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

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



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

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




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



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

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

the best analysis of the organization and structure of Armenian trade is to be found in the works of Shushanik Khachikian. shows that Armenians did not have European type companies. A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan. Why should the Europeans—the English in particular—insist on fortifications?11 So far. Oxford. Edmund Herzig (see note below) and Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe refer to her work in detail. C. In his letters to the Armenian merchant Khoja Wajid. (London. 29-46. Phil. after all. Yerevan. it was precisely that nation that started using force systematically against Asian shipping. 1905) vol. All of the independent territorial bases the Europeans possessed in Asia were fortified. D. This legacy was continued by the East India Companies. Thesis. Hill.12 In addition. (Paris Teheran: Institut Français de recherche en Iran. ed. the nawab mentioned that the Armenians. 1: 3-5. 1988 (in Armenian). 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).14 Neither K. I have communicated with Khachikian who kindly confirmed her position through e-mail. 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. With notes and an historical introd. 1991. Calmard. (henceforth Military Transactions) 2 vols. 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. Gaastra ed. ‘The Engish East India Company in the 17th and 18th centuries: a pre-modern Multi-national Organization’ in Blussé. (London: John Murray. one of the main reasons for dispute between Siraj-uddaula. 13 The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. 11 Bengal in 1756-57. also ‘The family firm in the commercial organisation of the Julfa Armenians’. L. 12 The Armenian Trade of New Julfa and its commercial-economic ties with Russia during the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries. the nawab of Bengal and the English in the middle of the eighteenth century. also foreigners in Bengal. who. A selection of public and private papers dealing with the affairs of the British in Bengal during the reign of Siraj-uddaula ed. 2003. 21 September. 3 vols. the privileges were backed up by the threat of the use of force. in her study on the Julfa Armenians in Russia. S. 1993). 1775-77) vol. Companies and Trade. Chaudhuri. 287-303.10 It should be remembered that armed trade was. also Robert Orme. J. and F. N.13 Baghdiantz Mccabe herself offers an excellent account of the career of Marcara. 1500-1800 281 force. 2: 58. By S. Not only were the Companies able to extract special privileges from the sovereigns.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Rene Bekius’s research on the textile trade of the Armenians touches upon their trade in Persia. had not built any fort and traded under the protection of the Mughal government. Isfahan: a Study in Pre-Modern Asian Trade. in Etudes Safavides. 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 .

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

Baghdiantz Mccabe. .21 In the seventeenth century. being nine years travels. A description of this system was also provided by Fryer: they [the Armenians] enter the theatre of commerce by means of some benefactor. in Commerce and culture in the Bay of Bengal. 285-305. . Braudel noted that the family offered the most natural and sought after solution for commercial networks. . often family members. whose money they adventure upon. O. 1500-1800.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Herzig. 23 After the demise of Dhirubhai Ambani of the Reliance Industries recently. ‘The family firm’ also. Herzig.22 This is the organizing principle still followed in many modern Indian industrial firms. edited with notes and an introd. Merchants. 3 vols. and travelling with these into the remotest kingdoms. 237-248. . companies and commerce on the Coromandel coast. 190915). 1672-1681. Delhi. Bhattacharya. Braudel. Burton Stein and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. 24 A New Account of East India. See S. Prakash and D. Lombard (Delhi: Manohar. F. see Claude Markovits. The Wheels of Commerce. there seems to have been no European-type chartered joint-stock Armenian company. and by being factors of their own kindred’s honesty. . 1982): 150. Reynolds. ed.24 E. the Ahmedabad industrialist Kasturbhai Lalbhai created companies for his nephews. by William Crooke. a quarter part of the gain is their own: from such beginnings do they raise sometimes great fortunes for themselves and Masters. 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. 2. Cf. ed. 1999). if the family firm provided the basics of the business organization. 21 Shah’s silk: 245-250.23 However. Civilization and Capitalism. The Tamil Muslim merchants of the Coromandel coast known as Marakkayars organised their trade on the basis of extended kinship. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel in the eighteenth century: a case for continuity’. 20 19 . has shown that family firms with extended patriarchal household as the basis of business organization were a major organ of this trade. 1996). 1650-1740. S. 249. become by their own industry. and on return.20 Baghdiantz Mccabe herself admits that family was the basic unit and the preferred system of Armenian merchant associations. 22 A New Account of East India and Persia. 1500-1800 283 So far as Armenian trade in India and the Indian Ocean was concerned.19 Organizing commerce on the basis of family connections has been common in pre-modern societies in Europe and Asia. the eldest son Mukesh Ambani took over the charge of the business. the wealthiest men. (London: Harper & Row. 1986 passim and B. (London: the Hakluyt Society. 249. M. for example. John Fryer left a description of the trading method of the Armenians: The Armenians being skilled in all the intricacies of trade at home. vol. Arasaratnam. Shah’s silk . Trans. ‘The Tata paradox’. in Institutions and Economic Change in South Asia.

operating in Amsterdam in the late 1690s. Khachikian and H. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. 237. a merchant from New Julfa who 25 Claude Markovitz. Isfahan: a study in pre-modern Asian trade. Zachary must have been well established in the trade to Europe. 146. and Aga Piri as the son of Khoja Panous. 153-86. Bekius. The commenda contracts were basically of two types: unilateral. true partnership. commission agency and representation. Armenian merchants of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: English East India Company sources. For Avetik di Petros see R. 3 offers a detailed account of the different kinds of partnership known among the Armenians and how these worked. University of Oxford. In Amsterdam. George amply testify to the existence of the system until the end of the eighteenth century. and bilateral. no. known as Avetik di Petros. 28 Shushanik Khachikian suggested that Khoja Avetik. and Margaret Makepeace ed.27 Though such detailed accounts are available mostly in Armenian documents. I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for this clarification. One of the principal merchants Zachary represented was his father. his wife Azis was in Isfahan. thesis. Khoja Zachary di Avetik of Isfahan came to Madras from Amsterdam in 1714. 8. e-mail. the English records of the Fort St.D. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. Journal of the Asiatic Society. It is also possible that our Avetik was another person. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade’. nos. and Avetik. This ledger book has been edited in Armenian recently by L. ch.25 The most popular type of partnership prevalent among the Armenians of New Julfa was the commenda contract. where the whole capital was provided by the investor (sleeping partner) and active partner or agent invested the labour. employment. These were commenda partnership. 182. ibid. he seems to have had transactions with Sarhad. 1991. This volume offers a unique collection of documents on Armenian merchants and their relationship with the English East India Company. Khachikian. in this sense. ‘The ledger of the Merchant Hovannes Joughayetsi’. . Khoja Avetik of Isfahan. and in few cases. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 175. where a part of the capital invested came from the active partner. 26 Edmund Herzig. Antony’s College. September 21. Zachary di Avetik. For reference to Khoja Avetik Kalantar as brother of Aga Piri see See Vahe Baladouni. 2000). 2003. 5.28 At the time Zachary wrote his will. ch. means Zachary the son of Avetik. Ph. no. (1966). ‘De’ or ‘di’ in Armenian names are abbreviation of the word ‘vordi’ meaning son. He had three sons: Hovannes. 27 L. was a variant of this system. 3.26 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. 1998) (henceforth Armenian Merchants). referred to as ‘master’ in the will was most probably the father of Zachary de Avetik. The Global World of Indian Merchants. The shah-gumastha partnership existing among the Sindhi merchants of Shikarpur. Papazian. 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama. 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. Gregory.284 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA This kind of partnership was prevalent among different merchant communities of South Asia in different forms. incorporating features of partnership. loan. St.

34 English East India Company sources refer to one Persia de Marketon freighting goods on the company ships. Khoja Tarkon [?Tarkhan]. . He had four other accounts running—two of these were partnership accounts between himself. Dag Register Surat. Armenian Merchants . Madras and Pegu. dated 10 September. sailing to Pegu.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.C. Probates. The Armenian Merchants. Isfahan. who were also. 1736. 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. he had three other large accounts with Gregory de Agazar. 30 Armenian Merchants. V. handed Gregory (son of Zachery) a full discharge for 300 tomands. . nos. . 1409. 141. 249. he had a partnership account with Macartoon Yanhoopa (the second part does not resemble Armenian names). 31 Records of Fort St. his masters [not named] and Avid de Zeany and two other between Macartoon Yanhoopa.34 Zachary seems to have had an agent called Beethan in Gombroon. Siraz. Gombroon. Copy of Wills. not known as a ‘khoja’. 171 and 1719: 93 and 120. 14 June 1685. henceforth ‘the last will of Zachary’. 2004. vol. Issa Cooly was noted by the Dutch at Surat as a person friendly with the Mughal official Salabat Khan. 23 September. 169. Ma[natsa]gan di Aga Piri and Issa Gully di Avateek Shaudullah. (henceforth TNA). who was however. 33 It is very much likely that this Issa Gully was the same person as the Armenian Issa Coolly/Coollyan at the Mughal court. when he visited India. Magan di Aga Piri was a son of Aga Piri Kalantar of Surat and Madras (see more on him below). Khoja Zachary and the latter’s master [?Khoja Avetik]. documents 241. Tamil Nadu Archives. Similarly. Zachary does not mention Tarkhan as his master but mentions that the latter. 1718: 56. 231. George (henceforth RFSG). E-mails to the author. Apart from the account together with his master Khoja Avetik. among other places. Records of the Mayor’s Court. like Zachary himself. He was related to Khoja Zachary and replaced him as the Armenian alderman when Zachary left for Pegu. See RFSG. 2003 and 1 February. 451. factors of other principal merchants.1599v.O.33 Since 1714. 1: The Last Will and Testament of Zachary De Avateek. one worth 150 tomands on Zachary di Avetik in India and the other of similar value on [?his son] Khoja Avetik in Europe. Zachary had two more accounts with the prominent Bengal/Madras merchant Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan.A. (film 1035) f. Armenian Merchants. etc. no. see Nationaal Archief. 1719: 177. 1500-1800 285 traded with Russia and Holland. 253.31 He represented at least another merchant of Isfahan.30 He was one of those merchants who travelled between different places in Europe.). One of these accounts 29 Shushanik Khachikian informed the author that the Armenian Sarhad trading in Russia had transactions with a Zachar. his master [in Isfahan] issued two bills of exchange. the Hague (henceforth N. Diary and Consultation Book. 32 Was he a grandson of Khoja Minas? See Edmund Herzig.32 In lieu of a factorage bond worth 300 tomands. another factor of Khoja Avetik. Diary and Consultation Book. 241. The family tree of Khoja Minasean family p. Zachary traded on multiple accounts.29 Already in 1697 we find Zachary shipping glass-ware and broad cloth on English Company ships.

35 Was Zachary’s father (Avetik) a son of the famous Armenian Khoja Panous Kalantar. George had Khoja Simon as ‘The last will of Zachary’. 24. 37 Armenian Merchants. 36 35 . the English expected Aga Piri or some other member of the family to go to London in order to look after his business. Khoja Sarkies di Agavelly and Khoja Gregory of Fort St. it is evident that the widespread network of transactions Zachary mentioned in his will was facilitated by the connections established over more than one generation. Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day—a work of Original Research (Delhi: Oxford etc. 74. as the latter possessed a ‘factorage’ bond worth Rs. his own interests as well as those of his sons were intertwined in an extremely intricate cris-cross pattern of partnership.286 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA was part of Zachary’s account with his masters [not named].79662. 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. 112 for the text of this agreement. 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. the will does not specify the type of partnerships Zachary had with all these different partners. ‘The agreement of the EIC with the Armenian Nation’. it referred to kalantar (alderman or mayor). W. Later he became the Armenian Alderman of the Mayor’s Court at Fort St. J. For a lively discussion on the agreement see M. their other factors. seems to have acted as factor of Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. George. Ferrier. When his father was returning from London to Julfa in 1692. 188-89 and passim)—though indexed together under one name ‘Coja Aveatick Calendar’ p. Aga Piri settled in Madras somewhere at the turn of the century. Ph. 52250 lb. 231-44. 264. All further references to this work are from this edition. 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. Though the term ‘Calandar’. refers to two Avetiks—one without (documents 62..5 1686-97. He was a ‘well known’ Armenian inhabitant of Surat and broker for the Dutch East India Company. 77) and one with the title kalantar (documents 153. 179. a city official appointed by central government in Iran. 183. 1937). alternately ‘Calendar’. R. In another case in 1732. 38 Ibid. 281.000 in the name of Zachary and his sons. Unfortunately. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. Armenian Merchants. 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. 146. 1975): 770. or ‘Callenter’ is treated in European records as surname. no.38 Zachary had a partnership contract with Ma[natsa]gan.. Also.37 Moreover. documents 261 and 262 for example. no. together with his sons. ed. Seth. See Armenian Merchants. 39 Aga Piri was active in Surat during the 1690s. of indigo was purchased by De Keyser at Agra through the broker Aga Piri for f. In the other account Zachary. Armenian Merchants. no. He was part of a wide-ranging network of commercial transactions in which the interests of his principals (including his father).

000. 224. Upon accepting the ‘factorship’. Aveat received several consignments from the Aga Piri brothers amounting to more than Pagodas 17. based on personal networks of extended kinship and the pursuit of similar goals. He had another account with his nephew Marcar di Sattoor. Khoja Thaddeus Aga Piri & co. when he set out from Isfahan in May 1740. Partnership among these individuals in different capacities was indeed a salient feature of this trade. ‘Principal sum’ advanced by the Aga Piri brothers to be employed in their interest.41 In a distinct case of commenda partnership.000. however. 17 November. The network of the Armenian merchants indeed reflected a structure. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court 1731-32.42 The references we come across to Armenian trade in Persia and India. 43 There were of course informal connections behind this formal structure of the companies.40 Again. Aveat signed a ‘factorage bond’ with the said firm valid for five years and set out for Pegu with a sum of Pagodas 2. The last will and testament of Coja Catchick Cojamaul deceased. 1500-1800 287 their ‘factor’ in Pegu. George appointed Khoja Aveat their factor at Pegu. Khojamal particularly mentioned in his testament that the two accounts were entirely separate and should not be mixed up. Old Will no. At Pegu he worked together with one Petrus. Khoja Cachick Khojamal. in the wills and testaments of Armenian merchants suggests that the organization of Armenian trade was left to individual initiatives. This was. 8-9. 220 parts together with the principal sum would go to Khoja Nazar while 100 part of the profit would be Khojamal’s. but the basic differences are clear. and the informal networks formed by the representatives of these formal companies in their private capacity were crucial for country trade. During his stay in Pegu. The Companies with their modern structure co-existed with this pre-modern structure of trade. far from the formal superstructure represented by the East India Companies. received from Khoja Nazar di Abid Aga the sum of 320 tomands on the condition that out of the profit made. The reliance on the ethno-religious community provided the Armenians of New Julfa with a network that spanned at least half the globe. On his arrival at Madras in September 1740. . Khoja Simon acted as the Pegu agent of other Armenians and sailed as nakhuda on ships sailing between Madras and Pegu. 18. 1737.43 Armenian merchants in the Indian Ocean were rather like the multitude of other Asian merchants engaged in networks of private trade. 1755. as defined by Markovits.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. whose structure. 40 RFSG. size and scale made the nature of commercial operations impersonal. and here the profit was to be equally divided between the two partners. Khojamal was employed by the famous Khoja Petrus Woskan who advanced him Rs.750. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court. 41 RFSG. a merchant firm of Fort St. 75. Brothers. 42 Calcutta High Court.

nos. and Manila. goods. no. 46 S. a copy of a contract. Hill. It must have been Aga Piri who referred the case to Babur. As the Julfa dialect (Armenian. credit. Aga Piri Kalantar. Khoja Babur di Sultan seems to have functioned as the London agent of other Armenians too. with many Persian loan words) was the medium of all commercial transactions. or even the kin of acquaintances working at different levels. But to their dismay. 144.46 From the seventeenth century onwards centres in India—Surat. there was no possibility of disclosure of a confendential information. produced an original letter to Khoja Babur di Sultan [Piri’s agent in London] dated January 29. RFSG. George Council to discharge that debt fully. It is not known exactly when he Claude Markovitz. See Armenian Merchants. The merchants of Masulipatnam must have sought assistance of Armenians in soliciting the Company’s favour in London. v. the consignment—no matter if it contained an important message related to business or family. One is struck by the continuous circulation of even the leading members of the community. by order of the Court of Directors.000. vol. who got the order issued. or leaving an Asian port for a destination in Europe could be used for sending agents. Despatches to England. 1712. George wanted to buy up the new company’s debt to Masulipatnam merchants amounting to Pagodas 80.288 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA facilitating a continuous circulation of capital.3. that the council of Fort St. or consignments. 45 44 . a parcel containing cash or a few precious stones. Through a multitude of partners and agents.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. Wealthy Armenian merchants of such ports had agents at places like Pegu. in some or other way related to the community. The letter acquainted him. When the separate stock ship Windsor arrived in Madras in 1713. George had been directed to satisfy the merchants’ demands on the New Company as far as these were just. pattamars or messengers were used for sending messages overland. 2. 262. 261. 133. In 1711 the governor and council of Fort St. Bombay. a couple of bills of exchange or promissory notes. C. then residing in Madras. Bengal in 1756-57. Madras and Calcutta in particular—seem to have come up as places where Armenian capital was concentrated. The Global World of Indian Merchants. 25. or representatives of agents.44 Almost any ship sailing between two ports in Asia. a few bales of cloth— was bound to reach the destination. Initially the council did not take notice of this rumour. after the arrival of the ship King William. rumour had it that the Armenians had received advice that the directors of the Company had ordered the Fort St. information and human resources. 1711-14. Khoja Petrus Woscan left New Julfa at for Madras in 1705 when he was about twenty-five years of age. In addition to caravans. or both. We have noted the case of Zachary above.

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

The Arabian Seas.53 But considering the distance and the nature of the overland or caravan trade. Armenian. Bukhara. as many of these itinerant traders traded in multiple (relatively small) accounts. Transport and Communications in India prior to Steam Locomotion.54 Moreover. Barendse. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ‘Two Armenian graffities from Ziârat. 384. 1550-1900 (Leiden: Brill. ed. Multan. 2 vols. tr. Revue Etude Armeninnes (1988-89). 2 vols. Markovitz. The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade. The Global World of Indian Merchants and Scott C.52 In the early seventeenth century. 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. 52 B. 1926): 52-59. J. 54 A journey from Surat to Agra took 86 days. and Sind on the west to Assam and Bengal in the east. testifying to relatively stable urban setting. Payne (London: Routledge & Sons. Akbar and the Jesuits. Neill’s information here is based on the account left by the eighteenth century Armenian merchant-cum-historian Thomas Khojamall.51 Indian rural economy. R. Seth. An account of the Jesuit Missions to the Court of Akbar.1. the major route from Kabul to Agra underwent few modifications since the close of the sixteenth century. most of the Armenians coming to India were travelling merchants who came here for business and returned to their own country each year. See his ‘Armenians in India’ especially 15-21. A History of Christianity in India. 471-75. Lahore was a principal commercial centre of India. Russell. Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. It has been suggested. that in the pre-Mughal period. 1994): 219-255.290 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA same way as Indian Sindhi firms and Hindu merchants operating in this route spread to Kandahar. 1: The Beginnings to A. for Armenians taking this route see J. H. vol. S. 1984-85). P. Pakistan’. D. with introduction and notes by C. Isfahan and beyond. with its commercial production. it would take a few years to accumulate some profit from all the accounts. 51 Jean Deloche. attracting commodities from far and near brought by merchants of all the nationalities mentioned above. Grover. See R. was very much geared to an integrated pattern of trade through networks of mandis and qasbas stretching from Lahore. however. J.50 Except for short segments. Turkish. a journey from Goa to Lahore via Daman and Cambay (up to Cambay by ship). Persian. and other merchants followed this caravan route to different market and production centres in north and northwest India. v.. 53 S. tr. could easily take as long as six months. 34. 2002). which usually took two months. Khojamall’s account is not reliable. 11001700. From the French by James Walker. Neill. Delhi. Levi. According to M. 1707. XVI. 158. 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. connected through road and river routes. 1993-94. du Jarric. . ‘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.

See E. . The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 24. M. Mathias Mundadan. A. 41. Maclagan. Parsees. During the intermittent period the trader had to live at different places along the route. carried goods from one place to another for sale and noted the demand for new ones. an Armenian Christian. among other Armenians. who come from Armenia.D. vol. Maclagan. Neill. 1944). A History of Christianity: 466 fn. 56 G. sailing from Cambay as part of the four Gujarati ships annually leaving that port for Melaka where many of them stayed back. .55 In the course of the sixteenth century. together with Arabs. Armenians were elsewhere in India and also engaged in the overseas trade to Southeast Asia. Armenians were to be found at different places in India and at least a few Armenian settlements seem to have been there. 57 A. went back. Moraes was not sure if these Christians were Armenians or Syrians.58 Pires accompanied both the first and the third Jesuit missions to the Mughal court as interpreter. 52-1542 (Bombay: Manaktalas. (London: the Hakluyt Society. that Diogo Fernandes and Bastião Fernandes made the pilgrimage to the house of the Apostle St. 1: From the Beginning up to the middle of the Sixteenth century (up to 1542) (Bangalore: Theological Publications in India. the Christians of St. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne. At the beginning of the sixteenth century we find Armenians.2:268-69. 39. . Seth suggested that this Portuguese name was perhaps assumed by the person for strategic purposes. because with the people of this country. vol. Francis Xavier. A History of Christianity in India . Thomas in Coromandel gave hearing to none except their bishops. vol. The Suma Oriental. v. J. and to make enough profit to settle the accounts with the master. Portuguese merchants coming from Melaka stayed with Armenian Christians. 55 Tome Pires.56 At Pulicat. 1932): 271 and S. Neill. 1: 170. and Turks. It is true that early Portuguese sources referred to all Eastern Christians as Armenians. Thomas at St. the ones lucky enough to survive the odds of the weather and the roads. 58 M. 1500-1800 291 (partner)s as well as his own capital. but it is possible that the Christian priests the Portuguese came across in Coromandel were Syrians.59 Though it is not clear if Akbar met the parents of Mirza Zu’lqarnain. 1:46.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. In the end. A History of Christianity in India: from Early Times to St. 1964): 226. Portuguese missionaries in the early sixteenth century noted that in matters of faith. made new acquaintances and renewed the old ones. S. no one can succeed but these bishops. Moraes. Thome in 1517. 1984): 407. 196.57 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. 2 vols. History of Christianity in India. It was at the invitation of Coja Escandel (?Iskandar). 59 E.

(henceforth Early Annals of the English in Bengal) 3 vols. 4. C. R. On pp. who had a close contact with Armenians. also P. As far as South Asia is concerned. the Armenian had breathed his last near Lahore. 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. Wilson already dismissed it on the ground that the tombstone in question was an isolated instance. vol. Maclagan. xvii point to the size of the place (e. however. He suggested that the stone was probably brought to Calcutta from somewhere else at a later date. do not mention any Armenian church in Agra. Hewsen. E. who remained with Goes till the end.64 At this stage of settlement. Seth. Armenians in India: 102-7.60 The brief account of the merchant pilgrim Khwaja Martyrose in Seth’s work reminds us of a Sufi saint. 160). difficult to accept Hewsen’s position that there were large settlements of Armenians already at Agra (by 1562). M. 1603-1721 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. it is. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 213-215. Armenia: A Historical Atlas (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Calcutta in the 17th Century (Calcutta: Firma KLM. and that the stone was not in situ.292 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the well-known Armenian Catholic with close contact with the Jesuit fathers at Agra or somewhere in Kashmir. Wessels. Nair. the rest of the tombstones of Armenians at Agra dated back to 1611. Armenians living in India were See below for more on Mirza Zu’lqarnain. (London: W.61 Though we have such accounts of Armenians in different parts of the country in the sixteenth century. Except for two tombstones from 1557 and 1560. 61 60 .62 At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jesuit Fr. Akbar had allowed an Armenian church to be built in Agra as early as 1562. Travelling overland from Ormuz. Thacker.63 The mission of the lay brother Benedict Goes to China sent by Fr. It is more likely that if Armenians were there in Bengal in the early 17th century. Calcutta became an important centre of commerce in the 18th century following the foundation of the English settlement there in 1690. Jerome Xavier from Lahore in 1603 was accompanied by the Armenian Isaac. As regards the possibility of a large Armenian colony in Calcutta by 1630. 62 Robert. See Early Annals of the English in Bengal: being the Bengal Public Consultations for the first half of the 18th century. H. they were based mainly at Chinsura. 1630 in the churchyard of the Holy Church of Nazareth (Calcutta). 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. According to the account of Khojamall. small town and city) but refer to the size of the community on the map (p. 63 E. it is clear that they were living in (Mughal) India where both Zu’lqarnain and his brother were born. 22-23 he gives the names of seven Armenian priests who died at Agra between 1614 and 1675. J. Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia. see below. 1986): 443-46. But the Jesuit priests.g. Surat (by 1579) and Calcutta (by 1630). The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271. Hewsen bases himself on Mesrobv Seth’s work. whom Seth elsewhere dismissed as untrustworthy. 1895-1919). and not in Calcutta. 2001). village. T. 1: 137. a hypothesis based on the discovery of the tombstone of Reza Bibi dated July 11. Hewsen’s atlas is a bit confusing because the symbols explained on p. Maclagan. 64 C. About Seth’s position that no Armenian women came to India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 1924): 1-42. See his Armenians in India: 110. n.

Familiarity with Persian provided them access to the Mughal court. Zu’lqarnain did not practise Islam but became an adherent of the Roman Catholic Church. the three 65 For the legend about the (Armenian) Christian wife of Akbar see M. 22-87. 67 Except for the period 1633-35 when he suffered from Shah Jahan’s anti-Christian outbursts. By Alexander Rogers. which often employed them as trusted interpreters. ed. Tuzuk I Jahangiri. forcibly circumcised by Jahangir. Pinheiro. For commerce overland they travelled in caravans consisting of merchants of different Indian and west Asian communities.67 It was not uncommon for Armenians during this period to conceal their faith under some real or assumed political pressure. M. Hosten. Hosten published in the Statesman. 1500-1800 293 well integrated into the existing socio-economic fabric of India. who married him to Juliana. Mirza Sikandar. This seems to have been more of a political show as after his conversion. 14 November 1916. where Hosten left the issue open as he had no conclusive evidence. J. By Henry Beveridge. Iskandar had two sons: the elder son. One account that was widely known among the European missionaries and travellers in seventeenth-century India was that of Mirza Zu’lqarnain mentioned above. Seth quoted extensively from Fr. 1968). 1916. The life of Mirza Zulkarnain attracted the attention of many contemporary accounts perhaps because of the fact he was. was later named Mirza Zu’lqarnain. His father. Overseas commerce too. Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. tr. it also provided Armenians with the experience of living under Muslim domination. also called Iskandar. J. both Zu’lqarnain and his brother Sikandar were forcibly converted to Islam. the daughter of the Armenian Mir Abdul Hai. 2: 194. vol. Hosten’s work in Armenians in India.65 As regards the conversion of Armenians to Islam. not much is known so far. According to Fr. acquired great favour at the court of Akbar. . The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 157-61. Maclagan. His daughter was married to Iskandar who was also in the service of Akbar. 66 Abdul Hai. Maclagan. together with his brother. was in the service of the imperial harem of Akbar. (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. When the governor of Lahore threatened in 1604 to arrest all the Christians of that city. in charge of the royal harem. Seth maintained that Akbar indeed had an Armenian wife. But he also quoted the paper of Fr. as we have noted above.66 After Jahangir succeeded to the throne. E. Seth. At the same time. Also. J. H. The relationship between Armenians and Muslims of different denominations has never been free from tensions as historical Armenia has often fallen prey to the aggressive policies of Turkey and Persia. E. Armenians in India: 151-61. some twenty-three Armenian merchants seem to have fled the city hastily. The relationship of the Armenians with non-Christians was often not limited to trade alone. was carried out with merchants of different origins. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 170-80. For his carreer see Fr.. 2 vols.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. an Armenian. Mirza seems to have enjoyed the favour of Jahangir and Shah Jahan who entrusted him with various responsibilities.

74 Though S. 3. Robinson and Wylde at Swally Marine to the Company. From the old English translation of 1664 by G. 2 vols. who has written extensively on Wajid. 2: 400. Hill. 1640: “. Appendix III. Maclagan. 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. . C.71 Such co-habitation would be logical even if for entirely strategic purposes. is that of Khoja Wajid. 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’. 69 The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India. Sushil Chaudhury. Chaudhury assumes that Wajid perhaps added ‘Muhammed’ to his name to enhance his 68 E. (Lahore: 1975). . 1892).’ a term indicating Muslim. And notes by Edward Grey. Letter from the president Fremlen &messrs. Jean Law. 2 vols. 6: 281.294 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA to four Armenians he met did not want to be seen talking to him. 73 For details on Khoja Wajid see below. as they wished not to be recognised as Christians. Akbar and the Jesuits: 135.75 and historians have wondered about this confusion. see S. C. 71 Ibid. ed.70 These Hindu and Muslim concubines were later either abandoned or accepted as partners through marriage in the church. cf.”. 72 E. had ever converted to Islam. 13 vols. The name Dominic Pires is not Armenian. Foster. a colourful personality of Bengal trade and politics in the eighteenth century. 70 P. vol. du Jarric. Maclagan. the greater part of whom [Armenians] here call themselves ‘Mussulman’ . has noted that there is no evidence to show that Wajid. Bengal 1756-57. (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Dutch and French sources refer to him as a ‘moor. translation of the first part of the memoir of Jean Law: 187. who was undoubtedly an Armenian. son of Mir Afzal. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 194. English Factories in India. Akbar himself seems to have been present at the wedding ceremony of his Armenian interpreter Dominic Pires and his Indian bride in 1582. 75 See the letters from the Dutch chief Bisdom quoted in S. Hill refers to him as Armenian.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.69 Contemporary accounts suggest that Armenians in India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries cohabited with Hindu and Muslim women. . (London: Hakluyt Society. vol. C. With a life of the author. December 29. though we have not come across any conclusive evidence about this one so far. Seir i Mutakherin.72 Another interesting case. vol. . 1906-27). Havers. W. an introd. Hill. was a nephew of Wajid.1:126-30. v. passim. Breton. Bengal in 1756-57. 74 Saiyid Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai. ed. . Seth suggests that this was perhaps an adopted name.73 The indigenous historian Gulam Hussain noted that Khwaja Ashraf Kashmiri. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72.

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

III: 15-16. together with Persian merchants continued to use the overland route to India in the seventeenth century. 85 See Henry Bornford’s account of his journey from Agra to Tatta [? March 1639] in English Factories in India. 2000): 245. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan.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. 312v.84 prompted an increasing number of Armenian merchants to frequent India. The proximity of India. and again to Isfahan by caravan (27% of the cost). but not daring to refuse the imperial offer. including a wife. 1630. Van Santen maintains that this list underestimated the overland trade as it did not include the quantity of indigo from Byana transported overland. vol. Leiden University (Meppel: 1982): 64-65. 25.000 camels.296 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the Great Mughals were not in a position to (or did not) make a distinction between Christians of different denominations. 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. thesis. 87 Another estimate put the cost of both the routes at about 50%. carrying chiefly See Purchas: His Pilgrims (Glasgow: MacLehose. Pleased with Captain William Hawkins. Ph. 6: 134-138. indigo and sugar exported overseas to Persia to those taken overland at 70:30. The Economy of Safavid Persia (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.O. V. Extremely embarrassed. 84 83 . Willem Floor.. acted as a boost to the first major eastward surge of Armenian trade. Jahangir wanted him to settle down in India and offered him all accommodations. 1905-07).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.86 An estimate made in the 1630s put the ratio of textiles. Surat-Heeren XVII. Van Santen. H. then to Bandar Abbas by ship. Hawkins replied that as a Christian he could marry only a Christian woman. the main trading partner of Iran.D.87 It was noted that every year 20. There is evidence to show that Armenians.C. 1620-1660.A. the envoy of King James II. vol. 1099. 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. 30 July. 86 N. and Hawkins felt obliged to obey the emperor. But the emperor outwitted him by finding a match in the daughter of a lately deceased Armenian.This list suggests that it would be more profitable to send textiles coming from the centres of production in north India overland. Armenians were thus already established in the field.

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.92 The rebellion at Kandahar (1709). 1: 725. Van Santen De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. in de Noorder en Oosterlyke gedeelten van Asia en Europa enz. for the question of the continuity of overland trade from India in the seventeenth century see R. welke voormaels bekent zijn geweest. 1: 426. and were forced to return to Surat for shipment to Persia on board Dutch and English ships. vol. Barendse. Ibid. W. W. (Amsterdam: Halma. I am grateful to René Bekius for drawing my attention to this work. 1705). there was little demand for the textiles carried by the Dutch Company. Van Santen. 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 Economy of Safavid Persia: 200-10. steden. Generale Missiven. 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. landstreken. J. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65.90 In 1668 Nicolaes Witsen. 1500-1800 297 piece-goods. The Arabean Seas: 154-64. 90 H. en plaetzen. vol. en meest nooit voorheen beschreve Tartersche en nabuurige gewesten.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Distance between Isfahan and the major cities in India as calculated by an Armenian merchant of Julfa. 2 vols. 91 Nicolaes Witsen. Noord en Oost tartarye. Willem Floor. arrived at Isfahan from India. The Indo-Gangetic plains and the sub-Himalayan zones. Beneffens verscheidene tot noch onbekende. Table. Bulk of the commodities that had earlier been taken overland. 89 88 .89 Due to the import of a large quantity of cotton textiles in Isfahan by a caravan consisting of 6. rivieren.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. of te bondig ontwerp van eenige dier landen en volken. 92 H. was being shipped from Surat at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries.000 camels in 1644.

1984): 19n.g. Isfahan. because Seth was aware of the presence of Armenian women in India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. contrary to those of the English. Blussé van Oud-Alblas. who often sent Della Valle his own coach and his interpreter. 96 The large proportion of women among the Armenians of Surat drew attention of an Englishman even two centuries later. ‘Surat—its past and present’ Calcutta Review. Anonymous. (1848) 9. vol. and quite a few to Armenian women. 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. Mestizo Women and the Dutch in VOC Batavia (Leiden: KITLV. continued to be connected with Persia and Central Asia through Kabul and Kandahar during the period that followed. 1627-1623.98 Della Valle noticed that many of the Dutch Company’s servants.95 Subsequent to their settlement in New Julfa. 263. 1: 29.298 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA however. He was informed that this pattern was encouraged in order to populate Batavia: At Batavia Dutchmen settled with their family enjoyed many privileges. It was the time when Jan Pietersz. January-June: 136. That is why many of them are married to women from Syria.93 Seth found only one tombstone of an Armenian woman at Surat in the sixteenth century (dating from 1579). the Dutch decided to follow the Portuguese example. Dutch Factories in India.1 (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. Seth. worked as interpreter for Pieter van den Broecke who arrived there as director of the Dutch East India Company in 1620. 1986): 158-62. advocated the policy of populating Batavia. The Crisis of Empire in Mughal India: Awadh and the Punjab 1707-48 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. . were married. After initial attempts of shipping marriageable women or entire families to Asia had failed. the number of Armenian merchants settling in India . 94 M. Coen. Armenians in India: 126. the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies. with their families seems to have increased. who considered women as a pre-condition for trade. J. Strange Company: Chinese Settlers. 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. 98 L.96 The relationship between the Armenians and the two northwest European nationalities at Surat was rather close. A Catholic Armenian called Iskandar Beg. 99 The travels of Pietro della Valle in India. 97 See Om Prakash. the interpreter of the English lodge at Surat. Armenia. 95 Ibid. v. he was touched by the demonstration of affection on the part of the English president Thomas Rastel.97 When Della Valle was in Surat with his Georgian wife. India and other countries.99 93 Muzaffar Alam.94 This is inaccurate and simplistic. 1986): 141-43.

the Company could borrow money from Mariam at an interest of 1 per cent per month.107 Some Armenians informed Van den Broecke that Huijbert Vissnich. where Armenians were active in the indigo trade. gifted them with 600 and 500 guilders respectively as presents on this occasion. . van Santen. was present at the wedding party Ibid. 1962-63). the girl child of the well known Armenian Yadgar. he lodged at the palatial building owned by the director Van den Broecke. the wife of Yadgar. ed. 124. too.105 The merchant Anthoni Claesz. formed part of one Christian society. who looked upon the girls as his own daughters..O. Ph. vol. vol.108 Della Valle. . D. 102 Pieter van den Broecke in Azië.C. 28. in Gujarat en Hindustan: 10. 2: 265. who sent the young Armenian wife of one of the Dutch factors.. W. 325. 2: 268. n.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. ed. vol. 2 vols. an assistant in the Dutch lodge. A. The junior merchant Paulus Stigel van Neurenberg married the daughter of Khoja Rafael. Van den Broecke stayed at their sarai. 103 Ibid. van Santen (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. Kolff and H. . 2: 5. along with the English and other Christians of Surat. This time.101 On Christmas Day in 1621 the slave girl of Sebalt Wonderaar. 107 De Geschriften van Francisco Pelsaert over Mughal Indië. the Company chief in Persia. 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. 123. H. was the godmother. 1979): 22. It has been assumed that before it was shifted to another building. Van den Broecke was the godfather and Angela. the senior merchant of the Dutch lodge. journaal: 265. who. 106 The travels of Pietro Della Valle . 1. Van den Broecke. . was baptised along with Catherina. Van den Broecke was witness to the event.106 When in 1621-22 the Dutch Company was facing a shortage of capital. 101 100 . 104 Ibid. De V. Visscher was married to Mariam Gomez. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. together with other Europeans. 78. an Armenian woman from Baghdad. 105 Ibid. 108 Pieter van den Broecke . W. 1627: Kroniek en Remonstrantie. 1: 120.102 On his trip to Ahmedabad. Della Valle. vol.104 Next year Yadgar’s daughter Marican was married to Issack Scholliers. 1. 1500-1800 299 At Surat. W. Cf. the lodge of the Dutch at Surat was initially set up in the house of Mariam Gomez. was not performing his duty and was giving preference to his own interests above those of the Company. vol. As godfather. 331. accompanied by a few female servants for the convenience of Mrs. H.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.

Though the agreement was not put into effect due to the opposition of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. 111 De Geschriften: 17-25. 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. see Ashin Das Gupta. A. 1979. a temporary The travels of Della Valle vol. no. 507. inv. Wiesbaden. 112 N. the attitude of Van den Broecke towards these marriages and the relationship between the English director Thomas Rastel and his Portuguese fiancée. as all trees whether bearing fruit or not deserve dewdrops from the heaven. 117. 184. 122. and Mariam. pr consequent tot merkelijke voordeel van honorable Comp. addresserende.’112 What was the situation like in European settlements like Madras and Calcutta? As per the agreement signed between Khoja Panous Kalantar. 136.g. N.300 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA of the assistant Willem Jacobsz. Perzien en Arabien ook eenighe noodwendighe procedures welke in die quartieren dienen gehouden te worden tot preservatie. the daughter of an Armenian merchant from Ahmedabad.505v. Armenians were to trade and settle at all English ports on the same terms as English freemen. 9. have inspired Kolff and Van Santen to reflect on the homogenous nature of the pluriform Christian ‘nation’ at Surat. ‘Corte Remonstrantie van de gelegentheijd van Guseratte.119-125. ch. 113 See Armenian Merchants e. VOC 1549. an eminent merchant of Isfahan and the East India Company in London in 1688. Surat. and possess all rights enjoyed by British subjects. A. 123. Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. 1700-1750. 124. ‘to stand by and protect each other if need be. 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. c. en affbreuke des algemeijnen vijants.110 The Dutch-Armenian marriages. Natalia Tojo for drawing my attention to this document. Collectie Sweers. for a description of Surat in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. f.’ Piri pointed out to the director of the Dutch lodge. versekeringe ende ook verbeteringhe der comptoiren en negotien van Guseratte ende Persia. 146. documents 116. als mede tot restauratie van de gelden schade in Mocha. 1.111 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. Aga Piri appealed to the chiefs of all the European Companies in the name of Christianity. 1: 120. ‘Christians are obliged.109 A critical insight into the situation in Gujarat. 110 109 . ff. I am grateful to Ms. Dag Register.113 Whenever there were forty Armenians resident in a town under the jurisdiction of the Company. 140. 148. 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.

As they wanted to 114 H.1: 543. Company in London to Fort St. and passim.116 As the Armenians were familiar with the centres of production and market places in India. pig-iron and wax. As India goods were very much in demand. 1913). 118 Ibid. Vestiges of old Madras: 1640-1800: traced from the East India Company’s Records preserved at Fort St. and ground granted them for the erection of a permanent place of worship. document 156.119 The regulations of the European Companies prohibiting trade with rival establishments could be avoided through a network based on kinship. ship owning merchants often avoided their settlements. the Company was sure it would profit from the freight. crowded the English settlements. Since the English left the port to port trade in Asia to private enterprise already in the late 1660s. no. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel’. many private Asian merchants serving the Europeans in numerous ways. 1500-1800 301 church was to be built for their use. 117 Ibid. which will in a few years aggrandize our revenue. 1693/94. and to whom we pay no wages being as good a security to our garrison and trade as hired English soldiers . Love. 127. George and the India Office and from other sources. documents 121. the Company allowing £50 a year for seven years for the maintenance of a priest. 131. George. 3 January. Because the Dutch Company was a direct participant in the intra-Asian trade. they were in a position to procure goods at a cheaper rate. (London: Murray.117 Moreover.g. 4 vols. e. 142. . 163. they would populate the settlements: It is undoubtedly our interest to make our garrisoned ports in India marts for nations. the growth of the European settlements provided the Asian merchants with alternate bases of operation. D. 120.115 Experienced Armenians like Aga Piri were entrusted with training freshly arrived factors of the Company in language and the method of trading. . documents 116.118 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.114 In the 1680s and 1690s. the English East India Company was recommending that its employees attract Armenians to the English settlements and encourage their trade in every possible way. 124. stick lac. 141. 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. 115 Armenian Merchants.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Bhattacharya. 119 B. 117. . 116 Ibid. 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. v. Armenians were allowed to freight the Company’s Europe-bound ships with commodities like shellac.

Khoja Nazar built the Armenian Apostolic Church (called St. Despatches to England.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. 2: 147. 20. while stopping him from sailing for Europe. 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. 1: 1694-96.000 to make up the case. also made it sure that he did not fall in the hands of the nawab’s people. Bengal Public Consultations. 50. many of them were annually sailing to Bengal. while more were expected. 122 Ibid. vol. 1969): 55. Indian merchants could use the Companies against one another.120 Armenians followed the same pattern.125 By 1711 Armenians had become ‘numerous and opulent’ in Madras. and/or trading with the king’s camp. 1733. 124 RFSG. 17 April. In analysing the relationship between the nawab and the English. 121 120 . 55-60.123 In 1696. ibid. Nazareth after him) in Calcutta in 1724. Despatches to England. George. document 139. Aceh.302 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA attract local shipping magnates to their ports. Madras and Calcutta in the eighteenth cen- Ibid. (Calcutta: Graphic Art Press. Bhattacharyya presents other cases as well. too. Elihu Yale noted that recently ‘a few more’ Armenians had come to settle in Fort St. Manila. A case in point was that of the Armenian merchant Khwaja Nazar. Zulfiqar Khan’s camp and Golconda and thus by the bulk of their trade contributed greatly to the revenues of Fort St. the council noted that though there were a few Armenians constantly residing at Madras. As there were some proceedings against him in the nawab’s (Shuja Khan) darbar in Murshidabad. vol. Persia and other places. 123 Armenian Merchants. the European settlements were a place of refuge. document 239. quoted in S. 126 RFSG. 35.122 In 1691. 125 Armenian Merchants. George.000. the English in Calcutta. 59. but the nawab demanded Rs.121 The English were willing to pay as much as Rs.126 With the growth of the ports of Bombay. The East India Company and the Economy of Bengal (from 1704 to 1740). The case was later settled by Nazar’s vakil at the darbar. For merchants trying to escape the wrath of indigenous elites.

128 The number is misleading. 2: 162. 1: 65. Chinsura and Dacca. Khoja Petrus Aratoon. Khoja Sultan David. albeit against the payment of rent. the Armenians pleaded exemption from payment on the ground that they were only six in number. dealing in real estate. 494. Orme noted that north of the White Town in Fort St. 130 Robert Orme. Armenians were suspected to have assisted the French when the latter attacked Fort St. Most of the promises made by the English were geared to securing their own trade and revenue. Hugli. George in The church at Saidabad was built in 1758. the number of permanent residents of a place could have been small. George were many good buildings belonging to Armenian and rich Indian merchants. 128 127 . 2623. Ghulam Husain noted that Khoja Wajid. 400 fn.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 1958): 9.131 The church also offered lodging to travelling Armenians. A. Saidabad. vol. Calcutta High Court. O. The survey seems to have included only very wealthy Armenian residents owning extensive landed property. 132 H. The information may not be entirely correct. especially English settlements became the major habitat of the Armenian community in India. The income from the rent would be invested in the welfare of the town of New Julfa and the Armenians there.132 However. Life story of Mr. Their house in Charles Street was rented by the Company for ‘public purposes’. 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. owned at least forty-two houses in Madras. He expressed the wish that Armenian merchants coming to Madras for trade should feel obliged to stay in those buildings. Military Transactions. 1500-1800 303 tury. Only Khoja Petrus Woscan was allowed to continue at his Choultry Gate Street redidence. ibid. who constructed the Marmalong bridge and the fifty-six stone staircases leading to the mount of San Thome. M. owned landed property in Madras. nine in Calcutta and one each in Serampore. European. Arathoon (Calcutta. H. Love. Ghulam Husain Khan Seir ul Mutakherin vol. 2. the eminent merchant of Bengal and brother of Khoja Gregory owned twelve houses. hence many women.129 The legendary merchant Khoja Petrus Woscan. the course of events in the eighteenth century had changed the situation in Madras.W. The eminent Armenian. had a harem with 125 women. D.130 It is possible that such wealthy merchants.127 When the council of Fort St. 426. George wanted to levy a land tax for the construction of a town wall in 1718. the Armenian merchant prince of Bengal. Nadjarian. but it is possible that many relatives and other families were housed in the same building. Patna and Dhaka. as we have noted above that there was a constant flow of Armenians in and out of the town. 405. As many Armenians travelled frequently to distant places organizing the business. provided housing to the lesser members in the diaspora. Vestiges of old Madras. 131 The ‘last will of Petrus Uscan’. vol. 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. M.

However. 140 Records of Fort St. 1978): 7-8. vol. especially into the intermediate zone. and by 1750 the English Company ordered the council of Fort St. or the ‘Grey Town’ where the Portuguese.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 P. 137 Ibid.’ Armenians were to be allowed to inhabit the Black Town. also suffered from the phenomenon of dualism reflected in the Europeans’ concern for defence and security. 1973): 161. resulting in the development of new areas. Long. 139 I owe this information to P. the Park Mansions—to name only a few— bear testimony to the zeal of the Armenian pioneers of the real estate business in Calcutta. 134 133 . Calcutta in Urban History (Calcutta: Firma KLM. See H. 467. D. 1916). The chapel and other buildings built by Petrus Woscan at Vepery were transferred to the Danish missionaries. Greeks and Armenians were settled from the pre-colonial times. 138 J. especially the Armenians. Relating mainly to the Social Condition of Bengal with a map of Calcutta in 1784. the Nizam Palace. manifested in the fort and the fence.140 H. where no Armenian was to live in future. the second city in the British colonial empire. as ‘no bad consequences from their residence’ were apprehended. became an embellishment. List of marriages registered in the Presidency of Fort St. the brides were Armenian and the bridegrooms European. 426.139 The formation of bigger Armenian settlements around the church did not reduce social contact between Armenians and western Europeans. 1680-1800 (Madras: Madras Government Press. George registered only 9 marriages between Armenian and western European individuals between 1680-1800.133 Those who possessed landed property in the White Town. George to direct the Armenians to leave the White Town. Sinha.138 Many of the magnificent buildings in the White Town of Calcutta were built by the Armenians. as ‘very useful people. the fence gradually fell down. One well-known marriage in Surat in the late eighteenth century was that between Hripsimah. Dodwell ed. Nair. with its accommodational function. Ibid.136 The Black Town gradually drove wedges into the White Town. The fort. Ed. George. it is interesting to note that in all the cases that have come down to us.135 In the colonial period. were to sell it to European Protestants.134 Calcutta. The Grand Hotel. M. T.304 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA 1746. Selections from Unpublished Records of Government: for the years 1748 to 1767 inclusive. As far as Armenian-European marriage is concerned. 2: 403-404.. the urban area began to grow and spread and the component elements began to interpenetrate. Saha (Calcutta: Mukhopadhyay. Love. Vestiges of old Madras. 136 Ibid.

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

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

Chaudhuri.g. 152 N. To this was added the hazards in the transportation of the commodities from the centres of production to the ports of shipment. a reason that inspired Ashin Das Gupta to characterise that merchant prince as peddler. 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. delay in reaching the port might mean missing a sailing season.W. and when supply and demand were unpredictable. no. 1796 had a credit of little over Rs.’157 In historians. A. The Asian Trade Revolution: 22-31. M. G. 1640-1700 (Leiden: Centre for Non-Western Studies. ‘Indian merchants in a Traditional setting: Varanasi 1780-1830’. The Political Economy of Commerce in Southern India. A. 1978). Dewey and A. 1550-1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Steensgaard. Subrahmanyam ed. 1962). N. 200 toward the discharge of a bond. introduction. O. c. . The Trading World of Asia and the East India Company. Barendse.153 Not only was overland transport slow. in S. 153 The cost of transporting cloth from Agra to Surat. Khoja Catchick Khojamal. it was exposed to the dangers of the road. J. The Arabian Seas. Subrahmanyam and C..152 Due to limited production. supply in the peddlers’ market was limited and could not be adjusted to the fluctuation in demand.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. upheld Van Leur’s characterization of Asian trade by characterizing Asian merchants as peddlers and the markets as peddlers’ markets. 1. 156 See below. 2 to Rs. also S. Markets and Trade in Early Modern India. P. K. 1998). g.156 Khoja Petrus. 1993): 299-300. 1500-1800 307 caravan trade of the Middle East. in C. The cost of the other transactions made by Isaac varied from Rs. Merchants.155 merchants like Zachary Avetik. also S. 4926. ‘Portfolio capitalists and political economy in early modern India’. 136-37. prices fluctuated making trading operation extremely insecure. 155 See e. See R. Khoja Minas. While all this pushed up the cost of transport. Hopkins ed. Hence the payment of protection cost to the local rulers of all the territories through which the caravans passed. Bayly. Meilink Roelofsz. The Imperial Impact: Studies in the Economic History of India and Africa (London: Athlone Press for the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. Calcutta High Court. 1770-1870: 242-65.154 Analysing the modus operandi of the merchants in early modern India.. Chris Bayly noted that when operating in a market that was intransparent. As markets were non-transparent and information incomplete. including the customs duties. A. Asian Trade and European Influence in the Indonesian Archipelago between 1500 and about 1630 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Bayly. While many of the Armenian merchants trading on behalf of a principal were peddlers.512. 157 C. 327-36. See his Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. could amount to 40 per cent of the cost price. 138-39. It is possible that he started as an agent of Khoja Petrus Aratoon who was paid Rs. The merchant Abraham Isaac who passed away in Calcutta on August 18. See e. and many others like them seem to have been like those merchants termed by Bayly as ‘port-folio capitalists. A. Subrahmanyam. 135. 48. 1660-1670 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1978): 186. a merchant often divided his investments among various partners and pursuits with a view to spreading the risk and sharing the profit.

mentioned above. In the Asian waters the ships belonging to European Companies ensured security 158 The dichotomy in the relationship between the English at different levels of the Company on the one hand and the Armenian merchants on the other has not escaped the attention of Baladouni in the introduction to Armenian Merchants . Armenians freighted Asia-bound ships of the English Company. encouraged the procedure as some empty space in the Asia-bound ship was utilised in this way. . This trade was organized by Armenians in Holland. Long before the agreement of 1688. 3 (1711-14): 18. During 1693-94. vol. of course. co-operated with Europeans because the presence of the latter provided Asian merchants with further opportunities of spreading the risks. 67. 71 for similar evidence. .000 pounds of indigo and 30. 11 December 1694 (copy) VOC 1548.000 pieces of chadar Dariabadi under the cover of Aga Piri. the Dutch director at Surat.161 The Companies. documents 62. . 160 See English Factories in India. 68.159 Such cover was indispensable so far as trade to Manila was concerned. De Keijser and the Council at Surat to the Directors. But it also ensured direct shipping of goods and persons and was less hazardous than the route via the Levant and then Middle East.158 This being said. 161 RFSG. Armenians were using Danish company ships for their Europe trade. Despatches to England. 1646 and reached Swally in November of the same year. vol. like many other groups of Asian merchants. Though wills and testaments do not throw much light on this aspect—except when an unrecovered due was involved—. 8 (1646-1650): 86 and vol. sailing as nakhuda on board European ships.308 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA spite of all the elements of tension and conflict involved. and providing cover when necessary. 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. which left London on April 29.A. De Keijser. however. Armenians. Their agents carried piece goods from Bengal and Coromandel to Europe and took back Dutch and English broad cloth to Tranquebar. and two Armenians of Madras. was part of a broader framework and it is here that the Armenian merchants cooperated with Europeans in numerous other accounts by lending money. XXXII-XXXIII. f. it should be added that Armenian merchants appear to have acted in different capacities and were dexterous at keeping the accounts separate. 159 N. the correspondent of Aga Piri Kalantar of Madras in London. carried Armenians. 65. following a ban on the trade of the Europeans. and the Armenians had to pay freight charges. traces of such co-operation are to be found in the archives of the European companies. The actual carrying out of the trade. was one of the Madras Armenians involved in this trade. . bought 200.160 In the eighteenth century. freighting their ships. Khoja Baba Sultan. It is possible that Khoja Zachary. The Dolphin.. . also Armenian Merchants . 11 (1661-1664): 328.656. acting as agents or suppliers.

164 Khoja Minas. 1500-1800 309 against pirates and other dangers at sea.167 While soliciting the ‘favour and assistance’ of Khoja Israel Sarhad. The English Company servants in Bengal stated that Armenians bought textiles 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than them. 159-60. Maloni. vol. 1268. Bengal Past and Present. v. document 209.A. 2. 2 1701/02—1710/11. The ship could not. 29 August. VOC 1264. the leading Armenian merchant in Bengal. Early Annals of the English in Bengal.166 Minas had purchased two ships from the English who again rented the ships and sent them to Persia. Generale Missiven.168 In December 1702 Sarhad offered the English company Rs. George let out the Phoenix to an Armenian for a voyage to Persia via Bengal. vol. W. Despatches to England. Surat. R. ed. 1685. R. 300. belonging to the Armenian Khoja Minas of Surat. Muslim merchants freighted their money. however. Compare: ‘. 13 (1668-69): 204.. Thomas Pitt referred to his acquaintance with Sarhad and his uncle Khoja Panous Kalantar in London. 4 March. and goods and sailed on board the same ship for Surat. For Armenian merchants freighting Dutch company ships on the Surat—Bandar Abbas run see R.G. . 163 162 . was permitted to carry any horse that would be shipped by the agent of Khoja Minas. In Basra.F. 166 English Factories in India. with their contacts in India. 164 Armenian Merchants. Despatches to England. . 170 RFSG. vol. ff.1. (1698-1713): 271. document 257.170 The French ship Pontchartreijn renamed Queen Louise carried freightgoods worth Rs. Coolhaas.A. J. Dag Register. who owned at least five ships himself.000 belonging to Armenian merchants.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. 167 N. 90 (1971): 182-216. . 1706: 52-53. 1: 369-71.169 The same year the council of Fort St. Ph. Barendse.. took the responsibility for collecting the piece goods and other commodities and loading them on the company’s ships. N. Surat-Batavia.1616-1617.000 for freighting the Colchester for a voyage to Gombroon and Basra. . ibid. Chaudhuri.S.1275-87. 168 C. The Sulleiman. 367-69. 1992).ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. ff. 169 S. It is expected that the Armenians will freight the Little London for Persia’. 6. 336.165 The George that left Surat for Gombroon in December 1669. 171 This was in 1704. 165 R. September 12 and October 9. was hired by the French (in huur bij de Fransen). 1630-1638 (Delhi: Manohar. VOC 1409. 38. Wilson.171 All the three ships that arrived in Armenian Merchants. in obtaining a good freight of fine piece goods in Bengal for the Sedgewick he was planning to send to Persia in September 1700. ‘Bengal merchants and commercial organisation in the second half of the seventeenth century’. sail to Persia as it hit the shore near Point Palmyras and had to unload the goods at Tranquebar. The Arabian Seas . freighted English company ships.163 The Armenians. (1694-96): 35. European Merchant Capital and the Indian Economy: a Historical Reconstruction based on Surat Factory Records.

178 In 1712 the St. vol. if not more important aspect of Armenian-European relationship was the role of the Armenians as emissaries of especially the English to the Mughals. Pegu and Manila seems to have been common. the trading companies sent embassies Ibid. 177 ‘Cinnamon. August 15-18. When the Dutch East India Company decided to close their factory at Pegu. 2002. Korea. Despatches to England. At least till the middle of the eighteenth century European merchants needed Asian merchants.310 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Tranquebar from Denmark in 1709 were to be freighted by the Armenians to Persia.178 Throughout the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries Armenians assisted Europeans in their investment in India. Minn. It was a relationship of accepting each other for mutual profit. 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. 176 Generale Missiven. 173 172 . 16841792. The Council of Fort St. Souza have pointed to the involvement of Armenians in the commerce carried on by the Portuguese of Macao to Manila and India. 6: 106. 4 (1675-1685): 446.30. one Portuguese and one Armenian were entrusted with the task of collecting the outstanding debts of the Company amounting to more than f. Manila and China. the agent of the English at that place proposed that the subjects of the king of Persia and their effects at Fort St. 3: 56. Juan that left Madras for Manila carried goods freighted by Armenian and Indian merchants.: 689. including Armenians.173 Similarly. H. Despatches to England. In the early modern period. Armenian merchants taking passage on board European ships in Asia was common. B. ARMENIANS AS EMISSARIES Equally. Sending emissaries to the head of a state is a practice common since ancient times.174 In the wake of troubles in Persia in the early eighteenth century.: University of Minnesota Press. in 1737 Armenian merchants of Madras freighted the Galatea. 3: 56. vol.000. RFSG. Seoul. Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient.’ unpublished paper presented to the 11th Annual Conference of the World History Association. silver and opium: Foreign shipping and trading activities at Batavia. 1600-1800 (Minneapolis. mostly a relative or a member of the community settled at ports like Mergui. 174 English Factories in India.175 The other routes where Armenian and European interests were intertwined were the routes to Southeast Asia. 1976): 285.176 Researches of G. Furber. 175 RFSG. vol.172 Again.177 Using European bottoms for consigning goods to factors. vol. George be seized. under Captain Mylne to Kung and Bushire.

182 C. Foreign Relations of Ethiopia. .180 Sir William Norris. It was a period when many attributes of Persian culture were visibly adopted by the courts in countries in South and Southeast Asia. (London. who was accompanied by Mr. he appointed Khoja Murad. the nephew of Khoja Panous. When the king of Ethiopia sent an embassy to the Mughal emperor. 1959): 211-12. 183 Ibid. We have noted above that Emperor Akbar had employed an Armenian as his interpreter. A Selection of Official Documents dealing with its History. Old Fort William in Bengal. 181 H.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 184 Ibid. the English company wanted to send a delegation to Zabardast Khan. Walsh and Khoja Sarhad went back from the camp having ‘finished all business to our greatest satisfaction. The Norris Embassy to Aurangzeb. In order to secure the rights of the company against the activities of the interlopers. ed. General of the Mughal’s forces who was suppressing the revolt of Sobha Singh in Bengal. . on his embassy to Aurangzeb. On September 22. 180 E.179 Familiarity with Persian offered the Armenians easy access to the Mughal court and made them extremely suitable as emissaries. The embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of Jahangir is a well known case. 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. 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. Das. J. also headed by Khoja Sarhad. ‘Persianization and Mercantilism: two themes in the Bay of Bengal History. It was this delegation that secured for the English the right to farm the three townships of Sutanuti. who was sent to the camp of Zabardast Khan as the ‘Political Agent’ of the English. Wilson. 1698 the Sutanuti council noted that Mr. the English company approached Khoja Israel Sarhad.000.183 At the camp. an Armenian. 1906) vol. At this the English decided to send another delegation. Subrahmanyam. Walsh. (1699-1702) (Calcutta: Firma KLM. 2 vols.182 In spite of that.. interlopers also were able to secure some trading favours for themselves from the same general. 1979)..’184 They had promised the young prince three small pieces of brass cannon.181 In the late 1690s. to head the delegation. 1500-1800 311 to heads of various countries for trading privileges. I am greatful to Dirk Kolff for drawing my attention to this work. Commerce and Culture. Sarhad was able to win the friendship of the young prince Farrukhsiyar. Van Donzel. R. Govindpur and Calcutta in Bengal in 1698 for the sum of Rs. 1400-1700’. Indian Records Series. 1: 25-27. 16. 36-38.. . in Prakash and Lombard eds.185 179 S. 185 Ibid. . 1642-1700: documents related to the journeys of Khodja Murad (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut.

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

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

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

C. translation of the first part of a memoir by Monsieur Jean Law. Bengal in 1756-57. 1500-1800 315 step brother Jubbo lived in Chinsura. On behalf of the nawab. C. 125-6 (no. 201 K. 205 Nawabi troops. 204 Letter from Khoja Wajid to Clive. Chatterjee. ibid. As the leader of the Asian merchants. he mediated in conflicts between Asian and European merchants. vol. Bengal in 1756-57.’200 He had close contact with the Jagat Seths and other merchants of Patna. He S.199 Through his lodges at Patna and Surat he was engaged in inland trade. Clive did not agree to the proposal and wanted Wajid and the banker financier Jagat Seth to settle the dispute. Chaudhuri. 3.204 As the English attacked Chandernagore. no. described him as a ‘confidential agent with the Europeans. Bengal in 1756-57. 200 199 . Appendix III. C. S. Hill. But as war with the French was imminent. Wajid wanted the nawab to assist the French with his troops and arranged a meeting between Law and the nawab. were.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.’202 It appears from the letters Siraj wrote to Wajid that the nawab confided in the latter. 93-94.205 For a long time Wajid wanted to counterbalance the English with the French in the nawab’s court. however. he maintained diplomatic negotiations with the Danish. vol.203 When the English plundered Hugli during the dispute with Siraj. in S. 166) and Clive’s letter to Khoja Wajid. not sent. ‘Merchants. Wajid was in favour of having the dispute settled through the mediation of the French. Through his contacts in the nawab’s darbar. politics and society in early modern India: Bihar: 1733-1820: 72. 175). Hill. Bengal in 1756-57. vol. companies and rulers: Bengal in the Eighteenth Century’. chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar: 187.201 He had large stakes in the salt trade of Bengal and the opium trade of Bihar. Merchants. English and French Companies. Hill. Wajid owned five ships and had extensive overseas trade with Mocha and Basra. 2: 110 (no. vol. Dutch. 202 S. 203 S. C. in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. In 1756. v. through whom he negotiated with the Europeans. 2. Wajid enjoyed the monopoly of saltpetre and salt. Collet and Watts described Khoja Wajid as the ‘greatest merchant in Bengal’ having ‘great influence with the Nabab. the chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar who kept a watchful eye on the affairs of the court in Murshidabad. he was able to secure the salt farm in 1752 and the saltpetre farm in 1753. XXXI. 1: 3-5. Hill. During the few years before the battle of Plassey. But the growing political and military power of the English manifested in their activity in Coromandel—as pointed out by Clive in his letter to Wajid—and the recapture of Calcutta and the plunder of Hugli seems to have persuaded Wajid not to alienate the English and to join in the conspiracy against the nawab. He represented the French in the nawab’s darbar and Monsieur Law. 167.

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. as neutral Christians. . and these characteristics reached their height in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This letter also was handed over to the English by Wajid. Shibbabu. could make use of the increasing European—in addition to Asian—shipping in the Indian Ocean region. 371). to Clive who informed Pigot in Madras that he was conspiring with powerful persons including Jagat Seth and Khoja Wajid. 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. Mobility and flexibility had always been characteristics of this ethno-religious network. Wajid was imprisoned on the grounds that he was conspiring with the Dutch and the French. 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. It coincided with the arrival of the European Companies in Asia when Armenians. 206 Letter from Clive to Pigot. Arriving at Bhagalpur. 2: 368-69. Both the structures co-existed with each other. it has been necessary first to understand how the Armenian merchants organized their trade. one can only emphasize their differences. Armenians were part of a pre-modern structure of trade operating on the basis of extended family and other kinship networks. the nawab had asked Law to leave Patna for Murshidabad. Law informed Wajid that he was on his way to Murshidabad. 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. One cannot compare the two structures. In doing so. Bengal in 1756-57.316 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA sent his chief gumastah. 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. (no. Unlike the modern joint-stock European Companies. 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. Whereas the Companies drew their strength from the state that backed them.

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

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