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.

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

1600-1730 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. No one could. who was aware of the expertise of the Armenians in trans-continental commerce. Matthee. though Baghdiantz Mccabe has suggested that there was a company of Armenian merchants in New Julfa directing the Armenian commerce worldwide. to settle them in the outskirts of Isfahan. This connection. Baibourtian. 18 Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe. for example.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. including knowledge of Persian. The Armenians: A People in Exile (London: Allen & Unwin. however. 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. Herzig. 16 On the deportation of the Armenians see E. 15 Armenians lived in Persia since pre-Christian times. 2003. an Armenian merchant was more like himself than the western European who could point to his company. 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. See David Marshall Lang. Armenian merchants were not backed by any national monopoly that would empower them to represent Persia in India. 17 R. organised by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Iran Heritage Foundation. Persians and Turks among others. In India they traded at the market places and ports side by side with the Indians. 1981): 81. . Jews. 1400-1700’. . 203. 1999). 73-74.282 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Herzig nor Bekius subcribes to the thesis that Julfa Armenians conducted trade as a centrally organized company. During the following two centuries the Armenians would traverse the Indian Ocean and sail up to the coast of China. Consequently. stop the Armenians from referring to. Shah’s silk. where they had long been living. (1990). revenue and information.18 Iranian World. . International Trade . and were dependent on the favours they received from the Mughals in Delhi and their representatives in the provinces. 30-31 August. Oxford. ‘The deportation of the Armenians in 1604-1605 and Europe’s myth of Shah Abbas 1. often gave them an edge over others in that they had easy access to the Mughal court. Ashmolean Museum. Secondly. pp. . M. and using their connections back in Persia and Europe.16 It was a conscious attempt on the part of Shah Abbas. The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver.’ Pembroke Papers 1. Most of the Armenians trading in India were from Persia.17 But that notwithstanding. 59-71. . the factory and the fort belonging to his nation and use these symbols either as carrot or as stick as the situation would permit.. for the Indian merchant at an Indian port. P. . V.

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

was a variant of this system. known as Avetik di Petros. 28 Shushanik Khachikian suggested that Khoja Avetik. 3 offers a detailed account of the different kinds of partnership known among the Armenians and how these worked. By the time he came to Madras. 1998) (henceforth Armenian Merchants). referred to as ‘master’ in the will was most probably the father of Zachary de Avetik. thesis. 8. ch. commission agency and representation. 5. his wife Azis was in Isfahan. and Aga Piri as the son of Khoja Panous. Khachikian and H. 175. operating in Amsterdam in the late 1690s. where a part of the capital invested came from the active partner. Antony’s College.D. Journal of the Asiatic Society. Khoja Avetik of Isfahan. Zachary di Avetik. and Avetik. a merchant from New Julfa who 25 Claude Markovitz. and Margaret Makepeace ed. ch. 26 Edmund Herzig. One of the principal merchants Zachary represented was his father. under which a small group of sahukars and sarrafs controlled financial and commercial transactions over a vast area encompassing Khorassan and Turkestan.28 At the time Zachary wrote his will. 146. 3. loan. These were commenda partnership. He had three sons: Hovannes. no. in this sense. Zachary must have been well established in the trade to Europe. and in few cases. It is also possible that our Avetik was another person. Khoja Zachary di Avetik of Isfahan came to Madras from Amsterdam in 1714.284 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA This kind of partnership was prevalent among different merchant communities of South Asia in different forms. This volume offers a unique collection of documents on Armenian merchants and their relationship with the English East India Company. 27 L. means Zachary the son of Avetik. Ph. The Global World of Indian Merchants. Bekius. The shah-gumastha partnership existing among the Sindhi merchants of Shikarpur. no. true partnership. 182. For reference to Khoja Avetik Kalantar as brother of Aga Piri see See Vahe Baladouni. St. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade’. This ledger book has been edited in Armenian recently by L.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. Khachikian. In Amsterdam. ibid. where the whole capital was provided by the investor (sleeping partner) and active partner or agent invested the labour. ‘De’ or ‘di’ in Armenian names are abbreviation of the word ‘vordi’ meaning son. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. he seems to have had transactions with Sarhad. I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for this clarification. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. George amply testify to the existence of the system until the end of the eighteenth century. September 21. Armenian merchants of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: English East India Company sources. (1966). e-mail. nos. the English records of the Fort St. University of Oxford. 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama. For Avetik di Petros see R. Isfahan: a study in pre-modern Asian trade. employment. ‘The ledger of the Merchant Hovannes Joughayetsi’. . 1991.27 Though such detailed accounts are available mostly in Armenian documents. incorporating features of partnership. 2000). Papazian. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. The commenda contracts were basically of two types: unilateral. and bilateral.25 The most popular type of partnership prevalent among the Armenians of New Julfa was the commenda contract. 2003. 237. Gregory. 153-86.

32 Was he a grandson of Khoja Minas? See Edmund Herzig.O. among other places.32 In lieu of a factorage bond worth 300 tomands. Magan di Aga Piri was a son of Aga Piri Kalantar of Surat and Madras (see more on him below). 451. 1719: 177. 30 Armenian Merchants. Issa Cooly was noted by the Dutch at Surat as a person friendly with the Mughal official Salabat Khan. .A.31 He represented at least another merchant of Isfahan. the Hague (henceforth N. he had a partnership account with Macartoon Yanhoopa (the second part does not resemble Armenian names).C. etc. he had three other large accounts with Gregory de Agazar. nos. He was related to Khoja Zachary and replaced him as the Armenian alderman when Zachary left for Pegu. V. see Nationaal Archief. 33 It is very much likely that this Issa Gully was the same person as the Armenian Issa Coolly/Coollyan at the Mughal court. George (henceforth RFSG).33 Since 1714. sailing to Pegu. one worth 150 tomands on Zachary di Avetik in India and the other of similar value on [?his son] Khoja Avetik in Europe. like Zachary himself. Gombroon. 253. Armenian Merchants .ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Armenian Merchants. 171 and 1719: 93 and 120. 34 English East India Company sources refer to one Persia de Marketon freighting goods on the company ships. Khoja Tarkon [?Tarkhan]. who was however.1599v.34 Zachary seems to have had an agent called Beethan in Gombroon. 2003 and 1 February. his master [in Isfahan] issued two bills of exchange. 1: The Last Will and Testament of Zachary De Avateek. 1500-1800 285 traded with Russia and Holland. Zachary does not mention Tarkhan as his master but mentions that the latter. 231. See RFSG. factors of other principal merchants. Diary and Consultation Book.29 Already in 1697 we find Zachary shipping glass-ware and broad cloth on English Company ships. One of these accounts 29 Shushanik Khachikian informed the author that the Armenian Sarhad trading in Russia had transactions with a Zachar. his masters [not named] and Avid de Zeany and two other between Macartoon Yanhoopa. handed Gregory (son of Zachery) a full discharge for 300 tomands. He had four other accounts running—two of these were partnership accounts between himself. 31 Records of Fort St. 241. Zachary had two more accounts with the prominent Bengal/Madras merchant Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. Siraz. 1736. documents 241. 2004. Dag Register Surat. not known as a ‘khoja’. (henceforth TNA). 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. when he visited India. E-mails to the author. henceforth ‘the last will of Zachary’. . 1718: 56. .30 He was one of those merchants who travelled between different places in Europe. The Armenian Merchants. Similarly. Ma[natsa]gan di Aga Piri and Issa Gully di Avateek Shaudullah.). (film 1035) f. 14 June 1685. Probates. 23 September. dated 10 September. another factor of Khoja Avetik. 1409. Isfahan. 169. Zachary traded on multiple accounts. The family tree of Khoja Minasean family p. Copy of Wills. vol. Tamil Nadu Archives. Khoja Zachary and the latter’s master [?Khoja Avetik]. Apart from the account together with his master Khoja Avetik. Madras and Pegu. Diary and Consultation Book. who were also. Records of the Mayor’s Court. 249. 141. no.

a city official appointed by central government in Iran. J. alternately ‘Calendar’. When his father was returning from London to Julfa in 1692. ed. W.79662.000 in the name of Zachary and his sons. In the other account Zachary. 281. Armenian Merchants.35 Was Zachary’s father (Avetik) a son of the famous Armenian Khoja Panous Kalantar. ‘The agreement of the EIC with the Armenian Nation’. the English expected Aga Piri or some other member of the family to go to London in order to look after his business. George had Khoja Simon as ‘The last will of Zachary’. documents 261 and 262 for example.38 Zachary had a partnership contract with Ma[natsa]gan.37 Moreover. 77) and one with the title kalantar (documents 153. Later he became the Armenian Alderman of the Mayor’s Court at Fort St. 39 Aga Piri was active in Surat during the 1690s. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. R.5 1686-97. their other factors. Unfortunately. Aga Piri settled in Madras somewhere at the turn of the century. 74. See Armenian Merchants. 179. 183. or ‘Callenter’ is treated in European records as surname. no. 264. 1975): 770. 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. his own interests as well as those of his sons were intertwined in an extremely intricate cris-cross pattern of partnership. together with his sons. 188-89 and passim)—though indexed together under one name ‘Coja Aveatick Calendar’ p.. 37 Armenian Merchants. Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day—a work of Original Research (Delhi: Oxford etc. In another case in 1732. Khoja Sarkies di Agavelly and Khoja Gregory of Fort St. 146. seems to have acted as factor of Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. no. no. it referred to kalantar (alderman or mayor). For a lively discussion on the agreement see M. Though the term ‘Calandar’. 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. Seth. 112 for the text of this agreement. 36 35 . All further references to this work are from this edition. 231-44. He was part of a wide-ranging network of commercial transactions in which the interests of his principals (including his father). George. 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.286 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA was part of Zachary’s account with his masters [not named]. 1937). 52250 lb. He was a ‘well known’ Armenian inhabitant of Surat and broker for the Dutch East India Company. Generale Missiven v. Armenian Merchants. 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.. 24. 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. Also. as the latter possessed a ‘factorage’ bond worth Rs. refers to two Avetiks—one without (documents 62. of indigo was purchased by De Keyser at Agra through the broker Aga Piri for f. Ph. 38 Ibid. Ferrier. the will does not specify the type of partnerships Zachary had with all these different partners.

in the wills and testaments of Armenian merchants suggests that the organization of Armenian trade was left to individual initiatives. Khoja Thaddeus Aga Piri & co.41 In a distinct case of commenda partnership. The Companies with their modern structure co-existed with this pre-modern structure of trade. 40 RFSG. . Khojamal was employed by the famous Khoja Petrus Woskan who advanced him Rs. 42 Calcutta High Court. On his arrival at Madras in September 1740. George appointed Khoja Aveat their factor at Pegu.43 Armenian merchants in the Indian Ocean were rather like the multitude of other Asian merchants engaged in networks of private trade. and here the profit was to be equally divided between the two partners. 75. This was.000. Aveat received several consignments from the Aga Piri brothers amounting to more than Pagodas 17.40 Again. The reliance on the ethno-religious community provided the Armenians of New Julfa with a network that spanned at least half the globe.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 1755. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court 1731-32. Khojamal particularly mentioned in his testament that the two accounts were entirely separate and should not be mixed up. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court.750. when he set out from Isfahan in May 1740. far from the formal superstructure represented by the East India Companies. whose structure. 43 There were of course informal connections behind this formal structure of the companies. 8-9. Old Will no. 41 RFSG. 1737. At Pegu he worked together with one Petrus. Partnership among these individuals in different capacities was indeed a salient feature of this trade.000. ‘Principal sum’ advanced by the Aga Piri brothers to be employed in their interest. however. 17 November. He had another account with his nephew Marcar di Sattoor. 220 parts together with the principal sum would go to Khoja Nazar while 100 part of the profit would be Khojamal’s. Brothers. Upon accepting the ‘factorship’. Aveat signed a ‘factorage bond’ with the said firm valid for five years and set out for Pegu with a sum of Pagodas 2. Khoja Cachick Khojamal. The network of the Armenian merchants indeed reflected a structure. Khoja Simon acted as the Pegu agent of other Armenians and sailed as nakhuda on ships sailing between Madras and Pegu. 18. as defined by Markovits.42 The references we come across to Armenian trade in Persia and India. 224. but the basic differences are clear. received from Khoja Nazar di Abid Aga the sum of 320 tomands on the condition that out of the profit made. and the informal networks formed by the representatives of these formal companies in their private capacity were crucial for country trade. based on personal networks of extended kinship and the pursuit of similar goals. a merchant firm of Fort St. During his stay in Pegu. 1500-1800 287 their ‘factor’ in Pegu. The last will and testament of Coja Catchick Cojamaul deceased. size and scale made the nature of commercial operations impersonal.

3. C. the consignment—no matter if it contained an important message related to business or family. It is not known exactly when he Claude Markovitz. that the council of Fort St. 45 44 . nos. credit. Despatches to England. vol. or leaving an Asian port for a destination in Europe could be used for sending agents. then residing in Madras. It must have been Aga Piri who referred the case to Babur. 262. But to their dismay. Hill.46 From the seventeenth century onwards centres in India—Surat. We have noted the case of Zachary above. 144. Wealthy Armenian merchants of such ports had agents at places like Pegu. 2. and Manila. Through a multitude of partners and agents. In addition to caravans. 46 S. Madras and Calcutta in particular—seem to have come up as places where Armenian capital was concentrated. a parcel containing cash or a few precious stones. When the separate stock ship Windsor arrived in Madras in 1713. produced an original letter to Khoja Babur di Sultan [Piri’s agent in London] dated January 29. Initially the council did not take notice of this rumour. by order of the Court of Directors. who got the order issued. Aga Piri Kalantar. with many Persian loan words) was the medium of all commercial transactions. goods. 1711-14. Bengal in 1756-57.288 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA facilitating a continuous circulation of capital. or even the kin of acquaintances working at different levels. there was no possibility of disclosure of a confendential information. v. George had been directed to satisfy the merchants’ demands on the New Company as far as these were just. pattamars or messengers were used for sending messages overland. The merchants of Masulipatnam must have sought assistance of Armenians in soliciting the Company’s favour in London. 1712. Khoja Petrus Woscan left New Julfa at for Madras in 1705 when he was about twenty-five years of age. RFSG. 25. or representatives of agents. Khoja Babur di Sultan seems to have functioned as the London agent of other Armenians too.44 Almost any ship sailing between two ports in Asia. As the Julfa dialect (Armenian. 261. a few bales of cloth— was bound to reach the destination. The letter acquainted him. rumour had it that the Armenians had received advice that the directors of the Company had ordered the Fort St. 133. or consignments. In 1711 the governor and council of Fort St.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. George Council to discharge that debt fully. a couple of bills of exchange or promissory notes. See Armenian Merchants. a copy of a contract. One is struck by the continuous circulation of even the leading members of the community. The Global World of Indian Merchants. no.000. information and human resources. Bombay. or both. George wanted to buy up the new company’s debt to Masulipatnam merchants amounting to Pagodas 80. after the arrival of the ship King William. in some or other way related to the community.

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

a journey from Goa to Lahore via Daman and Cambay (up to Cambay by ship). 54 A journey from Surat to Agra took 86 days. Transport and Communications in India prior to Steam Locomotion. Multan. P. An account of the Jesuit Missions to the Court of Akbar. testifying to relatively stable urban setting. Akbar and the Jesuits. Lahore was a principal commercial centre of India. most of the Armenians coming to India were travelling merchants who came here for business and returned to their own country each year. 471-75. See his ‘Armenians in India’ especially 15-21. Levi. A History of Christianity in India. 51 Jean Deloche. 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. XVI. connected through road and river routes.1. R. with its commercial production. D. and Sind on the west to Assam and Bengal in the east.54 Moreover. From the French by James Walker. 53 S. that in the pre-Mughal period. could easily take as long as six months. for Armenians taking this route see J. Isfahan and beyond. The Arabian Seas.51 Indian rural economy. It has been suggested. Grover. 158. was very much geared to an integrated pattern of trade through networks of mandis and qasbas stretching from Lahore. Revue Etude Armeninnes (1988-89). 11001700. The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade. 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. Turkish. ed. S. 52 B. 2 vols.52 In the early seventeenth century. Russell. Seth. tr. vol. attracting commodities from far and near brought by merchants of all the nationalities mentioned above. Neill’s information here is based on the account left by the eighteenth century Armenian merchant-cum-historian Thomas Khojamall. The Global World of Indian Merchants and Scott C. ‘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. 1993-94. ‘Two Armenian graffities from Ziârat. Neill. 1926): 52-59. 34. Bukhara. Barendse. Persian. and other merchants followed this caravan route to different market and production centres in north and northwest India. tr. . 2002). 1994): 219-255. Pakistan’. which usually took two months. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Khojamall’s account is not reliable. 2 vols. Payne (London: Routledge & Sons. 1707.290 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA same way as Indian Sindhi firms and Hindu merchants operating in this route spread to Kandahar. Delhi.. 1550-1900 (Leiden: Brill. it would take a few years to accumulate some profit from all the accounts. 384.53 But considering the distance and the nature of the overland or caravan trade. du Jarric. J.50 Except for short segments. 1984-85). however. as many of these itinerant traders traded in multiple (relatively small) accounts. 1: The Beginnings to A. with introduction and notes by C. See R. v. According to M. the major route from Kabul to Agra underwent few modifications since the close of the sixteenth century. Armenian. Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. H. Markovitz. J.

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

T.61 Though we have such accounts of Armenians in different parts of the country in the sixteenth century. Jerome Xavier from Lahore in 1603 was accompanied by the Armenian Isaac. Maclagan. and not in Calcutta. As far as South Asia is concerned. Armenia: A Historical Atlas (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. they were based mainly at Chinsura. Armenians in India: 102-7. But the Jesuit priests. On pp. E. 22-23 he gives the names of seven Armenian priests who died at Agra between 1614 and 1675. 160). 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. 4.62 At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jesuit Fr. Akbar had allowed an Armenian church to be built in Agra as early as 1562. the Armenian had breathed his last near Lahore. As regards the possibility of a large Armenian colony in Calcutta by 1630. Calcutta in the 17th Century (Calcutta: Firma KLM. Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia. do not mention any Armenian church in Agra. H. small town and city) but refer to the size of the community on the map (p. He suggested that the stone was probably brought to Calcutta from somewhere else at a later date. C. Travelling overland from Ormuz. 2001).292 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the well-known Armenian Catholic with close contact with the Jesuit fathers at Agra or somewhere in Kashmir. vol. 1924): 1-42. M. Hewsen’s atlas is a bit confusing because the symbols explained on p. however. see below. About Seth’s position that no Armenian women came to India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 64 C. 61 60 . Armenians living in India were See below for more on Mirza Zu’lqarnain. Calcutta became an important centre of commerce in the 18th century following the foundation of the English settlement there in 1690. it is clear that they were living in (Mughal) India where both Zu’lqarnain and his brother were born. 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. xvii point to the size of the place (e. 62 Robert. who remained with Goes till the end. the rest of the tombstones of Armenians at Agra dated back to 1611. whom Seth elsewhere dismissed as untrustworthy.60 The brief account of the merchant pilgrim Khwaja Martyrose in Seth’s work reminds us of a Sufi saint. and that the stone was not in situ. who had a close contact with Armenians. See Early Annals of the English in Bengal: being the Bengal Public Consultations for the first half of the 18th century. Except for two tombstones from 1557 and 1560. Hewsen bases himself on Mesrobv Seth’s work. 1630 in the churchyard of the Holy Church of Nazareth (Calcutta). Maclagan.64 At this stage of settlement. J. 63 E. Thacker. village. also P.g. Hewsen. it is. 1603-1721 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. (London: W. 1986): 443-46. See his Armenians in India: 110.63 The mission of the lay brother Benedict Goes to China sent by Fr. difficult to accept Hewsen’s position that there were large settlements of Armenians already at Agra (by 1562). The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 213-215. Surat (by 1579) and Calcutta (by 1630). Seth. a hypothesis based on the discovery of the tombstone of Reza Bibi dated July 11. Nair. (henceforth Early Annals of the English in Bengal) 3 vols. According to the account of Khojamall. R. Wilson already dismissed it on the ground that the tombstone in question was an isolated instance. 1: 137. Wessels. n. It is more likely that if Armenians were there in Bengal in the early 17th century. 1895-1919). The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271.

67 It was not uncommon for Armenians during this period to conceal their faith under some real or assumed political pressure. an Armenian. also called Iskandar. Also. E. Familiarity with Persian provided them access to the Mughal court. Seth. acquired great favour at the court of Akbar. as we have noted above. who married him to Juliana.. When the governor of Lahore threatened in 1604 to arrest all the Christians of that city. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 157-61. together with his brother. Overseas commerce too. This seems to have been more of a political show as after his conversion. not much is known so far. was in the service of the imperial harem of Akbar. the daughter of the Armenian Mir Abdul Hai. . in charge of the royal harem. For his carreer see Fr. tr. Zu’lqarnain did not practise Islam but became an adherent of the Roman Catholic Church. Tuzuk I Jahangiri. forcibly circumcised by Jahangir. 1916. Maclagan. Seth quoted extensively from Fr. His daughter was married to Iskandar who was also in the service of Akbar. the three 65 For the legend about the (Armenian) Christian wife of Akbar see M. At the same time. The life of Mirza Zulkarnain attracted the attention of many contemporary accounts perhaps because of the fact he was. where Hosten left the issue open as he had no conclusive evidence. The relationship of the Armenians with non-Christians was often not limited to trade alone. J. His father. Armenians in India: 151-61. 14 November 1916. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 170-80. (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. E.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Iskandar had two sons: the elder son. it also provided Armenians with the experience of living under Muslim domination. some twenty-three Armenian merchants seem to have fled the city hastily. 1968). Mirza Sikandar. By Alexander Rogers. One account that was widely known among the European missionaries and travellers in seventeenth-century India was that of Mirza Zu’lqarnain mentioned above. According to Fr. M. For commerce overland they travelled in caravans consisting of merchants of different Indian and west Asian communities.65 As regards the conversion of Armenians to Islam. 22-87.66 After Jahangir succeeded to the throne. Maclagan. Mirza seems to have enjoyed the favour of Jahangir and Shah Jahan who entrusted him with various responsibilities. Hosten published in the Statesman. Hosten’s work in Armenians in India. By Henry Beveridge. 2 vols. 66 Abdul Hai. Seth maintained that Akbar indeed had an Armenian wife. Pinheiro. was carried out with merchants of different origins. But he also quoted the paper of Fr. Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. H. was later named Mirza Zu’lqarnain. vol. 1500-1800 293 well integrated into the existing socio-economic fabric of India. both Zu’lqarnain and his brother Sikandar were forcibly converted to Islam. 2: 194. 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. J. Hosten. 67 Except for the period 1633-35 when he suffered from Shah Jahan’s anti-Christian outbursts. which often employed them as trusted interpreters. J. ed.

6: 281. as they wished not to be recognised as Christians. W. Hill.74 Though S. ed. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 194. son of Mir Afzal. was a nephew of Wajid. Bengal in 1756-57.”. C. Maclagan. 71 Ibid. 1640: “.69 Contemporary accounts suggest that Armenians in India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries cohabited with Hindu and Muslim women. a sufficient reason for this belief was founded on the very considerable losses which this Moor had just suffered by the English capture of Hugli’. Hill refers to him as Armenian. Jean Law. see S. 73 For details on Khoja Wajid see below. 13 vols.73 The indigenous historian Gulam Hussain noted that Khwaja Ashraf Kashmiri. cf. who was undoubtedly an Armenian. . Robinson and Wylde at Swally Marine to the Company. has noted that there is no evidence to show that Wajid. 70 P. Akbar and the Jesuits: 135.75 and historians have wondered about this confusion. .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. 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.294 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA to four Armenians he met did not want to be seen talking to him. du Jarric. C. vol. With a life of the author. English Factories in India. (London: Hakluyt Society. (Oxford: Clarendon Press. . And notes by Edward Grey. Chaudhury assumes that Wajid perhaps added ‘Muhammed’ to his name to enhance his 68 E. Breton.1:126-30. vol. translation of the first part of the memoir of Jean Law: 187. C. Bengal 1756-57. Maclagan.71 Such co-habitation would be logical even if for entirely strategic purposes. vol. (Lahore: 1975). The name Dominic Pires is not Armenian. a colourful personality of Bengal trade and politics in the eighteenth century. ed. . December 29. 69 The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India. Foster. Havers. Letter from the president Fremlen &messrs. Akbar himself seems to have been present at the wedding ceremony of his Armenian interpreter Dominic Pires and his Indian bride in 1582. is that of Khoja Wajid. though we have not come across any conclusive evidence about this one so far. v. 2 vols. Dutch and French sources refer to him as a ‘moor. Hill. had ever converted to Islam. Seth suggests that this was perhaps an adopted name. 1906-27). the greater part of whom [Armenians] here call themselves ‘Mussulman’ . 72 E. 3.72 Another interesting case. passim. Seir i Mutakherin. From the old English translation of 1664 by G. 2: 400. an introd. Appendix III. 75 See the letters from the Dutch chief Bisdom quoted in S. 1892).’ a term indicating Muslim. Sushil Chaudhury. 74 Saiyid Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai.70 These Hindu and Muslim concubines were later either abandoned or accepted as partners through marriage in the church. 2 vols. . who has written extensively on Wajid. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72.

1907-36). as matrimonial relationships between the Armenians and Muslims were not usual.79 Repeated reference to him as ‘moor’ in the records of the Dutch East India Company. 79 Seth refers to Khoja Wajid only in passing. . also Seth. he was not considered Armenian any more. It should be noted that Mirza Zu’lqarnain. Ray. 78 I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for drawing my attention to this point. Mirza was a generous supporter of the conversion of the indigenous population by the Jesuits. Armenians in India . 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.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. nationality was not the issue. the eighteenth century Armenian historian. and the silence of Armenian sources about this personality leads one to think. v. Seth. 1-2: 137-48. 22-87. . 2: Travels in Asia. Letters written by Jesuit fathers from Goa attest to the good relationship between Mirza Zu’lkarnain. Maclagan. 1500-1800 295 business prospects. while adherence to the church was. then governor of the province of Sambhar in Rajasthan and the Jesuits. 81 E. it was possible for the latter to convert some of the Armenians. no. 1608-67 in Europe and Asia.81 Though Armenians were initially opposed to the activity of the fathers. Zu’lkarnain was referred to as ‘the pillar of Christianity’ extending his liberality not only to the Jesuits. but also to the rest of the Christians. 77 R. did not have much to say about Wajid. 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. 82 The Travels of Peter Mundy. Rajat Ray wondered how the Muslim Mir Afzal could be related to the Armenian Wajid.80 Armenians seem to have lived in close social contact with Christians of other denominations. vol. who was at pains in putting together the history of the Armenians in India. Chaudhury. XVI. who spoke of him as ‘brother’ and procured for him the title of ‘Founder of Agra College. 80 Scholars like Baghdiantz Mccabe. 77 It is extremely interesting to note that Thomas Khojamall. This would also explain why Wajid’s grave cannot be found either in Chinsura or in Calcutta. 1628-1634.78 Curiously enough. Zekiyan adds that as Armenians did not have a state. . with reference to the question of monopoly in salt. converted to the Catholic Church. 1990). Khachikian and Zekiyan relate that if an Armenian was converted. The Indian Historical Review. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72. 5 vols. 1998): 161. ‘Khwaja Wazid in Bengal Trade and Politics’. that either Khoja Wajid or his father had embraced Islam at some point of time. in the light of the history of the Armenians sketched above. Polashir Shorojontro o Sekaler Somaj (The Conspiracy of Plassey and the Contemporary Society) (Calcutta: Ananda Publishers. (London: Hakluyt Society. Armenians in India: 364-65. K. after his forced conversion to Islam. Appendix E.’82 Even 76 S. (July 1989-Jan..76 Writing about Bengal in 1757.

carrying chiefly See Purchas: His Pilgrims (Glasgow: MacLehose. There is evidence to show that Armenians. 312v. acted as a boost to the first major eastward surge of Armenian trade. thesis. the envoy of King James II. vol. The proximity of India.D. Armenians were thus already established in the field. Pleased with Captain William Hawkins. together with Persian merchants continued to use the overland route to India in the seventeenth century.000 camels. indigo and sugar exported overseas to Persia to those taken overland at 70:30. 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. Ph. Van Santen.84 prompted an increasing number of Armenian merchants to frequent India. but not daring to refuse the imperial offer.This list suggests that it would be more profitable to send textiles coming from the centres of production in north India overland. V. 85 See Henry Bornford’s account of his journey from Agra to Tatta [? March 1639] in English Factories in India.87 It was noted that every year 20. The Economy of Safavid Persia (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. the main trading partner of Iran. Jahangir wanted him to settle down in India and offered him all accommodations. 87 Another estimate put the cost of both the routes at about 50%. 1630. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan. 30 July. Willem Floor. But the emperor outwitted him by finding a match in the daughter of a lately deceased Armenian.C. 1620-1660.86 An estimate made in the 1630s put the ratio of textiles. 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. Van Santen maintains that this list underestimated the overland trade as it did not include the quantity of indigo from Byana transported overland. then to Bandar Abbas by ship. 1905-07). vol. including a wife. 6: 134-138. 84 83 .O. III: 15-16. H. 2000): 245. W. Surat-Heeren 25. Hawkins replied that as a Christian he could marry only a Christian woman.83 When the Dutch and the English were struggling to initiate commerce in the western Indian Ocean and Mughal India from their base at Surat. 86 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. and again to Isfahan by caravan (27% of the cost).296 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the Great Mughals were not in a position to (or did not) make a distinction between Christians of different denominations. Leiden University (Meppel: 1982): 64-65.A. 1099. and Hawkins felt obliged to obey the emperor. Extremely embarrassed.

92 H.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. of te bondig ontwerp van eenige dier landen en volken. landstreken. 89 88 . Bulk of the commodities that had earlier been taken overland. in de Noorder en Oosterlyke gedeelten van Asia en Europa enz.92 The rebellion at Kandahar (1709). (Amsterdam: Halma. 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. and were forced to return to Surat for shipment to Persia on board Dutch and English ships. 90 H. 1: 426. welke voormaels bekent zijn geweest. arrived at Isfahan from India. was being shipped from Surat at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries. The Indo-Gangetic plains and the sub-Himalayan zones. Barendse.90 In 1668 Nicolaes Witsen. 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. 1500-1800 297 piece-goods. en meest nooit voorheen beschreve Tartersche en nabuurige gewesten.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. 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.000 camels in 1644. en plaetzen. Noord en Oost tartarye. Willem Floor. The Economy of Safavid Persia: 200-10. J. The Arabean Seas: 154-64. I am grateful to René Bekius for drawing my attention to this work. 1705). Beneffens verscheidene tot noch onbekende. Ibid. vol. Distance between Isfahan and the major cities in India as calculated by an Armenian merchant of Julfa. W. 2 vols. for the question of the continuity of overland trade from India in the seventeenth century see R. vol. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. Table. 91 Nicolaes Witsen. steden. 1: 725.89 Due to the import of a large quantity of cotton textiles in Isfahan by a caravan consisting of 6. Van Santen. Generale Missiven. Van Santen De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. rivieren. W. there was little demand for the textiles carried by the Dutch Company.

vol. Armenia. Strange Company: Chinese Settlers. Coen. (1848) 9. 1986): 158-62. contrary to those of the English.298 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA however. 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. continued to be connected with Persia and Central Asia through Kabul and Kandahar during the period that followed. advocated the policy of populating Batavia. 1: 29. . 96 The large proportion of women among the Armenians of Surat drew attention of an Englishman even two centuries later. J. Mestizo Women and the Dutch in VOC Batavia (Leiden: KITLV.g.94 This is inaccurate and simplistic. the interpreter of the English lodge at Surat. e. the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies.98 Della Valle noticed that many of the Dutch Company’s servants. he was touched by the demonstration of affection on the part of the English president Thomas Rastel. 1986): 141-43.95 Subsequent to their settlement in New Julfa. 97 See Om Prakash.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.99 93 Muzaffar Alam. and quite a few to Armenian women. v. 94 M. Dutch Factories in India. with their families seems to have increased. January-June: 136. who often sent Della Valle his own coach and his interpreter.93 Seth found only one tombstone of an Armenian woman at Surat in the sixteenth century (dating from 1579). Anonymous. India and other countries. the number of Armenian merchants settling in India . were married.1 (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. worked as interpreter for Pieter van den Broecke who arrived there as director of the Dutch East India Company in 1620. 1627-1623. ‘Surat—its past and present’ Calcutta Review. because Seth was aware of the presence of Armenian women in India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A Catholic Armenian called Iskandar Beg. 263. 1984): 19n. 95 Ibid. He was informed that this pattern was encouraged in order to populate Batavia: At Batavia Dutchmen settled with their family enjoyed many privileges. 98 L. the Dutch decided to follow the Portuguese example. Seth. Armenians in India: 126. Isfahan. 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. Blussé van Oud-Alblas. After initial attempts of shipping marriageable women or entire families to Asia had failed. The Crisis of Empire in Mughal India: Awadh and the Punjab 1707-48 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. who considered women as a pre-condition for trade. 99 The travels of Pietro della Valle in India. It was the time when Jan Pietersz.97 When Della Valle was in Surat with his Georgian wife.

W. . the lodge of the Dutch at Surat was initially set up in the house of Mariam Gomez. As godfather.101 On Christmas Day in 1621 the slave girl of Sebalt Wonderaar. an assistant in the Dutch lodge. in Gujarat en Hindustan: 10. who looked upon the girls as his own daughters. vol. 1500-1800 299 At Surat.. vol.107 Some Armenians informed Van den Broecke that Huijbert Vissnich. n. Van den Broecke was the godfather and Angela. Van den Broecke stayed at their sarai. was baptised along with Catherina. 106 The travels of Pietro Della Valle . van Santen (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. 101 100 . . . Van den Broecke was witness to the event. along with the English and other Christians of Surat. he lodged at the palatial building owned by the director Van den Broecke. 1. 123. 105 Ibid. 1: 120.105 The merchant Anthoni Claesz. 103 Ibid. formed part of one Christian society. 124. vol. accompanied by a few female servants for the convenience of Mrs.106 When in 1621-22 the Dutch Company was facing a shortage of capital.. 2: 265. who sent the young Armenian wife of one of the Dutch factors. the Company chief in Persia. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. 102 Pieter van den Broecke in Azië. 325. an Armenian woman from Baghdad. It has been assumed that before it was shifted to another building. the senior merchant of the Dutch lodge. 2: 5. H. Kolff and H.108 Della Valle. A. journaal: 265. 1627: Kroniek en Remonstrantie. 2 vols. . the Company could borrow money from Mariam at an interest of 1 per cent per month.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. This time. gifted them with 600 and 500 guilders respectively as presents on this occasion. 1.100 The way Van den Broeke mentioned the Armenians in his journal leads one to think that in the early stage of settlement in India the Dutch were quite friendly to the Armenians. 1962-63). ed. was present at the wedding party Ibid.104 Next year Yadgar’s daughter Marican was married to Issack Scholliers. the girl child of the well known Armenian Yadgar. D. 78. 1979): 22.O. 107 De Geschriften van Francisco Pelsaert over Mughal Indië. vol. vol. too. was the godmother.C. 331. The junior merchant Paulus Stigel van Neurenberg married the daughter of Khoja Rafael. 28. H. W. 2: 268. was not performing his duty and was giving preference to his own interests above those of the Company. Ph. vol. who. ed. Van den Broecke.102 On his trip to Ahmedabad. W. the wife of Yadgar. where Armenians were active in the indigo trade. 104 Ibid. van Santen. De V. Cf. Della Valle. together with other Europeans.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. 108 Pieter van den Broecke . Visscher was married to Mariam Gomez.

Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. as all trees whether bearing fruit or not deserve dewdrops from the heaven. 111 De Geschriften: 17-25. Dag Register. the attitude of Van den Broecke towards these marriages and the relationship between the English director Thomas Rastel and his Portuguese fiancée. I am grateful to Ms. 9.505v. 1700-1750. 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. 507. Collectie Sweers. 123. versekeringe ende ook verbeteringhe der comptoiren en negotien van Guseratte ende Persia.’ Piri pointed out to the director of the Dutch lodge. and possess all rights enjoyed by British subjects. A.119-125. Aga Piri appealed to the chiefs of all the European Companies in the name of Christianity. 184. A. ‘to stand by and protect each other if need be. en affbreuke des algemeijnen vijants.300 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA of the assistant Willem Jacobsz. 1. Surat. 122. f. VOC 1549. documents 116. and Mariam. c. the daughter of an Armenian merchant from Ahmedabad. ‘Corte Remonstrantie van de gelegentheijd van Guseratte. ‘Christians are obliged. 112 N. 136.g.110 The Dutch-Armenian marriages. pr consequent tot merkelijke voordeel van honorable Comp. Perzien en Arabien ook eenighe noodwendighe procedures welke in die quartieren dienen gehouden te worden tot preservatie.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. no. see Ashin Das Gupta. for a description of Surat in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. ch. 140. 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. have inspired Kolff and Van Santen to reflect on the homogenous nature of the pluriform Christian ‘nation’ at Surat. als mede tot restauratie van de gelden schade in Mocha. addresserende.109 A critical insight into the situation in Gujarat. 110 109 . Though the agreement was not put into effect due to the opposition of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. 113 See Armenian Merchants e. Armenians were to trade and settle at all English ports on the same terms as English freemen.’112 What was the situation like in European settlements like Madras and Calcutta? As per the agreement signed between Khoja Panous Kalantar. 124. inv. 148. 1: 120. 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. an eminent merchant of Isfahan and the East India Company in London in 1688. 146. a temporary The travels of Della Valle vol. 1979. Natalia Tojo for drawing my attention to this document. N.113 Whenever there were forty Armenians resident in a town under the jurisdiction of the Company. Wiesbaden. 117. ff.

no. Armenians were allowed to freight the Company’s Europe-bound ships with commodities like shellac. 120.114 In the 1680s and 1690s. 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. documents 121. which will in a few years aggrandize our revenue. Since the English left the port to port trade in Asia to private enterprise already in the late 1660s. stick lac. Because the Dutch Company was a direct participant in the intra-Asian trade. and ground granted them for the erection of a permanent place of worship. document 156. 118 Ibid. pig-iron and wax. 115 Armenian Merchants.115 Experienced Armenians like Aga Piri were entrusted with training freshly arrived factors of the Company in language and the method of trading. Bhattacharya. . George. Company in London to Fort St. and passim. 142. As India goods were very much in demand. many private Asian merchants serving the Europeans in numerous ways. 127. they would populate the settlements: It is undoubtedly our interest to make our garrisoned ports in India marts for nations.1: 543. 163.119 The regulations of the European Companies prohibiting trade with rival establishments could be avoided through a network based on kinship. crowded the English settlements. 131. (London: Murray. e. and to whom we pay no wages being as good a security to our garrison and trade as hired English soldiers . ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel’. 117. ship owning merchants often avoided their settlements. the growth of the European settlements provided the Asian merchants with alternate bases of operation. 116 Ibid. . D. the Company was sure it would profit from the freight. 141. and with that our strength 200 Armenian Christians living in Madrass [sic] by whom we get money in every thing they eat or drink or trade for as well as by the ground rents of the houses they live in. 1500-1800 301 church was to be built for their use. v.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. 124. George and the India Office and from other sources. Vestiges of old Madras: 1640-1800: traced from the East India Company’s Records preserved at Fort St. . 119 B. 3 January. documents 116.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. the Company allowing £50 a year for seven years for the maintenance of a priest.g. they were in a position to procure goods at a cheaper rate. 4 vols.116 As the Armenians were familiar with the centres of production and market places in India. 117 Ibid. Love.117 Moreover. 1693/94. 1913). As they wanted to 114 H. the English East India Company was recommending that its employees attract Armenians to the English settlements and encourage their trade in every possible way.

Nazareth after him) in Calcutta in 1724. Manila. and/or trading with the king’s camp. The East India Company and the Economy of Bengal (from 1704 to 1740). also made it sure that he did not fall in the hands of the nawab’s people.000 to make up the case. Elihu Yale noted that recently ‘a few more’ Armenians had come to settle in Fort St. document 139. For merchants trying to escape the wrath of indigenous elites. As there were some proceedings against him in the nawab’s (Shuja Khan) darbar in Murshidabad. 125 Armenian Merchants. the English in Calcutta. the council noted that though there were a few Armenians constantly residing at Madras. Bengal Public Consultations. 17 April. George. Despatches to England. while more were expected. 20. 50. vol. Aceh. Persia and other places.121 The English were willing to pay as much as Rs. Bhattacharyya presents other cases as well.122 In 1691. quoted in S. 1: 1694-96. Khoja Nazar built the Armenian Apostolic Church (called St. 124 RFSG. (Calcutta: Graphic Art Press. while stopping him from sailing for Europe. 123 Armenian Merchants. 1969): 55.124 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. 55-60. but the nawab demanded Rs. vol. 35.000.123 In 1696. In analysing the relationship between the nawab and the English. ibid. 2: 147. A case in point was that of the Armenian merchant Khwaja Nazar. Despatches to England. Indian merchants could use the Companies against one another. Bhattacharyya. 121 120 . 59. too. 122 Ibid. George. Zulfiqar Khan’s camp and Golconda and thus by the bulk of their trade contributed greatly to the revenues of Fort St. 126 RFSG. The case was later settled by Nazar’s vakil at the darbar. many of them were annually sailing to Bengal. 1733. They were determined not to submit [sic] their merchants being carried off the place which would be of the utmost ill consequence to the Hon’ble Company’s affairs as it would be a precedent for the darbar to demand every man of substance out of the place.126 With the growth of the ports of Bombay. the European settlements were a place of refuge. Madras and Calcutta in the eighteenth cen- Ibid.120 Armenians followed the same pattern.125 By 1711 Armenians had become ‘numerous and opulent’ in Madras.302 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA attract local shipping magnates to their ports. document 239.

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

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

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

agricultural surplus was extracted by the state. Indonesian Trade and Society: Essays in Asian social and economic history (The Hague: Van Hoeve. by merchants whom he termed peddlers. The trade that was carried on here was small-scale and in luxury goods. and consequently.’ 147 Armenian Merchants enumerates 114 cases where Armenians served the English East India Company in different capacities between 1617 and 1708/09. Van Leur’s thesis has been criticised by many 146 145 . 149 Ibid.146 In India. that Armenians both competed and co-operated with Europeans. 151 J.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. Early Annals of the English in Bengal vol. an attempt to get access to the credit and extensive network of trade of the Armenian merchants. does not imply that it was only the Europeans who needed Armenians.148 Marriage relationships often went hand in hand with business interests. Bekius. 148 De Geschriften: 21-22. 150 It was part of the policy of the English East India Company to employ small vessels owned by Armenians for coasting trade. R. Kolff and Van Santen have pointed to the greater relevance of the marriages between Armenians and Europeans in this respect.306 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the trade carried on by the European Companies was no match for that of the Armenians. in their opinion. Armenians did not have to enter into any trading partnership with them. That so many servants of the Dutch East India Company—much more than their English counterparts—got married to Armenian women. index 3. Van Leur noted that in the primarily agricultural societies of Asia. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade. the ‘market’ where the goods were disposed at a reasonable profit. getting them ready for shipping. 1955): 133. was a long drawn and extremely intricate process. It is true that Armenians were already established in the trade of the Indian Ocean.145 Bekius has shown. on the other hand. Baghdiantz Mccabe. and not the other way round. Armenians intermarried with western Europeans and flocked to the European towns. Van Leur. starting from the procurement of goods at the centres of production. and reaching the ultimate destination. East India Companies were no competitors of the Armenians.150 Yet. as we have seen. 3: 141. 283-84.151 Steensgaard. C. who studied the I. Many of them possessed their own shipping. transporting them to the port of embarkation. was. 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. Shah’s silk: 327-47.149 This however. In his study of Indonesian trade and society.

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

like many other groups of Asian merchants. 71 for similar evidence. Long before the agreement of 1688. was part of a broader framework and it is here that the Armenian merchants cooperated with Europeans in numerous other accounts by lending money. 1646 and reached Swally in November of the same year. bought 200. The Dolphin. 161 RFSG. also Armenian Merchants . vol. 68. the Dutch director at Surat. documents 62.. 159 N. Khoja Baba Sultan.161 The Companies. 11 December 1694 (copy) VOC 1548. and providing cover when necessary.656. freighting their ships. it should be added that Armenian merchants appear to have acted in different capacities and were dexterous at keeping the accounts separate. During 1693-94. 3 (1711-14): 18. carried Armenians. 11 (1661-1664): 328. Armenians freighted Asia-bound ships of the English Company. Their agents carried piece goods from Bengal and Coromandel to Europe and took back Dutch and English broad cloth to Tranquebar. This trade was organized by Armenians in Holland. . . acting as agents or suppliers. was one of the Madras Armenians involved in this trade. 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 .308 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA spite of all the elements of tension and conflict involved. of course. following a ban on the trade of the Europeans. De Keijser and the Council at Surat to the Directors.160 In the eighteenth century. Though wills and testaments do not throw much light on this aspect—except when an unrecovered due was involved—. encouraged the procedure as some empty space in the Asia-bound ship was utilised in this way. . and two Armenians of Madras. sailing as nakhuda on board European ships. XXXII-XXXIII. f. 67.159 Such cover was indispensable so far as trade to Manila was concerned. . the correspondent of Aga Piri Kalantar of Madras in London. The actual carrying out of the trade. Armenians were using Danish company ships for their Europe trade. Despatches to England. co-operated with Europeans because the presence of the latter provided Asian merchants with further opportunities of spreading the risks. mentioned above. 8 (1646-1650): 86 and vol.A.000 pounds of indigo and 30. It is possible that Khoja Zachary.000 pieces of chadar Dariabadi under the cover of Aga Piri. which left London on April 29.158 This being said. however. 160 See English Factories in India. . traces of such co-operation are to be found in the archives of the European companies. 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. But it also ensured direct shipping of goods and persons and was less hazardous than the route via the Levant and then Middle East. Armenians. and the Armenians had to pay freight charges. 65. De Keijser. vol.

29 August. . 170 RFSG. 1268. Barendse. 367-69. 164 Armenian Merchants. 336. 4 March. sail to Persia as it hit the shore near Point Palmyras and had to unload the goods at Tranquebar. with their contacts in India. 1685. In Basra. vol. The Arabian Seas . R.164 Khoja Minas. ff. Maloni. in obtaining a good freight of fine piece goods in Bengal for the Sedgewick he was planning to send to Persia in September 1700. v. 169 S. ibid. The Sulleiman. ed. 90 (1971): 182-216. The English Company servants in Bengal stated that Armenians bought textiles 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than them. R.. Surat-Batavia. It is expected that the Armenians will freight the Little London for Persia’.F. W. Wilson. VOC 1264. vol. 1992). . document 257. 168 C.000 for freighting the Colchester for a voyage to Gombroon and Basra. 165 R.. Generale Missiven. 1: 369-71. was permitted to carry any horse that would be shipped by the agent of Khoja Minas.G. N.S. 159-60. and goods and sailed on board the same ship for Surat. took the responsibility for collecting the piece goods and other commodities and loading them on the company’s ships.168 In December 1702 Sarhad offered the English company Rs. 300. 1706: 52-53. Early Annals of the English in Bengal. Thomas Pitt referred to his acquaintance with Sarhad and his uncle Khoja Panous Kalantar in London.170 The French ship Pontchartreijn renamed Queen Louise carried freightgoods worth Rs.1.169 The same year the council of Fort St. 2.166 Minas had purchased two ships from the English who again rented the ships and sent them to Persia. (1694-96): 35. Ph.1275-87. was hired by the French (in huur bij de Fransen). .1616-1617. 167 N. J.163 The Armenians. vol. 13 (1668-69): 204. 171 This was in 1704. the leading Armenian merchant in Bengal. For Armenian merchants freighting Dutch company ships on the Surat—Bandar Abbas run see R.000 belonging to Armenian merchants. 6. Chaudhuri. September 12 and October 9. Despatches to England. (1698-1713): 271. Bengal Past and Present. . 1630-1638 (Delhi: Manohar.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. 2 1701/02—1710/11. ‘Bengal merchants and commercial organisation in the second half of the seventeenth century’. Dag Register. European Merchant Capital and the Indian Economy: a Historical Reconstruction based on Surat Factory Records.165 The George that left Surat for Gombroon in December 1669. Surat. freighted English company ships. who owned at least five ships himself. 163 162 . document 209. Coolhaas. 166 English Factories in India. Compare: ‘. The ship could not. 1500-1800 309 against pirates and other dangers at sea. belonging to the Armenian Khoja Minas of Surat.A. ff. George let out the Phoenix to an Armenian for a voyage to Persia via Bengal. Despatches to England.167 While soliciting the ‘favour and assistance’ of Khoja Israel Sarhad.A. 38. VOC 1409. however.171 All the three ships that arrived in Armenian Merchants.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Muslim merchants freighted their money.

173 Similarly. including Armenians. under Captain Mylne to Kung and Bushire. the agent of the English at that place proposed that the subjects of the king of Persia and their effects at Fort St. Despatches to England. It was a relationship of accepting each other for mutual profit. Pegu and Manila seems to have been common. vol.310 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Tranquebar from Denmark in 1709 were to be freighted by the Armenians to Persia.175 The other routes where Armenian and European interests were intertwined were the routes to Southeast Asia.’ unpublished paper presented to the 11th Annual Conference of the World History Association. if not more important aspect of Armenian-European relationship was the role of the Armenians as emissaries of especially the English to the Mughals. Juan that left Madras for Manila carried goods freighted by Armenian and Indian merchants. When the Dutch East India Company decided to close their factory at Pegu.178 Throughout the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries Armenians assisted Europeans in their investment in India.174 In the wake of troubles in Persia in the early eighteenth century. 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. 3: 56. 4 (1675-1685): 446. 6: 106. 2002. H. 177 ‘Cinnamon. 1600-1800 (Minneapolis. 176 Generale Missiven. 175 RFSG.000. Minn. In the early modern period. B. vol. Despatches to England. the trading companies sent embassies Ibid. vol.177 Using European bottoms for consigning goods to factors.30. Sending emissaries to the head of a state is a practice common since ancient times. Manila and China.: University of Minnesota Press. Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient. Furber.176 Researches of G. At least till the middle of the eighteenth century European merchants needed Asian merchants. August 15-18. Seoul. Korea. mostly a relative or a member of the community settled at ports like Mergui. Armenian merchants taking passage on board European ships in Asia was common. in 1737 Armenian merchants of Madras freighted the Galatea. 1976): 285. ARMENIANS AS EMISSARIES Equally. one Portuguese and one Armenian were entrusted with the task of collecting the outstanding debts of the Company amounting to more than f.172 Again. 173 172 . 3: 56. RFSG. The Council of Fort St. vol.: 689. silver and opium: Foreign shipping and trading activities at Batavia. 178 In 1712 the St. 16841792. George be seized. 174 English Factories in India. Souza have pointed to the involvement of Armenians in the commerce carried on by the Portuguese of Macao to Manila and India.

I am greatful to Dirk Kolff for drawing my attention to this work. Commerce and Culture. 1: 25-27. who was sent to the camp of Zabardast Khan as the ‘Political Agent’ of the English.185 179 S. in Prakash and Lombard eds. Subrahmanyam. 184 Ibid. In order to secure the rights of the company against the activities of the interlopers. to head the delegation. Sarhad was able to win the friendship of the young prince Farrukhsiyar. an Armenian. R. 182 C. The Norris Embassy to Aurangzeb. 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. 185 Ibid. who was accompanied by Mr.182 In spite of that. Indian Records Series. he appointed Khoja Murad. the nephew of Khoja Panous. The embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of Jahangir is a well known case. 181 H. Das. Old Fort William in Bengal.000. ed. interlopers also were able to secure some trading favours for themselves from the same general. . When the king of Ethiopia sent an embassy to the Mughal emperor.180 Sir William Norris. J.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 183 Ibid. on his embassy to Aurangzeb.183 At the camp. (London. Foreign Relations of Ethiopia. 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. Govindpur and Calcutta in Bengal in 1698 for the sum of Rs. . General of the Mughal’s forces who was suppressing the revolt of Sobha Singh in Bengal. also headed by Khoja Sarhad. 16. 1979). 1698 the Sutanuti council noted that Mr. At this the English decided to send another delegation. 180 E. It was a period when many attributes of Persian culture were visibly adopted by the courts in countries in South and Southeast Asia.. 1959): 211-12. 2 vols. On September 22.179 Familiarity with Persian offered the Armenians easy access to the Mughal court and made them extremely suitable as emissaries. Walsh. (1699-1702) (Calcutta: Firma KLM. 36-38. Van Donzel. 1500-1800 311 to heads of various countries for trading privileges. A Selection of Official Documents dealing with its History. 1906) vol. It was this delegation that secured for the English the right to farm the three townships of Sutanuti. .’184 They had promised the young prince three small pieces of brass cannon. .. the English company wanted to send a delegation to Zabardast Khan.181 In the late 1690s. 1642-1700: documents related to the journeys of Khodja Murad (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut.. 1400-1700’. We have noted above that Emperor Akbar had employed an Armenian as his interpreter. ‘Persianization and Mercantilism: two themes in the Bay of Bengal History. Walsh and Khoja Sarhad went back from the camp having ‘finished all business to our greatest satisfaction. the English company approached Khoja Israel Sarhad. Wilson.

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

if not well looked after. vol. 70. vol. 56. C. from whom he procured permission to rent the three townships. among others. 1500-1800 313 to obtain the island of Diu off Masulipatnam for the council of Fort St. 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. R. K.5 percent. Also in this case he was not to receive anything if he was not successful. 71. George often consulted Aga Piri. He would not get anything if he failed. Dr. Wilson about Khoja Sarhad: ‘He is said to have been personally known to Prince Farrukhsiyar. W. See Armenians in India . K. 190 Early Annals. 193 RFSG. The following decades saw the growth of Calcutta.000.191 The success of the Surman Embassy was ascribed to the services of Dr. Firminger. The council of Fort St. the company’s surgeon. but not altogether creditable part in the Surman Embassy to Delhi in the years 1715 to 1717’. for their negotiation with the governor of Golconda. Hamilton. was not unanimous about the inclusion of Khoja Sarhad in it. 2: 154-55.000 would be given to Sarhad if he was successful in all these efforts. indispensable in all political negotiations of the English in India in the eighteenth century. Seth quoted from William Bolts to show that contemporary Englishmen knew the contribution Sarhad made in getting the farman renewed in 1717. 50. William Hamilton. But in any case Sarhad was to try to get the customs duty paid by the English at Surat reduced to 2. Old Fort William: 25. 214. would play tricks and enrich himself at the cost of the Company. however. 3. Firminger. . R. 191 After the sanad from the diwan at Murshidabad was obtained. Sarhad stayed on in Delhi.192 The service of the Armenians was. Historical Introduction to the Bengal Portion of the Fifth Report (Calcutta: Indian Studies Past & Present. Sarhad had left for Patna when the rest of the embassy was still in Murshidabad. . the son of Prince Azîmush-shân. Mr. when the embassy left Delhi after the imperial firman had been obtained. He afterwards played a conspicuous. however. Secondly. Compare the following statement made by C. Early Annals. A reward of Rs. Edward Stephenson was appointed secretary and accountant to the negotiation with the responsibility to take down the minutes of consultation. George. cured Farrukhsiyar from a malignant distemper he had been suffering from. Diary and Consultation Book. .193 When it was considered necessary to send presents to the nawab of Arcot. 50.189 Even before the formation of the embassy. n. 24. Historical Introduction: 87. J. Wilson.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Khoja Petrus and Hodjee Addy were entrusted 189 M. 427. 2: 193. Sarhad was to obtain for the English the privilege to trade free of customs at Surat for which he would get another Rs. 1713: 4. 1962): 87.190 His attitude during the journey evoked suspicion and irritation among the English. It was apprehended that Sarhad. 67. its fleet and the country trade of the British. 192 W. the Fort William Council. 281.

2003): 133-58. M. popularly known as the Armenian Petrus of Clive. president of the council of Fort William. document 647 and note. He appeared on the scene after the siege of Calcutta by Sirajuddaula in 1756. M. This was due to the fact that Khoja Gregory. was a spy of the nawab in Calcutta. Petrus was kept as a hostage by Major Adams in his camp lest Ellis. The Armenians in India . for Khoja Petrus. According to Orme. When war broke out between the English and Mir Qasim in 1763. Seth. pointed out that it would be arbitrary to order a merchant of long standing out of the settlement. the chief of Patna. vol.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. S. 1743: 55. A Narrative of the Transactions in Bengal 1760-1764. for a recent biography of Khoja Gregory see B. Military Transactions.194 Khoja Petrus Aratoon. L. Gommans and O. 197 James Long. A. passim. bankers and foreign trading companies combined to create a rupture that changed the course of the history of India. indigenous merchants. ed.196 A few members of the council in Calcutta wanted to have Petrus ousted from the town on the grounds that he was a spy of the nawab. he supplied provisions to the English at Fulta for six months before the arrival of Robert Clive and Admiral Watson from Madras. J. 196 H. Ghosh (Kolkata: K.195 He was employed again for negotiating with Mir Qasim for deposing Mir Jafar. 2: 58. . and English troops suffer at the hands of his brother. C. by A. Bhattacharya. in their eyes. P. Wajid was ‘the principal merchant of the province’ of Bengal. Selections from Unpublished Records: 421. Vansittart. “Between Fact and Fiction: Khoja Gregory alias Gurguin Khan. Banerjee and B. Hill. Kolff (Leiden: Brill. . His Ibid. K. 198 Robert Orme.198 He was settled in Hugli and had transactions with the French and the Dutch through lodges at both Chandernagore and Chinsura. Seth. Vansittart. Petrus was never rewarded for his services to the Company. was an Armenian merchant-diplomat of Saidabad. a town in the silk producing region near the court at Murshidabad. Together with a Jewish friend. in J. was the commander-in-chief of the army of Mir Qasim. J. Bagchi. a brother of Petrus. Armenians in India: 328-32.314 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA with the task of procuring items suitable for the occasion. C. He was employed as confidential agent by Clive to negotiate with Mir Jafar for overthrowing Siraj-uddaula. 195 194 . It is well known that Plassey witnessed how the vested interests of the officials of the court. Petrus was forbidden to act as vakil to the nawab in future. Prakash eds. Circumambulations in South Asian History: essays in honour of Dirk H. Bengal in 1756-1757. But the English never completely trusted Khoja Petrus who. the ‘evil genius’ of Mir Qasim”. passim. J. 1976) henceforth Narrative.

Collet and Watts described Khoja Wajid as the ‘greatest merchant in Bengal’ having ‘great influence with the Nabab. He represented the French in the nawab’s darbar and Monsieur Law. Wajid wanted the nawab to assist the French with his troops and arranged a meeting between Law and the nawab. C. he was able to secure the salt farm in 1752 and the saltpetre farm in 1753. in S. But as war with the French was imminent. vol. Wajid owned five ships and had extensive overseas trade with Mocha and Basra.205 For a long time Wajid wanted to counterbalance the English with the French in the nawab’s court. 205 Nawabi troops. no. 3.201 He had large stakes in the salt trade of Bengal and the opium trade of Bihar. companies and rulers: Bengal in the Eighteenth Century’. Appendix III. Chatterjee. C.’200 He had close contact with the Jagat Seths and other merchants of Patna. translation of the first part of a memoir by Monsieur Jean Law. Clive did not agree to the proposal and wanted Wajid and the banker financier Jagat Seth to settle the dispute. Bengal in 1756-57.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 166) and Clive’s letter to Khoja Wajid. through whom he negotiated with the Europeans. 167. 2: 110 (no. Merchants. 204 Letter from Khoja Wajid to Clive. C. Hill. Hill. 201 K. During the few years before the battle of Plassey. Hill.’202 It appears from the letters Siraj wrote to Wajid that the nawab confided in the latter. in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. Wajid enjoyed the monopoly of saltpetre and salt. 200 199 . Hill. the chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar who kept a watchful eye on the affairs of the court in Murshidabad. he mediated in conflicts between Asian and European merchants.203 When the English plundered Hugli during the dispute with Siraj. 203 S. vol. Dutch. chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar: 187. English and French Companies. Bengal in 1756-57. On behalf of the nawab. S. however. XXXI. Through his contacts in the nawab’s darbar. he maintained diplomatic negotiations with the Danish. Wajid was in favour of having the dispute settled through the mediation of the French. described him as a ‘confidential agent with the Europeans. ibid. Bengal in 1756-57. 93-94. In 1756. C. 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. Bengal in 1756-57. As the leader of the Asian merchants.204 As the English attacked Chandernagore. not sent. 125-6 (no. 202 S. vol. vol. v. politics and society in early modern India: Bihar: 1733-1820: 72. Chaudhuri. 1: 3-5. 1500-1800 315 step brother Jubbo lived in Chinsura. He S. 175). were. 2.199 Through his lodges at Patna and Surat he was engaged in inland trade. ‘Merchants.

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

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

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