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.

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

.16 It was a conscious attempt on the part of Shah Abbas. International Trade . 1999). organised by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Iran Heritage Foundation. an Armenian merchant was more like himself than the western European who could point to his company. 1600-1730 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Matthee. During the following two centuries the Armenians would traverse the Indian Ocean and sail up to the coast of China. 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. The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver. This connection. 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. 16 On the deportation of the Armenians see E. 59-71. including knowledge of Persian. In India they traded at the market places and ports side by side with the Indians. Most of the Armenians trading in India were from Persia. who was aware of the expertise of the Armenians in trans-continental commerce. . 203. 1400-1700’. 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. Herzig. stop the Armenians from referring to. Oxford. (1990). The Armenians: A People in Exile (London: Allen & Unwin. . No one could. and using their connections back in Persia and Europe. though Baghdiantz Mccabe has suggested that there was a company of Armenian merchants in New Julfa directing the Armenian commerce worldwide. . the factory and the fort belonging to his nation and use these symbols either as carrot or as stick as the situation would permit. 17 R. 30-31 August.18 Iranian World. Baibourtian. Consequently. Secondly.’ Pembroke Papers 1. P. for the Indian merchant at an Indian port. Jews. V. 2003. pp. Shah’s silk. Ashmolean Museum. for example. .17 But that notwithstanding.. 18 Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe. 1981): 81. however. Persians and Turks among others. 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. M. . revenue and information.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. where they had long been living. ‘The deportation of the Armenians in 1604-1605 and Europe’s myth of Shah Abbas 1. See David Marshall Lang. 73-74.282 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Herzig nor Bekius subcribes to the thesis that Julfa Armenians conducted trade as a centrally organized company. to settle them in the outskirts of Isfahan.

20 Baghdiantz Mccabe herself admits that family was the basic unit and the preferred system of Armenian merchant associations. 1650-1740. Civilization and Capitalism.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Reynolds. Cf. 21 Shah’s silk: 245-250. a quarter part of the gain is their own: from such beginnings do they raise sometimes great fortunes for themselves and Masters. has shown that family firms with extended patriarchal household as the basis of business organization were a major organ of this trade. the eldest son Mukesh Ambani took over the charge of the business. Prakash and D. in Institutions and Economic Change in South Asia. The Wheels of Commerce. 285-305.19 Organizing commerce on the basis of family connections has been common in pre-modern societies in Europe and Asia. the wealthiest men. being nine years travels. Lombard (Delhi: Manohar. 24 A New Account of East India. 1500-1800 283 So far as Armenian trade in India and the Indian Ocean was concerned. M. edited with notes and an introd. S.22 This is the organizing principle still followed in many modern Indian industrial firms. See S. companies and commerce on the Coromandel coast. Braudel. 190915). Merchants. Herzig. Herzig. and by being factors of their own kindred’s honesty.23 However. become by their own industry. 1999).21 In the seventeenth century. and travelling with these into the remotest kingdoms. if the family firm provided the basics of the business organization. (London: Harper & Row. 1986 passim and B. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel in the eighteenth century: a case for continuity’. . F. O. Braudel noted that the family offered the most natural and sought after solution for commercial networks. ‘The Tata paradox’. Trans. 2. 1982): 150. Baghdiantz Mccabe. 3 vols. and on return. Burton Stein and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. . . Delhi. Bhattacharya. by William Crooke. there seems to have been no European-type chartered joint-stock Armenian company. in Commerce and culture in the Bay of Bengal. The Tamil Muslim merchants of the Coromandel coast known as Marakkayars organised their trade on the basis of extended kinship. vol. for example. 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. 249. ed. . 1672-1681. Shah’s silk . ed. 22 A New Account of East India and Persia. John Fryer left a description of the trading method of the Armenians: The Armenians being skilled in all the intricacies of trade at home. (London: the Hakluyt Society. ‘The family firm’ also. A description of this system was also provided by Fryer: they [the Armenians] enter the theatre of commerce by means of some benefactor. see Claude Markovits. 249. 23 After the demise of Dhirubhai Ambani of the Reliance Industries recently. 237-248. 1996). 20 19 . 1500-1800. Arasaratnam. often family members. . the Ahmedabad industrialist Kasturbhai Lalbhai created companies for his nephews.24 E. whose money they adventure upon.

26 Edmund Herzig. nos. Journal of the Asiatic Society. 237.26 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. and bilateral. Armenian merchants of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: English East India Company sources. George amply testify to the existence of the system until the end of the eighteenth century. (1966). Isfahan: a study in pre-modern Asian trade.D. no. the English records of the Fort St. 3. For reference to Khoja Avetik Kalantar as brother of Aga Piri see See Vahe Baladouni. This volume offers a unique collection of documents on Armenian merchants and their relationship with the English East India Company. 175. This ledger book has been edited in Armenian recently by L. He had three sons: Hovannes. 182. 1998) (henceforth Armenian Merchants). The commenda contracts were basically of two types: unilateral. Zachary di Avetik. under which a small group of sahukars and sarrafs controlled financial and commercial transactions over a vast area encompassing Khorassan and Turkestan. By the time he came to Madras. means Zachary the son of Avetik. in this sense. The shah-gumastha partnership existing among the Sindhi merchants of Shikarpur. I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for this clarification. September 21. . commission agency and representation. Khachikian and H. 3 offers a detailed account of the different kinds of partnership known among the Armenians and how these worked. was a variant of this system. and Aga Piri as the son of Khoja Panous. known as Avetik di Petros. and Avetik. e-mail. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. his wife Azis was in Isfahan. ch. a merchant from New Julfa who 25 Claude Markovitz. Zachary must have been well established in the trade to Europe.27 Though such detailed accounts are available mostly in Armenian documents. St. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade’. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. operating in Amsterdam in the late 1690s. University of Oxford. Ph. It is also possible that our Avetik was another person. where a part of the capital invested came from the active partner. 27 L. 153-86. employment. incorporating features of partnership. Antony’s College. The Global World of Indian Merchants. 5. true partnership. One of the principal merchants Zachary represented was his father. where the whole capital was provided by the investor (sleeping partner) and active partner or agent invested the labour. ibid. ‘De’ or ‘di’ in Armenian names are abbreviation of the word ‘vordi’ meaning son. 1991. These were commenda partnership. 2003. 146. Khachikian.28 At the time Zachary wrote his will. For Avetik di Petros see R.284 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA This kind of partnership was prevalent among different merchant communities of South Asia in different forms. loan. ‘The ledger of the Merchant Hovannes Joughayetsi’. referred to as ‘master’ in the will was most probably the father of Zachary de Avetik. 8. 2000). 28 Shushanik Khachikian suggested that Khoja Avetik. thesis. 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama. no. and Margaret Makepeace ed. Bekius. Gregory.25 The most popular type of partnership prevalent among the Armenians of New Julfa was the commenda contract. ch. Papazian. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. Khoja Zachary di Avetik of Isfahan came to Madras from Amsterdam in 1714. he seems to have had transactions with Sarhad. and in few cases. Khoja Avetik of Isfahan. In Amsterdam.

. no. Isfahan. 241. 33 It is very much likely that this Issa Gully was the same person as the Armenian Issa Coolly/Coollyan at the Mughal court. Tamil Nadu Archives. 171 and 1719: 93 and 120. Ma[natsa]gan di Aga Piri and Issa Gully di Avateek Shaudullah.32 In lieu of a factorage bond worth 300 tomands. 253. not known as a ‘khoja’. who was however.34 Zachary seems to have had an agent called Beethan in Gombroon. 249. Zachary does not mention Tarkhan as his master but mentions that the latter. George (henceforth RFSG). dated 10 September. 30 Armenian Merchants. .33 Since 1714. sailing to Pegu. 1736. 1409. 1719: 177. 31 Records of Fort St. Diary and Consultation Book. Magan di Aga Piri was a son of Aga Piri Kalantar of Surat and Madras (see more on him below). who were also.A. Siraz. like Zachary himself. 169. Issa Cooly was noted by the Dutch at Surat as a person friendly with the Mughal official Salabat Khan. 1: The Last Will and Testament of Zachary De Avateek. he had a partnership account with Macartoon Yanhoopa (the second part does not resemble Armenian names). 451. 2004.29 Already in 1697 we find Zachary shipping glass-ware and broad cloth on English Company ships. Armenian Merchants. 32 Was he a grandson of Khoja Minas? See Edmund Herzig. Diary and Consultation Book. etc. he had three other large accounts with Gregory de Agazar. (henceforth TNA). The family tree of Khoja Minasean family p. 14 June 1685. Armenian Merchants . . 1500-1800 285 traded with Russia and Holland.O. Dag Register Surat. nos. handed Gregory (son of Zachery) a full discharge for 300 tomands. Similarly. vol. Khoja Zachary and the latter’s master [?Khoja Avetik].30 He was one of those merchants who travelled between different places in Europe. Records of the Mayor’s Court. 2003 and 1 February. henceforth ‘the last will of Zachary’. 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. 1718: 56. Zachary had two more accounts with the prominent Bengal/Madras merchant Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. Khoja Tarkon [?Tarkhan]. He had four other accounts running—two of these were partnership accounts between himself. E-mails to the author. the Hague (henceforth N. One of these accounts 29 Shushanik Khachikian informed the author that the Armenian Sarhad trading in Russia had transactions with a Zachar. another factor of Khoja Avetik. The Armenian Merchants.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 23 September. Probates.C. documents 241. among other places. Apart from the account together with his master Khoja Avetik. Gombroon. factors of other principal merchants. He was related to Khoja Zachary and replaced him as the Armenian alderman when Zachary left for Pegu. 141. when he visited India. his masters [not named] and Avid de Zeany and two other between Macartoon Yanhoopa. Zachary traded on multiple accounts. one worth 150 tomands on Zachary di Avetik in India and the other of similar value on [?his son] Khoja Avetik in Europe.1599v. Madras and Pegu. (film 1035) f. his master [in Isfahan] issued two bills of exchange. See RFSG. see Nationaal Archief. Copy of Wills.). V. 34 English East India Company sources refer to one Persia de Marketon freighting goods on the company ships. 231.31 He represented at least another merchant of Isfahan.

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

41 RFSG. The network of the Armenian merchants indeed reflected a structure.750. 75. On his arrival at Madras in September 1740. 1737.42 The references we come across to Armenian trade in Persia and India. 1500-1800 287 their ‘factor’ in Pegu. as defined by Markovits.000. 42 Calcutta High Court.41 In a distinct case of commenda partnership. Khojamal particularly mentioned in his testament that the two accounts were entirely separate and should not be mixed up. At Pegu he worked together with one Petrus. Partnership among these individuals in different capacities was indeed a salient feature of this trade.40 Again. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court. in the wills and testaments of Armenian merchants suggests that the organization of Armenian trade was left to individual initiatives. During his stay in Pegu. size and scale made the nature of commercial operations impersonal.000. and the informal networks formed by the representatives of these formal companies in their private capacity were crucial for country trade. when he set out from Isfahan in May 1740. Brothers. received from Khoja Nazar di Abid Aga the sum of 320 tomands on the condition that out of the profit made. 8-9. based on personal networks of extended kinship and the pursuit of similar goals. Khojamal was employed by the famous Khoja Petrus Woskan who advanced him Rs. Khoja Simon acted as the Pegu agent of other Armenians and sailed as nakhuda on ships sailing between Madras and Pegu. ‘Principal sum’ advanced by the Aga Piri brothers to be employed in their interest. George appointed Khoja Aveat their factor at Pegu. 1755. whose structure. Upon accepting the ‘factorship’. but the basic differences are clear. and here the profit was to be equally divided between the two partners. 18.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court 1731-32. far from the formal superstructure represented by the East India Companies. Aveat received several consignments from the Aga Piri brothers amounting to more than Pagodas 17. 17 November. 43 There were of course informal connections behind this formal structure of the companies. . The Companies with their modern structure co-existed with this pre-modern structure of trade. 40 RFSG. 224. Khoja Cachick Khojamal. Aveat signed a ‘factorage bond’ with the said firm valid for five years and set out for Pegu with a sum of Pagodas 2. Old Will no. 220 parts together with the principal sum would go to Khoja Nazar while 100 part of the profit would be Khojamal’s. however.43 Armenian merchants in the Indian Ocean were rather like the multitude of other Asian merchants engaged in networks of private trade. Khoja Thaddeus Aga Piri & co. a merchant firm of Fort St. This was. The last will and testament of Coja Catchick Cojamaul deceased. He had another account with his nephew Marcar di Sattoor. The reliance on the ethno-religious community provided the Armenians of New Julfa with a network that spanned at least half the globe.

a copy of a contract. then residing in Madras. 45 44 .288 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA facilitating a continuous circulation of capital. with many Persian loan words) was the medium of all commercial transactions. a couple of bills of exchange or promissory notes. 1712. The merchants of Masulipatnam must have sought assistance of Armenians in soliciting the Company’s favour in London. nos. goods. Khoja Babur di Sultan seems to have functioned as the London agent of other Armenians too. See Armenian Merchants. rumour had it that the Armenians had received advice that the directors of the Company had ordered the Fort St. It is not known exactly when he Claude Markovitz. who got the order issued. We have noted the case of Zachary above. It must have been Aga Piri who referred the case to Babur. credit.44 Almost any ship sailing between two ports in Asia. or representatives of agents. Wealthy Armenian merchants of such ports had agents at places like Pegu. 25. One is struck by the continuous circulation of even the leading members of the community. Through a multitude of partners and agents. information and human resources. Bombay. C. 133. The Global World of Indian Merchants. or leaving an Asian port for a destination in Europe could be used for sending agents. in some or other way related to the community. George wanted to buy up the new company’s debt to Masulipatnam merchants amounting to Pagodas 80. v. The letter acquainted him. produced an original letter to Khoja Babur di Sultan [Piri’s agent in London] dated January 29. Bengal in 1756-57. In 1711 the governor and council of Fort St. George Council to discharge that debt fully. the consignment—no matter if it contained an important message related to business or family.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. Despatches to England. a few bales of cloth— was bound to reach the destination. pattamars or messengers were used for sending messages overland. As the Julfa dialect (Armenian. that the council of Fort St. RFSG. by order of the Court of Directors. a parcel containing cash or a few precious stones. But to their dismay. 261. 144. after the arrival of the ship King William. George had been directed to satisfy the merchants’ demands on the New Company as far as these were just. Aga Piri Kalantar. When the separate stock ship Windsor arrived in Madras in 1713.46 From the seventeenth century onwards centres in India—Surat. 262. Madras and Calcutta in particular—seem to have come up as places where Armenian capital was concentrated.3. there was no possibility of disclosure of a confendential information.000. 1711-14. In addition to caravans. and Manila. or even the kin of acquaintances working at different levels. 46 S. no. Khoja Petrus Woscan left New Julfa at for Madras in 1705 when he was about twenty-five years of age. or consignments. vol. or both. Hill. 2. Initially the council did not take notice of this rumour.

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

2002). 1994): 219-255.54 Moreover. 1993-94. 34. Revue Etude Armeninnes (1988-89). Armenian. Markovitz. 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. for Armenians taking this route see J. as many of these itinerant traders traded in multiple (relatively small) accounts. Turkish. ‘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. An account of the Jesuit Missions to the Court of Akbar. 1926): 52-59.50 Except for short segments. 51 Jean Deloche. Delhi. 1: The Beginnings to A. P. Bukhara. S. The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade. tr. XVI. 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.51 Indian rural economy. Grover. Transport and Communications in India prior to Steam Locomotion. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Levi. . The Global World of Indian Merchants and Scott C. which usually took two months. Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. tr. 11001700. v. R. with introduction and notes by C. 2 vols. According to M. du Jarric. H. testifying to relatively stable urban setting. Payne (London: Routledge & Sons. ‘Two Armenian graffities from Ziârat. 2 vols. The Arabian Seas. 384. was very much geared to an integrated pattern of trade through networks of mandis and qasbas stretching from Lahore. 53 S.. however.52 In the early seventeenth century. a journey from Goa to Lahore via Daman and Cambay (up to Cambay by ship). Multan.53 But considering the distance and the nature of the overland or caravan trade. could easily take as long as six months. it would take a few years to accumulate some profit from all the accounts. 158. 52 B. ed. and other merchants followed this caravan route to different market and production centres in north and northwest India. vol. Pakistan’. Persian. most of the Armenians coming to India were travelling merchants who came here for business and returned to their own country each year. 471-75. Russell. Akbar and the Jesuits. 1984-85). See his ‘Armenians in India’ especially 15-21. Lahore was a principal commercial centre of India. Khojamall’s account is not reliable. the major route from Kabul to Agra underwent few modifications since the close of the sixteenth century. 54 A journey from Surat to Agra took 86 days. and Sind on the west to Assam and Bengal in the east. Neill. See R.290 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA same way as Indian Sindhi firms and Hindu merchants operating in this route spread to Kandahar. connected through road and river routes. J. 1550-1900 (Leiden: Brill. Isfahan and beyond. It has been suggested. 1707.1. with its commercial production. Barendse. attracting commodities from far and near brought by merchants of all the nationalities mentioned above. Seth. From the French by James Walker. D. J. Neill’s information here is based on the account left by the eighteenth century Armenian merchant-cum-historian Thomas Khojamall. that in the pre-Mughal period. A History of Christianity in India.

52-1542 (Bombay: Manaktalas. vol. the ones lucky enough to survive the odds of the weather and the roads. Armenians were elsewhere in India and also engaged in the overseas trade to Southeast Asia. . 1984): 407. Armenians were to be found at different places in India and at least a few Armenian settlements seem to have been there.56 At Pulicat. 1500-1800 291 (partner)s as well as his own capital.58 Pires accompanied both the first and the third Jesuit missions to the Mughal court as interpreter. In the end.2:268-69. 196. A History of Christianity in India: from Early Times to St. A. J. S. Mathias Mundadan. . History of Christianity in India. M. and to make enough profit to settle the accounts with the master. the Christians of St. Neill. Portuguese merchants coming from Melaka stayed with Armenian Christians. 1:46. Seth suggested that this Portuguese name was perhaps assumed by the person for strategic purposes. an Armenian Christian. A History of Christianity: 466 fn. Maclagan. Parsees.D. The Suma Oriental. but it is possible that the Christian priests the Portuguese came across in Coromandel were Syrians.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. vol. It is true that early Portuguese sources referred to all Eastern Christians as Armenians. 55 Tome Pires.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. because with the people of this country. no one can succeed but these bishops. See E. 59 E. 58 M. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 24. 56 G. 2 vols. and Turks. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne. A History of Christianity in India . 1: From the Beginning up to the middle of the Sixteenth century (up to 1542) (Bangalore: Theological Publications in India. Maclagan. (London: the Hakluyt Society. Neill. 1964): 226. vol. 39. Portuguese missionaries in the early sixteenth century noted that in matters of faith. Thomas at St. . Thomas in Coromandel gave hearing to none except their bishops. 1: 170. together with Arabs. Moraes. 1944). At the beginning of the sixteenth century we find Armenians.55 In the course of the sixteenth century. Thome in 1517. that Diogo Fernandes and Bastião Fernandes made the pilgrimage to the house of the Apostle St. sailing from Cambay as part of the four Gujarati ships annually leaving that port for Melaka where many of them stayed back. 57 A. who come from Armenia. went back. It was at the invitation of Coja Escandel (?Iskandar). 1932): 271 and S. 41. carried goods from one place to another for sale and noted the demand for new ones.59 Though it is not clear if Akbar met the parents of Mirza Zu’lqarnain. During the intermittent period the trader had to live at different places along the route. Francis Xavier. made new acquaintances and renewed the old ones. Moraes was not sure if these Christians were Armenians or Syrians. among other Armenians. v.

About Seth’s position that no Armenian women came to India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. vol. n. (London: W. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271. 160). 1924): 1-42. do not mention any Armenian church in Agra. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 213-215. it is. 61 60 . C. Armenians living in India were See below for more on Mirza Zu’lqarnain. 64 C. On pp. whom Seth elsewhere dismissed as untrustworthy. difficult to accept Hewsen’s position that there were large settlements of Armenians already at Agra (by 1562). however. 62 Robert. see below. Hewsen bases himself on Mesrobv Seth’s work. Maclagan. and not in Calcutta. He suggested that the stone was probably brought to Calcutta from somewhere else at a later date. E. who had a close contact with Armenians. H. who remained with Goes till the end. also P. Armenia: A Historical Atlas (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. xvii point to the size of the place (e. 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. 1630 in the churchyard of the Holy Church of Nazareth (Calcutta). Wessels. 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. they were based mainly at Chinsura. Calcutta in the 17th Century (Calcutta: Firma KLM.63 The mission of the lay brother Benedict Goes to China sent by Fr. Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia. 1: 137. Akbar had allowed an Armenian church to be built in Agra as early as 1562. Hewsen’s atlas is a bit confusing because the symbols explained on p. Seth. As regards the possibility of a large Armenian colony in Calcutta by 1630. it is clear that they were living in (Mughal) India where both Zu’lqarnain and his brother were born. Travelling overland from Ormuz. Jerome Xavier from Lahore in 1603 was accompanied by the Armenian Isaac.61 Though we have such accounts of Armenians in different parts of the country in the sixteenth century. It is more likely that if Armenians were there in Bengal in the early 17th century. and that the stone was not in situ. Hewsen.64 At this stage of settlement. According to the account of Khojamall. a hypothesis based on the discovery of the tombstone of Reza Bibi dated July 11. (henceforth Early Annals of the English in Bengal) 3 vols. M. 1603-1721 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. J. Except for two tombstones from 1557 and 1560. 1986): 443-46. 63 E. village. the rest of the tombstones of Armenians at Agra dated back to 1611. As far as South Asia is concerned. Thacker.g.62 At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jesuit Fr. 22-23 he gives the names of seven Armenian priests who died at Agra between 1614 and 1675. 2001). R. small town and city) but refer to the size of the community on the map (p. Maclagan. Wilson already dismissed it on the ground that the tombstone in question was an isolated instance. the Armenian had breathed his last near Lahore. T.60 The brief account of the merchant pilgrim Khwaja Martyrose in Seth’s work reminds us of a Sufi saint. 1895-1919). But the Jesuit priests. Nair. Surat (by 1579) and Calcutta (by 1630). See Early Annals of the English in Bengal: being the Bengal Public Consultations for the first half of the 18th century. Calcutta became an important centre of commerce in the 18th century following the foundation of the English settlement there in 1690. Armenians in India: 102-7. See his Armenians in India: 110. 4.292 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the well-known Armenian Catholic with close contact with the Jesuit fathers at Agra or somewhere in Kashmir.

One account that was widely known among the European missionaries and travellers in seventeenth-century India was that of Mirza Zu’lqarnain mentioned above. This seems to have been more of a political show as after his conversion. together with his brother. 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. Mirza Sikandar. Seth. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 157-61. But he also quoted the paper of Fr. 1916. Hosten’s work in Armenians in India. J. some twenty-three Armenian merchants seem to have fled the city hastily. it also provided Armenians with the experience of living under Muslim domination.65 As regards the conversion of Armenians to Islam. The life of Mirza Zulkarnain attracted the attention of many contemporary accounts perhaps because of the fact he was. His father. Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.66 After Jahangir succeeded to the throne. Iskandar had two sons: the elder son. was in the service of the imperial harem of Akbar. His daughter was married to Iskandar who was also in the service of Akbar. Seth maintained that Akbar indeed had an Armenian wife.. the three 65 For the legend about the (Armenian) Christian wife of Akbar see M. Hosten published in the Statesman. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 170-80. 22-87. 2: 194. was carried out with merchants of different origins. The relationship of the Armenians with non-Christians was often not limited to trade alone. Maclagan. Zu’lqarnain did not practise Islam but became an adherent of the Roman Catholic Church. Pinheiro. J. J. At the same time. 66 Abdul Hai. an Armenian. . For his carreer see Fr. E. 14 November 1916. Seth quoted extensively from Fr. Hosten. Mirza seems to have enjoyed the favour of Jahangir and Shah Jahan who entrusted him with various responsibilities. acquired great favour at the court of Akbar. Maclagan. ed. Also. Familiarity with Persian provided them access to the Mughal court. forcibly circumcised by Jahangir. in charge of the royal harem. By Alexander Rogers. 1500-1800 293 well integrated into the existing socio-economic fabric of India. also called Iskandar. (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. Tuzuk I Jahangiri. as we have noted above. vol. H.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. where Hosten left the issue open as he had no conclusive evidence. M. For commerce overland they travelled in caravans consisting of merchants of different Indian and west Asian communities. not much is known so far. E. who married him to Juliana. the daughter of the Armenian Mir Abdul Hai. Overseas commerce too. According to Fr. 1968).67 It was not uncommon for Armenians during this period to conceal their faith under some real or assumed political pressure. By Henry Beveridge. 2 vols. which often employed them as trusted interpreters. When the governor of Lahore threatened in 1604 to arrest all the Christians of that city. both Zu’lqarnain and his brother Sikandar were forcibly converted to Islam. Armenians in India: 151-61. tr. was later named Mirza Zu’lqarnain. 67 Except for the period 1633-35 when he suffered from Shah Jahan’s anti-Christian outbursts.

70 P. who has written extensively on Wajid. Letter from the president Fremlen &messrs. is that of Khoja Wajid. 75 See the letters from the Dutch chief Bisdom quoted in S. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72. Bengal in 1756-57. 6: 281. cf. passim. . 2 vols. Dutch and French sources refer to him as a ‘moor. Seir i Mutakherin.74 Though S. Maclagan.69 Contemporary accounts suggest that Armenians in India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries cohabited with Hindu and Muslim women. 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’. Hill refers to him as Armenian. Hill. Seth suggests that this was perhaps an adopted name. Sushil Chaudhury.68 The Italian traveller Pietro Della Valle’s Persian Christian servant Cacciatur (the name suggests he was an Armenian) had declared himself at the customs at Surat to be a Muslim as he was afraid he would be persecuted in the Mughal dominions. vol. the greater part of whom [Armenians] here call themselves ‘Mussulman’ .’ a term indicating Muslim. 1640: “. 1892). though we have not come across any conclusive evidence about this one so far.70 These Hindu and Muslim concubines were later either abandoned or accepted as partners through marriage in the church. .75 and historians have wondered about this confusion. Havers. Breton. a colourful personality of Bengal trade and politics in the eighteenth century. see S.73 The indigenous historian Gulam Hussain noted that Khwaja Ashraf Kashmiri. Appendix III. . The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 194. 72 E. ed. 71 Ibid. . From the old English translation of 1664 by G. 1906-27). du Jarric. Akbar and the Jesuits: 135. 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. 2 vols. Hill. 3. son of Mir Afzal. W. who was undoubtedly an Armenian. 13 vols. translation of the first part of the memoir of Jean Law: 187. The name Dominic Pires is not Armenian. Jean Law. 73 For details on Khoja Wajid see below.71 Such co-habitation would be logical even if for entirely strategic purposes. vol. 69 The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India. ed. vol. had ever converted to Islam. has noted that there is no evidence to show that Wajid. C. (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Chaudhury assumes that Wajid perhaps added ‘Muhammed’ to his name to enhance his 68 E. C. Foster. Bengal 1756-57.1:126-30. (London: Hakluyt Society. And notes by Edward Grey. C. (Lahore: 1975). Akbar himself seems to have been present at the wedding ceremony of his Armenian interpreter Dominic Pires and his Indian bride in 1582. 74 Saiyid Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai. was a nephew of Wajid. as they wished not to be recognised as Christians. Robinson and Wylde at Swally Marine to the Company. an introd. With a life of the author.294 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA to four Armenians he met did not want to be seen talking to him. English Factories in India. v. 2: 400. December 29. Maclagan.”.72 Another interesting case. .

Polashir Shorojontro o Sekaler Somaj (The Conspiracy of Plassey and the Contemporary Society) (Calcutta: Ananda Publishers. Appendix E. Maclagan. and the silence of Armenian sources about this personality leads one to think. ‘Khwaja Wazid in Bengal Trade and Politics’. 1998): 161. 80 Scholars like Baghdiantz Mccabe. 79 Seth refers to Khoja Wajid only in passing. but also to the rest of the Christians. 82 The Travels of Peter Mundy.. Seth. . 1500-1800 295 business prospects.76 Writing about Bengal in 1757. 78 I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for drawing my attention to this point. .81 Though Armenians were initially opposed to the activity of the fathers. K. 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. Armenians in India . he was not considered Armenian any more. XVI.’82 Even 76 S. 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. 1990). Rajat Ray wondered how the Muslim Mir Afzal could be related to the Armenian Wajid. converted to the Catholic Church. then governor of the province of Sambhar in Rajasthan and the Jesuits. 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.80 Armenians seem to have lived in close social contact with Christians of other denominations. as matrimonial relationships between the Armenians and Muslims were not usual. The Indian Historical Review. no. 77 R.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. with reference to the question of monopoly in salt. 1-2: 137-48. 22-87.79 Repeated reference to him as ‘moor’ in the records of the Dutch East India Company. also Seth. that either Khoja Wajid or his father had embraced Islam at some point of time. Letters written by Jesuit fathers from Goa attest to the good relationship between Mirza Zu’lkarnain. Chaudhury. Zekiyan adds that as Armenians did not have a state. who spoke of him as ‘brother’ and procured for him the title of ‘Founder of Agra College. 1907-36). 1608-67 in Europe and Asia. v. Zu’lkarnain was referred to as ‘the pillar of Christianity’ extending his liberality not only to the Jesuits. Armenians in India: 364-65. 2: Travels in Asia. 5 vols. 77 It is extremely interesting to note that Thomas Khojamall. while adherence to the church was. (July 1989-Jan. Ray. nationality was not the issue. the eighteenth century Armenian historian. Khachikian and Zekiyan relate that if an Armenian was converted. . 81 E. vol. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72.78 Curiously enough. did not have much to say about Wajid. It should be noted that Mirza Zu’lqarnain. in the light of the history of the Armenians sketched above. it was possible for the latter to convert some of the Armenians. after his forced conversion to Islam. 1628-1634. (London: Hakluyt Society. This would also explain why Wajid’s grave cannot be found either in Chinsura or in Calcutta.

indigo and sugar exported overseas to Persia to those taken overland at 70:30. Van Santen. Leiden University (Meppel: 1982): 64-65.. Jahangir wanted him to settle down in India and offered him all accommodations. thesis.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. There is evidence to show that Armenians. acted as a boost to the first major eastward surge of Armenian trade. Surat-Heeren XVII. vol.This list suggests that it would be more profitable to send textiles coming from the centres of production in north India overland.O. but not daring to refuse the imperial offer. vol.84 prompted an increasing number of Armenian merchants to frequent India. including a wife. 1905-07).000 camels. V. The Economy of Safavid Persia (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. 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. 86 N. the envoy of King James II. Hawkins replied that as a Christian he could marry only a Christian woman. the main trading partner of Iran. The proximity of India. carrying chiefly See Purchas: His Pilgrims (Glasgow: MacLehose. 1630.D.C. Extremely embarrassed.296 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the Great Mughals were not in a position to (or did not) make a distinction between Christians of different denominations. 87 Another estimate put the cost of both the routes at about 50%. 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). III: 15-16. 84 83 . 1099. Willem Floor. 312v. Pleased with Captain William Hawkins. then to Bandar Abbas by ship. W.to 25. 2000): 245. Van Santen maintains that this list underestimated the overland trade as it did not include the quantity of indigo from Byana transported overland. and Hawkins felt obliged to obey the emperor. together with Persian merchants continued to use the overland route to India in the seventeenth century.A.87 It was noted that every year 20.86 An estimate made in the 1630s put the ratio of textiles. Ph. 6: 134-138. Armenians were thus already established in the field. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan. 85 See Henry Bornford’s account of his journey from Agra to Tatta [? March 1639] in English Factories in India. 30 July. But the emperor outwitted him by finding a match in the daughter of a lately deceased Armenian.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. 1620-1660. H.

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

he was touched by the demonstration of affection on the part of the English president Thomas Rastel. 96 The large proportion of women among the Armenians of Surat drew attention of an Englishman even two centuries later. worked as interpreter for Pieter van den Broecke who arrived there as director of the Dutch East India Company in 1620. with their families seems to have increased. contrary to those of the English. 1627-1623. because Seth was aware of the presence of Armenian women in India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Armenia. A Catholic Armenian called Iskandar Beg. J. the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies. 97 See Om Prakash.98 Della Valle noticed that many of the Dutch Company’s servants. who considered women as a pre-condition for trade. (1848) 9. v. 95 Ibid. 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. e. Strange Company: Chinese Settlers. 94 M. 263. 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. It was the time when Jan Pietersz. Coen. Anonymous. Blussé van Oud-Alblas. Isfahan. Mestizo Women and the Dutch in VOC Batavia (Leiden: KITLV.97 When Della Valle was in Surat with his Georgian wife. who often sent Della Valle his own coach and his interpreter. 1: 29. . ‘Surat—its past and present’ Calcutta Review. That is why many of them are married to women from Syria.g. 98 L. Dutch Factories in India. Seth.93 Seth found only one tombstone of an Armenian woman at Surat in the sixteenth century (dating from 1579).96 The relationship between the Armenians and the two northwest European nationalities at Surat was rather close. the Dutch decided to follow the Portuguese example. Armenians in India: 126. vol.1 (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.298 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA however. 1986): 158-62. 1986): 141-43. and quite a few to Armenian women. advocated the policy of populating Batavia. 99 The travels of Pietro della Valle in India. He was informed that this pattern was encouraged in order to populate Batavia: At Batavia Dutchmen settled with their family enjoyed many privileges. After initial attempts of shipping marriageable women or entire families to Asia had failed. January-June: 136. The Crisis of Empire in Mughal India: Awadh and the Punjab 1707-48 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. continued to be connected with Persia and Central Asia through Kabul and Kandahar during the period that followed. were married. the number of Armenian merchants settling in India . India and other countries.94 This is inaccurate and simplistic. the interpreter of the English lodge at Surat. 1984): 19n.95 Subsequent to their settlement in New Julfa.99 93 Muzaffar Alam.

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

505v. Dag Register. ch. the daughter of an Armenian merchant from Ahmedabad. 148. ‘Corte Remonstrantie van de gelegentheijd van Guseratte. the attitude of Van den Broecke towards these marriages and the relationship between the English director Thomas Rastel and his Portuguese fiancée. N. a temporary The travels of Della Valle vol.’112 What was the situation like in European settlements like Madras and Calcutta? As per the agreement signed between Khoja Panous Kalantar.110 The Dutch-Armenian marriages. Collectie Sweers. Armenians were to trade and settle at all English ports on the same terms as English freemen. 124. 1. 110 109 . versekeringe ende ook verbeteringhe der comptoiren en negotien van Guseratte ende Persia. as all trees whether bearing fruit or not deserve dewdrops from the heaven. no. addresserende. Perzien en Arabien ook eenighe noodwendighe procedures welke in die quartieren dienen gehouden te worden tot preservatie. Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. VOC 1549. A. for a description of Surat in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.113 Whenever there were forty Armenians resident in a town under the jurisdiction of the Company.’ Piri pointed out to the director of the Dutch lodge. en affbreuke des algemeijnen vijants. and possess all rights enjoyed by British subjects. 111 De Geschriften: 17-25. 1: 120. 113 See Armenian Merchants e. Aga Piri appealed to the chiefs of all the European Companies in the name of Christianity. 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. ff. have inspired Kolff and Van Santen to reflect on the homogenous nature of the pluriform Christian ‘nation’ at Surat. 146. Wiesbaden. Natalia Tojo for drawing my attention to this document. als mede tot restauratie van de gelden schade in Mocha. c. inv.300 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA of the assistant Willem Jacobsz. ‘to stand by and protect each other if need be.119-125. f.g. Persia and Arabia written in the 1630s suggested that the Dutch could attract the Armenian merchants who were deserting Goa and other Portuguese settlements because of the lack of trade at those places. 1979. 123. pr consequent tot merkelijke voordeel van honorable Comp.109 A critical insight into the situation in Gujarat. Surat. I am grateful to Ms. and Mariam. 9.111 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. 122. 1700-1750. ‘Christians are obliged. 117. Though the agreement was not put into effect due to the opposition of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. 112 N. 136. see Ashin Das Gupta. an eminent merchant of Isfahan and the East India Company in London in 1688. 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. documents 116. 507. 184. 140.

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

20. In analysing the relationship between the nawab and the English. Bhattacharyya presents other cases as well. document 239. Aceh. 125 Armenian Merchants.000 to make up the case. vol. (Calcutta: Graphic Art Press. the European settlements were a place of refuge. 121 120 . Madras and Calcutta in the eighteenth cen- Ibid. Nazareth after him) in Calcutta in 1724. document 139.302 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA attract local shipping magnates to their ports. while more were expected. 126 RFSG. and/or trading with the king’s camp. George. while stopping him from sailing for Europe.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. Bhattacharyya. Despatches to England. George. 17 April. 35. the council noted that though there were a few Armenians constantly residing at Madras. 1: 1694-96. The East India Company and the Economy of Bengal (from 1704 to 1740). quoted in S. Despatches to England. 59. For merchants trying to escape the wrath of indigenous elites.120 Armenians followed the same pattern. 122 Ibid. 55-60. 1733. 50. 1969): 55. ibid. but the nawab demanded Rs.122 In 1691. The case was later settled by Nazar’s vakil at the darbar. Zulfiqar Khan’s camp and Golconda and thus by the bulk of their trade contributed greatly to the revenues of Fort St.000. Persia and other places. Manila. 2: 147. As there were some proceedings against him in the nawab’s (Shuja Khan) darbar in Murshidabad. Indian merchants could use the Companies against one another. also made it sure that he did not fall in the hands of the nawab’s people. Khoja Nazar built the Armenian Apostolic Church (called St. 123 Armenian Merchants. Elihu Yale noted that recently ‘a few more’ Armenians had come to settle in Fort St. many of them were annually sailing to Bengal.125 By 1711 Armenians had become ‘numerous and opulent’ in Madras.123 In 1696.121 The English were willing to pay as much as Rs. vol. Bengal Public Consultations. too.126 With the growth of the ports of Bombay. 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. A case in point was that of the Armenian merchant Khwaja Nazar. the English in Calcutta. 124 RFSG.

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

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

142 The tension of the Europeans could be noted in their account of Armenians. The Economic History Review. was the private trade of the Europeans. were at the same time aiming at the commerce which had so far been the mainstay of the livelihood of many Armenians. Armenians themselves would also profit. it should be pointed out that the potential of conflict was very much present as the Europeans in the Indian Ocean. Isfahan: 203-6. Armenians in India: 263-66.141 A more important element. Following the death of the latter she was remarried to Leembruggen. Herzig. 107 and passim in Armenian Merchants . . . 1500-1800 305 Whether in the traditional port towns like Surat. 141 See Armenian Merchants. On the one hand. they co-operated with the European Companies. 26 (1973): 38-62. 79. until at least the middle of the eighteenth century Armenians provided a major source of strength for the European presence in India. not the other way round. 143 See his ‘The Armenians and the East India Company in Persia in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries’. M.’144 Baghdiantz Mccabe’s position is that it was the Companies that solicited co-operation of the Armenians. As the daughter of the wealthy Armenian merchant Eleazer Woskan. The next section will focus on the interaction of Armenians and Europeans in the field of commerce in India. See note 2 above.143 Herzig. so far as the intra-Asian trade was concerned. 245 for the Company’s arguments in connection with the trade in Persia.’ ‘Grey. 23. or in the ‘White. The English Company explicitly mentioned how by catering to their trade. . Armenians were suspicious of the Europeans and often openly hostile towards them. and Robert Henry Leembruggen of the Dutch East India Company. 144 E.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.142 Ferrier noted the importance of the Armenians and other local merchants as suppliers of credit to the European Companies in Persia. COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH EUROPEANS: COMPETITION OR CO-OPERATION? Considering the relationship between Armenians and Europeans. Seth.’ or ‘Black’ town of the European settlements. has maintained that Armenian merchants’ relationship with their European counterparts was ambivalent. 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. J. 2nd series. In the final analysis. also see documents 5. no. 212. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. Hripsimah was first married to an old Armenian called Stephen Agabob. On the other hand. See M. ‘Julfa Armenians were more willing to have financial dealing with foreigners than to enter into trading partnership with them. while wooing the Armenians. in his study of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa.

283-84. that Armenians both competed and co-operated with Europeans. Armenians did not have to enter into any trading partnership with them. Armenians intermarried with western Europeans and flocked to the European towns. the ‘market’ where the goods were disposed at a reasonable profit. getting them ready for shipping.149 This however. The trade that was carried on here was small-scale and in luxury goods. East India Companies were no competitors of the Armenians.’ 147 Armenian Merchants enumerates 114 cases where Armenians served the English East India Company in different capacities between 1617 and 1708/09. was a long drawn and extremely intricate process. 151 J. Van Leur. 150 It was part of the policy of the English East India Company to employ small vessels owned by Armenians for coasting trade. who studied the I. an attempt to get access to the credit and extensive network of trade of the Armenian merchants. starting from the procurement of goods at the centres of production. 149 Ibid. in their opinion.150 Yet. Bekius. does not imply that it was only the Europeans who needed Armenians. and reaching the ultimate destination.146 In India. index 3. C. 148 De Geschriften: 21-22. transporting them to the port of embarkation. Baghdiantz Mccabe. as we have seen. 1955): 133.148 Marriage relationships often went hand in hand with business interests. on the other hand. Van Leur’s thesis has been criticised by many 146 145 .306 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the trade carried on by the European Companies was no match for that of the Armenians. R. That so many servants of the Dutch East India Company—much more than their English counterparts—got married to Armenian women.151 Steensgaard. 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. 3: 141. Kolff and Van Santen have pointed to the greater relevance of the marriages between Armenians and Europeans in this respect.145 Bekius has shown. Early Annals of the English in Bengal vol. Shah’s silk: 327-47. was. by merchants whom he termed peddlers. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade. In his study of Indonesian trade and society. It is true that Armenians were already established in the trade of the Indian Ocean. agricultural surplus was extracted by the state. Indonesian Trade and Society: Essays in Asian social and economic history (The Hague: Van Hoeve. and consequently. Van Leur noted that in the primarily agricultural societies of Asia. Many of them possessed their own shipping. and not the other way round.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.

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

308 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA spite of all the elements of tension and conflict involved. sailing as nakhuda on board European ships.159 Such cover was indispensable so far as trade to Manila was concerned. and the Armenians had to pay freight charges. 71 for similar evidence. 67. 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. like many other groups of Asian merchants. acting as agents or suppliers. . Despatches to England. bought 200. traces of such co-operation are to be found in the archives of the European companies. XXXII-XXXIII. Armenians freighted Asia-bound ships of the English Company. 65. 161 RFSG.160 In the eighteenth century. of course. Khoja Baba Sultan. 11 (1661-1664): 328.656. encouraged the procedure as some empty space in the Asia-bound ship was utilised in this way. The actual carrying out of the trade. . Their agents carried piece goods from Bengal and Coromandel to Europe and took back Dutch and English broad cloth to Tranquebar. vol. The Dolphin. But it also ensured direct shipping of goods and persons and was less hazardous than the route via the Levant and then Middle East. 8 (1646-1650): 86 and vol. This trade was organized by Armenians in Holland.000 pounds of indigo and 30. 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 . Armenians were using Danish company ships for their Europe trade. 160 See English Factories in India. documents 62. De Keijser.. it should be added that Armenian merchants appear to have acted in different capacities and were dexterous at keeping the accounts separate.A. was one of the Madras Armenians involved in this trade. which left London on April 29. co-operated with Europeans because the presence of the latter provided Asian merchants with further opportunities of spreading the risks. mentioned above. . 159 N.158 This being said. During 1693-94.000 pieces of chadar Dariabadi under the cover of Aga Piri. was part of a broader framework and it is here that the Armenian merchants cooperated with Europeans in numerous other accounts by lending money. following a ban on the trade of the Europeans. and providing cover when necessary.161 The Companies. Armenians. the correspondent of Aga Piri Kalantar of Madras in London. . It is possible that Khoja Zachary. Though wills and testaments do not throw much light on this aspect—except when an unrecovered due was involved—. 11 December 1694 (copy) VOC 1548. f. also Armenian Merchants . the Dutch director at Surat. 68. and two Armenians of Madras. 3 (1711-14): 18. freighting their ships. . Long before the agreement of 1688. 1646 and reached Swally in November of the same year. carried Armenians. vol. however. De Keijser and the Council at Surat to the Directors.

The English Company servants in Bengal stated that Armenians bought textiles 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than them. 1500-1800 309 against pirates and other dangers at sea. and goods and sailed on board the same ship for Surat.166 Minas had purchased two ships from the English who again rented the ships and sent them to Persia.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.G. took the responsibility for collecting the piece goods and other commodities and loading them on the company’s ships. For Armenian merchants freighting Dutch company ships on the Surat—Bandar Abbas run see R. 159-60. who owned at least five ships himself.163 The Armenians. European Merchant Capital and the Indian Economy: a Historical Reconstruction based on Surat Factory Records. Compare: ‘. The Sulleiman. 6.000 belonging to Armenian merchants. with their contacts in India. R. Maloni. Surat-Batavia. 367-69.171 All the three ships that arrived in Armenian Merchants. ‘Bengal merchants and commercial organisation in the second half of the seventeenth century’. . vol. 1268. VOC 1264. 163 162 . document 257. Bengal Past and Present. . 1685. The Arabian Seas . Coolhaas. vol. 1630-1638 (Delhi: Manohar. In Basra. Ph. George let out the Phoenix to an Armenian for a voyage to Persia via Bengal. the leading Armenian merchant in Bengal. W. however. 171 This was in 1704. 165 R. Despatches to England.000 for freighting the Colchester for a voyage to Gombroon and Basra. 2 1701/02—1710/11.169 The same year the council of Fort St. 38.164 Khoja Minas. 1706: 52-53. VOC 1409. (1694-96): 35.167 While soliciting the ‘favour and assistance’ of Khoja Israel Sarhad. Barendse.F. Generale Missiven. ff. 1992). 168 C. Surat. ff. 13 (1668-69): 204.1275-87.170 The French ship Pontchartreijn renamed Queen Louise carried freightgoods worth Rs. belonging to the Armenian Khoja Minas of Surat. . v. September 12 and October 9. was hired by the French (in huur bij de Fransen). 170 RFSG. vol. 1: 369-71. J. 167 N. Early Annals of the English in Bengal. Despatches to England. 166 English Factories in India. 2.A. freighted English company ships. 90 (1971): 182-216. in obtaining a good freight of fine piece goods in Bengal for the Sedgewick he was planning to send to Persia in September 1700.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 300.1. was permitted to carry any horse that would be shipped by the agent of Khoja Minas. Muslim merchants freighted their money. It is expected that the Armenians will freight the Little London for Persia’. 4 March. .. 164 Armenian Merchants. ed.S. 169 S. document 209. sail to Persia as it hit the shore near Point Palmyras and had to unload the goods at Tranquebar.1616-1617.165 The George that left Surat for Gombroon in December 1669.A. Thomas Pitt referred to his acquaintance with Sarhad and his uncle Khoja Panous Kalantar in London. R. N. The ship could not. (1698-1713): 271. Chaudhuri.. 29 August. Dag Register.168 In December 1702 Sarhad offered the English company Rs. ibid. 336. Wilson.

177 Using European bottoms for consigning goods to factors. It was a relationship of accepting each other for mutual profit. silver and opium: Foreign shipping and trading activities at Batavia. Souza have pointed to the involvement of Armenians in the commerce carried on by the Portuguese of Macao to Manila and India.178 Throughout the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries Armenians assisted Europeans in their investment in India.: 689. H.310 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Tranquebar from Denmark in 1709 were to be freighted by the Armenians to Persia. 4 (1675-1685): 446. 6: 106. 174 English Factories in India. the trading companies sent embassies Ibid. 3: 56.174 In the wake of troubles in Persia in the early eighteenth century. In the early modern period. When the Dutch East India Company decided to close their factory at Pegu. ARMENIANS AS EMISSARIES Equally. RFSG. vol. 16841792. 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.’ unpublished paper presented to the 11th Annual Conference of the World History Association. Pegu and Manila seems to have been common.30. 176 Generale Missiven. At least till the middle of the eighteenth century European merchants needed Asian merchants.176 Researches of G. Armenian merchants taking passage on board European ships in Asia was common. B. in 1737 Armenian merchants of Madras freighted the Galatea. the agent of the English at that place proposed that the subjects of the king of Persia and their effects at Fort St.173 Similarly. Juan that left Madras for Manila carried goods freighted by Armenian and Indian merchants. George be seized. The Council of Fort St. 175 RFSG. Despatches to England.: University of Minnesota Press. 3: 56. vol. 2002.000. vol. Sending emissaries to the head of a state is a practice common since ancient times. if not more important aspect of Armenian-European relationship was the role of the Armenians as emissaries of especially the English to the Mughals. 1976): 285. 177 ‘Cinnamon. vol. Korea. one Portuguese and one Armenian were entrusted with the task of collecting the outstanding debts of the Company amounting to more than f. 1600-1800 (Minneapolis.172 Again. Manila and China. Minn. under Captain Mylne to Kung and Bushire. Seoul. Despatches to England.175 The other routes where Armenian and European interests were intertwined were the routes to Southeast Asia. 173 172 . Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient. mostly a relative or a member of the community settled at ports like Mergui. August 15-18. 178 In 1712 the St. including Armenians. Furber.

.. (1699-1702) (Calcutta: Firma KLM. Van Donzel.’184 They had promised the young prince three small pieces of brass cannon. 1642-1700: documents related to the journeys of Khodja Murad (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut. Sarhad was able to win the friendship of the young prince Farrukhsiyar. the English company approached Khoja Israel Sarhad. J. 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. The embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of Jahangir is a well known case. 181 H. Walsh. 1906) vol. It was this delegation that secured for the English the right to farm the three townships of Sutanuti. Subrahmanyam. I am greatful to Dirk Kolff for drawing my attention to this work. Foreign Relations of Ethiopia. 1400-1700’. It was a period when many attributes of Persian culture were visibly adopted by the courts in countries in South and Southeast Asia. Das. When the king of Ethiopia sent an embassy to the Mughal emperor. The Norris Embassy to Aurangzeb. interlopers also were able to secure some trading favours for themselves from the same general. Old Fort William in Bengal.182 In spite of that. Indian Records Series. On September 22. 185 Ibid.181 In the late 1690s. 1698 the Sutanuti council noted that Mr. 183 Ibid. 184 Ibid. 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. ed. on his embassy to Aurangzeb. Walsh and Khoja Sarhad went back from the camp having ‘finished all business to our greatest satisfaction. who was accompanied by Mr.000.179 Familiarity with Persian offered the Armenians easy access to the Mughal court and made them extremely suitable as emissaries. 2 vols. 182 C. . the English company wanted to send a delegation to Zabardast Khan. Commerce and Culture. he appointed Khoja Murad. 180 E.. 1979). A Selection of Official Documents dealing with its History. 1959): 211-12. (London. General of the Mughal’s forces who was suppressing the revolt of Sobha Singh in Bengal. R. in Prakash and Lombard eds. 1: 25-27. . 36-38. Govindpur and Calcutta in Bengal in 1698 for the sum of Rs. the nephew of Khoja Panous. also headed by Khoja Sarhad.180 Sir William Norris. who was sent to the camp of Zabardast Khan as the ‘Political Agent’ of the English. We have noted above that Emperor Akbar had employed an Armenian as his interpreter. At this the English decided to send another delegation. to head the delegation. an Armenian.185 179 S. In order to secure the rights of the company against the activities of the interlopers. Wilson.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 16.183 At the camp. 1500-1800 311 to heads of various countries for trading privileges. .. ‘Persianization and Mercantilism: two themes in the Bay of Bengal History.

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

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

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. A. Bagchi. a brother of Petrus. was the commander-in-chief of the army of Mir Qasim. in their eyes. was an Armenian merchant-diplomat of Saidabad. Petrus was forbidden to act as vakil to the nawab in future. Hill. . His Ibid. a town in the silk producing region near the court at Murshidabad. L. 2: 58. Together with a Jewish friend. document 647 and note. Seth. vol. M. passim. This was due to the fact that Khoja Gregory. pointed out that it would be arbitrary to order a merchant of long standing out of the settlement. bankers and foreign trading companies combined to create a rupture that changed the course of the history of India. He was employed as confidential agent by Clive to negotiate with Mir Jafar for overthrowing Siraj-uddaula. the chief of Patna. for Khoja Petrus. 197 James Long. It is well known that Plassey witnessed how the vested interests of the officials of the court. M. in J. the ‘evil genius’ of Mir Qasim”. Vansittart. Seth. Bhattacharya.195 He was employed again for negotiating with Mir Qasim for deposing Mir Jafar. ed. 198 Robert Orme. P. S.314 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA with the task of procuring items suitable for the occasion. Circumambulations in South Asian History: essays in honour of Dirk H. for a recent biography of Khoja Gregory see B. Military Transactions. According to Orme.198 He was settled in Hugli and had transactions with the French and the Dutch through lodges at both Chandernagore and Chinsura. and English troops suffer at the hands of his brother. The Armenians in India . Ghosh (Kolkata: K. When war broke out between the English and Mir Qasim in 1763. he supplied provisions to the English at Fulta for six months before the arrival of Robert Clive and Admiral Watson from Madras. “Between Fact and Fiction: Khoja Gregory alias Gurguin Khan. Kolff (Leiden: Brill. Prakash eds. Banerjee and B. Gommans and O. Petrus was never rewarded for his services to the Company. passim. He appeared on the scene after the siege of Calcutta by Sirajuddaula in 1756. Bengal in 1756-1757. .194 Khoja Petrus Aratoon. Selections from Unpublished Records: 421. Wajid was ‘the principal merchant of the province’ of Bengal. But the English never completely trusted Khoja Petrus who. 1743: 55. J. indigenous merchants. popularly known as the Armenian Petrus of Clive. A Narrative of the Transactions in Bengal 1760-1764. by A. Petrus was kept as a hostage by Major Adams in his camp lest Ellis. 2003): 133-58. president of the council of Fort William. K. Armenians in India: 328-32.197 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. 196 H. C. C. Vansittart. was a spy of the nawab in Calcutta. J. J. 195 194 . 1976) henceforth Narrative.

XXXI. vol. no. companies and rulers: Bengal in the Eighteenth Century’. Merchants. S. described him as a ‘confidential agent with the Europeans. Clive did not agree to the proposal and wanted Wajid and the banker financier Jagat Seth to settle the dispute. translation of the first part of a memoir by Monsieur Jean Law. however. C.’200 He had close contact with the Jagat Seths and other merchants of Patna. ‘Merchants.201 He had large stakes in the salt trade of Bengal and the opium trade of Bihar. through whom he negotiated with the Europeans. Hill. Chatterjee. 1: 3-5. He represented the French in the nawab’s darbar and Monsieur Law. the chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar who kept a watchful eye on the affairs of the court in Murshidabad.205 For a long time Wajid wanted to counterbalance the English with the French in the nawab’s court. were. 166) and Clive’s letter to Khoja Wajid. not sent. 203 S. 1500-1800 315 step brother Jubbo lived in Chinsura. ibid. 202 S. 167.204 As the English attacked Chandernagore. 2: 110 (no. 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. he maintained diplomatic negotiations with the Danish. Wajid wanted the nawab to assist the French with his troops and arranged a meeting between Law and the nawab. Wajid owned five ships and had extensive overseas trade with Mocha and Basra.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Bengal in 1756-57. vol. During the few years before the battle of Plassey. Bengal in 1756-57. Dutch. Through his contacts in the nawab’s darbar. politics and society in early modern India: Bihar: 1733-1820: 72. 205 Nawabi troops. 125-6 (no. C. Bengal in 1756-57. Wajid was in favour of having the dispute settled through the mediation of the French. 200 199 . vol. 3. He S. Collet and Watts described Khoja Wajid as the ‘greatest merchant in Bengal’ having ‘great influence with the Nabab. 93-94. C. 2. As the leader of the Asian merchants. Bengal in 1756-57. Hill. in S. Appendix III. In 1756. he was able to secure the salt farm in 1752 and the saltpetre farm in 1753. Hill. English and French Companies.203 When the English plundered Hugli during the dispute with Siraj. vol.199 Through his lodges at Patna and Surat he was engaged in inland trade.’202 It appears from the letters Siraj wrote to Wajid that the nawab confided in the latter. 204 Letter from Khoja Wajid to Clive. he mediated in conflicts between Asian and European merchants. Wajid enjoyed the monopoly of saltpetre and salt. v. in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. 175). chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar: 187. Hill. C. But as war with the French was imminent. Chaudhuri. On behalf of the nawab. 201 K.

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

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

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