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

BY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1993). All of the independent territorial bases the Europeans possessed in Asia were fortified. (London. Calmard. Yerevan. S.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 1: 3-5. 12 The Armenian Trade of New Julfa and its commercial-economic ties with Russia during the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries. Thesis.12 In addition. 2: 58.14 Neither K. ‘The Engish East India Company in the 17th and 18th centuries: a pre-modern Multi-national Organization’ in Blussé. 1500-1800 281 force. in Etudes Safavides. it was precisely that nation that started using force systematically against Asian shipping. This legacy was continued by the East India Companies. also foreigners in Bengal. (henceforth Military Transactions) 2 vols. one of the main reasons for dispute between Siraj-uddaula. 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. the best analysis of the organization and structure of Armenian trade is to be found in the works of Shushanik Khachikian. (Paris Teheran: Institut Français de recherche en Iran. 11 Bengal in 1756-57.10 It should be remembered that armed trade was. 21 September. Rene Bekius’s research on the textile trade of the Armenians touches upon their trade in Persia. in her study on the Julfa Armenians in Russia. Edmund Herzig (see note below) and Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe refer to her work in detail. In his letters to the Armenian merchant Khoja Wajid. Oxford. L. who. Why should the Europeans—the English in particular—insist on fortifications?11 So far. and F. A selection of public and private papers dealing with the affairs of the British in Bengal during the reign of Siraj-uddaula ed. 29-46. With notes and an historical introd. Phil. Isfahan: a Study in Pre-Modern Asian Trade. 1988 (in Armenian). A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan. 1905) vol. N. Gaastra ed. D. also ‘The family firm in the commercial organisation of the Julfa Armenians’. 1991. 287-303. 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 . 3 vols. J. Chaudhuri. Hill.13 Baghdiantz Mccabe herself offers an excellent account of the career of Marcara. Companies and Trade. ed. the nawab of Bengal and the English in the middle of the eighteenth century. after all. 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. Not only were the Companies able to extract special privileges from the sovereigns. (London: John Murray. the nawab mentioned that the Armenians. By S. 13 The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. 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). the privileges were backed up by the threat of the use of force. also Robert Orme. 1775-77) vol. shows that Armenians did not have European type companies. I have communicated with Khachikian who kindly confirmed her position through e-mail. C. 2003. had not built any fort and traded under the protection of the Mughal government.

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

Baghdiantz Mccabe. ed. whose money they adventure upon. 1500-1800. Shah’s silk . and by being factors of their own kindred’s honesty. 237-248. the wealthiest men. (London: Harper & Row. a quarter part of the gain is their own: from such beginnings do they raise sometimes great fortunes for themselves and Masters. Herzig. 1672-1681. Merchants. . become by their own industry. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel in the eighteenth century: a case for continuity’. 1982): 150. Trans. 24 A New Account of East India. 285-305. . and on return. for example. 190915). companies and commerce on the Coromandel coast.23 However. 1999). in Institutions and Economic Change in South Asia. Reynolds. in Commerce and culture in the Bay of Bengal. there seems to have been no European-type chartered joint-stock Armenian company. 1500-1800 283 So far as Armenian trade in India and the Indian Ocean was concerned.19 Organizing commerce on the basis of family connections has been common in pre-modern societies in Europe and Asia. has shown that family firms with extended patriarchal household as the basis of business organization were a major organ of this trade. 2. Bhattacharya. See S. . Burton Stein and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. and travelling with these into the remotest kingdoms. being nine years travels. The Wheels of Commerce. S. 1986 passim and B. ed. (London: the Hakluyt Society. Braudel noted that the family offered the most natural and sought after solution for commercial networks. A description of this system was also provided by Fryer: they [the Armenians] enter the theatre of commerce by means of some benefactor. the eldest son Mukesh Ambani took over the charge of the business. edited with notes and an introd. John Fryer left a description of the trading method of the Armenians: The Armenians being skilled in all the intricacies of trade at home. ‘The Tata paradox’. The Tamil Muslim merchants of the Coromandel coast known as Marakkayars organised their trade on the basis of extended kinship. 23 After the demise of Dhirubhai Ambani of the Reliance Industries recently. Braudel. 22 A New Account of East India and Persia. . by William Crooke. F.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 21 Shah’s silk: 245-250.24 E. Lombard (Delhi: Manohar. Herzig.21 In the seventeenth century. often family members. M. O. see Claude Markovits. 20 19 . if the family firm provided the basics of the business organization. Arasaratnam. vol. 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. 3 vols. the Ahmedabad industrialist Kasturbhai Lalbhai created companies for his nephews.22 This is the organizing principle still followed in many modern Indian industrial firms. Cf. . Prakash and D. ‘The family firm’ also. 1650-1740. Civilization and Capitalism. Delhi. 1996).20 Baghdiantz Mccabe herself admits that family was the basic unit and the preferred system of Armenian merchant associations. 249. 249.

For Avetik di Petros see R. 2000). Papazian.25 The most popular type of partnership prevalent among the Armenians of New Julfa was the commenda contract.27 Though such detailed accounts are available mostly in Armenian documents. The commenda contracts were basically of two types: unilateral. and Aga Piri as the son of Khoja Panous. ‘The ledger of the Merchant Hovannes Joughayetsi’. This volume offers a unique collection of documents on Armenian merchants and their relationship with the English East India Company. where the whole capital was provided by the investor (sleeping partner) and active partner or agent invested the labour. 146. 8. operating in Amsterdam in the late 1690s. 2003. his wife Azis was in Isfahan. e-mail. 26 Edmund Herzig. ‘De’ or ‘di’ in Armenian names are abbreviation of the word ‘vordi’ meaning son. St. 27 L. and Avetik. Khoja Avetik of Isfahan.284 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA This kind of partnership was prevalent among different merchant communities of South Asia in different forms. no. Bekius. Antony’s College. By the time he came to Madras. loan. incorporating features of partnership. ch. Khoja Zachary di Avetik of Isfahan came to Madras from Amsterdam in 1714. no. in this sense. 1991.28 At the time Zachary wrote his will. Isfahan: a study in pre-modern Asian trade. 1998) (henceforth Armenian Merchants). September 21. It is also possible that our Avetik was another person. ch. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. Zachary must have been well established in the trade to Europe. 3. In Amsterdam. 3 offers a detailed account of the different kinds of partnership known among the Armenians and how these worked. employment. One of the principal merchants Zachary represented was his father. University of Oxford. Ph. Zachary di Avetik.D. commission agency and representation. George amply testify to the existence of the system until the end of the eighteenth century. thesis. and Margaret Makepeace ed. I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for this clarification. 182. The shah-gumastha partnership existing among the Sindhi merchants of Shikarpur. he seems to have had transactions with Sarhad. 237. Armenian merchants of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: English East India Company sources. was a variant of this system. . Khachikian. ibid. For reference to Khoja Avetik Kalantar as brother of Aga Piri see See Vahe Baladouni. Journal of the Asiatic Society. referred to as ‘master’ in the will was most probably the father of Zachary de Avetik. 5. Khachikian and H. nos. The Global World of Indian Merchants. and in few cases. 175. a merchant from New Julfa who 25 Claude Markovitz. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa.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. This ledger book has been edited in Armenian recently by L. means Zachary the son of Avetik. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade’. where a part of the capital invested came from the active partner. and bilateral. the English records of the Fort St. 28 Shushanik Khachikian suggested that Khoja Avetik. true partnership. 153-86. (1966). 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama. He had three sons: Hovannes. under which a small group of sahukars and sarrafs controlled financial and commercial transactions over a vast area encompassing Khorassan and Turkestan. Gregory. These were commenda partnership. known as Avetik di Petros.

Armenian Merchants . like Zachary himself. E-mails to the author. Diary and Consultation Book. handed Gregory (son of Zachery) a full discharge for 300 tomands. the Hague (henceforth N. 1719: 177. Issa Cooly was noted by the Dutch at Surat as a person friendly with the Mughal official Salabat Khan. 241. he had three other large accounts with Gregory de Agazar. 249. Siraz. not known as a ‘khoja’. The Armenian Merchants. one worth 150 tomands on Zachary di Avetik in India and the other of similar value on [?his son] Khoja Avetik in Europe. Madras and Pegu.34 Zachary seems to have had an agent called Beethan in Gombroon. 2003 and 1 February.). 169. . 1500-1800 285 traded with Russia and Holland. 141. among other places. Khoja Zachary and the latter’s master [?Khoja Avetik]. Diary and Consultation Book. Ma[natsa]gan di Aga Piri and Issa Gully di Avateek Shaudullah. 171 and 1719: 93 and 120. 14 June 1685.29 Already in 1697 we find Zachary shipping glass-ware and broad cloth on English Company ships.30 He was one of those merchants who travelled between different places in Europe. 1409. Gombroon. sailing to Pegu. Isfahan. another factor of Khoja Avetik. 451. 1: The Last Will and Testament of Zachary De Avateek. He was related to Khoja Zachary and replaced him as the Armenian alderman when Zachary left for Pegu. etc. 253. Zachary does not mention Tarkhan as his master but mentions that the latter. (film 1035) f. Similarly. who were also. Tamil Nadu Archives. Zachary traded on multiple accounts. nos. The family tree of Khoja Minasean family p. 31 Records of Fort St. 231. Copy of Wills. George (henceforth RFSG). henceforth ‘the last will of Zachary’. his masters [not named] and Avid de Zeany and two other between Macartoon Yanhoopa.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Magan di Aga Piri was a son of Aga Piri Kalantar of Surat and Madras (see more on him below). who was however. 34 English East India Company sources refer to one Persia de Marketon freighting goods on the company ships. when he visited India. 1718: 56. Records of the Mayor’s Court. Probates. 33 It is very much likely that this Issa Gully was the same person as the Armenian Issa Coolly/Coollyan at the Mughal court. dated 10 September. . his master [in Isfahan] issued two bills of exchange. Apart from the account together with his master Khoja Avetik. 23 September. vol. Zachary had two more accounts with the prominent Bengal/Madras merchant Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan.C. Armenian Merchants.O. 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. See RFSG. Khoja Tarkon [?Tarkhan]. Dag Register Surat.33 Since 1714. (henceforth TNA). 32 Was he a grandson of Khoja Minas? See Edmund Herzig. no. see Nationaal Archief.31 He represented at least another merchant of Isfahan. . 1736. He had four other accounts running—two of these were partnership accounts between himself. 2004. he had a partnership account with Macartoon Yanhoopa (the second part does not resemble Armenian names). One of these accounts 29 Shushanik Khachikian informed the author that the Armenian Sarhad trading in Russia had transactions with a Zachar. factors of other principal merchants.A.32 In lieu of a factorage bond worth 300 tomands. documents 241.1599v. V. 30 Armenian Merchants.

or ‘Callenter’ is treated in European records as surname.5 1686-97.37 Moreover. Aga Piri settled in Madras somewhere at the turn of the century. Also. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. 38 Ibid.79662. Unfortunately. Khoja Sarkies di Agavelly and Khoja Gregory of Fort St. He was a ‘well known’ Armenian inhabitant of Surat and broker for the Dutch East India Company.000 in the name of Zachary and his sons. it referred to kalantar (alderman or mayor). refers to two Avetiks—one without (documents 62. 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. In another case in 1732. the English expected Aga Piri or some other member of the family to go to London in order to look after his business. no. 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. 231-44. together with his sons. documents 261 and 262 for example.286 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA was part of Zachary’s account with his masters [not named]. 183.. 24. 36 35 . no. Ferrier. 1975): 770. ed. 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. Armenian Merchants. All further references to this work are from this edition. 188-89 and passim)—though indexed together under one name ‘Coja Aveatick Calendar’ p. his own interests as well as those of his sons were intertwined in an extremely intricate cris-cross pattern of partnership. For a lively discussion on the agreement see M. Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day—a work of Original Research (Delhi: Oxford etc. alternately ‘Calendar’. R. as the latter possessed a ‘factorage’ bond worth Rs. Generale Missiven v.35 Was Zachary’s father (Avetik) a son of the famous Armenian Khoja Panous Kalantar. Seth. a city official appointed by central government in Iran. 112 for the text of this agreement. He was part of a wide-ranging network of commercial transactions in which the interests of his principals (including his father). the will does not specify the type of partnerships Zachary had with all these different partners.. Ph.38 Zachary had a partnership contract with Ma[natsa]gan. 281. Later he became the Armenian Alderman of the Mayor’s Court at Fort St. 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. their other factors. W. of indigo was purchased by De Keyser at Agra through the broker Aga Piri for f. ‘The agreement of the EIC with the Armenian Nation’. 39 Aga Piri was active in Surat during the 1690s. 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. When his father was returning from London to Julfa in 1692. George had Khoja Simon as ‘The last will of Zachary’. seems to have acted as factor of Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. 37 Armenian Merchants. 179. 1937). In the other account Zachary. 74. 146. Though the term ‘Calandar’. George. no. See Armenian Merchants. 77) and one with the title kalantar (documents 153. J. Armenian Merchants. 264. 52250 lb.

75. During his stay in Pegu. 42 Calcutta High Court. whose structure. Upon accepting the ‘factorship’. Khojamal particularly mentioned in his testament that the two accounts were entirely separate and should not be mixed up.41 In a distinct case of commenda partnership. and the informal networks formed by the representatives of these formal companies in their private capacity were crucial for country trade. The last will and testament of Coja Catchick Cojamaul deceased. however. in the wills and testaments of Armenian merchants suggests that the organization of Armenian trade was left to individual initiatives.42 The references we come across to Armenian trade in Persia and India. Aveat received several consignments from the Aga Piri brothers amounting to more than Pagodas 17. Brothers. Khojamal was employed by the famous Khoja Petrus Woskan who advanced him Rs. a merchant firm of Fort St. based on personal networks of extended kinship and the pursuit of similar goals. but the basic differences are clear. Khoja Cachick Khojamal. The network of the Armenian merchants indeed reflected a structure. 224. as defined by Markovits. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court. 43 There were of course informal connections behind this formal structure of the companies. far from the formal superstructure represented by the East India Companies. received from Khoja Nazar di Abid Aga the sum of 320 tomands on the condition that out of the profit made. Partnership among these individuals in different capacities was indeed a salient feature of this trade. At Pegu he worked together with one Petrus. 1755. 220 parts together with the principal sum would go to Khoja Nazar while 100 part of the profit would be Khojamal’s. when he set out from Isfahan in May 1740. 18.43 Armenian merchants in the Indian Ocean were rather like the multitude of other Asian merchants engaged in networks of private trade. 1737.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. George appointed Khoja Aveat their factor at Pegu.40 Again. The Companies with their modern structure co-existed with this pre-modern structure of trade. On his arrival at Madras in September 1740. 17 November. . size and scale made the nature of commercial operations impersonal. ‘Principal sum’ advanced by the Aga Piri brothers to be employed in their interest. 41 RFSG. 1500-1800 287 their ‘factor’ in Pegu. The reliance on the ethno-religious community provided the Armenians of New Julfa with a network that spanned at least half the globe. He had another account with his nephew Marcar di Sattoor. Old Will no. 40 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. and here the profit was to be equally divided between the two partners.000.750. 8-9. Khoja Thaddeus Aga Piri & co.000. Khoja Simon acted as the Pegu agent of other Armenians and sailed as nakhuda on ships sailing between Madras and Pegu. This was. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court 1731-32.

261. 144. Initially the council did not take notice of this rumour. 133. One is struck by the continuous circulation of even the leading members of the community. Bombay. Khoja Babur di Sultan seems to have functioned as the London agent of other Armenians too. As the Julfa dialect (Armenian. Wealthy Armenian merchants of such ports had agents at places like Pegu. See Armenian Merchants. The letter acquainted him. In addition to caravans. 1712. rumour had it that the Armenians had received advice that the directors of the Company had ordered the Fort St. 1711-14. Khoja Petrus Woscan left New Julfa at for Madras in 1705 when he was about twenty-five years of age. It must have been Aga Piri who referred the case to Babur. then residing in Madras. with many Persian loan words) was the medium of all commercial transactions. C. or both.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.000.44 Almost any ship sailing between two ports in Asia. 25. George Council to discharge that debt fully. But to their dismay. Aga Piri Kalantar. The Global World of Indian Merchants. after the arrival of the ship King William. George wanted to buy up the new company’s debt to Masulipatnam merchants amounting to Pagodas 80. The merchants of Masulipatnam must have sought assistance of Armenians in soliciting the Company’s favour in London. We have noted the case of Zachary above.46 From the seventeenth century onwards centres in India—Surat. a copy of a contract.288 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA facilitating a continuous circulation of capital. Through a multitude of partners and agents. It is not known exactly when he Claude Markovitz. the consignment—no matter if it contained an important message related to business or family. In 1711 the governor and council of Fort St. v. in some or other way related to the community. nos. no. or even the kin of acquaintances working at different levels. goods. Madras and Calcutta in particular—seem to have come up as places where Armenian capital was concentrated. a few bales of cloth— was bound to reach the destination. a couple of bills of exchange or promissory notes. who got the order issued. When the separate stock ship Windsor arrived in Madras in 1713. there was no possibility of disclosure of a confendential information. or leaving an Asian port for a destination in Europe could be used for sending agents. vol.3. pattamars or messengers were used for sending messages overland. that the council of Fort St. or consignments. a parcel containing cash or a few precious stones. 46 S. George had been directed to satisfy the merchants’ demands on the New Company as far as these were just. credit. RFSG. Bengal in 1756-57. 45 44 . 2. Despatches to England. information and human resources. produced an original letter to Khoja Babur di Sultan [Piri’s agent in London] dated January 29. Hill. by order of the Court of Directors. 262. or representatives of agents. and Manila.

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

471-75. and other merchants followed this caravan route to different market and production centres in north and northwest India. Bukhara. could easily take as long as six months. Persian. Seth. Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press.51 Indian rural economy. The Global World of Indian Merchants and Scott C. was very much geared to an integrated pattern of trade through networks of mandis and qasbas stretching from Lahore. According to M. Markovitz. the major route from Kabul to Agra underwent few modifications since the close of the sixteenth century. Grover. The Arabian Seas. XVI. From the French by James Walker. for Armenians taking this route see J. testifying to relatively stable urban setting. A History of Christianity in India. 2 vols. Payne (London: Routledge & Sons. Neill. The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade. 1707. ‘Two Armenian graffities from Ziârat. Lahore was a principal commercial centre of India. . v. 1993-94. with its commercial production. connected through road and river routes. tr. Armenian. 2002). Transport and Communications in India prior to Steam Locomotion. 1550-1900 (Leiden: Brill. which usually took two months. R. 1994): 219-255. Khojamall’s account is not reliable.. 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. ed. J.54 Moreover. See his ‘Armenians in India’ especially 15-21. vol. Delhi. Pakistan’.52 In the early seventeenth century. 384. du Jarric. however. Neill’s information here is based on the account left by the eighteenth century Armenian merchant-cum-historian Thomas Khojamall. 52 B. as many of these itinerant traders traded in multiple (relatively small) accounts. that in the pre-Mughal period. 1: The Beginnings to A. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Revue Etude Armeninnes (1988-89). 51 Jean Deloche. J.53 But considering the distance and the nature of the overland or caravan trade. It has been suggested. Multan. H. a journey from Goa to Lahore via Daman and Cambay (up to Cambay by ship). attracting commodities from far and near brought by merchants of all the nationalities mentioned above. An account of the Jesuit Missions to the Court of Akbar. Turkish. and Sind on the west to Assam and Bengal in the east. 1984-85).50 Except for short segments. ‘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. Barendse. Akbar and the Jesuits. See R. with introduction and notes by C. 54 A journey from Surat to Agra took 86 days. tr. 53 S. P. 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. it would take a few years to accumulate some profit from all the accounts.290 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA same way as Indian Sindhi firms and Hindu merchants operating in this route spread to Kandahar. 1926): 52-59. S. 34. 11001700.1. Isfahan and beyond. most of the Armenians coming to India were travelling merchants who came here for business and returned to their own country each year. 2 vols. Levi. 158. Russell. D.

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

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. 1603-1721 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.61 Though we have such accounts of Armenians in different parts of the country in the sixteenth century. vol. (London: W. the rest of the tombstones of Armenians at Agra dated back to 1611. small town and city) but refer to the size of the community on the map (p. it is. Armenians in India: 102-7. About Seth’s position that no Armenian women came to India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 2001). Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia. 1895-1919). Thacker. also P. 1924): 1-42. a hypothesis based on the discovery of the tombstone of Reza Bibi dated July 11.64 At this stage of settlement. Hewsen bases himself on Mesrobv Seth’s work. But the Jesuit priests. Armenia: A Historical Atlas (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 61 60 . and not in Calcutta. Surat (by 1579) and Calcutta (by 1630). E. Travelling overland from Ormuz. 1630 in the churchyard of the Holy Church of Nazareth (Calcutta). Calcutta in the 17th Century (Calcutta: Firma KLM. Except for two tombstones from 1557 and 1560. they were based mainly at Chinsura. 4. 160). the Armenian had breathed his last near Lahore. 64 C.g. who had a close contact with Armenians. Wilson already dismissed it on the ground that the tombstone in question was an isolated instance. 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. Nair. He suggested that the stone was probably brought to Calcutta from somewhere else at a later date. Maclagan. On pp. whom Seth elsewhere dismissed as untrustworthy. village.292 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the well-known Armenian Catholic with close contact with the Jesuit fathers at Agra or somewhere in Kashmir. 22-23 he gives the names of seven Armenian priests who died at Agra between 1614 and 1675. (henceforth Early Annals of the English in Bengal) 3 vols.62 At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jesuit Fr. Calcutta became an important centre of commerce in the 18th century following the foundation of the English settlement there in 1690. As far as South Asia is concerned. xvii point to the size of the place (e.60 The brief account of the merchant pilgrim Khwaja Martyrose in Seth’s work reminds us of a Sufi saint. n. J. Seth. who remained with Goes till the end. 1: 137. Armenians living in India were See below for more on Mirza Zu’lqarnain. Jerome Xavier from Lahore in 1603 was accompanied by the Armenian Isaac. it is clear that they were living in (Mughal) India where both Zu’lqarnain and his brother were born. 62 Robert. As regards the possibility of a large Armenian colony in Calcutta by 1630. Maclagan. R. T. Akbar had allowed an Armenian church to be built in Agra as early as 1562. M. difficult to accept Hewsen’s position that there were large settlements of Armenians already at Agra (by 1562). See Early Annals of the English in Bengal: being the Bengal Public Consultations for the first half of the 18th century. 1986): 443-46. however. 63 E. See his Armenians in India: 110. Wessels. see below. It is more likely that if Armenians were there in Bengal in the early 17th century. Hewsen’s atlas is a bit confusing because the symbols explained on p. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271. H. According to the account of Khojamall. do not mention any Armenian church in Agra. C. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 213-215. and that the stone was not in situ.63 The mission of the lay brother Benedict Goes to China sent by Fr. Hewsen.

J. 1968).65 As regards the conversion of Armenians to Islam. Seth quoted extensively from Fr. was in the service of the imperial harem of Akbar. Iskandar had two sons: the elder son. E.67 It was not uncommon for Armenians during this period to conceal their faith under some real or assumed political pressure.. Tuzuk I Jahangiri. One account that was widely known among the European missionaries and travellers in seventeenth-century India was that of Mirza Zu’lqarnain mentioned above. Pinheiro. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 170-80.66 After Jahangir succeeded to the throne. 2 vols. as we have noted above. was later named Mirza Zu’lqarnain. For commerce overland they travelled in caravans consisting of merchants of different Indian and west Asian communities. Hosten. who married him to Juliana. At the same time. J. E. But he also quoted the paper of Fr. (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. By Alexander Rogers. forcibly circumcised by Jahangir. also called Iskandar. When the governor of Lahore threatened in 1604 to arrest all the Christians of that city. By Henry Beveridge. acquired great favour at the court of Akbar. 2: 194. This seems to have been more of a political show as after his conversion. ed. Familiarity with Persian provided them access to the Mughal court. where Hosten left the issue open as he had no conclusive evidence. in charge of the royal harem. Zu’lqarnain did not practise Islam but became an adherent of the Roman Catholic Church. Mirza seems to have enjoyed the favour of Jahangir and Shah Jahan who entrusted him with various responsibilities. the daughter of the Armenian Mir Abdul Hai. both Zu’lqarnain and his brother Sikandar were forcibly converted to Islam. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 157-61. Seth. vol. an Armenian. 1916. Hosten published in the Statesman. Maclagan. The life of Mirza Zulkarnain attracted the attention of many contemporary accounts perhaps because of the fact he was. the three 65 For the legend about the (Armenian) Christian wife of Akbar see M. Also. together with his brother. The relationship of the Armenians with non-Christians was often not limited to trade alone. not much is known so far. 67 Except for the period 1633-35 when he suffered from Shah Jahan’s anti-Christian outbursts. M. 1500-1800 293 well integrated into the existing socio-economic fabric of India. Seth maintained that Akbar indeed had an Armenian wife. Armenians in India: 151-61. it also provided Armenians with the experience of living under Muslim domination. 22-87. Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Overseas commerce too. Maclagan. His daughter was married to Iskandar who was also in the service of Akbar. 14 November 1916. H. 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. tr. Mirza Sikandar. 66 Abdul Hai. His father. According to Fr. For his carreer see Fr. some twenty-three Armenian merchants seem to have fled the city hastily. which often employed them as trusted interpreters. . was carried out with merchants of different origins. J.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Hosten’s work in Armenians in India.

2 vols. The name Dominic Pires is not Armenian. Bengal in 1756-57.73 The indigenous historian Gulam Hussain noted that Khwaja Ashraf Kashmiri. an introd.294 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA to four Armenians he met did not want to be seen talking to him. is that of Khoja Wajid. 74 Saiyid Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai. . Akbar himself seems to have been present at the wedding ceremony of his Armenian interpreter Dominic Pires and his Indian bride in 1582.70 These Hindu and Muslim concubines were later either abandoned or accepted as partners through marriage in the church. ed. Maclagan. du Jarric. . The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72. . Havers. 3. 69 The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India. vol. Dutch and French sources refer to him as a ‘moor.72 Another interesting case. see S. vol. Hill. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 194. cf. who was undoubtedly an Armenian. And notes by Edward Grey. C. Letter from the president Fremlen &messrs. (Oxford: Clarendon Press. passim. (London: Hakluyt Society. Jean Law.1:126-30.71 Such co-habitation would be logical even if for entirely strategic purposes. With a life of the author. the greater part of whom [Armenians] here call themselves ‘Mussulman’ . Sushil Chaudhury. (Lahore: 1975). 2 vols. 70 P. Robinson and Wylde at Swally Marine to the Company.75 and historians have wondered about this confusion. v. English Factories in India.’ a term indicating Muslim. . 2: 400. Hill. though we have not come across any conclusive evidence about this one so far. as they wished not to be recognised as Christians. Maclagan. 75 See the letters from the Dutch chief Bisdom quoted in S.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. 1906-27). translation of the first part of the memoir of Jean Law: 187. Bengal 1756-57. a colourful personality of Bengal trade and politics in the eighteenth century.”. From the old English translation of 1664 by G. C. 1640: “. Akbar and the Jesuits: 135. vol. 1892). 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. Hill refers to him as Armenian. C. 6: 281.69 Contemporary accounts suggest that Armenians in India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries cohabited with Hindu and Muslim women. 71 Ibid.74 Though S. Seir i Mutakherin. December 29. who has written extensively on Wajid. 13 vols. had ever converted to Islam. Appendix III. Breton. . 72 E. Seth suggests that this was perhaps an adopted name. ed. 73 For details on Khoja Wajid see below. son of Mir Afzal. 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’. Foster. was a nephew of Wajid. W. has noted that there is no evidence to show that Wajid. Chaudhury assumes that Wajid perhaps added ‘Muhammed’ to his name to enhance his 68 E.

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

87 It was noted that every year 20. The proximity of India. Leiden University (Meppel: 1982): 64-65. Ph. 6: 134-138.000 camels. Hawkins replied that as a Christian he could marry only a Christian woman. and Hawkins felt obliged to obey the emperor. vol. 312v. carrying chiefly See Purchas: His Pilgrims (Glasgow: MacLehose. Van Santen maintains that this list underestimated the overland trade as it did not include the quantity of indigo from Byana transported overland. The Economy of Safavid Persia (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. then to Bandar Abbas by ship. Jahangir wanted him to settle down in India and offered him all accommodations. 30 July.D. 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.A.84 prompted an increasing number of Armenian merchants to frequent India. Van Santen.C. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan. Surat-Heeren XVII. the main trading partner of Iran. 85 See Henry Bornford’s account of his journey from Agra to Tatta [? March 1639] in English Factories in India. Armenians were thus already established in the field. vol. 86 N.86 An estimate made in the 1630s put the ratio of textiles. 1099. Willem Floor. 1630. 84 83 . Pleased with Captain William Hawkins. but not daring to refuse the imperial offer. 1905-07). V. 1620-1660.O.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.296 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the Great Mughals were not in a position to (or did not) make a distinction between Christians of different denominations. W.. There is evidence to show that Armenians. 2000): 245. including a wife. Extremely embarrassed.to 25. But the emperor outwitted him by finding a match in the daughter of a lately deceased Armenian. the envoy of King James II.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. III: 15-16. 87 Another estimate put the cost of both the routes at about 50%. indigo and sugar exported overseas to Persia to those taken overland at 70:30. H. thesis. together with Persian merchants continued to use the overland route to India in the seventeenth century.This list suggests that it would be more profitable to send textiles coming from the centres of production in north India overland. acted as a boost to the first major eastward surge of Armenian trade. 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. and again to Isfahan by caravan (27% of the cost).

The Indo-Gangetic plains and the sub-Himalayan zones.90 In 1668 Nicolaes Witsen. 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. 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. for the question of the continuity of overland trade from India in the seventeenth century see R. Bulk of the commodities that had earlier been taken overland. The Arabean Seas: 154-64.92 The rebellion at Kandahar (1709). 1: 426. The Economy of Safavid Persia: 200-10. 1: 725. 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. W. Van Santen De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. en meest nooit voorheen beschreve Tartersche en nabuurige gewesten. rivieren. Table.000 camels in 1644. of te bondig ontwerp van eenige dier landen en volken.89 Due to the import of a large quantity of cotton textiles in Isfahan by a caravan consisting of 6. I am grateful to René Bekius for drawing my attention to this work. Van Santen. there was little demand for the textiles carried by the Dutch Company. 89 88 . 91 Nicolaes Witsen. landstreken. 1500-1800 297 piece-goods. Noord en Oost tartarye. Beneffens verscheidene tot noch onbekende. Willem Floor. 92 H. Ibid. en plaetzen. Generale Missiven. 90 H. welke voormaels bekent zijn geweest. (Amsterdam: Halma. J.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. W. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. Barendse.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. arrived at Isfahan from India. steden. 1705). and were forced to return to Surat for shipment to Persia on board Dutch and English ships. vol. 2 vols. vol. in de Noorder en Oosterlyke gedeelten van Asia en Europa enz. was being shipped from Surat at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries.

v. Armenians in India: 126. with their families seems to have increased. Mestizo Women and the Dutch in VOC Batavia (Leiden: KITLV. A Catholic Armenian called Iskandar Beg. . That is why many of them are married to women from Syria.298 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA however. were married.g.99 93 Muzaffar Alam. the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies. 1986): 141-43.97 When Della Valle was in Surat with his Georgian wife. 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. India and other countries. 94 M. Strange Company: Chinese Settlers. worked as interpreter for Pieter van den Broecke who arrived there as director of the Dutch East India Company in 1620. (1848) 9. Seth. 1984): 19n. the Dutch decided to follow the Portuguese example. 95 Ibid. Blussé van Oud-Alblas. continued to be connected with Persia and Central Asia through Kabul and Kandahar during the period that followed. Armenia. It was the time when Jan Pietersz.93 Seth found only one tombstone of an Armenian woman at Surat in the sixteenth century (dating from 1579). Anonymous. 263. he was touched by the demonstration of affection on the part of the English president Thomas Rastel. 97 See Om Prakash. He was informed that this pattern was encouraged in order to populate Batavia: At Batavia Dutchmen settled with their family enjoyed many privileges. 96 The large proportion of women among the Armenians of Surat drew attention of an Englishman even two centuries later. The Crisis of Empire in Mughal India: Awadh and the Punjab 1707-48 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. After initial attempts of shipping marriageable women or entire families to Asia had failed. and quite a few to Armenian women. 1627-1623. J.95 Subsequent to their settlement in New Julfa. e. the number of Armenian merchants settling in India .1 (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. who often sent Della Valle his own coach and his interpreter. January-June: 136. because Seth was aware of the presence of Armenian women in India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 98 L. Isfahan.98 Della Valle noticed that many of the Dutch Company’s servants. 1986): 158-62. Dutch Factories in India. 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. vol.94 This is inaccurate and simplistic. who considered women as a pre-condition for trade. 99 The travels of Pietro della Valle in India. contrary to those of the English. advocated the policy of populating Batavia. 1: 29. Coen. the interpreter of the English lodge at Surat.96 The relationship between the Armenians and the two northwest European nationalities at Surat was rather close. ‘Surat—its past and present’ Calcutta Review.

was baptised along with Catherina. This time. . Cf. 124. 101 100 . in Gujarat en Hindustan: 10. accompanied by a few female servants for the convenience of Mrs. vol. the Company could borrow money from Mariam at an interest of 1 per cent per month. It has been assumed that before it was shifted to another building. 103 Ibid. 104 Ibid. .102 On his trip to Ahmedabad. n. De V. Ph. A. Van den Broecke. 1962-63). . 108 Pieter van den Broecke .ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. the Company chief in Persia. 107 De Geschriften van Francisco Pelsaert over Mughal Indië. was the godmother. H. along with the English and other Christians of Surat. the wife of Yadgar..106 When in 1621-22 the Dutch Company was facing a shortage of capital. he lodged at the palatial building owned by the director Van den Broecke. 102 Pieter van den Broecke in Azië. Van den Broecke was the godfather and Angela. Van den Broecke was witness to the event. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. Van den Broecke stayed at their sarai. who sent the young Armenian wife of one of the Dutch factors.O. where Armenians were active in the indigo trade. 1500-1800 299 At Surat. W. As godfather. H. was present at the wedding party Ibid. an assistant in the Dutch lodge. . 1627: Kroniek en Remonstrantie..108 Della Valle. 331.103 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. van Santen (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. was not performing his duty and was giving preference to his own interests above those of the Company. W.101 On Christmas Day in 1621 the slave girl of Sebalt Wonderaar. together with other Europeans. vol. 78. van Santen. vol. too. 28. the girl child of the well known Armenian Yadgar. The junior merchant Paulus Stigel van Neurenberg married the daughter of Khoja Rafael.107 Some Armenians informed Van den Broecke that Huijbert Vissnich. the senior merchant of the Dutch lodge. Visscher was married to Mariam Gomez. an Armenian woman from Baghdad. who looked upon the girls as his own daughters. 106 The travels of Pietro Della Valle . 1979): 22. 1.100 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. journaal: 265. vol. who. 2: 5.C. ed. ed. 105 Ibid. 325. 1: 120. gifted them with 600 and 500 guilders respectively as presents on this occasion. vol. D. 1.105 The merchant Anthoni Claesz. 2: 268. vol.104 Next year Yadgar’s daughter Marican was married to Issack Scholliers. Kolff and H. Della Valle. 2 vols. 2: 265. W. 123. formed part of one Christian society. the lodge of the Dutch at Surat was initially set up in the house of Mariam Gomez.

140. ‘Christians are obliged.’ Piri pointed out to the director of the Dutch lodge. ff. 148. Armenians were to trade and settle at all English ports on the same terms as English freemen. 113 See Armenian Merchants e. 124. 123. Dag Register. documents 116. 9. 122. 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. a temporary The travels of Della Valle vol. 112 N.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. A.’112 What was the situation like in European settlements like Madras and Calcutta? As per the agreement signed between Khoja Panous Kalantar. ‘to stand by and protect each other if need be. A. the attitude of Van den Broecke towards these marriages and the relationship between the English director Thomas Rastel and his Portuguese fiancée. 136. Natalia Tojo for drawing my attention to this document.110 The Dutch-Armenian marriages. an eminent merchant of Isfahan and the East India Company in London in 1688. 1979. the daughter of an Armenian merchant from Ahmedabad. 184. 117.109 A critical insight into the situation in Gujarat. Wiesbaden. 1. Surat.300 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA of the assistant Willem Jacobsz. addresserende.g. pr consequent tot merkelijke voordeel van honorable Comp. 1: 120. VOC 1549. f.113 Whenever there were forty Armenians resident in a town under the jurisdiction of the Company. N. Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. ‘Corte Remonstrantie van de gelegentheijd van Guseratte. 111 De Geschriften: 17-25. I am grateful to Ms. see Ashin Das Gupta. versekeringe ende ook verbeteringhe der comptoiren en negotien van Guseratte ende Persia. for a description of Surat in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. 507.119-125.505v. Though the agreement was not put into effect due to the opposition of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. c. and Mariam. 146. 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. als mede tot restauratie van de gelden schade in Mocha. have inspired Kolff and Van Santen to reflect on the homogenous nature of the pluriform Christian ‘nation’ at Surat. and possess all rights enjoyed by British subjects. inv. Collectie Sweers. 1700-1750. en affbreuke des algemeijnen vijants. Perzien en Arabien ook eenighe noodwendighe procedures welke in die quartieren dienen gehouden te worden tot preservatie. 110 109 . ch. Aga Piri appealed to the chiefs of all the European Companies in the name of Christianity. as all trees whether bearing fruit or not deserve dewdrops from the heaven. no. 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.

crowded the English settlements. v.g. the growth of the European settlements provided the Asian merchants with alternate bases of operation. 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. As India goods were very much in demand.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. and ground granted them for the erection of a permanent place of worship. which will in a few years aggrandize our revenue. 116 Ibid. 117 Ibid. . the Company allowing £50 a year for seven years for the maintenance of a priest. George. .1: 543. As they wanted to 114 H. 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. Because the Dutch Company was a direct participant in the intra-Asian trade. ship owning merchants often avoided their settlements. 141.116 As the Armenians were familiar with the centres of production and market places in India. (London: Murray.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Vestiges of old Madras: 1640-1800: traced from the East India Company’s Records preserved at Fort St. many private Asian merchants serving the Europeans in numerous ways. 142. Bhattacharya. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel’. and passim. the Company was sure it would profit from the freight. the English East India Company was recommending that its employees attract Armenians to the English settlements and encourage their trade in every possible way. 131. document 156. Since the English left the port to port trade in Asia to private enterprise already in the late 1660s.117 Moreover. and to whom we pay no wages being as good a security to our garrison and trade as hired English soldiers .119 The regulations of the European Companies prohibiting trade with rival establishments could be avoided through a network based on kinship. 4 vols. documents 121. George and the India Office and from other sources. 163. stick lac.114 In the 1680s and 1690s. 120. 1500-1800 301 church was to be built for their use. 1913). 3 January. e. . they were in a position to procure goods at a cheaper rate. Company in London to Fort St. pig-iron and wax. no. Armenians were allowed to freight the Company’s Europe-bound ships with commodities like shellac. Love. they would populate the settlements: It is undoubtedly our interest to make our garrisoned ports in India marts for nations. 1693/94. 127. documents 116. 119 B. D.115 Experienced Armenians like Aga Piri were entrusted with training freshly arrived factors of the Company in language and the method of trading. 115 Armenian Merchants. 118 Ibid. 117. 124.

120 Armenians followed the same pattern. George. vol. (Calcutta: Graphic Art Press. the European settlements were a place of refuge. For merchants trying to escape the wrath of indigenous elites. A case in point was that of the Armenian merchant Khwaja Nazar.121 The English were willing to pay as much as Rs. 121 120 . 124 RFSG.126 With the growth of the ports of Bombay. Despatches to England. As there were some proceedings against him in the nawab’s (Shuja Khan) darbar in Murshidabad.000 to make up the case. 20. vol. too. the council noted that though there were a few Armenians constantly residing at Madras. document 239. while stopping him from sailing for Europe. 17 April. The East India Company and the Economy of Bengal (from 1704 to 1740). 1969): 55. 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. 126 RFSG.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. 1: 1694-96.000. 2: 147. ibid. The case was later settled by Nazar’s vakil at the darbar. 123 Armenian Merchants. George. Madras and Calcutta in the eighteenth cen- Ibid. 35. but the nawab demanded Rs.122 In 1691.123 In 1696. Nazareth after him) in Calcutta in 1724. and/or trading with the king’s camp. Aceh. Bhattacharyya. 1733. quoted in S.302 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA attract local shipping magnates to their ports. Bengal Public Consultations. In analysing the relationship between the nawab and the English. Persia and other places. document 139. 122 Ibid. Zulfiqar Khan’s camp and Golconda and thus by the bulk of their trade contributed greatly to the revenues of Fort St.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. Elihu Yale noted that recently ‘a few more’ Armenians had come to settle in Fort St. 55-60. Manila. while more were expected. 125 Armenian Merchants. 50. Bhattacharyya presents other cases as well. Indian merchants could use the Companies against one another. Khoja Nazar built the Armenian Apostolic Church (called St. the English in Calcutta. Despatches to England. 59. many of them were annually sailing to Bengal.

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

140 H. The chapel and other buildings built by Petrus Woscan at Vepery were transferred to the Danish missionaries. the Park Mansions—to name only a few— bear testimony to the zeal of the Armenian pioneers of the real estate business in Calcutta.135 In the colonial period. 139 I owe this information to P. 2: 403-404. The Grand Hotel. the second city in the British colonial empire. See H. Long.. where no Armenian was to live in future. resulting in the development of new areas.134 Calcutta. 1973): 161. became an embellishment. as ‘very useful people. were to sell it to European Protestants. Relating mainly to the Social Condition of Bengal with a map of Calcutta in 1784. Nair. the urban area began to grow and spread and the component elements began to interpenetrate. Calcutta in Urban History (Calcutta: Firma KLM. especially into the intermediate zone. However. 426.’ Armenians were to be allowed to inhabit the Black Town. As far as Armenian-European marriage is concerned. List of marriages registered in the Presidency of Fort St.304 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA 1746.136 The Black Town gradually drove wedges into the White Town. 134 133 . Ibid. vol. Ed. also suffered from the phenomenon of dualism reflected in the Europeans’ concern for defence and security. One well-known marriage in Surat in the late eighteenth century was that between Hripsimah. the brides were Armenian and the bridegrooms European.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. with its accommodational function. especially the Armenians. the Nizam Palace. 138 J. 135 P. the fence gradually fell down. George to direct the Armenians to leave the White Town. D. T. The fort. Selections from Unpublished Records of Government: for the years 1748 to 1767 inclusive. and by 1750 the English Company ordered the council of Fort St. it is interesting to note that in all the cases that have come down to us. George. 1916). Vestiges of old Madras.138 Many of the magnificent buildings in the White Town of Calcutta were built by the Armenians. or the ‘Grey Town’ where the Portuguese. 140 Records of Fort St. as ‘no bad consequences from their residence’ were apprehended. 136 Ibid. 1680-1800 (Madras: Madras Government Press. Love. Sinha.139 The formation of bigger Armenian settlements around the church did not reduce social contact between Armenians and western Europeans.133 Those who possessed landed property in the White Town. Dodwell ed. M. 137 Ibid. George registered only 9 marriages between Armenian and western European individuals between 1680-1800. Saha (Calcutta: Mukhopadhyay. 1978): 7-8. 467. manifested in the fort and the fence. Greeks and Armenians were settled from the pre-colonial times.

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

‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade. R. who studied the I. Indonesian Trade and Society: Essays in Asian social and economic history (The Hague: Van Hoeve. 151 J.146 In India. and consequently. does not imply that it was only the Europeans who needed Armenians.148 Marriage relationships often went hand in hand with business interests. and reaching the ultimate destination. as we have seen. That so many servants of the Dutch East India Company—much more than their English counterparts—got married to Armenian women. Bekius. Van Leur noted that in the primarily agricultural societies of Asia. starting from the procurement of goods at the centres of production.306 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the trade carried on by the European Companies was no match for that of the Armenians. Baghdiantz Mccabe.150 Yet. Armenians intermarried with western Europeans and flocked to the European towns. was. index 3. an attempt to get access to the credit and extensive network of trade of the Armenian merchants. Early Annals of the English in Bengal vol. C. Shah’s silk: 327-47. 1955): 133. East India Companies were no competitors of the Armenians. was a long drawn and extremely intricate process.149 This however. Armenians did not have to enter into any trading partnership with them. The trade that was carried on here was small-scale and in luxury goods. 150 It was part of the policy of the English East India Company to employ small vessels owned by Armenians for coasting trade. the ‘market’ where the goods were disposed at a reasonable profit. in their opinion. Van Leur’s thesis has been criticised by many 146 145 . 149 Ibid. and not the other way round. agricultural surplus was extracted by the state.145 Bekius has shown.’ 147 Armenian Merchants enumerates 114 cases where Armenians served the English East India Company in different capacities between 1617 and 1708/09.147 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. 148 De Geschriften: 21-22. Van Leur. on the other hand. 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. getting them ready for shipping. It is true that Armenians were already established in the trade of the Indian Ocean. In his study of Indonesian trade and society. by merchants whom he termed peddlers. that Armenians both competed and co-operated with Europeans. Many of them possessed their own shipping. 3: 141. transporting them to the port of embarkation.151 Steensgaard. Kolff and Van Santen have pointed to the greater relevance of the marriages between Armenians and Europeans in this respect. 283-84.

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

Long before the agreement of 1688. De Keijser.656. 161 RFSG. Their agents carried piece goods from Bengal and Coromandel to Europe and took back Dutch and English broad cloth to Tranquebar. and the Armenians had to pay freight charges.. mentioned above. it should be added that Armenian merchants appear to have acted in different capacities and were dexterous at keeping the accounts separate.000 pieces of chadar Dariabadi under the cover of Aga Piri. Armenians. Despatches to England. Khoja Baba Sultan. acting as agents or suppliers. following a ban on the trade of the Europeans. Armenians were using Danish company ships for their Europe trade. and two Armenians of Madras. the correspondent of Aga Piri Kalantar of Madras in London. and providing cover when necessary.000 pounds of indigo and 30. . 11 December 1694 (copy) VOC 1548. Though wills and testaments do not throw much light on this aspect—except when an unrecovered due was involved—. De Keijser and the Council at Surat to the Directors. It is possible that Khoja Zachary. the Dutch director at Surat. which left London on April 29. 159 N. . This trade was organized by Armenians in Holland. vol. 11 (1661-1664): 328. 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 . 71 for similar evidence. XXXII-XXXIII. 68. vol. like many other groups of Asian merchants. 8 (1646-1650): 86 and vol. encouraged the procedure as some empty space in the Asia-bound ship was utilised in this way. The actual carrying out of the trade.158 This being said. . 67. During 1693-94. co-operated with Europeans because the presence of the latter provided Asian merchants with further opportunities of spreading the risks.160 In the eighteenth century. . . however. documents 62. But it also ensured direct shipping of goods and persons and was less hazardous than the route via the Levant and then Middle East. f.A. was part of a broader framework and it is here that the Armenian merchants cooperated with Europeans in numerous other accounts by lending money. bought 200.161 The Companies. traces of such co-operation are to be found in the archives of the European companies.308 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA spite of all the elements of tension and conflict involved. Armenians freighted Asia-bound ships of the English Company. 160 See English Factories in India. also Armenian Merchants . The Dolphin.159 Such cover was indispensable so far as trade to Manila was concerned. 1646 and reached Swally in November of the same year. freighting their ships. 65. was one of the Madras Armenians involved in this trade. carried Armenians. sailing as nakhuda on board European ships. 3 (1711-14): 18. 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. of course.

VOC 1264. 90 (1971): 182-216. was hired by the French (in huur bij de Fransen). was permitted to carry any horse that would be shipped by the agent of Khoja Minas. VOC 1409. . (1698-1713): 271. 13 (1668-69): 204. J. 1630-1638 (Delhi: Manohar.167 While soliciting the ‘favour and assistance’ of Khoja Israel Sarhad. vol. N. Compare: ‘. . ff. (1694-96): 35. Surat. 165 R.000 for freighting the Colchester for a voyage to Gombroon and Basra. Ph. 336. 38. however.G. who owned at least five ships himself. and goods and sailed on board the same ship for Surat.1616-1617..164 Khoja Minas. ff. 1268. the leading Armenian merchant in Bengal. R. 2. in obtaining a good freight of fine piece goods in Bengal for the Sedgewick he was planning to send to Persia in September 1700. Thomas Pitt referred to his acquaintance with Sarhad and his uncle Khoja Panous Kalantar in London.163 The Armenians. v. Coolhaas.171 All the three ships that arrived in Armenian Merchants. Muslim merchants freighted their money. 171 This was in 1704.A. ibid. September 12 and October 9. 2 1701/02—1710/11. 1706: 52-53. Dag Register. Despatches to England. In Basra.. Barendse.1275-87. 29 August.166 Minas had purchased two ships from the English who again rented the ships and sent them to Persia. The Sulleiman. 300. 1500-1800 309 against pirates and other dangers at sea. Maloni. Despatches to England. The ship could not. 6. Wilson. took the responsibility for collecting the piece goods and other commodities and loading them on the company’s ships. The Arabian Seas . vol.165 The George that left Surat for Gombroon in December 1669. European Merchant Capital and the Indian Economy: a Historical Reconstruction based on Surat Factory Records.000 belonging to Armenian merchants. For Armenian merchants freighting Dutch company ships on the Surat—Bandar Abbas run see R. 164 Armenian Merchants.168 In December 1702 Sarhad offered the English company Rs. R. 167 N. sail to Persia as it hit the shore near Point Palmyras and had to unload the goods at Tranquebar. vol.1.F. Bengal Past and Present. Chaudhuri.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. 1685. 1992). ed. 168 C. 159-60. 170 RFSG.S. freighted English company ships. 169 S.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.A. 1: 369-71. W. Surat-Batavia. George let out the Phoenix to an Armenian for a voyage to Persia via Bengal. .169 The same year the council of Fort St. The English Company servants in Bengal stated that Armenians bought textiles 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than them. 163 162 . It is expected that the Armenians will freight the Little London for Persia’.170 The French ship Pontchartreijn renamed Queen Louise carried freightgoods worth Rs. ‘Bengal merchants and commercial organisation in the second half of the seventeenth century’. . document 257. 166 English Factories in India. Early Annals of the English in Bengal. 367-69. document 209. belonging to the Armenian Khoja Minas of Surat. with their contacts in India. Generale Missiven. 4 March.

172 Again. RFSG.000. vol.: University of Minnesota Press. Korea. Furber. H. silver and opium: Foreign shipping and trading activities at Batavia. 177 ‘Cinnamon.175 The other routes where Armenian and European interests were intertwined were the routes to Southeast Asia. vol. in 1737 Armenian merchants of Madras freighted the Galatea. Souza have pointed to the involvement of Armenians in the commerce carried on by the Portuguese of Macao to Manila and India. Despatches to England. one Portuguese and one Armenian were entrusted with the task of collecting the outstanding debts of the Company amounting to more than f. In the early modern period.173 Similarly. Seoul. George be seized. 176 Generale Missiven. 16841792.310 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Tranquebar from Denmark in 1709 were to be freighted by the Armenians to Persia. It was a relationship of accepting each other for mutual profit. 1600-1800 (Minneapolis. 4 (1675-1685): 446. including Armenians. 178 In 1712 the St. 174 English Factories in India. Minn. At least till the middle of the eighteenth century European merchants needed Asian merchants. Sending emissaries to the head of a state is a practice common since ancient times. When the Dutch East India Company decided to close their factory at Pegu.: 689.’ unpublished paper presented to the 11th Annual Conference of the World History Association. Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient. under Captain Mylne to Kung and Bushire. 3: 56. Pegu and Manila seems to have been common. August 15-18. 3: 56. the trading companies sent embassies Ibid.177 Using European bottoms for consigning goods to factors.30. vol. 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. The Council of Fort St. ARMENIANS AS EMISSARIES Equally. Armenian merchants taking passage on board European ships in Asia was common. 1976): 285. Manila and China. Despatches to England. B. 2002. vol. 175 RFSG. 6: 106. the agent of the English at that place proposed that the subjects of the king of Persia and their effects at Fort St. mostly a relative or a member of the community settled at ports like Mergui. Juan that left Madras for Manila carried goods freighted by Armenian and Indian merchants.174 In the wake of troubles in Persia in the early eighteenth century.176 Researches of G. 173 172 . if not more important aspect of Armenian-European relationship was the role of the Armenians as emissaries of especially the English to the Mughals.178 Throughout the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries Armenians assisted Europeans in their investment in India.

also headed by Khoja Sarhad. . When the king of Ethiopia sent an embassy to the Mughal emperor. Govindpur and Calcutta in Bengal in 1698 for the sum of Rs. 181 H. 1906) vol. 2 vols. In order to secure the rights of the company against the activities of the interlopers. Van Donzel. 1959): 211-12. Subrahmanyam. Indian Records Series. . 1400-1700’. Wilson. on his embassy to Aurangzeb. who was accompanied by Mr. 185 Ibid. 16. Old Fort William in Bengal.181 In the late 1690s. ed. The embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of Jahangir is a well known case. 183 Ibid.. We have noted above that Emperor Akbar had employed an Armenian as his interpreter.183 At the camp. 182 C. It was this delegation that secured for the English the right to farm the three townships of Sutanuti. . 1642-1700: documents related to the journeys of Khodja Murad (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut. At this the English decided to send another delegation. A Selection of Official Documents dealing with its History. Commerce and Culture. (1699-1702) (Calcutta: Firma KLM. J.185 179 S. to head the delegation. 184 Ibid. 180 E. the English company approached Khoja Israel Sarhad. 36-38. 1500-1800 311 to heads of various countries for trading privileges. The Norris Embassy to Aurangzeb. the nephew of Khoja Panous.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.179 Familiarity with Persian offered the Armenians easy access to the Mughal court and made them extremely suitable as emissaries.000. he appointed Khoja Murad. the English company wanted to send a delegation to Zabardast Khan. Sarhad was able to win the friendship of the young prince Farrukhsiyar. Walsh and Khoja Sarhad went back from the camp having ‘finished all business to our greatest satisfaction. (London. 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.. ‘Persianization and Mercantilism: two themes in the Bay of Bengal History. On September 22. Foreign Relations of Ethiopia. interlopers also were able to secure some trading favours for themselves from the same general. 1: 25-27.180 Sir William Norris.. R. It was a period when many attributes of Persian culture were visibly adopted by the courts in countries in South and Southeast Asia. General of the Mughal’s forces who was suppressing the revolt of Sobha Singh in Bengal. Das. had the advantage of gaining information about the court (through his accessory Pedro Pereira) from an Armenian who had been to the Emperor’s camp twice and had lived there some time in attendance on the Dutch envoy. 1698 the Sutanuti council noted that Mr. I am greatful to Dirk Kolff for drawing my attention to this work.’184 They had promised the young prince three small pieces of brass cannon. an Armenian. in Prakash and Lombard eds. 1979).182 In spite of that. Walsh. who was sent to the camp of Zabardast Khan as the ‘Political Agent’ of the English. .

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

427.191 The success of the Surman Embassy was ascribed to the services of Dr. William Hamilton. Mr. if not well looked after. He would not get anything if he failed. K. for their negotiation with the governor of Golconda.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. . however. R. But in any case Sarhad was to try to get the customs duty paid by the English at Surat reduced to 2. from whom he procured permission to rent the three townships. its fleet and the country trade of the British. Wilson. Historical Introduction: 87. 1962): 87. Historical Introduction to the Bengal Portion of the Fifth Report (Calcutta: Indian Studies Past & Present. indispensable in all political negotiations of the English in India in the eighteenth century. K. 214. C. W. would play tricks and enrich himself at the cost of the Company. Hamilton. Seth quoted from William Bolts to show that contemporary Englishmen knew the contribution Sarhad made in getting the farman renewed in 1717. Old Fort William: 25. 190 Early Annals.189 Even before the formation of the embassy. 1713: 4. Also in this case he was not to receive anything if he was not successful. 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. George often consulted Aga Piri. cured Farrukhsiyar from a malignant distemper he had been suffering from. vol. R. The following decades saw the growth of Calcutta. Firminger. 2: 193. . 2: 154-55. 3. the son of Prince Azîmush-shân. 50. Firminger. Wilson about Khoja Sarhad: ‘He is said to have been personally known to Prince Farrukhsiyar. vol. 1500-1800 313 to obtain the island of Diu off Masulipatnam for the council of Fort St. when the embassy left Delhi after the imperial firman had been obtained.000 would be given to Sarhad if he was successful in all these efforts. 191 After the sanad from the diwan at Murshidabad was obtained. 281. He afterwards played a conspicuous. Compare the following statement made by C. the Fort William Council. 67. among others.000. 71. It was apprehended that Sarhad. 192 W. George. Sarhad had left for Patna when the rest of the embassy was still in Murshidabad. the company’s surgeon. A reward of Rs.192 The service of the Armenians was. 50.193 When it was considered necessary to send presents to the nawab of Arcot.5 percent. See Armenians in India . . 193 RFSG. The council of Fort St. however. Sarhad was to obtain for the English the privilege to trade free of customs at Surat for which he would get another Rs. Diary and Consultation Book. 70. 56. Dr. Khoja Petrus and Hodjee Addy were entrusted 189 M. Edward Stephenson was appointed secretary and accountant to the negotiation with the responsibility to take down the minutes of consultation. J. 24. n. was not unanimous about the inclusion of Khoja Sarhad in it.190 His attitude during the journey evoked suspicion and irritation among the English. but not altogether creditable part in the Surman Embassy to Delhi in the years 1715 to 1717’. Sarhad stayed on in Delhi. Early Annals. Secondly.

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

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

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

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

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