to the camp of Zabardast Khan as the ‘Political Agent’ of the English. Foreign Relations of Ethiopia. the English company wanted to send a delegation to Zabardast Khan.. We have noted above that Emperor Akbar had employed an Armenian as his interpreter. Commerce and Culture. in Prakash and Lombard eds. Walsh. .. also headed by Khoja Sarhad. 181 H. 2 vols. Indian Records Series.000. It was a period when many attributes of Persian culture were visibly adopted by the courts in countries in South and Southeast Asia.180 Sir William Norris. Van Donzel. R.182 In spite of that. . on his embassy to Aurangzeb. The embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of Jahangir is a well known case. 1400-1700’. interlopers also were able to secure some trading favours for themselves from the same general. 36-38.183 At the camp. Sarhad was able to win the friendship of the young prince Farrukhsiyar. an Armenian. Wilson. General of the Mughal’s forces who was suppressing the revolt of Sobha Singh in Bengal. Govindpur and Calcutta in Bengal in 1698 for the sum of Rs. ‘Persianization and Mercantilism: two themes in the Bay of Bengal History. . 182 C.179 Familiarity with Persian offered the Armenians easy access to the Mughal court and made them extremely suitable as emissaries. 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. 1906) vol.

Sarhad had been able to procure the grant of Calcutta for the English. 187 The next we hear of Khoja Sarhad is in 1713 when the English intended to send a deputation to Farrukhsiyar. The council apprehended that sending Sarhad as vakil. for the renewal of their privilege of trading free of duties in return for a lump sum payment of Rs. . vol. and what may be useful for us. Generale Missiven. 1714 the council noted the reasons for appointing Khoja Sarhad on the mission to the court of the Great Mughal.312 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Khoja Sarhad. The Dutch referred to him as the ‘notorious Armenian bankrupt’ (berugten Armeensch banquerottier). vol. Aga Piri appealed to the English in Bengal to oblige Khoja Sarhad to adjust his accounts. be sent. By his prudent conduct. 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. and acted as vakil or agent of (his cousin) Aga Piri Kalantar of Fort St. 187 186 . 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. . Unable to recover his dues. He was also obliged to try RFSG. vol. seems to have been less successful in trade and was indebted to Aga Piri for a considerable sum. Despatches to England. now Emperor at Delhi. John Surmon was appointed the first. and we know no man so qualified in both these respects as Cojah Surhaud. 2: 67. 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. 2: 157-58. He is therefore. Mr. 3. on June 5. Consequently. Khoja Sarhad second and Mr. the fittest man we can send. 1714. the Calcutta council unanimously agreed that Cojah Surhaud. Therefore. 7 (1713-1725): 106. 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. George. Sarhad was to try to confirm all the privileges that the English enjoyed in the Mughal’s dominions to date in a new farman.000. and inferior to the Englishmen in the embassy would draw the Emperor’s attention to the Armenian.188 At the meeting held on January 27. Secondly. More importantly. who was engaged in sea-borne trade. and that he sit and vote in the Council along with the three English gentlemen .186 This debt was not recovered as late as 1709. whose interest &c. 188 The following information on the Surmon Embassy (including the quotations) is based on Early Annals of the English in Bengal. Ibid.

Compare the following statement made by C. . vol. See Armenians in India . the Fort William Council. Wilson. Old Fort William: 25. But in any case Sarhad was to try to get the customs duty paid by the English at Surat reduced to 2. when the embassy left Delhi after the imperial firman had been obtained. 70. 1500-1800 313 to obtain the island of Diu off Masulipatnam for the council of Fort St.190 His attitude during the journey evoked suspicion and irritation among the English. Sarhad was to obtain for the English the privilege to trade free of customs at Surat for which he would get another Rs. . George. was not unanimous about the inclusion of Khoja Sarhad in it. Sarhad stayed on in Delhi. however.000. R. however. K. 56. 67. if not well looked after. 1713: 4. 191 After the sanad from the diwan at Murshidabad was obtained.000 would be given to Sarhad if he was successful in all these efforts. William Hamilton. indispensable in all political negotiations of the English in India in the eighteenth century. The following decades saw the growth of Calcutta. W. 193 RFSG. A reward of Rs.192 The service of the Armenians was.5 percent. its fleet and the country trade of the British. 50. the son of Prince Azîmush-shân. Firminger. for their negotiation with the governor of Golconda. It was apprehended that Sarhad. cured Farrukhsiyar from a malignant distemper he had been suffering from. . 281. J. from whom he procured permission to rent the three townships. He would not get anything if he failed. The council of Fort St. Edward Stephenson was appointed secretary and accountant to the negotiation with the responsibility to take down the minutes of consultation. Khoja Petrus and Hodjee Addy were entrusted 189 M. 50. 24. 190 Early Annals. 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. vol. the company’s surgeon. K. R. Historical Introduction: 87. but not altogether creditable part in the Surman Embassy to Delhi in the years 1715 to 1717’. Dr.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Wilson about Khoja Sarhad: ‘He is said to have been personally known to Prince Farrukhsiyar. Seth quoted from William Bolts to show that contemporary Englishmen knew the contribution Sarhad made in getting the farman renewed in 1717. Secondly.193 When it was considered necessary to send presents to the nawab of Arcot. 2: 154-55. Firminger.189 Even before the formation of the embassy. Hamilton. 1962): 87. 192 W. 3. George often consulted Aga Piri.191 The success of the Surman Embassy was ascribed to the services of Dr. among others. Also in this case he was not to receive anything if he was not successful. He afterwards played a conspicuous. 2: 193. Diary and Consultation Book. 71. n. 214. 427. would play tricks and enrich himself at the cost of the Company. Early Annals. C. Mr. Sarhad had left for Patna when the rest of the embassy was still in Murshidabad. Historical Introduction to the Bengal Portion of the Fifth Report (Calcutta: Indian Studies Past & Present.

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

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

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. 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. could make use of the increasing European—in addition to Asian—shipping in the Indian Ocean region. Shibbabu. 2: 368-69. . In doing so. Law informed Wajid that he was on his way to Murshidabad. but the parameters of the two structures were totally different. the nawab had asked Law to leave Patna for Murshidabad. Mobility and flexibility had always been characteristics of this ethno-religious network. 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. 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. Whereas the Companies drew their strength from the state that backed them. Armenians were part of a pre-modern structure of trade operating on the basis of extended family and other kinship networks. 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. 206 Letter from Clive to Pigot. Unlike the modern joint-stock European Companies. One cannot compare the two structures. (no. it has been necessary first to understand how the Armenian merchants organized their trade. This letter also was handed over to the English by Wajid. Bengal in 1756-57. one can only emphasize their differences. Wajid was imprisoned on the grounds that he was conspiring with the Dutch and the French. as neutral Christians. 371). Within two years after the battle of Plassey (1757) that yielded the English political power in Bengal. and these characteristics reached their height in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Arriving at Bhagalpur. Both the structures co-existed with each other. to Clive who informed Pigot in Madras that he was conspiring with powerful persons including Jagat Seth and Khoja Wajid.316 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA sent his chief gumastah. It coincided with the arrival of the European Companies in Asia when Armenians. private networks of trade maintained by members of the community remained the source of strength of the Armenians.

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

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