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.

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Murray.14 Neither K. 14 ‘Armenian merchants in the Textile Trade in the 17th and 18th centuries: a Global Enterprise’ (unpublished) paper presented at the Conference ‘Carpets and textiles in the 10 .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

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

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

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

1409. no. Copy of Wills. who was however. his master [in Isfahan] issued two bills of exchange. One of these accounts 29 Shushanik Khachikian informed the author that the Armenian Sarhad trading in Russia had transactions with a Zachar. Probates. Siraz. (henceforth TNA). He had four other accounts running—two of these were partnership accounts between himself. 2003 and 1 February. 14 June 1685. Magan di Aga Piri was a son of Aga Piri Kalantar of Surat and Madras (see more on him below). 31 Records of Fort St. another factor of Khoja Avetik. Gombroon.). Madras and Pegu. 2004. Tamil Nadu Archives. Khoja Zachary and the latter’s master [?Khoja Avetik]. 1500-1800 285 traded with Russia and Holland. dated 10 September.30 He was one of those merchants who travelled between different places in Europe. he had three other large accounts with Gregory de Agazar. Records of the Mayor’s Court. 33 It is very much likely that this Issa Gully was the same person as the Armenian Issa Coolly/Coollyan at the Mughal court. E-mails to the author. 30 Armenian Merchants. Zachary had two more accounts with the prominent Bengal/Madras merchant Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. like Zachary himself. V. henceforth ‘the last will of Zachary’. Zachary does not mention Tarkhan as his master but mentions that the latter. 1718: 56.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.1599v. The Armenian Merchants. The family tree of Khoja Minasean family p. 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. 1: The Last Will and Testament of Zachary De Avateek.O. Dag Register Surat.34 Zachary seems to have had an agent called Beethan in Gombroon. 253. the Hague (henceforth N. Ma[natsa]gan di Aga Piri and Issa Gully di Avateek Shaudullah. he had a partnership account with Macartoon Yanhoopa (the second part does not resemble Armenian names). 1719: 177. (film 1035) f.29 Already in 1697 we find Zachary shipping glass-ware and broad cloth on English Company ships. 32 Was he a grandson of Khoja Minas? See Edmund Herzig.33 Since 1714. Zachary traded on multiple accounts. Armenian Merchants. documents 241. Issa Cooly was noted by the Dutch at Surat as a person friendly with the Mughal official Salabat Khan. when he visited India. Apart from the account together with his master Khoja Avetik. factors of other principal merchants. vol. his masters [not named] and Avid de Zeany and two other between Macartoon Yanhoopa.32 In lieu of a factorage bond worth 300 tomands. see Nationaal Archief.C. 249.31 He represented at least another merchant of Isfahan. one worth 150 tomands on Zachary di Avetik in India and the other of similar value on [?his son] Khoja Avetik in Europe. 231. . handed Gregory (son of Zachery) a full discharge for 300 tomands. 169. Isfahan. . 451. Armenian Merchants . See RFSG. Diary and Consultation Book. not known as a ‘khoja’. etc. 241. He was related to Khoja Zachary and replaced him as the Armenian alderman when Zachary left for Pegu. 34 English East India Company sources refer to one Persia de Marketon freighting goods on the company ships. 171 and 1719: 93 and 120. 1736. Similarly. sailing to Pegu. Diary and Consultation Book. 141. George (henceforth RFSG). nos. 23 September. . among other places. who were also. Khoja Tarkon [?Tarkhan].A.

the will does not specify the type of partnerships Zachary had with all these different partners. In another case in 1732. Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day—a work of Original Research (Delhi: Oxford etc. 1937). Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. Later he became the Armenian Alderman of the Mayor’s Court at Fort St. Unfortunately. 146.35 Was Zachary’s father (Avetik) a son of the famous Armenian Khoja Panous Kalantar. Generale Missiven v. When his father was returning from London to Julfa in 1692. Khoja Sarkies di Agavelly and Khoja Gregory of Fort St. documents 261 and 262 for example. He was part of a wide-ranging network of commercial transactions in which the interests of his principals (including his father). of indigo was purchased by De Keyser at Agra through the broker Aga Piri for f.37 Moreover. their other factors. Armenian Merchants. Though the term ‘Calandar’. 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. Seth. 1975): 770. no. together with his sons. 281. All further references to this work are from this edition. 77) and one with the title kalantar (documents 153.. W. 112 for the text of this agreement.286 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA was part of Zachary’s account with his masters [not named].000 in the name of Zachary and his sons. Ph. See Armenian Merchants.79662. George had Khoja Simon as ‘The last will of Zachary’. 179. the English expected Aga Piri or some other member of the family to go to London in order to look after his business. no. 264. In the other account Zachary. 188-89 and passim)—though indexed together under one name ‘Coja Aveatick Calendar’ p.. 231-44. or ‘Callenter’ is treated in European records as surname. ed. seems to have acted as factor of Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. Ferrier. George. alternately ‘Calendar’.5 1686-97. 24. J. 37 Armenian Merchants. it referred to kalantar (alderman or mayor). 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. 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. He was a ‘well known’ Armenian inhabitant of Surat and broker for the Dutch East India Company. 39 Aga Piri was active in Surat during the 1690s. no. 36 35 . 38 Ibid. his own interests as well as those of his sons were intertwined in an extremely intricate cris-cross pattern of partnership. 74. a city official appointed by central government in Iran. ‘The agreement of the EIC with the Armenian Nation’. as the latter possessed a ‘factorage’ bond worth Rs. R. refers to two Avetiks—one without (documents 62. Armenian Merchants. 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. For a lively discussion on the agreement see M. Aga Piri settled in Madras somewhere at the turn of the century. 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. 183. 52250 lb. Also.38 Zachary had a partnership contract with Ma[natsa]gan.

whose structure.41 In a distinct case of commenda partnership. The reliance on the ethno-religious community provided the Armenians of New Julfa with a network that spanned at least half the globe. 8-9.750.000.43 Armenian merchants in the Indian Ocean were rather like the multitude of other Asian merchants engaged in networks of private trade. 42 Calcutta High Court. Partnership among these individuals in different capacities was indeed a salient feature of this trade. and here the profit was to be equally divided between the two partners. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court 1731-32. in the wills and testaments of Armenian merchants suggests that the organization of Armenian trade was left to individual initiatives.42 The references we come across to Armenian trade in Persia and India. 1755. 1500-1800 287 their ‘factor’ in Pegu. ‘Principal sum’ advanced by the Aga Piri brothers to be employed in their interest. and the informal networks formed by the representatives of these formal companies in their private capacity were crucial for country trade. as defined by Markovits. far from the formal superstructure represented by the East India Companies. when he set out from Isfahan in May 1740. 1737.000. 41 RFSG. Khojamal particularly mentioned in his testament that the two accounts were entirely separate and should not be mixed up. . based on personal networks of extended kinship and the pursuit of similar goals.40 Again. however.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Khoja Thaddeus Aga Piri & co. George appointed Khoja Aveat their factor at Pegu. Old Will no. 18. 17 November. The network of the Armenian merchants indeed reflected a structure. The Companies with their modern structure co-existed with this pre-modern structure of trade. The last will and testament of Coja Catchick Cojamaul deceased. At Pegu he worked together with one Petrus. Khojamal was employed by the famous Khoja Petrus Woskan who advanced him Rs. 40 RFSG. 224. 75. During his stay in Pegu. 43 There were of course informal connections behind this formal structure of the companies. Upon accepting the ‘factorship’. size and scale made the nature of commercial operations impersonal. but the basic differences are clear. Brothers. This was. Khoja Cachick Khojamal. received from Khoja Nazar di Abid Aga the sum of 320 tomands on the condition that out of the profit made. a merchant firm of Fort St. Aveat received several consignments from the Aga Piri brothers amounting to more than Pagodas 17. 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. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court. He had another account with his nephew Marcar di Sattoor. Aveat signed a ‘factorage bond’ with the said firm valid for five years and set out for Pegu with a sum of Pagodas 2. 220 parts together with the principal sum would go to Khoja Nazar while 100 part of the profit would be Khojamal’s.

Hill. 262. in some or other way related to the community.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. Madras and Calcutta in particular—seem to have come up as places where Armenian capital was concentrated. or both. See Armenian Merchants. by order of the Court of Directors. 1712. Aga Piri Kalantar. 133. rumour had it that the Armenians had received advice that the directors of the Company had ordered the Fort St. Bombay. information and human resources. after the arrival of the ship King William. The merchants of Masulipatnam must have sought assistance of Armenians in soliciting the Company’s favour in London. But to their dismay. v. with many Persian loan words) was the medium of all commercial transactions. We have noted the case of Zachary above.3. George wanted to buy up the new company’s debt to Masulipatnam merchants amounting to Pagodas 80. Initially the council did not take notice of this rumour.000. In addition to caravans. goods. 46 S. produced an original letter to Khoja Babur di Sultan [Piri’s agent in London] dated January 29. or leaving an Asian port for a destination in Europe could be used for sending agents. Khoja Petrus Woscan left New Julfa at for Madras in 1705 when he was about twenty-five years of age. pattamars or messengers were used for sending messages overland. Khoja Babur di Sultan seems to have functioned as the London agent of other Armenians too. 261. It is not known exactly when he Claude Markovitz. 1711-14. vol. Despatches to England. or consignments. 45 44 . When the separate stock ship Windsor arrived in Madras in 1713. credit. the consignment—no matter if it contained an important message related to business or family. nos. It must have been Aga Piri who referred the case to Babur. a few bales of cloth— was bound to reach the destination. then residing in Madras. a couple of bills of exchange or promissory notes. Wealthy Armenian merchants of such ports had agents at places like Pegu. One is struck by the continuous circulation of even the leading members of the community. In 1711 the governor and council of Fort St. a copy of a contract. and Manila. or representatives of agents. 144. who got the order issued. As the Julfa dialect (Armenian.46 From the seventeenth century onwards centres in India—Surat. that the council of Fort St. The letter acquainted him. Through a multitude of partners and agents. Bengal in 1756-57. 2. no. George Council to discharge that debt fully. there was no possibility of disclosure of a confendential information. The Global World of Indian Merchants.44 Almost any ship sailing between two ports in Asia. a parcel containing cash or a few precious stones. RFSG. 25. C. or even the kin of acquaintances working at different levels.288 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA facilitating a continuous circulation of capital. George had been directed to satisfy the merchants’ demands on the New Company as far as these were just.

since very ancient times. Syrian Christians and Persians had traded and settled at Indian ports.212-311: the last will and testament of Coja Petrus Uscan (henceforth. ARMENIANS AND THE MILIEU OF THE INDIAN TRADING WORLD As noted above. 5.49 In the 47 TNA. Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade. Babur. See my work on the Armenian merchants of Madras (under preparation). 49 S. Armenians coming to India seem to have used the overland route to a greater extent than the overseas route. 1970): 202. Arabs. It is clear from his testament that the beginnings of his fortunes were made in Manila. Mangalore. and Mughal India provided a broadly similar commercial and liguistic environment. 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. probates etc. He came back to Coromandel in 1722 when he settled down permanently at Madras. Calicut. tr. vol. 1994). 1600-1750 (First Indian edition. While ports like Cambay. Safavid Iran. with Persian as the most widely used language for administrative and cultural purposes. both overland and overseas trade connected India with the world outside.47 Armenian aldermen of Madras often left for Pegu.48 At least since the close of the sixteenth century onwards. that had been mortgaged to others. Records of the Mayor’s Court. Dale. in addition and to the overland route. The flexible and unassuming character of the members of their network. Though the overseas transactions of his network stretching from Constantinople to Manila were made mostly through his agents and their partners. offered Armenians the potential to exploit the existing and newly opened channels of commerce and communication to the maximum. ff. Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint. the Arabian Seas especially provided the major thoroughfare in transcontinental commerce. Cochin and Quilon housed merchants of international communities. the founder of the Mughal empire already noted the importance of Kabul and Kandahar in the overland route to India. He never went back to New Julfa. willing to take up almost any role that suited the occasion. Pulicat. Prior to the seventeenth century. but recovered his ancestral property in that town. the last will of Petrus Uscan). from the original Turkish text by Annette Susannah Beveridge (rep. 1500-1800 289 sailed for Manila where he spent about twenty years. . 7-13. 48 Babur-Nama: (Memoirs of Babur). he travelled frequently between Madras. F. While someone else from his family or community would take over the absentee’s duties. Copies of wills. Uzbek Turan.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Even before the rise of Islam that led to the expansion of commerce along the Indian Ocean littoral. he would take care of the commercial transactions of his compatriots in Pegu. no doubt in connection with their business.

The Global World of Indian Merchants and Scott C. Pakistan’. and Sind on the west to Assam and Bengal in the east. Neill’s information here is based on the account left by the eighteenth century Armenian merchant-cum-historian Thomas Khojamall. 2 vols. 51 Jean Deloche. Lahore was a principal commercial centre of India. Khojamall’s account is not reliable. 1: The Beginnings to A. Revue Etude Armeninnes (1988-89). 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. tr. 2 vols. it would take a few years to accumulate some profit from all the accounts. See his ‘Armenians in India’ especially 15-21. 1550-1900 (Leiden: Brill.50 Except for short segments. v.. The Arabian Seas. . 1993-94. was very much geared to an integrated pattern of trade through networks of mandis and qasbas stretching from Lahore. the major route from Kabul to Agra underwent few modifications since the close of the sixteenth century. tr. 2002). 54 A journey from Surat to Agra took 86 days. testifying to relatively stable urban setting. Neill.290 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA same way as Indian Sindhi firms and Hindu merchants operating in this route spread to Kandahar. 471-75. 1707. Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. Turkish. From the French by James Walker.52 In the early seventeenth century. Persian. ‘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. According to M. with its commercial production. 1994): 219-255. Markovitz. it seems unlikely that one year was enough to travel all the way from Eurasia or western Asia—wherever these merchants came from—to carry out such business and return. could easily take as long as six months. R. Barendse. It has been suggested. and other merchants followed this caravan route to different market and production centres in north and northwest India. a journey from Goa to Lahore via Daman and Cambay (up to Cambay by ship). connected through road and river routes. Delhi. however. Seth. The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade. attracting commodities from far and near brought by merchants of all the nationalities mentioned above. Multan. vol.51 Indian rural economy. Isfahan and beyond. P. 158. Armenian. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1984-85). that in the pre-Mughal period. S. ed. Russell. 1926): 52-59. J. ‘Two Armenian graffities from Ziârat. H.53 But considering the distance and the nature of the overland or caravan trade. for Armenians taking this route see J. An account of the Jesuit Missions to the Court of Akbar. as many of these itinerant traders traded in multiple (relatively small) accounts.1. XVI. Grover. A History of Christianity in India. Akbar and the Jesuits. Bukhara. Levi. du Jarric. See R. D. which usually took two months. with introduction and notes by C. 11001700. J. 53 S. 34.54 Moreover. 52 B. 384. most of the Armenians coming to India were travelling merchants who came here for business and returned to their own country each year. Transport and Communications in India prior to Steam Locomotion. Payne (London: Routledge & Sons.

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

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

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

. Bengal in 1756-57. Havers. 6: 281. Dutch and French sources refer to him as a ‘moor. Hill. 2 vols. see S. Seir i Mutakherin. December 29. Maclagan. Foster. 3. (Oxford: Clarendon Press. translation of the first part of the memoir of Jean Law: 187. (London: Hakluyt Society. vol. 71 Ibid. Bengal 1756-57. 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. passim. ed. was a nephew of Wajid. cf. Maclagan. 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’. .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. English Factories in India. Akbar and the Jesuits: 135.’ a term indicating Muslim. C. as they wished not to be recognised as Christians.70 These Hindu and Muslim concubines were later either abandoned or accepted as partners through marriage in the church. Letter from the president Fremlen &messrs. With a life of the author. . 72 E. Hill. . a colourful personality of Bengal trade and politics in the eighteenth century. C. who has written extensively on Wajid. is that of Khoja Wajid. 1640: “. (Lahore: 1975). C. W. Chaudhury assumes that Wajid perhaps added ‘Muhammed’ to his name to enhance his 68 E. du Jarric. 73 For details on Khoja Wajid see below. Sushil Chaudhury. the greater part of whom [Armenians] here call themselves ‘Mussulman’ . From the old English translation of 1664 by G. 74 Saiyid Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai. .71 Such co-habitation would be logical even if for entirely strategic purposes. Robinson and Wylde at Swally Marine to the Company. had ever converted to Islam. though we have not come across any conclusive evidence about this one so far. 1892).75 and historians have wondered about this confusion. 13 vols.74 Though S. son of Mir Afzal.69 Contemporary accounts suggest that Armenians in India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries cohabited with Hindu and Muslim women. an introd. vol. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 194. 69 The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India. And notes by Edward Grey.1:126-30. has noted that there is no evidence to show that Wajid. vol.”. Akbar himself seems to have been present at the wedding ceremony of his Armenian interpreter Dominic Pires and his Indian bride in 1582.72 Another interesting case. 2: 400.73 The indigenous historian Gulam Hussain noted that Khwaja Ashraf Kashmiri. Seth suggests that this was perhaps an adopted name. The name Dominic Pires is not Armenian. Jean Law. 2 vols. Breton.294 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA to four Armenians he met did not want to be seen talking to him. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72. Hill refers to him as Armenian. 1906-27). v. ed. Appendix III. who was undoubtedly an Armenian. 75 See the letters from the Dutch chief Bisdom quoted in S. 70 P.

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

Extremely embarrassed. and Hawkins felt obliged to obey the emperor. together with Persian merchants continued to use the overland route to India in the seventeenth century. III: 15-16. vol. but not daring to refuse the imperial offer.C. The proximity of India. including a wife.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. the main trading partner of Iran. Armenians were thus already established in the field. 2000): 245. thesis. carrying chiefly See Purchas: His Pilgrims (Glasgow: MacLehose. then to Bandar Abbas by ship. Leiden University (Meppel: 1982): 64-65. But the emperor outwitted him by finding a match in the daughter of a lately deceased Armenian. especially because the same list also indicated that transporting cotton piece-goods from the area around Agra and Delhi overland to Isfahan was cheaper (20% of the cost) than transporting them by caravan to Surat.A.86 An estimate made in the 1630s put the ratio of textiles. Jahangir wanted him to settle down in India and offered him all accommodations. 30 July.O. 84 83 . 85 See Henry Bornford’s account of his journey from Agra to Tatta [? March 1639] in English Factories in India. 87 Another estimate put the cost of both the routes at about 50%. The Economy of Safavid Persia (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. 1905-07). W. Van Santen maintains that this list underestimated the overland trade as it did not include the quantity of indigo from Byana transported overland. But the 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. Surat-Heeren XVII. 1099.This list suggests that it would be more profitable to send textiles coming from the centres of production in north India overland.84 prompted an increasing number of Armenian merchants to frequent India. acted as a boost to the first major eastward surge of Armenian trade. and again to Isfahan by caravan (27% of the cost). De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan. indigo and sugar exported overseas to Persia to those taken overland at 70:30. 312v. 1630. the envoy of King James II. Willem Floor. 6: 134-138. 86 N.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. Ph. vol.000 camels. Van Santen. Pleased with Captain William 25.. H. 1620-1660.296 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the Great Mughals were not in a position to (or did not) make a distinction between Christians of different denominations. Hawkins replied that as a Christian he could marry only a Christian woman.D. There is evidence to show that Armenians.87 It was noted that every year 20. V.

1705). 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. W. 89 88 . and were forced to return to Surat for shipment to Persia on board Dutch and English ships. The Indo-Gangetic plains and the sub-Himalayan zones. The Economy of Safavid Persia: 200-10. Generale Missiven.92 The rebellion at Kandahar (1709). 91 Nicolaes Witsen. Table. of te bondig ontwerp van eenige dier landen en volken. (Amsterdam: Halma. I am grateful to René Bekius for drawing my attention to this work. Van Santen. 92 H. 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. for the question of the continuity of overland trade from India in the seventeenth century see R. Bulk of the commodities that had earlier been taken overland.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Willem Floor.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. The Arabean Seas: 154-64. 2 vols. 90 H. Distance between Isfahan and the major cities in India as calculated by an Armenian merchant of Julfa. Van Santen De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. en plaetzen. en meest nooit voorheen beschreve Tartersche en nabuurige gewesten. rivieren. vol. J. welke voormaels bekent zijn geweest. in de Noorder en Oosterlyke gedeelten van Asia en Europa enz. there was little demand for the textiles carried by the Dutch Company. arrived at Isfahan from India. 1500-1800 297 piece-goods. Beneffens verscheidene tot noch onbekende.000 camels in 1644. 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. Barendse. 1: 725. W. was being shipped from Surat at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries. Noord en Oost tartarye. steden.89 Due to the import of a large quantity of cotton textiles in Isfahan by a caravan consisting of 6.90 In 1668 Nicolaes Witsen. 1: 426. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. landstreken. Ibid. vol.

. ‘Surat—its past and present’ Calcutta Review. The Crisis of Empire in Mughal India: Awadh and the Punjab 1707-48 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. the interpreter of the English lodge at Surat. and quite a few to Armenian women. were married.94 This is inaccurate and simplistic. After initial attempts of shipping marriageable women or entire families to Asia had failed. e. 1984): 19n. Strange Company: Chinese Settlers. 98 L. 94 M. 1: 29. with their families seems to have increased.96 The relationship between the Armenians and the two northwest European nationalities at Surat was rather close. That is why many of them are married to women from Syria. January-June: 136. who often sent Della Valle his own coach and his interpreter. Anonymous. the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies. (1848) 9. 263. Coen. continued to be connected with Persia and Central Asia through Kabul and Kandahar during the period that followed.1 (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. Blussé van Oud-Alblas. advocated the policy of populating Batavia. he was touched by the demonstration of affection on the part of the English president Thomas Rastel. 1986): 141-43. Dutch Factories in India.95 Subsequent to their settlement in New Julfa.g. J.298 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA however. Isfahan. 96 The large proportion of women among the Armenians of Surat drew attention of an Englishman even two centuries later. 97 See Om Prakash.93 Seth found only one tombstone of an Armenian woman at Surat in the sixteenth century (dating from 1579). Armenia. Seth. It was the time when Jan Pietersz. A Catholic Armenian called Iskandar Beg. contrary to those of the English. 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. because Seth was aware of the presence of Armenian women in India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 1627-1623.97 When Della Valle was in Surat with his Georgian wife.99 93 Muzaffar Alam. vol. v. the number of Armenian merchants settling in India . worked as interpreter for Pieter van den Broecke who arrived there as director of the Dutch East India Company in 1620. 1986): 158-62. 99 The travels of Pietro della Valle in India. who considered women as a pre-condition for trade. 95 Ibid. India and other countries. Armenians in India: 126. Mestizo Women and the Dutch in VOC Batavia (Leiden: KITLV. He was informed that this pattern was encouraged in order to populate Batavia: At Batavia Dutchmen settled with their family enjoyed many privileges.98 Della Valle noticed that many of the Dutch Company’s servants. the Dutch decided to follow the Portuguese example. 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.

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

documents 116. Though the agreement was not put into effect due to the opposition of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. Wiesbaden. 111 De Geschriften: 17-25. Natalia Tojo for drawing my attention to this document. and possess all rights enjoyed by British subjects. ‘Corte Remonstrantie van de gelegentheijd van Guseratte. 122.’ Piri pointed out to the director of the Dutch lodge. versekeringe ende ook verbeteringhe der comptoiren en negotien van Guseratte ende Persia. addresserende.g. A.110 The Dutch-Armenian marriages. f. pr consequent tot merkelijke voordeel van honorable Comp. as all trees whether bearing fruit or not deserve dewdrops from the heaven. have inspired Kolff and Van Santen to reflect on the homogenous nature of the pluriform Christian ‘nation’ at Surat. a temporary The travels of Della Valle vol. ch.113 Whenever there were forty Armenians resident in a town under the jurisdiction of the Company. c. 184. N. Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. the daughter of an Armenian merchant from Ahmedabad. 140.111 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. 117. 1979. ff. an eminent merchant of Isfahan and the East India Company in London in 1688. 113 See Armenian Merchants e. Perzien en Arabien ook eenighe noodwendighe procedures welke in die quartieren dienen gehouden te worden tot preservatie. the attitude of Van den Broecke towards these marriages and the relationship between the English director Thomas Rastel and his Portuguese fiancée. 110 109 . 112 N. 9.119-125.’112 What was the situation like in European settlements like Madras and Calcutta? As per the agreement signed between Khoja Panous Kalantar. inv. Aga Piri appealed to the chiefs of all the European Companies in the name of Christianity. 136. 507. 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. Collectie Sweers. see Ashin Das Gupta. ‘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. Surat. 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. VOC 1549. A. Dag Register. 1700-1750. Armenians were to trade and settle at all English ports on the same terms as English freemen. no. en affbreuke des algemeijnen vijants. I am grateful to Ms.109 A critical insight into the situation in Gujarat. 1: 120. 1. ‘Christians are obliged. 148.300 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA of the assistant Willem Jacobsz. 146. 124. for a description of Surat in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. als mede tot restauratie van de gelden schade in Mocha.505v. 123. and Mariam.

. 131. . the Company allowing £50 a year for seven years for the maintenance of a priest. which will in a few years aggrandize our revenue. documents 121. ship owning merchants often avoided their settlements. 117 Ibid. Since the English left the port to port trade in Asia to private enterprise already in the late 1660s. no. and to whom we pay no wages being as good a security to our garrison and trade as hired English soldiers . the English East India Company was recommending that its employees attract Armenians to the English settlements and encourage their trade in every possible way. stick lac. As they wanted to 114 H. 116 Ibid. many private Asian merchants serving the Europeans in numerous ways. they were in a position to procure goods at a cheaper rate. George and the India Office and from other sources. 1913). Armenians were allowed to freight the Company’s Europe-bound ships with commodities like shellac. 4 vols. v.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.115 Experienced Armenians like Aga Piri were entrusted with training freshly arrived factors of the Company in language and the method of trading.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. document 156. 3 January. George. 120. pig-iron and wax. 119 B. 141. Company in London to Fort St.119 The regulations of the European Companies prohibiting trade with rival establishments could be avoided through a network based on kinship. crowded the English settlements. . ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel’. 124. 142. Love. they would populate the settlements: It is undoubtedly our interest to make our garrisoned ports in India marts for nations. (London: Murray.1: 543. the growth of the European settlements provided the Asian merchants with alternate bases of operation. 1693/94.114 In the 1680s and 1690s. 118 Ibid. Vestiges of old Madras: 1640-1800: traced from the East India Company’s Records preserved at Fort St. documents 116. and ground granted them for the erection of a permanent place of worship. As India goods were very much in demand. 115 Armenian Merchants. e. 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.117 Moreover. the Company was sure it would profit from the freight. Bhattacharya. 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. 117. Because the Dutch Company was a direct participant in the intra-Asian trade.g. and passim. 127.116 As the Armenians were familiar with the centres of production and market places in India. D. 1500-1800 301 church was to be built for their use. 163.

In analysing the relationship between the nawab and the English.122 In 1691. 125 Armenian Merchants. Elihu Yale noted that recently ‘a few more’ Armenians had come to settle in Fort St. Aceh. and/or trading with the king’s camp. 126 RFSG. Bhattacharyya presents other cases as well. 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. but the nawab demanded Rs.302 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA attract local shipping magnates to their ports. 1969): 55. while stopping him from sailing for Europe.000 to make up the case. 123 Armenian Merchants. Bhattacharyya. Manila. quoted in S. Nazareth after him) in Calcutta in 1724. 124 RFSG. 2: 147. also made it sure that he did not fall in the hands of the nawab’s people. Indian merchants could use the Companies against one another. 55-60. many of them were annually sailing to Bengal. For merchants trying to escape the wrath of indigenous elites. vol.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. the English in Calcutta. 35. A case in point was that of the Armenian merchant Khwaja Nazar. the council noted that though there were a few Armenians constantly residing at Madras.125 By 1711 Armenians had become ‘numerous and opulent’ in Madras. Bengal Public Consultations. George. Persia and other places. Despatches to England. 122 Ibid. Zulfiqar Khan’s camp and Golconda and thus by the bulk of their trade contributed greatly to the revenues of Fort St. As there were some proceedings against him in the nawab’s (Shuja Khan) darbar in Murshidabad. Madras and Calcutta in the eighteenth cen- Ibid. George. The case was later settled by Nazar’s vakil at the darbar. 20. too. The East India Company and the Economy of Bengal (from 1704 to 1740). Khoja Nazar built the Armenian Apostolic Church (called St. vol. 1: 1694-96. document 239. Despatches to England.126 With the growth of the ports of Bombay.121 The English were willing to pay as much as Rs. 50.123 In 1696. document 139. 59. 121 120 . 17 April. the European settlements were a place of refuge. (Calcutta: Graphic Art Press. 1733.120 Armenians followed the same pattern. while more were expected.000. ibid.

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

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

M. and Robert Henry Leembruggen of the Dutch East India Company. 1500-1800 305 Whether in the traditional port towns like Surat. In the final analysis. 212.143 Herzig.142 Ferrier noted the importance of the Armenians and other local merchants as suppliers of credit to the European Companies in Persia.141 A more important element. See M. 142 The tension of the Europeans could be noted in their account of Armenians. it should be pointed out that the potential of conflict was very much present as the Europeans in the Indian Ocean. . COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH EUROPEANS: COMPETITION OR CO-OPERATION? Considering the relationship between Armenians and Europeans.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. . Hripsimah was first married to an old Armenian called Stephen Agabob. 26 (1973): 38-62. they co-operated with the European Companies. The Economic History Review. . 141 See Armenian Merchants. Armenians in India: 263-66. in his study of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. As the daughter of the wealthy Armenian merchant Eleazer Woskan. not the other way round. Following the death of the latter she was remarried to Leembruggen. On the other hand. The English Company explicitly mentioned how by catering to their trade. so far as the intra-Asian trade was concerned. The next section will focus on the interaction of Armenians and Europeans in the field of commerce in India.’144 Baghdiantz Mccabe’s position is that it was the Companies that solicited co-operation of the Armenians. has maintained that Armenian merchants’ relationship with their European counterparts was ambivalent. Isfahan: 203-6. Herzig. On the one hand. See note 2 above.’ ‘Grey. 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. were at the same time aiming at the commerce which had so far been the mainstay of the livelihood of many Armenians. 23. until at least the middle of the eighteenth century Armenians provided a major source of strength for the European presence in India. 245 for the Company’s arguments in connection with the trade in Persia. 79. Seth. no. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. 144 E. also see documents 5. Armenians were suspicious of the Europeans and often openly hostile towards them. ‘Julfa Armenians were more willing to have financial dealing with foreigners than to enter into trading partnership with them. Armenians themselves would also profit. was the private trade of the Europeans. or in the ‘White. while wooing the Armenians. 2nd series. 107 and passim in Armenian Merchants . 143 See his ‘The Armenians and the East India Company in Persia in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries’.’ or ‘Black’ town of the European settlements. J.

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

supply in the peddlers’ market was limited and could not be adjusted to the fluctuation in demand. g. A. Khoja Minas. Subrahmanyam ed. could amount to 40 per cent of the cost price. 1978): 186. ‘Portfolio capitalists and political economy in early modern India’. 1.153 Not only was overland transport slow. See R. 1660-1670 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 136-37. and when supply and demand were unpredictable. 157 C. 1978). in C. Merchants. introduction. G.. Steensgaard. K. 1998). It is possible that he started as an agent of Khoja Petrus Aratoon who was paid Rs. in S. The Political Economy of Commerce in Southern India. Chris Bayly noted that when operating in a market that was intransparent. 1796 had a credit of little over Rs. M.. J. The Trading World of Asia and the East India Company. Markets and Trade in Early Modern India. Subrahmanyam. 1993): 299-300. delay in reaching the port might mean missing a sailing season. 1962). 155 See e. 152 N. Meilink Roelofsz. also S. 4926. prices fluctuated making trading operation extremely insecure. Khoja Catchick Khojamal. A. O. 153 The cost of transporting cloth from Agra to Surat. a merchant often divided his investments among various partners and pursuits with a view to spreading the risk and sharing the profit. 48. The Arabian Seas.g.152 Due to limited production. 2 to Rs. also S. Hence the payment of protection cost to the local rulers of all the territories through which the caravans passed. The Asian Trade Revolution: 22-31. The Imperial Impact: Studies in the Economic History of India and Africa (London: Athlone Press for the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. The merchant Abraham Isaac who passed away in Calcutta on August 18. no. 1500-1800 307 caravan trade of the Middle East. Bayly. ‘Indian merchants in a Traditional setting: Varanasi 1780-1830’.155 merchants like Zachary Avetik.154 Analysing the modus operandi of the merchants in early modern India. 138-39.512. While many of the Armenian merchants trading on behalf of a principal were peddlers.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. See e. To this was added the hazards in the transportation of the commodities from the centres of production to the ports of shipment. Dewey and A. 1770-1870: 242-65. 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. 1640-1700 (Leiden: Centre for Non-Western Studies. While all this pushed up the cost of transport. 156 See below. 327-36. Barendse. Asian Trade and European Influence in the Indonesian Archipelago between 1500 and about 1630 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. c. Subrahmanyam and C. N. Chaudhuri. . Calcutta High Court. The cost of the other transactions made by Isaac varied from Rs.’157 In historians. A. A.W. P. Bayly. and many others like them seem to have been like those merchants termed by Bayly as ‘port-folio capitalists. it was exposed to the dangers of the road. As markets were non-transparent and information incomplete. 200 toward the discharge of a bond. a reason that inspired Ashin Das Gupta to characterise that merchant prince as peddler. Hopkins ed. upheld Van Leur’s characterization of Asian trade by characterizing Asian merchants as peddlers and the markets as peddlers’ markets.156 Khoja Petrus. including the customs duties. 1550-1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. See his Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. 135.

. was one of the Madras Armenians involved in this trade.A. 160 See English Factories in India. 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 . and two Armenians of Madras. Though wills and testaments do not throw much light on this aspect—except when an unrecovered due was involved—. Long before the agreement of 1688. bought 200. Armenians freighted Asia-bound ships of the English Company. like many other groups of Asian merchants. De Keijser and the Council at Surat to the Directors. 159 N.160 In the eighteenth century.158 This being said. It is possible that Khoja Zachary. vol. freighting their ships. 8 (1646-1650): 86 and vol. encouraged the procedure as some empty space in the Asia-bound ship was utilised in this way. it should be added that Armenian merchants appear to have acted in different capacities and were dexterous at keeping the accounts separate.159 Such cover was indispensable so far as trade to Manila was concerned. following a ban on the trade of the Europeans. also Armenian Merchants . . . Their agents carried piece goods from Bengal and Coromandel to Europe and took back Dutch and English broad cloth to Tranquebar. 11 December 1694 (copy) VOC 1548. and the Armenians had to pay freight charges.308 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA spite of all the elements of tension and conflict involved. . Armenians. and providing cover when necessary. This trade was organized by Armenians in Holland. XXXII-XXXIII. 65. But it also ensured direct shipping of goods and persons and was less hazardous than the route via the Levant and then Middle East.000 pieces of chadar Dariabadi under the cover of Aga Piri. 67. vol. 1646 and reached Swally in November of the same year. During 1693-94. documents 62. 3 (1711-14): 18. f. 11 (1661-1664): 328. 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. De Keijser. carried Armenians. sailing as nakhuda on board European ships.000 pounds of indigo and 30. was part of a broader framework and it is here that the Armenian merchants cooperated with Europeans in numerous other accounts by lending money. . mentioned above. acting as agents or suppliers. Despatches to England. The actual carrying out of the trade. 71 for similar evidence. the Dutch director at Surat.161 The Companies.656. Khoja Baba Sultan. Armenians were using Danish company ships for their Europe trade. the correspondent of Aga Piri Kalantar of Madras in London. of course. however. 68. 161 RFSG. . co-operated with Europeans because the presence of the latter provided Asian merchants with further opportunities of spreading the risks. traces of such co-operation are to be found in the archives of the European companies. which left London on April 29. The Dolphin.

ibid. .G. document 209.167 While soliciting the ‘favour and assistance’ of Khoja Israel Sarhad. 90 (1971): 182-216. was hired by the French (in huur bij de Fransen).A. the leading Armenian merchant in Bengal. The ship could not. vol. in obtaining a good freight of fine piece goods in Bengal for the Sedgewick he was planning to send to Persia in September 1700. Early Annals of the English in Bengal. 169 S. 171 This was in 1704. . Despatches to England. Despatches to England. Dag Register. Maloni. v..1616-1617. The Sulleiman. 29 August. 300.162 Especially in the seventeenth century both the Dutch and English Companies often chartered whole ships to local merchants for voyages to the Persian Gulf. Wilson. vol. N. 159-60. Ph. ff. sail to Persia as it hit the shore near Point Palmyras and had to unload the goods at Tranquebar. 170 RFSG. George let out the Phoenix to an Armenian for a voyage to Persia via Bengal. belonging to the Armenian Khoja Minas of Surat.168 In December 1702 Sarhad offered the English company Rs. The English Company servants in Bengal stated that Armenians bought textiles 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than them. Barendse.A. Muslim merchants freighted their money. W.1. and goods and sailed on board the same ship for Surat. 166 English Factories in India. J. Chaudhuri.000 for freighting the Colchester for a voyage to Gombroon and Basra. 164 Armenian Merchants. VOC 1264. 1500-1800 309 against pirates and other dangers at sea.. 1992). . The Arabian Seas .166 Minas had purchased two ships from the English who again rented the ships and sent them to Persia. In Basra. ed. R. took the responsibility for collecting the piece goods and other commodities and loading them on the company’s ships. VOC 1409. Thomas Pitt referred to his acquaintance with Sarhad and his uncle Khoja Panous Kalantar in London.F. 13 (1668-69): 204. however. 1: 369-71. Generale Missiven.000 belonging to Armenian merchants. 38. who owned at least five ships himself. 336. Compare: ‘. 1630-1638 (Delhi: Manohar. 2 1701/02—1710/11. Surat-Batavia. ff. was permitted to carry any horse that would be shipped by the agent of Khoja Minas. R. 6. 165 R.171 All the three ships that arrived in Armenian Merchants. 4 March. . It is expected that the Armenians will freight the Little London for Persia’. Coolhaas.165 The George that left Surat for Gombroon in December 1669.170 The French ship Pontchartreijn renamed Queen Louise carried freightgoods worth Rs. vol. 167 N. European Merchant Capital and the Indian Economy: a Historical Reconstruction based on Surat Factory Records. (1698-1713): 271. Bengal Past and Present. document 257. 1706: 52-53. (1694-96): 35. September 12 and October 9. 367-69. 1685.1275-87.163 The Armenians.169 The same year the council of Fort St. 1268.S. with their contacts in India. ‘Bengal merchants and commercial organisation in the second half of the seventeenth century’. For Armenian merchants freighting Dutch company ships on the Surat—Bandar Abbas run see R. 168 C. freighted English company ships. Surat. 163 162 . 2.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.164 Khoja Minas.

174 English Factories in India. 3: 56. 2002.: University of Minnesota Press. The Council of Fort St. RFSG. George maintained that such a step would put a stop to the freighting of the Company’s ships that year and drive away all Armenians from their settlements.’ unpublished paper presented to the 11th Annual Conference of the World History Association.310 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Tranquebar from Denmark in 1709 were to be freighted by the Armenians to Persia. 3: 56.173 Similarly. the trading companies sent embassies Ibid. one Portuguese and one Armenian were entrusted with the task of collecting the outstanding debts of the Company amounting to more than f. 178 In 1712 the St. the agent of the English at that place proposed that the subjects of the king of Persia and their effects at Fort St. 4 (1675-1685): 446. 1600-1800 (Minneapolis. Pegu and Manila seems to have been common. under Captain Mylne to Kung and Bushire. 1976): 285. ARMENIANS AS EMISSARIES Equally. including Armenians. Sending emissaries to the head of a state is a practice common since ancient times. Juan that left Madras for Manila carried goods freighted by Armenian and Indian merchants. vol.178 Throughout the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries Armenians assisted Europeans in their investment in India. When the Dutch East India Company decided to close their factory at Pegu.176 Researches of G.30. in 1737 Armenian merchants of Madras freighted the Galatea. At least till the middle of the eighteenth century European merchants needed Asian merchants. B. 16841792. 175 RFSG. It was a relationship of accepting each other for mutual profit. Furber. vol. Seoul. H. 173 172 . Despatches to England. vol.174 In the wake of troubles in Persia in the early eighteenth century. Manila and China. 6: 106.175 The other routes where Armenian and European interests were intertwined were the routes to Southeast Asia. Minn. Despatches to England. 177 ‘Cinnamon. 176 Generale Missiven. vol. Armenian merchants taking passage on board European ships in Asia was common. August 15-18.: 689. Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient.177 Using European bottoms for consigning goods to factors. In the early modern period. if not more important aspect of Armenian-European relationship was the role of the Armenians as emissaries of especially the English to the Mughals.172 Again. silver and opium: Foreign shipping and trading activities at Batavia. Korea. Souza have pointed to the involvement of Armenians in the commerce carried on by the Portuguese of Macao to Manila and India.000. George be seized. mostly a relative or a member of the community settled at ports like Mergui.

Walsh and Khoja Sarhad went back from the camp having ‘finished all business to our greatest satisfaction.181 In the late 1690s. The Norris Embassy to Aurangzeb. (London. A Selection of Official Documents dealing with its History.183 At the camp. When the king of Ethiopia sent an embassy to the Mughal emperor. 185 Ibid. 1959): 211-12. 182 C. At this the English decided to send another delegation.185 179 S. Subrahmanyam. J. who was sent to the camp of Zabardast Khan as the ‘Political Agent’ of the English. 36-38. On September 22. Sarhad was able to win the friendship of the young prince Farrukhsiyar. . Das. to head the delegation. . . R. 1906) vol. 2 vols. he appointed Khoja Murad. 16. In order to secure the rights of the company against the activities of the interlopers. 180 E. 1400-1700’.000. Walsh.180 Sir William Norris. 1642-1700: documents related to the journeys of Khodja Murad (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut. 184 Ibid. ed.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. The embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of Jahangir is a well known case. 1979). also headed by Khoja Sarhad. Foreign Relations of Ethiopia. the English company approached Khoja Israel Sarhad. 1500-1800 311 to heads of various countries for trading privileges. in Prakash and Lombard eds. Van Donzel.. . 1: 25-27. Wilson. 1698 the Sutanuti council noted that Mr. interlopers also were able to secure some trading favours for themselves from the same general. on his embassy to Aurangzeb. Govindpur and Calcutta in Bengal in 1698 for the sum of Rs.. Indian Records Series. 181 H. It was a period when many attributes of Persian culture were visibly adopted by the courts in countries in South and Southeast Asia.. the English company wanted to send a delegation to Zabardast Khan.179 Familiarity with Persian offered the Armenians easy access to the Mughal court and made them extremely suitable as emissaries. 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.’184 They had promised the young prince three small pieces of brass cannon. Commerce and Culture. We have noted above that Emperor Akbar had employed an Armenian as his interpreter. who was accompanied by Mr. 183 Ibid. ‘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. 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. Old Fort William in Bengal. (1699-1702) (Calcutta: Firma KLM. I am greatful to Dirk Kolff for drawing my attention to this work.182 In spite of that. the nephew of Khoja Panous. an Armenian. General of the Mughal’s forces who was suppressing the revolt of Sobha Singh in Bengal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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