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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, firstname.lastname@example.org Research for this paper was carried out with a grant from the Indian Council of Historical Research in New Delhi. I would like to thank Gautam Bhadra for the encouragement and advice I received in connection with the research. I have beneﬁted from conversations with Basudeb Chattopadhyay, Bhaskar Chakraborti, and Suranjan Das. Fr. Boghos Levon Zekiyan has been a source of inspiration. The paper was presented in a different form to the International Institute of Asian Studies Workshop on ‘Country Trade and Empire in the Arabian Seas, 17th-18th century’, Leiden, 9-10 October 2003. Shushanik Khachikian, Ina Baghdiantz-Mccabe and Sebouh Aslanian have helped in solving many puzzles. I would like to thank them Rene Barendse and René Bekius and the two anonymous experts of this journal for their comments on the paper.
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2005 Also available online – www.brill.nl JESHO 48,2
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.
ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA, 1500-1800
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.
2003. 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. S. after all. C. Not only were the Companies able to extract special privileges from the sovereigns. the privileges were backed up by the threat of the use of force.14 Neither K. (henceforth Military Transactions) 2 vols. Calmard. J. Thesis. 21 September. Isfahan: a Study in Pre-Modern Asian Trade. it was precisely that nation that started using force systematically against Asian shipping. Oxford. A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan. 1500-1800 281 force. L. This legacy was continued by the East India Companies. shows that Armenians did not have European type companies. ‘The Engish East India Company in the 17th and 18th centuries: a pre-modern Multi-national Organization’ in Blussé. N.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. who. 11 Bengal in 1756-57. 1991. 2: 58. had not built any fort and traded under the protection of the Mughal government. Rene Bekius’s research on the textile trade of the Armenians touches upon their trade in Persia. 1: 3-5. the nawab mentioned that the Armenians. A selection of public and private papers dealing with the affairs of the British in Bengal during the reign of Siraj-uddaula ed. D. the best analysis of the organization and structure of Armenian trade is to be found in the works of Shushanik Khachikian. also foreigners in Bengal. in her study on the Julfa Armenians in Russia. All of the independent territorial bases the Europeans possessed in Asia were fortiﬁed. 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. also ‘The family ﬁrm in the commercial organisation of the Julfa Armenians’. Companies and Trade. I have communicated with Khachikian who kindly conﬁrmed her position through e-mail. 1988 (in Armenian). 12 The Armenian Trade of New Julfa and its commercial-economic ties with Russia during the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries. Why should the Europeans—the English in particular—insist on fortiﬁcations?11 So far. Gaastra ed. 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 . 29-46. also Robert Orme. (Paris Teheran: Institut Français de recherche en Iran. 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). 287-303. the nawab of Bengal and the English in the middle of the eighteenth century. 1905) vol. 1775-77) vol.12 In addition. Chaudhuri.13 Baghdiantz Mccabe herself offers an excellent account of the career of Marcara. In his letters to the Armenian merchant Khoja Wajid. Hill. With notes and an historical introd. (London. in Etudes Safavides. Yerevan. ed. 3 vols. (London: John Murray. 13 The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. 1993).10 It should be remembered that armed trade was. and F. one of the main reasons for dispute between Siraj-uddaula. By S. Phil. Edmund Herzig (see note below) and Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe refer to her work in detail.
an Armenian merchant was more like himself than the western European who could point to his company. and using their connections back in Persia and Europe.18 Iranian World. This connection.. M. Most of the Armenians trading in India were from Persia. Jews. . Herzig. 1600-1730 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and were dependent on the favours they received from the Mughals in Delhi and their representatives in the provinces. Secondly. 18 Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe. . No one could. to settle them in the outskirts of Isfahan. 17 R. The Armenians: A People in Exile (London: Allen & Unwin. 15 Armenians lived in Persia since pre-Christian times. (1990). . 30-31 August. 2003. 59-71. she has not given any evidence and has drawn on the work of Khachikian who does not claim there was an East India Company type association of the Julfa Armenians. pp. often gave them an edge over others in that they had easy access to the Mughal court. organised by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Iran Heritage Foundation. however. ‘The deportation of the Armenians in 1604-1605 and Europe’s myth of Shah Abbas 1. revenue and information.15 The Safavi Emperor Shah Abbas deported a large number of Armenians to New Julfa from the commercial town in Armenia bearing the same name in the early years of the seventeenth century. Matthee. See David Marshall Lang. . 16 On the deportation of the Armenians see E.16 It was a conscious attempt on the part of Shah Abbas.17 But that notwithstanding. who was aware of the expertise of the Armenians in trans-continental commerce. During the following two centuries the Armenians would traverse the Indian Ocean and sail up to the coast of China. . for example. The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver. though Baghdiantz Mccabe has suggested that there was a company of Armenian merchants in New Julfa directing the Armenian commerce worldwide. stop the Armenians from referring to. 203. for the Indian merchant at an Indian port. Oxford. where they had long been living. 73-74.’ Pembroke Papers 1. P. Baibourtian. Ashmolean Museum. Shah’s silk. Persians and Turks among others. 1981): 81. In India they traded at the market places and ports side by side with the Indians. V. Consequently.282 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Herzig nor Bekius subcribes to the thesis that Julfa Armenians conducted trade as a centrally organized company. . 1400-1700’. International Trade . including knowledge of Persian. the factory and the fort belonging to his nation and use these symbols either as carrot or as stick as the situation would permit. 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. Armenian merchants were not backed by any national monopoly that would empower them to represent Persia in India. 1999).
21 Shah’s silk: 245-250. See S. 1672-1681. and by being factors of their own kindred’s honesty. 1500-1800 283 So far as Armenian trade in India and the Indian Ocean was concerned. whose money they adventure upon.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. has shown that family ﬁrms with extended patriarchal household as the basis of business organization were a major organ of this trade. 20 19 . 285-305. and on return. O.21 In the seventeenth century. being nine years travels. Burton Stein and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. 23 After the demise of Dhirubhai Ambani of the Reliance Industries recently. 1500-1800. ‘The family ﬁrm’ also. companies and commerce on the Coromandel coast. 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. . by William Crooke. Delhi. the Ahmedabad industrialist Kasturbhai Lalbhai created companies for his nephews. there seems to have been no European-type chartered joint-stock Armenian company. .20 Baghdiantz Mccabe herself admits that family was the basic unit and the preferred system of Armenian merchant associations. Arasaratnam. Trans. S. The Tamil Muslim merchants of the Coromandel coast known as Marakkayars organised their trade on the basis of extended kinship. the wealthiest men. vol. . 1650-1740. the eldest son Mukesh Ambani took over the charge of the business. 190915). 1996). 1982): 150. Merchants. 2. 249. A description of this system was also provided by Fryer: they [the Armenians] enter the theatre of commerce by means of some benefactor. Braudel noted that the family offered the most natural and sought after solution for commercial networks. Shah’s silk . Civilization and Capitalism.24 E. ed.19 Organizing commerce on the basis of family connections has been common in pre-modern societies in Europe and Asia. ‘The Tata paradox’. often family members. Herzig. 1999). Cf. 24 A New Account of East India.22 This is the organizing principle still followed in many modern Indian industrial ﬁrms. 22 A New Account of East India and Persia. Reynolds.23 However. see Claude Markovits. John Fryer left a description of the trading method of the Armenians: The Armenians being skilled in all the intricacies of trade at home. (London: the Hakluyt Society. M. 1986 passim and B. Herzig. Braudel. . 249. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel in the eighteenth century: a case for continuity’. edited with notes and an introd. The Wheels of Commerce. a quarter part of the gain is their own: from such beginnings do they raise sometimes great fortunes for themselves and Masters. if the family ﬁrm provided the basics of the business organization. for example. . and travelling with these into the remotest kingdoms. become by their own industry. Bhattacharya. 3 vols. Baghdiantz Mccabe. Lombard (Delhi: Manohar. 237-248. in Institutions and Economic Change in South Asia. ed. F. in Commerce and culture in the Bay of Bengal. Prakash and D. (London: Harper & Row.
26 Edmund Herzig. thesis. and Aga Piri as the son of Khoja Panous. Antony’s College. ‘De’ or ‘di’ in Armenian names are abbreviation of the word ‘vordi’ meaning son. 182. This volume offers a unique collection of documents on Armenian merchants and their relationship with the English East India Company. 1998) (henceforth Armenian Merchants). 2000). was a variant of this system. I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for this clariﬁcation. referred to as ‘master’ in the will was most probably the father of Zachary de Avetik. Ph. Papazian. and bilateral. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. the English records of the Fort St. employment. 2003. The Global World of Indian Merchants. operating in Amsterdam in the late 1690s. Gregory. In Amsterdam. These were commenda partnership. and in few cases. 27 L.28 At the time Zachary wrote his will. Zachary di Avetik. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade’. incorporating features of partnership.D. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. George amply testify to the existence of the system until the end of the eighteenth century. University of Oxford. under which a small group of sahukars and sarrafs controlled ﬁnancial and commercial transactions over a vast area encompassing Khorassan and Turkestan. and Margaret Makepeace ed.25 The most popular type of partnership prevalent among the Armenians of New Julfa was the commenda contract. means Zachary the son of Avetik. loan. 153-86. The commenda contracts were basically of two types: unilateral.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. (1966). One of the principal merchants Zachary represented was his father. ‘The ledger of the Merchant Hovannes Joughayetsi’. Armenian merchants of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: English East India Company sources. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. no. Isfahan: a study in pre-modern Asian trade. ch. 3. e-mail. 8. For Avetik di Petros see R. 237. 28 Shushanik Khachikian suggested that Khoja Avetik. St. ibid. no. Bekius. where the whole capital was provided by the investor (sleeping partner) and active partner or agent invested the labour. Zachary must have been well established in the trade to Europe. nos. true partnership. he seems to have had transactions with Sarhad. known as Avetik di Petros. . 1991. Khachikian. This ledger book has been edited in Armenian recently by L. in this sense. 5. a merchant from New Julfa who 25 Claude Markovitz. commission agency and representation. 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama. He had three sons: Hovannes. 146. and Avetik.284 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA This kind of partnership was prevalent among different merchant communities of South Asia in different forms. It is also possible that our Avetik was another person. Khachikian and H. Journal of the Asiatic Society. 3 offers a detailed account of the different kinds of partnership known among the Armenians and how these worked. Khoja Avetik of Isfahan. The shah-gumastha partnership existing among the Sindhi merchants of Shikarpur. his wife Azis was in Isfahan. ch. 175. By the time he came to Madras. Khoja Zachary di Avetik of Isfahan came to Madras from Amsterdam in 1714. September 21. where a part of the capital invested came from the active partner. For reference to Khoja Avetik Kalantar as brother of Aga Piri see See Vahe Baladouni.27 Though such detailed accounts are available mostly in Armenian documents.
Diary and Consultation Book. one worth 150 tomands on Zachary di Avetik in India and the other of similar value on [?his son] Khoja Avetik in Europe. 169. Similarly. 231. documents 241. dated 10 September.33 Since 1714. 23 September. 1736. see Nationaal Archief. when he visited India.). 451. Magan di Aga Piri was a son of Aga Piri Kalantar of Surat and Madras (see more on him below). Armenian Merchants. 32 Was he a grandson of Khoja Minas? See Edmund Herzig.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Zachary had two more accounts with the prominent Bengal/Madras merchant Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan.C. Issa Cooly was noted by the Dutch at Surat as a person friendly with the Mughal ofﬁcial Salabat Khan. vol.29 Already in 1697 we ﬁnd Zachary shipping glass-ware and broad cloth on English Company ships. . . 1409. . Isfahan. etc.O. Copy of Wills. 2003 and 1 February. Tamil Nadu Archives.1599v.30 He was one of those merchants who travelled between different places in Europe. 30 Armenian Merchants. 1718: 56. Zachary does not mention Tarkhan as his master but mentions that the latter. 253. Gombroon. the Hague (henceforth N. like Zachary himself. See RFSG. Diary and Consultation Book. The Armenian Merchants. 33 It is very much likely that this Issa Gully was the same person as the Armenian Issa Coolly/Coollyan at the Mughal court. 1: The Last Will and Testament of Zachary De Avateek. 14 June 1685. 141. 31 Records of Fort St. handed Gregory (son of Zachery) a full discharge for 300 tomands. He was related to Khoja Zachary and replaced him as the Armenian alderman when Zachary left for Pegu.A.31 He represented at least another merchant of Isfahan. Armenian Merchants . another factor of Khoja Avetik. 1719: 177. Apart from the account together with his master Khoja Avetik. nos. One of these accounts 29 Shushanik Khachikian informed the author that the Armenian Sarhad trading in Russia had transactions with a Zachar. who were also. V. Dag Register Surat. he had three other large accounts with Gregory de Agazar. Siraz. Khoja Zachary and the latter’s master [?Khoja Avetik]. not known as a ‘khoja’. factors of other principal merchants. Madras and Pegu. Probates.34 Zachary seems to have had an agent called Beethan in Gombroon. Khoja Tarkon [?Tarkhan]. his masters [not named] and Avid de Zeany and two other between Macartoon Yanhoopa. his master [in Isfahan] issued two bills of exchange. he had a partnership account with Macartoon Yanhoopa (the second part does not resemble Armenian names). who was however. (henceforth TNA). (ﬁlm 1035) f. 171 and 1719: 93 and 120. E-mails to the author. The family tree of Khoja Minasean family p.32 In lieu of a factorage bond worth 300 tomands. henceforth ‘the last will of Zachary’. Zachary traded on multiple accounts. 2004. 1500-1800 285 traded with Russia and Holland. 34 English East India Company sources refer to one Persia de Marketon freighting goods on the company ships. sailing to Pegu. Records of the Mayor’s Court. among other places. George (henceforth RFSG). 241. no. 249. Ma[natsa]gan di Aga Piri and Issa Gully di Avateek Shaudullah. In 1718 he replaced Khoja Simon as the Armenian alderman of the Madras municipality and was known to have owned the ships Bon Voyage and Silliman. He had four other accounts running—two of these were partnership accounts between himself.
Unfortunately. seems to have acted as factor of Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. W. 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. George had Khoja Simon as ‘The last will of Zachary’.37 Moreover.. All further references to this work are from this edition. He was part of a wide-ranging network of commercial transactions in which the interests of his principals (including his father). no. the will does not specify the type of partnerships Zachary had with all these different partners. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. as the latter possessed a ‘factorage’ bond worth Rs. 1975): 770. 24. Armenian Merchants.5 1686-97. 281. 36 35 . 179. of indigo was purchased by De Keyser at Agra through the broker Aga Piri for f. 112 for the text of this agreement.38 Zachary had a partnership contract with Ma[natsa]gan. it referred to kalantar (alderman or mayor). 183. 74. Also. 264. In another case in 1732. When his father was returning from London to Julfa in 1692. Though the term ‘Calandar’.35 Was Zachary’s father (Avetik) a son of the famous Armenian Khoja Panous Kalantar. ‘The agreement of the EIC with the Armenian Nation’. no. 52250 lb. documents 261 and 262 for example. Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day—a work of Original Research (Delhi: Oxford etc. Khoja Sarkies di Agavelly and Khoja Gregory of Fort St. J. Ferrier. Generale Missiven v. 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. Ph.79662. 77) and one with the title kalantar (documents 153. George. 231-44. Later he became the Armenian Alderman of the Mayor’s Court at Fort St. their other factors. 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. no. 39 Aga Piri was active in Surat during the 1690s. the English expected Aga Piri or some other member of the family to go to London in order to look after his business. 188-89 and passim)—though indexed together under one name ‘Coja Aveatick Calendar’ p. Armenian Merchants. Aga Piri settled in Madras somewhere at the turn of the century. alternately ‘Calendar’. In the other account Zachary. 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. refers to two Avetiks—one without (documents 62. Seth.. He was a ‘well known’ Armenian inhabitant of Surat and broker for the Dutch East India Company. R.000 in the name of Zachary and his sons. or ‘Callenter’ is treated in European records as surname. together with his sons. his own interests as well as those of his sons were intertwined in an extremely intricate cris-cross pattern of partnership. See Armenian Merchants. 37 Armenian Merchants. a city ofﬁcial appointed by central government in Iran.286 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA was part of Zachary’s account with his masters [not named]. For a lively discussion on the agreement see M. 146. 1937). 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. ed. 38 Ibid.
whose structure.40 Again. On his arrival at Madras in September 1740. 1500-1800 287 their ‘factor’ in Pegu. Khoja Cachick Khojamal. . 220 parts together with the principal sum would go to Khoja Nazar while 100 part of the proﬁt would be Khojamal’s. and here the proﬁt was to be equally divided between the two partners. Aveat signed a ‘factorage bond’ with the said ﬁrm valid for ﬁve years and set out for Pegu with a sum of Pagodas 2. George appointed Khoja Aveat their factor at Pegu. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court. received from Khoja Nazar di Abid Aga the sum of 320 tomands on the condition that out of the proﬁt made. Khoja Thaddeus Aga Piri & co. Brothers. far from the formal superstructure represented by the East India Companies. Aveat received several consignments from the Aga Piri brothers amounting to more than Pagodas 17. He had another account with his nephew Marcar di Sattoor.000. 43 There were of course informal connections behind this formal structure of the companies. The network of the Armenian merchants indeed reﬂected a structure. 17 November. During his stay in Pegu. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court 1731-32. Old Will no. The Companies with their modern structure co-existed with this pre-modern structure of trade. based on personal networks of extended kinship and the pursuit of similar goals.42 The references we come across to Armenian trade in Persia and India. in the wills and testaments of Armenian merchants suggests that the organization of Armenian trade was left to individual initiatives. a merchant ﬁrm of Fort St. when he set out from Isfahan in May 1740. Khojamal particularly mentioned in his testament that the two accounts were entirely separate and should not be mixed up.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 224. 1737. 42 Calcutta High Court. 18. The last will and testament of Coja Catchick Cojamaul deceased. but the basic differences are clear. This was. 8-9. and the informal networks formed by the representatives of these formal companies in their private capacity were crucial for country trade. as deﬁned by Markovits. Partnership among these individuals in different capacities was indeed a salient feature of this trade. 40 RFSG. 75.43 Armenian merchants in the Indian Ocean were rather like the multitude of other Asian merchants engaged in networks of private trade.000. At Pegu he worked together with one Petrus. ‘Principal sum’ advanced by the Aga Piri brothers to be employed in their interest. 1755. 41 RFSG.750. however. Khoja Simon acted as the Pegu agent of other Armenians and sailed as nakhuda on ships sailing between Madras and Pegu. The reliance on the ethno-religious community provided the Armenians of New Julfa with a network that spanned at least half the globe.41 In a distinct case of commenda partnership. Upon accepting the ‘factorship’. Khojamal was employed by the famous Khoja Petrus Woskan who advanced him Rs. size and scale made the nature of commercial operations impersonal.
See Armenian Merchants. Madras and Calcutta in particular—seem to have come up as places where Armenian capital was concentrated. and Manila. RFSG. 45 44 . a copy of a contract. or even the kin of acquaintances working at different levels. information and human resources. Bengal in 1756-57.288 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA facilitating a continuous circulation of capital. nos. It must have been Aga Piri who referred the case to Babur. When the separate stock ship Windsor arrived in Madras in 1713. or both. The merchants of Masulipatnam must have sought assistance of Armenians in soliciting the Company’s favour in London.3. Khoja Petrus Woscan left New Julfa at for Madras in 1705 when he was about twenty-ﬁve years of age. a few bales of cloth— was bound to reach the destination.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. 144. One is struck by the continuous circulation of even the leading members of the community. George had been directed to satisfy the merchants’ demands on the New Company as far as these were just. after the arrival of the ship King William. by order of the Court of Directors. 1711-14. But to their dismay.44 Almost any ship sailing between two ports in Asia. George Council to discharge that debt fully. the consignment—no matter if it contained an important message related to business or family.000. 2. or leaving an Asian port for a destination in Europe could be used for sending agents. then residing in Madras. a couple of bills of exchange or promissory notes. Aga Piri Kalantar. Bombay. a parcel containing cash or a few precious stones. 262. 46 S. goods. there was no possibility of disclosure of a confendential information. 1712. Despatches to England. Hill. Khoja Babur di Sultan seems to have functioned as the London agent of other Armenians too. v. C. that the council of Fort St. pattamars or messengers were used for sending messages overland. We have noted the case of Zachary above.46 From the seventeenth century onwards centres in India—Surat. The letter acquainted him. Wealthy Armenian merchants of such ports had agents at places like Pegu. with many Persian loan words) was the medium of all commercial transactions. or representatives of agents. vol. Through a multitude of partners and agents. produced an original letter to Khoja Babur di Sultan [Piri’s agent in London] dated January 29. 261. rumour had it that the Armenians had received advice that the directors of the Company had ordered the Fort St. who got the order issued. In 1711 the governor and council of Fort St. The Global World of Indian Merchants. 133. George wanted to buy up the new company’s debt to Masulipatnam merchants amounting to Pagodas 80. 25. It is not known exactly when he Claude Markovitz. In addition to caravans. or consignments. in some or other way related to the community. credit. no. Initially the council did not take notice of this rumour. As the Julfa dialect (Armenian.
he travelled frequently between Madras. 1970): 202. both overland and overseas trade connected India with the world outside. offered Armenians the potential to exploit the existing and newly opened channels of commerce and communication to the maximum. Armenians coming to India seem to have used the overland route to a greater extent than the overseas route. the founder of the Mughal empire already noted the importance of Kabul and Kandahar in the overland route to India. Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade. but recovered his ancestral property in that town. that had been mortgaged to others. probates etc. Dale. Calicut. vol. 1600-1750 (First Indian edition. While ports like Cambay. in addition and to the overland route. with Persian as the most widely used language for administrative and cultural purposes. since very ancient times. 49 S. He never went back to New Julfa. Pulicat. Though the overseas transactions of his network stretching from Constantinople to Manila were made mostly through his agents and their partners. no doubt in connection with their business.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Prior to the seventeenth century.212-311: the last will and testament of Coja Petrus Uscan (henceforth. See my work on the Armenian merchants of Madras (under preparation). 1994). 48 Babur-Nama: (Memoirs of Babur). Arabs. 1500-1800 289 sailed for Manila where he spent about twenty years. He came back to Coromandel in 1722 when he settled down permanently at Madras. willing to take up almost any role that suited the occasion. Mangalore. . and Mughal India provided a broadly similar commercial and liguistic environment. the last will of Petrus Uscan). Babur. Uzbek Turan. 7-13. he would take care of the commercial transactions of his compatriots in Pegu. While someone else from his family or community would take over the absentee’s duties. ff. It is clear from his testament that the beginnings of his fortunes were made in Manila. Even before the rise of Islam that led to the expansion of commerce along the Indian Ocean littoral. ARMENIANS AND THE MILIEU OF THE INDIAN TRADING WORLD As noted above. The ﬂexible and unassuming character of the members of their network. Records of the Mayor’s Court. 5. Syrian Christians and Persians had traded and settled at Indian ports. the Arabian Seas especially provided the major thoroughfare in transcontinental commerce.48 At least since the close of the sixteenth century onwards. from the original Turkish text by Annette Susannah Beveridge (rep.47 Armenian aldermen of Madras often left for Pegu. Copies of wills. Safavid Iran. Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint. F.49 In the 47 TNA. 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. Cochin and Quilon housed merchants of international communities. tr.
Armenian. that in the pre-Mughal period. S. Khojamall’s account is not reliable. 2 vols. most of the Armenians coming to India were travelling merchants who came here for business and returned to their own country each year. was very much geared to an integrated pattern of trade through networks of mandis and qasbas stretching from Lahore. From the French by James Walker. It has been suggested. Seth. The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade. Levi. which usually took two months. Lahore was a principal commercial centre of India. Russell. 1984-85). P.1. Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. 2 vols..290 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA same way as Indian Sindhi ﬁrms and Hindu merchants operating in this route spread to Kandahar. 54 A journey from Surat to Agra took 86 days. with introduction and notes by C. Grover. vol. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 384. Revue Etude Armeninnes (1988-89). ‘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. du Jarric. v. An account of the Jesuit Missions to the Court of Akbar. See his ‘Armenians in India’ especially 15-21. Transport and Communications in India prior to Steam Locomotion. Markovitz. See R. 1993-94. The Global World of Indian Merchants and Scott C. Multan. 51 Jean Deloche. Delhi. 1: The Beginnings to A. ed.50 Except for short segments. . 34. Isfahan and beyond.53 But considering the distance and the nature of the overland or caravan trade. Turkish. 1926): 52-59. and other merchants followed this caravan route to different market and production centres in north and northwest India. connected through road and river routes. H. J. R. tr. Payne (London: Routledge & Sons. with its commercial production. attracting commodities from far and near brought by merchants of all the nationalities mentioned above. Pakistan’. testifying to relatively stable urban setting. 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.51 Indian rural economy.52 In the early seventeenth century. 2002). Neill’s information here is based on the account left by the eighteenth century Armenian merchant-cum-historian Thomas Khojamall. 471-75. 1550-1900 (Leiden: Brill. D. 52 B. According to M.54 Moreover. a journey from Goa to Lahore via Daman and Cambay (up to Cambay by ship). and Sind on the west to Assam and Bengal in the east. 1707. 53 S. tr. 158. Neill. as many of these itinerant traders traded in multiple (relatively small) accounts. 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. 1994): 219-255. could easily take as long as six months. Bukhara. 11001700. J. Persian. Akbar and the Jesuits. Barendse. The Arabian Seas. A History of Christianity in India. for Armenians taking this route see J. it would take a few years to accumulate some proﬁt from all the accounts. XVI. however. the major route from Kabul to Agra underwent few modiﬁcations since the close of the sixteenth century. ‘Two Armenian grafﬁties from Ziârat.
who come from Armenia. Maclagan. During the intermittent period the trader had to live at different places along the route. 59 E.56 At Pulicat. made new acquaintances and renewed the old ones. Parsees. A. Thomas at St. but it is possible that the Christian priests the Portuguese came across in Coromandel were Syrians.58 Pires accompanied both the ﬁrst and the third Jesuit missions to the Mughal court as interpreter. 1:46. History of Christianity in India. Moraes. Neill. A History of Christianity: 466 fn. A History of Christianity in India . 1: From the Beginning up to the middle of the Sixteenth century (up to 1542) (Bangalore: Theological Publications in India. Francis Xavier. Thomas in Coromandel gave hearing to none except their bishops. v. an Armenian Christian. sailing from Cambay as part of the four Gujarati ships annually leaving that port for Melaka where many of them stayed back.57 Akbar’s farman to the Jesuit Provincial at Goa asking the latter to send him learned priests capable of informing the emperor about Christianity was carried by the ambassador Abdallah and Dominic or Domingo Pires. because with the people of this country. 52-1542 (Bombay: Manaktalas. 196. the Christians of St. Mathias Mundadan. 1500-1800 291 (partner)s as well as his own capital. 55 Tome Pires. 58 M. Maclagan. no one can succeed but these bishops. It is true that early Portuguese sources referred to all Eastern Christians as Armenians. Thome in 1517. M. and to make enough proﬁt to settle the accounts with the master. . 1944). At the beginning of the sixteenth century we ﬁnd Armenians. and Turks. 56 G. vol.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Portuguese missionaries in the early sixteenth century noted that in matters of faith. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne. Seth suggested that this Portuguese name was perhaps assumed by the person for strategic purposes. 1984): 407. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 24. the ones lucky enough to survive the odds of the weather and the roads. 39. 1932): 271 and S. The Suma Oriental. Armenians were elsewhere in India and also engaged in the overseas trade to Southeast Asia. S. J. It was at the invitation of Coja Escandel (?Iskandar). See E. 1964): 226. In the end. Neill. (London: the Hakluyt Society. A History of Christianity in India: from Early Times to St. that Diogo Fernandes and Bastião Fernandes made the pilgrimage to the house of the Apostle St. 41. 1: 170. Portuguese merchants coming from Melaka stayed with Armenian Christians. Moraes was not sure if these Christians were Armenians or Syrians. 2 vols. among other Armenians.55 In the course of the sixteenth century.2:268-69. Armenians were to be found at different places in India and at least a few Armenian settlements seem to have been there. . vol. carried goods from one place to another for sale and noted the demand for new ones. 57 A.D.59 Though it is not clear if Akbar met the parents of Mirza Zu’lqarnain. went back. together with Arabs. . vol.
who had a close contact with Armenians. however. 1603-1721 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Seth. See Early Annals of the English in Bengal: being the Bengal Public Consultations for the ﬁrst half of the 18th century. R. small town and city) but refer to the size of the community on the map (p. village. Nair.64 At this stage of settlement. Wilson already dismissed it on the ground that the tombstone in question was an isolated instance. Wessels. H. it is clear that they were living in (Mughal) India where both Zu’lqarnain and his brother were born. 1986): 443-46. Maclagan. Jerome Xavier from Lahore in 1603 was accompanied by the Armenian Isaac. Hewsen bases himself on Mesrobv Seth’s work.62 At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jesuit Fr. Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia. 160). 1630 in the churchyard of the Holy Church of Nazareth (Calcutta).61 Though we have such accounts of Armenians in different parts of the country in the sixteenth century. 1895-1919).60 The brief account of the merchant pilgrim Khwaja Martyrose in Seth’s work reminds us of a Suﬁ saint. Armenia: A Historical Atlas (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Hewsen’s atlas is a bit confusing because the symbols explained on p. Maclagan. Thacker. Except for two tombstones from 1557 and 1560. 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. On pp. Surat (by 1579) and Calcutta (by 1630). But the Jesuit priests. (henceforth Early Annals of the English in Bengal) 3 vols. who remained with Goes till the end. (London: W. Akbar had allowed an Armenian church to be built in Agra as early as 1562. also P. As regards the possibility of a large Armenian colony in Calcutta by 1630. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271. 62 Robert. About Seth’s position that no Armenian women came to India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 63 E. As far as South Asia is concerned. C. whom Seth elsewhere dismissed as untrustworthy. It is more likely that if Armenians were there in Bengal in the early 17th century. 1924): 1-42. n. the Armenian had breathed his last near Lahore. 4. 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. and not in Calcutta. and that the stone was not in situ. Hewsen. 1: 137. Travelling overland from Ormuz. Armenians in India: 102-7. E.292 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the well-known Armenian Catholic with close contact with the Jesuit fathers at Agra or somewhere in Kashmir. 61 60 . the rest of the tombstones of Armenians at Agra dated back to 1611. T. M. 64 C. J. He suggested that the stone was probably brought to Calcutta from somewhere else at a later date.g. See his Armenians in India: 110. a hypothesis based on the discovery of the tombstone of Reza Bibi dated July 11. they were based mainly at Chinsura. Armenians living in India were See below for more on Mirza Zu’lqarnain. it is. see below. 22-23 he gives the names of seven Armenian priests who died at Agra between 1614 and 1675. Calcutta in the 17th Century (Calcutta: Firma KLM.63 The mission of the lay brother Benedict Goes to China sent by Fr. 2001). Calcutta became an important centre of commerce in the 18th century following the foundation of the English settlement there in 1690. difﬁcult to accept Hewsen’s position that there were large settlements of Armenians already at Agra (by 1562). According to the account of Khojamall. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 213-215. xvii point to the size of the place (e. vol. do not mention any Armenian church in Agra.
J. Mirza Sikandar. The relationship of the Armenians with non-Christians was often not limited to trade alone. was in the service of the imperial harem of Akbar. (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. Familiarity with Persian provided them access to the Mughal court. Seth quoted extensively from Fr. together with his brother.67 It was not uncommon for Armenians during this period to conceal their faith under some real or assumed political pressure. Maclagan. Overseas commerce too. Hosten’s work in Armenians in India. The life of Mirza Zulkarnain attracted the attention of many contemporary accounts perhaps because of the fact he was. which often employed them as trusted interpreters. the daughter of the Armenian Mir Abdul Hai. Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. ed. At the same time. His daughter was married to Iskandar who was also in the service of Akbar. His father. Tuzuk I Jahangiri. For his carreer see Fr. tr. By Henry Beveridge. H. vol. But he also quoted the paper of Fr. Seth. 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. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 170-80. who married him to Juliana. Iskandar had two sons: the elder son.66 After Jahangir succeeded to the throne. M. some twenty-three Armenian merchants seem to have ﬂed the city hastily. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 157-61. Armenians in India: 151-61. Mirza seems to have enjoyed the favour of Jahangir and Shah Jahan who entrusted him with various responsibilities. 22-87. both Zu’lqarnain and his brother Sikandar were forcibly converted to Islam. By Alexander Rogers. in charge of the royal harem. 14 November 1916. 66 Abdul Hai. was carried out with merchants of different origins. Pinheiro. acquired great favour at the court of Akbar. This seems to have been more of a political show as after his conversion. an Armenian. . Hosten. as we have noted above. For commerce overland they travelled in caravans consisting of merchants of different Indian and west Asian communities. 1500-1800 293 well integrated into the existing socio-economic fabric of India. According to Fr. not much is known so far. 2 vols. 1916. also called Iskandar.65 As regards the conversion of Armenians to Islam.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 2: 194. J. where Hosten left the issue open as he had no conclusive evidence.. forcibly circumcised by Jahangir. was later named Mirza Zu’lqarnain. Maclagan. Seth maintained that Akbar indeed had an Armenian wife. One account that was widely known among the European missionaries and travellers in seventeenth-century India was that of Mirza Zu’lqarnain mentioned above. Zu’lqarnain did not practise Islam but became an adherent of the Roman Catholic Church. Also. the three 65 For the legend about the (Armenian) Christian wife of Akbar see M. E. When the governor of Lahore threatened in 1604 to arrest all the Christians of that city. 67 Except for the period 1633-35 when he suffered from Shah Jahan’s anti-Christian outbursts. J. E. Hosten published in the Statesman. it also provided Armenians with the experience of living under Muslim domination. 1968).
vol. ed. a colourful personality of Bengal trade and politics in the eighteenth century. Dutch and French sources refer to him as a ‘moor. The name Dominic Pires is not Armenian. December 29. 70 P.72 Another interesting case. 2 vols. is that of Khoja Wajid. Seth suggests that this was perhaps an adopted name. Maclagan. . 2: 400. Sushil Chaudhury. (Oxford: Clarendon Press. English Factories in India.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. cf. son of Mir Afzal.75 and historians have wondered about this confusion. . 1906-27). du Jarric.’ a term indicating Muslim. 74 Saiyid Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai. With a life of the author. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72. Hill. Havers. . 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. 6: 281.69 Contemporary accounts suggest that Armenians in India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries cohabited with Hindu and Muslim women. Maclagan.70 These Hindu and Muslim concubines were later either abandoned or accepted as partners through marriage in the church. had ever converted to Islam. Jean Law. (Lahore: 1975). 73 For details on Khoja Wajid see below. 2 vols. who has written extensively on Wajid.1:126-30. . Hill refers to him as Armenian.”. Robinson and Wylde at Swally Marine to the Company. Hill. vol. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 194. From the old English translation of 1664 by G. has noted that there is no evidence to show that Wajid. though we have not come across any conclusive evidence about this one so far. 71 Ibid. v. Foster. Bengal in 1756-57. was a nephew of Wajid. C. 75 See the letters from the Dutch chief Bisdom quoted in S. C. Seir i Mutakherin. see S.71 Such co-habitation would be logical even if for entirely strategic purposes. Breton. (London: Hakluyt Society. 1640: “. Letter from the president Fremlen &messrs. as they wished not to be recognised as Christians. an introd.294 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA to four Armenians he met did not want to be seen talking to him. . Akbar and the Jesuits: 135. who was undoubtedly an Armenian. 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’. Bengal 1756-57. C. 1892). Akbar himself seems to have been present at the wedding ceremony of his Armenian interpreter Dominic Pires and his Indian bride in 1582. 72 E. Appendix III. 69 The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India. And notes by Edward Grey. Chaudhury assumes that Wajid perhaps added ‘Muhammed’ to his name to enhance his 68 E. W. passim. 3.74 Though S. 13 vols. the greater part of whom [Armenians] here call themselves ‘Mussulman’ . vol.73 The indigenous historian Gulam Hussain noted that Khwaja Ashraf Kashmiri. ed. translation of the ﬁrst part of the memoir of Jean Law: 187.
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. 1990). Letters written by Jesuit fathers from Goa attest to the good relationship between Mirza Zu’lkarnain. and the silence of Armenian sources about this personality leads one to think. . it was possible for the latter to convert some of the Armenians.80 Armenians seem to have lived in close social contact with Christians of other denominations. also Seth. as matrimonial relationships between the Armenians and Muslims were not usual. 2: Travels in Asia. in the light of the history of the Armenians sketched above. converted to the Catholic Church. ‘Khwaja Wazid in Bengal Trade and Politics’. Khachikian and Zekiyan relate that if an Armenian was converted. v.78 Curiously enough. who was at pains in putting together the history of the Armenians in India. Armenians in India: 364-65. . Seth. (July 1989-Jan. Chaudhury. 1628-1634. 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. K. who spoke of him as ‘brother’ and procured for him the title of ‘Founder of Agra College. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72. The Indian Historical Review. 78 I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for drawing my attention to this point. with reference to the question of monopoly in salt. did not have much to say about Wajid. that either Khoja Wajid or his father had embraced Islam at some point of time. Mirza was a generous supporter of the conversion of the indigenous population by the Jesuits.76 Writing about Bengal in 1757. 77 R. 5 vols. he was not considered Armenian any more. Zekiyan adds that as Armenians did not have a state. This would also explain why Wajid’s grave cannot be found either in Chinsura or in Calcutta. (London: Hakluyt Society. 1998): 161. Zu’lkarnain was referred to as ‘the pillar of Christianity’ extending his liberality not only to the Jesuits.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 1907-36). the eighteenth century Armenian historian. XVI..79 Repeated reference to him as ‘moor’ in the records of the Dutch East India Company.81 Though Armenians were initially opposed to the activity of the fathers. while adherence to the church was. 1608-67 in Europe and Asia. Ray. 22-87. It should be noted that Mirza Zu’lqarnain. nationality was not the issue. Appendix E. but also to the rest of the Christians. 77 It is extremely interesting to note that Thomas Khojamall. . after his forced conversion to Islam. Rajat Ray wondered how the Muslim Mir Afzal could be related to the Armenian Wajid. no. Armenians in India . vol.’82 Even 76 S. 1500-1800 295 business prospects. 79 Seth refers to Khoja Wajid only in passing. Maclagan. 81 E. 80 Scholars like Baghdiantz Mccabe. 1-2: 137-48. Polashir Shorojontro o Sekaler Somaj (The Conspiracy of Plassey and the Contemporary Society) (Calcutta: Ananda Publishers. then governor of the province of Sambhar in Rajasthan and the Jesuits.
Extremely embarrassed. 84 83 . 2000): 245. including a wife. 1620-1660. 87 Another estimate put the cost of both the routes at about 50%. 1905-07). acted as a boost to the ﬁrst major eastward surge of Armenian trade. 6: 134-138. Leiden University (Meppel: 1982): 64-65.000 camels.This list suggests that it would be more proﬁtable to send textiles coming from the centres of production in north India overland. But the emperor outwitted him by ﬁnding a match in the daughter of a lately deceased Armenian. III: 15-16. Van Santen. 30 July. carrying chieﬂy See Purchas: His Pilgrims (Glasgow: MacLehose. 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. W.86 An estimate made in the 1630s put the ratio of textiles.296 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the Great Mughals were not in a position to (or did not) make a distinction between Christians of different denominations.84 prompted an increasing number of Armenian merchants to frequent India. 1630. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan. then to Bandar Abbas by ship. vol. Jahangir wanted him to settle down in India and offered him all accommodations.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.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.to 25. 86 N. and again to Isfahan by caravan (27% of the cost).A. together with Persian merchants continued to use the overland route to India in the seventeenth century. the main trading partner of Iran. Willem Floor.O. 85 See Henry Bornford’s account of his journey from Agra to Tatta [? March 1639] in English Factories in India.. 312v. There is evidence to show that Armenians.87 It was noted that every year 20. Surat-Heeren XVII. H. 1099. Pleased with Captain William Hawkins. V.C. Van Santen maintains that this list underestimated the overland trade as it did not include the quantity of indigo from Byana transported overland. Ph. indigo and sugar exported overseas to Persia to those taken overland at 70:30. the envoy of King James II. vol. 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. Hawkins replied that as a Christian he could marry only a Christian woman. and Hawkins felt obliged to obey the emperor. The proximity of India. but not daring to refuse the imperial offer.D. thesis. Armenians were thus already established in the ﬁeld. The Economy of Safavid Persia (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.
(Amsterdam: Halma. in de Noorder en Oosterlyke gedeelten van Asia en Europa enz. Beneffens verscheidene tot noch onbekende. Distance between Isfahan and the major cities in India as calculated by an Armenian merchant of Julfa. Van Santen. for the question of the continuity of overland trade from India in the seventeenth century see R. Bulk of the commodities that had earlier been taken overland. 1: 426. there was little demand for the textiles carried by the Dutch Company.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.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. and were forced to return to Surat for shipment to Persia on board Dutch and English ships. 2 vols. 89 88 . landstreken. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. 90 H. of te bondig ontwerp van eenige dier landen en volken. en meest nooit voorheen beschreve Tartersche en nabuurige gewesten. 1: 725. I am grateful to René Bekius for drawing my attention to this work. 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. Ibid. 92 H. welke voormaels bekent zijn geweest. was being shipped from Surat at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries. 91 Nicolaes Witsen.90 In 1668 Nicolaes Witsen. Barendse. 1705). vol. vol. Noord en Oost tartarye. 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. steden. 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. Van Santen De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. en plaetzen. W. W.92 The rebellion at Kandahar (1709). Generale Missiven. J. arrived at Isfahan from India. Willem Floor. rivieren.000 camels in 1644. The Indo-Gangetic plains and the sub-Himalayan zones. Table.89 Due to the import of a large quantity of cotton textiles in Isfahan by a caravan consisting of 6. The Economy of Safavid Persia: 200-10. 1500-1800 297 piece-goods. The Arabean Seas: 154-64.
94 M. The Crisis of Empire in Mughal India: Awadh and the Punjab 1707-48 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press.98 Della Valle noticed that many of the Dutch Company’s servants. That is why many of them are married to women from Syria. Seth. contrary to those of the English. 1986): 158-62. the Dutch decided to follow the Portuguese example. the number of Armenian merchants settling in India . India and other countries. 1986): 141-43. with their families seems to have increased. Blussé van Oud-Alblas. the interpreter of the English lodge at Surat. 98 L. Dutch Factories in India. ‘Surat—its past and present’ Calcutta Review. v. J.g. Armenia.99 93 Muzaffar Alam. who considered women as a pre-condition for trade. 263. who often sent Della Valle his own coach and his interpreter. 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. 1984): 19n. Strange Company: Chinese Settlers. 1627-1623. . January-June: 136. he was touched by the demonstration of affection on the part of the English president Thomas Rastel. worked as interpreter for Pieter van den Broecke who arrived there as director of the Dutch East India Company in 1620. Anonymous.1 (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.97 When Della Valle was in Surat with his Georgian wife. Coen. continued to be connected with Persia and Central Asia through Kabul and Kandahar during the period that followed.298 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA however. After initial attempts of shipping marriageable women or entire families to Asia had failed.95 Subsequent to their settlement in New Julfa.94 This is inaccurate and simplistic. advocated the policy of populating Batavia. 95 Ibid. It was the time when Jan Pietersz.93 Seth found only one tombstone of an Armenian woman at Surat in the sixteenth century (dating from 1579). 1: 29. A Catholic Armenian called Iskandar Beg. the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies. 96 The large proportion of women among the Armenians of Surat drew attention of an Englishman even two centuries later. Armenians in India: 126. because Seth was aware of the presence of Armenian women in India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. vol. and quite a few to Armenian women. 97 See Om Prakash. e. 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.96 The relationship between the Armenians and the two northwest European nationalities at Surat was rather close. 99 The travels of Pietro della Valle in India. Mestizo Women and the Dutch in VOC Batavia (Leiden: KITLV. were married. Isfahan. (1848) 9. He was informed that this pattern was encouraged in order to populate Batavia: At Batavia Dutchmen settled with their family enjoyed many privileges.
where Armenians were active in the indigo trade. Kolff and H. an Armenian woman from Baghdad. 1. Della Valle. accompanied by a few female servants for the convenience of Mrs. in Gujarat en Hindustan: 10. 2: 5. W. was baptised along with Catherina. the senior merchant of the Dutch lodge. Visscher was married to Mariam Gomez. 106 The travels of Pietro Della Valle . 325. It has been assumed that before it was shifted to another building. the Company could borrow money from Mariam at an interest of 1 per cent per month. As godfather. 1500-1800 299 At Surat. D. 2: 268. who sent the young Armenian wife of one of the Dutch factors. vol. 1962-63).C. he lodged at the palatial building owned by the director Van den Broecke. 1979): 22. 2: 265. who. 103 Ibid.104 Next year Yadgar’s daughter Marican was married to Issack Scholliers. .O. 107 De Geschriften van Francisco Pelsaert over Mughal Indië. . Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. vol..107 Some Armenians informed Van den Broecke that Huijbert Vissnich. vol. . Cf. n. H.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. gifted them with 600 and 500 guilders respectively as presents on this occasion. Van den Broecke stayed at their sarai. the girl child of the well known Armenian Yadgar. journaal: 265. . De V. Van den Broecke was the godfather and Angela. 1627: Kroniek en Remonstrantie. 2 vols. H. too.106 When in 1621-22 the Dutch Company was facing a shortage of capital. 123. along with the English and other Christians of Surat. 331. van Santen (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. together with other Europeans. 1. Van den Broecke was witness to the event. formed part of one Christian society. was the godmother. A.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. the wife of Yadgar.105 The merchant Anthoni Claesz. 101 100 . 105 Ibid. vol.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.101 On Christmas Day in 1621 the slave girl of Sebalt Wonderaar. an assistant in the Dutch lodge. van Santen. This time. 102 Pieter van den Broecke in Azië. ed. The junior merchant Paulus Stigel van Neurenberg married the daughter of Khoja Rafael. W. 104 Ibid. the lodge of the Dutch at Surat was initially set up in the house of Mariam Gomez. Van den Broecke.108 Della Valle. who looked upon the girls as his own daughters. 78. was present at the wedding party Ibid. W. vol. the Company chief in Persia.102 On his trip to Ahmedabad. 1: 120. ed. 28. was not performing his duty and was giving preference to his own interests above those of the Company. 108 Pieter van den Broecke . Ph. vol. 124..
’112 What was the situation like in European settlements like Madras and Calcutta? As per the agreement signed between Khoja Panous Kalantar. 124. Though the agreement was not put into effect due to the opposition of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. 112 N. 507. 140. 1: 120. ff. Dag Register. the daughter of an Armenian merchant from Ahmedabad.300 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA of the assistant Willem Jacobsz. ‘Christians are obliged. 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. for a description of Surat in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Perzien en Arabien ook eenighe noodwendighe procedures welke in die quartieren dienen gehouden te worden tot preservatie.505v. inv. VOC 1549. 111 De Geschriften: 17-25. 1979. A. addresserende. documents 116. and Mariam.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. 136. ch. a temporary The travels of Della Valle vol. Armenians were to trade and settle at all English ports on the same terms as English freemen. en affbreuke des algemeijnen vijants. Surat.’ Piri pointed out to the director of the Dutch lodge. 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. have inspired Kolff and Van Santen to reﬂect on the homogenous nature of the pluriform Christian ‘nation’ at Surat.109 A critical insight into the situation in Gujarat. 148. f. as all trees whether bearing fruit or not deserve dewdrops from the heaven. I am grateful to Ms. Natalia Tojo for drawing my attention to this document. an eminent merchant of Isfahan and the East India Company in London in 1688. 110 109 . 1700-1750. 1. Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. 146. 184. 123. c.119-125. and possess all rights enjoyed by British subjects. ‘to stand by and protect each other if need be. als mede tot restauratie van de gelden schade in Mocha. 9. see Ashin Das Gupta. 113 See Armenian Merchants e. 122. no. 117. Aga Piri appealed to the chiefs of all the European Companies in the name of Christianity. pr consequent tot merkelijke voordeel van honorable Comp.113 Whenever there were forty Armenians resident in a town under the jurisdiction of the Company.110 The Dutch-Armenian marriages. N. A. 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. ‘Corte Remonstrantie van de gelegentheijd van Guseratte. versekeringe ende ook verbeteringhe der comptoiren en negotien van Guseratte ende Persia. Wiesbaden. the attitude of Van den Broecke towards these marriages and the relationship between the English director Thomas Rastel and his Portuguese ﬁancée. Collectie Sweers.g.
3 January. (London: Murray. they were in a position to procure goods at a cheaper rate. the Company allowing £50 a year for seven years for the maintenance of a priest.1: 543. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel’. 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. no. ship owning merchants often avoided their settlements. 1693/94. which will in a few years aggrandize our revenue. 1500-1800 301 church was to be built for their use. the Company was sure it would proﬁt from the freight. v. and to whom we pay no wages being as good a security to our garrison and trade as hired English soldiers .ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. . . 131. Because the Dutch Company was a direct participant in the intra-Asian trade. Armenians were allowed to freight the Company’s Europe-bound ships with commodities like shellac. 115 Armenian Merchants. Since the English left the port to port trade in Asia to private enterprise already in the late 1660s. 120. Company in London to Fort St.117 Moreover.119 The regulations of the European Companies prohibiting trade with rival establishments could be avoided through a network based on kinship. and ground granted them for the erection of a permanent place of worship. 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. As India goods were very much in demand. Vestiges of old Madras: 1640-1800: traced from the East India Company’s Records preserved at Fort St. Love. the growth of the European settlements provided the Asian merchants with alternate bases of operation. pig-iron and wax. Bhattacharya. 118 Ibid. and passim. 141. 4 vols. 127. e. 163. George. 119 B.115 Experienced Armenians like Aga Piri were entrusted with training freshly arrived factors of the Company in language and the method of trading. the English East India Company was recommending that its employees attract Armenians to the English settlements and encourage their trade in every possible way.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. 117. 1913). they would populate the settlements: It is undoubtedly our interest to make our garrisoned ports in India marts for nations. stick lac.116 As the Armenians were familiar with the centres of production and market places in India. documents 121. 142. 117 Ibid. crowded the English settlements. documents 116. many private Asian merchants serving the Europeans in numerous ways. As they wanted to 114 H. document 156. 116 Ibid. 124.g. George and the India Ofﬁce and from other sources.114 In the 1680s and 1690s. . D.
George. too. 124 RFSG. 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. 2: 147. Manila.125 By 1711 Armenians had become ‘numerous and opulent’ in Madras. 121 120 .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. As there were some proceedings against him in the nawab’s (Shuja Khan) darbar in Murshidabad.123 In 1696. 122 Ibid. vol. while more were expected. the council noted that though there were a few Armenians constantly residing at Madras. Despatches to England. document 139. For merchants trying to escape the wrath of indigenous elites. ibid. The East India Company and the Economy of Bengal (from 1704 to 1740). The case was later settled by Nazar’s vakil at the darbar. 126 RFSG. 55-60. Indian merchants could use the Companies against one another. 17 April. many of them were annually sailing to Bengal. Madras and Calcutta in the eighteenth cen- Ibid. A case in point was that of the Armenian merchant Khwaja Nazar. also made it sure that he did not fall in the hands of the nawab’s people. quoted in S. Elihu Yale noted that recently ‘a few more’ Armenians had come to settle in Fort St. Bengal Public Consultations. 123 Armenian Merchants. the European settlements were a place of refuge. but the nawab demanded Rs. 59. 1: 1694-96. George. Nazareth after him) in Calcutta in 1724. (Calcutta: Graphic Art Press. Bhattacharyya presents other cases as well. vol. 125 Armenian Merchants.000.302 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA attract local shipping magnates to their ports. while stopping him from sailing for Europe. 50.121 The English were willing to pay as much as Rs. and/or trading with the king’s camp.122 In 1691. 20. Aceh. Despatches to England. Zulﬁqar Khan’s camp and Golconda and thus by the bulk of their trade contributed greatly to the revenues of Fort St. Khoja Nazar built the Armenian Apostolic Church (called St.120 Armenians followed the same pattern.000 to make up the case. 35. Persia and other places. 1733. Bhattacharyya. document 239. the English in Calcutta. In analysing the relationship between the nawab and the English. 1969): 55.126 With the growth of the ports of Bombay.
2. M. 1500-1800 303 tury. Vestiges of old Madras. 494. Armenians were suspected to have assisted the French when the latter attacked Fort St. Chinsura and Dacca. nine in Calcutta and one each in Serampore. the Armenian merchant prince of Bengal.129 The legendary merchant Khoja Petrus Woscan. A. Most of the promises made by the English were geared to securing their own trade and revenue. Khoja Petrus Aratoon. The survey seems to have included only very wealthy Armenian residents owning extensive landed property. Khoja Sultan David. who constructed the Marmalong bridge and the ﬁfty-six stone staircases leading to the mount of San Thome. George in The church at Saidabad was built in 1758.W. George were many good buildings belonging to Armenian and rich Indian merchants. Nadjarian. 400 fn. Arathoon (Calcutta. 131 The ‘last will of Petrus Uscan’. Hugli. He expressed the wish that Armenian merchants coming to Madras for trade should feel obliged to stay in those buildings. Ghulam Husain Khan Seir ul Mutakherin vol.132 However. vol. 130 Robert Orme. though many of them were settled at places like Surat. The income from the rent would be invested in the welfare of the town of New Julfa and the Armenians there. the number of permanent residents of a place could have been small. as we have noted above that there was a constant ﬂow of Armenians in and out of the town.131 The church also offered lodging to travelling Armenians. 1958): 9. vol. provided housing to the lesser members in the diaspora. 2623. George wanted to levy a land tax for the construction of a town wall in 1718. 405. European. hence many women. Saidabad.127 When the council of Fort St. D. Love. 128 127 . Military Transactions.128 The number is misleading. Orme noted that north of the White Town in Fort St. the course of events in the eighteenth century had changed the situation in Madras. The eminent Armenian. Patna and Dhaka.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 132 H. yet the three major Armenian churches that were built in India in the course of the eighteenth century were at the three principal English settlements along the coast. the eminent merchant of Bengal and brother of Khoja Gregory owned twelve houses. had a harem with 125 women. H. dealing in real estate.130 It is possible that such wealthy merchants. Ghulam Husain noted that Khoja Wajid. ibid. O. especially English settlements became the major habitat of the Armenian community in India. Their house in Charles Street was rented by the Company for ‘public purposes’. The information may not be entirely correct. Life story of Mr. albeit against the payment of rent. owned at least forty-two houses in Madras. 1: 65. As many Armenians travelled frequently to distant places organizing the business. M. the Armenians pleaded exemption from payment on the ground that they were only six in number. but it is possible that many relatives and other families were housed in the same building. 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. Only Khoja Petrus Woscan was allowed to continue at his Choultry Gate Street redidence. owned landed property in Madras. 426. 2: 162. Calcutta High Court.
140 Records of Fort St. See H. and by 1750 the English Company ordered the council of Fort St. 137 Ibid. manifested in the fort and the fence. resulting in the development of new areas. with its accommodational function.304 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA 1746. 467. Love. were to sell it to European Protestants. 1973): 161. Calcutta in Urban History (Calcutta: Firma KLM.136 The Black Town gradually drove wedges into the White Town. List of marriages registered in the Presidency of Fort St. it is interesting to note that in all the cases that have come down to us.’ Armenians were to be allowed to inhabit the Black Town. T. Sinha. D. George. The chapel and other buildings built by Petrus Woscan at Vepery were transferred to the Danish missionaries. One well-known marriage in Surat in the late eighteenth century was that between Hripsimah. as ‘very useful people. Dodwell ed.140 H. 1978): 7-8. the Park Mansions—to name only a few— bear testimony to the zeal of the Armenian pioneers of the real estate business in Calcutta. M. the urban area began to grow and spread and the component elements began to interpenetrate. George to direct the Armenians to leave the White Town. As far as Armenian-European marriage is concerned. the fence gradually fell down. The Grand Hotel. also suffered from the phenomenon of dualism reﬂected in the Europeans’ concern for defence and security. Greeks and Armenians were settled from the pre-colonial times. 426. or the ‘Grey Town’ where the Portuguese. especially the Armenians. especially into the intermediate zone. where no Armenian was to live in future. Nair. vol. 134 133 ..135 In the colonial period. the Nizam Palace.133 Those who possessed landed property in the White Town. became an embellishment. 135 P. 2: 403-404. 138 J. Ed.139 The formation of bigger Armenian settlements around the church did not reduce social contact between Armenians and western Europeans. 1916). The fort. 136 Ibid. George registered only 9 marriages between Armenian and western European individuals between 1680-1800. Ibid. Selections from Unpublished Records of Government: for the years 1748 to 1767 inclusive. Long. However.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. Saha (Calcutta: Mukhopadhyay.134 Calcutta. Relating mainly to the Social Condition of Bengal with a map of Calcutta in 1784. Vestiges of old Madras. 139 I owe this information to P. the second city in the British colonial empire. as ‘no bad consequences from their residence’ were apprehended.138 Many of the magniﬁcent buildings in the White Town of Calcutta were built by the Armenians. the brides were Armenian and the bridegrooms European. 1680-1800 (Madras: Madras Government Press.
also see documents 5. J. no. In the ﬁnal analysis. Isfahan: 203-6. it should be pointed out that the potential of conﬂict was very much present as the Europeans in the Indian Ocean. Herzig. while wooing the Armenians. See M. 2nd series. See note 2 above. . On the other hand. Seth. As the daughter of the wealthy Armenian merchant Eleazer Woskan. The next section will focus on the interaction of Armenians and Europeans in the ﬁeld of commerce in India.142 Ferrier noted the importance of the Armenians and other local merchants as suppliers of credit to the European Companies in Persia. 141 See Armenian Merchants.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 23. so far as the intra-Asian trade was concerned. and Robert Henry Leembruggen of the Dutch East India Company. COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH EUROPEANS: COMPETITION OR CO-OPERATION? Considering the relationship between Armenians and Europeans. 144 E. until at least the middle of the eighteenth century Armenians provided a major source of strength for the European presence in India. Armenians were suspicious of the Europeans and often openly hostile towards them. not the other way round.141 A more important element. Hripsimah was ﬁrst married to an old Armenian called Stephen Agabob.’144 Baghdiantz Mccabe’s position is that it was the Companies that solicited co-operation of the Armenians. 143 See his ‘The Armenians and the East India Company in Persia in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries’. Armenians in India: 263-66.143 Herzig. has maintained that Armenian merchants’ relationship with their European counterparts was ambivalent. 1500-1800 305 Whether in the traditional port towns like Surat. in his study of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. M. 245 for the Company’s arguments in connection with the trade in Persia. On the one hand. or in the ‘White. they co-operated with the European Companies. 212. Following the death of the latter she was remarried to Leembruggen. . ‘Julfa Armenians were more willing to have ﬁnancial dealing with foreigners than to enter into trading partnership with them. 107 and passim in Armenian Merchants .’ or ‘Black’ town of the European settlements. The English Company explicitly mentioned how by catering to their trade. 79. . was the private trade of the Europeans.’ ‘Grey. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. Armenians themselves would also proﬁt. 142 The tension of the Europeans could be noted in their account of Armenians. were at the same time aiming at the commerce which had so far been the mainstay of the livelihood of many Armenians. The Economic History Review. 26 (1973): 38-62. 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.
and consequently.145 Bekius has shown. The trade that was carried on here was small-scale and in luxury goods. 149 Ibid. transporting them to the port of embarkation. 151 J. that Armenians both competed and co-operated with Europeans.148 Marriage relationships often went hand in hand with business interests. and not the other way round. Shah’s silk: 327-47. agricultural surplus was extracted by the state. In his study of Indonesian trade and society. Armenians did not have to enter into any trading partnership with them. on the other hand.’ 147 Armenian Merchants enumerates 114 cases where Armenians served the English East India Company in different capacities between 1617 and 1708/09. as we have seen. in their opinion. R.151 Steensgaard. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade. 3: 141. by merchants whom he termed peddlers. C. 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.306 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the trade carried on by the European Companies was no match for that of the Armenians.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. was. 1955): 133. That so many servants of the Dutch East India Company—much more than their English counterparts—got married to Armenian women. index 3. Kolff and Van Santen have pointed to the greater relevance of the marriages between Armenians and Europeans in this respect. 148 De Geschriften: 21-22. It is true that Armenians were already established in the trade of the Indian Ocean. East India Companies were no competitors of the Armenians. starting from the procurement of goods at the centres of production. Early Annals of the English in Bengal vol. was a long drawn and extremely intricate process. an attempt to get access to the credit and extensive network of trade of the Armenian merchants.149 This however. Baghdiantz Mccabe. 150 It was part of the policy of the English East India Company to employ small vessels owned by Armenians for coasting trade. 283-84. Many of them possessed their own shipping. Armenians intermarried with western Europeans and ﬂocked to the European towns. the ‘market’ where the goods were disposed at a reasonable proﬁt.146 In India.150 Yet. Van Leur noted that in the primarily agricultural societies of Asia. getting them ready for shipping. Bekius. does not imply that it was only the Europeans who needed Armenians. Van Leur. and reaching the ultimate destination. who studied the I. Indonesian Trade and Society: Essays in Asian social and economic history (The Hague: Van Hoeve. Van Leur’s thesis has been criticised by many 146 145 .
48. 1640-1700 (Leiden: Centre for Non-Western Studies. . As markets were non-transparent and information incomplete. M. introduction. 1796 had a credit of little over Rs. It is possible that he started as an agent of Khoja Petrus Aratoon who was paid Rs. The Asian Trade Revolution: 22-31.153 Not only was overland transport slow. no. K. supply in the peddlers’ market was limited and could not be adjusted to the ﬂuctuation in demand. prices ﬂuctuated making trading operation extremely insecure.512. g. and when supply and demand were unpredictable. While many of the Armenian merchants trading on behalf of a principal were peddlers. Calcutta High Court. Bayly. P. A. including the customs duties. The Imperial Impact: Studies in the Economic History of India and Africa (London: Athlone Press for the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. A. To this was added the hazards in the transportation of the commodities from the centres of production to the ports of shipment. ‘Portfolio capitalists and political economy in early modern India’. Merchants. 1550-1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hence the payment of protection cost to the local rulers of all the territories through which the caravans passed. Subrahmanyam and C. 2 to Rs. Subrahmanyam. Subrahmanyam ed.. Barendse. 1. 157 C.. 1962). 1500-1800 307 caravan trade of the Middle East. ‘Indian merchants in a Traditional setting: Varanasi 1780-1830’. N. Bayly. also S. Meilink Roelofsz. 1998). While all this pushed up the cost of transport. 152 N. Dewey and A. in C. Asian Trade and European Inﬂuence in the Indonesian Archipelago between 1500 and about 1630 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. c.156 Khoja Petrus. Chris Bayly noted that when operating in a market that was intransparent. Khoja Minas.154 Analysing the modus operandi of the merchants in early modern India. 327-36. upheld Van Leur’s characterization of Asian trade by characterizing Asian merchants as peddlers and the markets as peddlers’ markets. See e.155 merchants like Zachary Avetik.g. 1770-1870: 242-65. A. 138-39. 155 See e. also S. 1978): 186. G. The Political Economy of Commerce in Southern India.152 Due to limited production. it was exposed to the dangers of the road. 1660-1670 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 4926. 1993): 299-300. 1978). Steensgaard. and many others like them seem to have been like those merchants termed by Bayly as ‘port-folio capitalists. 153 The cost of transporting cloth from Agra to Surat. Markets and Trade in Early Modern India. The Arabian Seas. 200 toward the discharge of a bond. The merchant Abraham Isaac who passed away in Calcutta on August 18.W. The cost of the other transactions made by Isaac varied from Rs. See his Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. 135. The Trading World of Asia and the East India Company. A. 156 See below. See R. could amount to 40 per cent of the cost price. delay in reaching the port might mean missing a sailing season.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. a reason that inspired Ashin Das Gupta to characterise that merchant prince as peddler. Chaudhuri. J. 136-37. a merchant often divided his investments among various partners and pursuits with a view to spreading the risk and sharing the proﬁt. Khoja Catchick Khojamal.’157 In historians. in S. Hopkins ed. O. 154 Even a very wealthy merchant like Abdul Ghafur of Surat at the beginning of the eighteenth century was also not free from such insecurity.
Long before the agreement of 1688. . During 1693-94. The actual carrying out of the trade. encouraged the procedure as some empty space in the Asia-bound ship was utilised in this way. 161 RFSG. Armenians were using Danish company ships for their Europe trade.000 pieces of chadar Dariabadi under the cover of Aga Piri. 68. Their agents carried piece goods from Bengal and Coromandel to Europe and took back Dutch and English broad cloth to Tranquebar. however. Despatches to England. 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 . traces of such co-operation are to be found in the archives of the European companies. 11 (1661-1664): 328. The Dolphin.161 The Companies.158 This being said. acting as agents or suppliers.160 In the eighteenth century. 11 December 1694 (copy) VOC 1548. Armenians freighted Asia-bound ships of the English Company. Khoja Baba Sultan. 3 (1711-14): 18.000 pounds of indigo and 30. 71 for similar evidence. . which left London on April 29. This trade was organized by Armenians in Holland. It is possible that Khoja Zachary. the Dutch director at Surat. was one of the Madras Armenians involved in this trade. and the Armenians had to pay freight charges. documents 62. it should be added that Armenian merchants appear to have acted in different capacities and were dexterous at keeping the accounts separate. . . was part of a broader framework and it is here that the Armenian merchants cooperated with Europeans in numerous other accounts by lending money. But it also ensured direct shipping of goods and persons and was less hazardous than the route via the Levant and then Middle East. XXXII-XXXIII. 8 (1646-1650): 86 and vol. and providing cover when necessary. of course. f. bought 200. and two Armenians of Madras. 160 See English Factories in India.656.A. also Armenian Merchants . the correspondent of Aga Piri Kalantar of Madras in London. Armenians. De Keijser and the Council at Surat to the Directors. 67. vol. 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. sailing as nakhuda on board European ships. carried Armenians. following a ban on the trade of the Europeans. 65. . mentioned above. De Keijser..308 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA spite of all the elements of tension and conﬂict involved. freighting their ships. co-operated with Europeans because the presence of the latter provided Asian merchants with further opportunities of spreading the risks. Though wills and testaments do not throw much light on this aspect—except when an unrecovered due was involved—. 1646 and reached Swally in November of the same year. 159 N.159 Such cover was indispensable so far as trade to Manila was concerned. vol. like many other groups of Asian merchants.
(1698-1713): 271.166 Minas had purchased two ships from the English who again rented the ships and sent them to Persia.162 Especially in the seventeenth century both the Dutch and English Companies often chartered whole ships to local merchants for voyages to the Persian Gulf. sail to Persia as it hit the shore near Point Palmyras and had to unload the goods at Tranquebar. 2 1701/02—1710/11.000 belonging to Armenian merchants. vol. vol.163 The Armenians.S.170 The French ship Pontchartreijn renamed Queen Louise carried freightgoods worth Rs. R. N. The English Company servants in Bengal stated that Armenians bought textiles 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than them. 164 Armenian Merchants. who owned at least ﬁve ships himself. .1. Compare: ‘. 4 March. 165 R. Generale Missiven.1616-1617. 170 RFSG. It is expected that the Armenians will freight the Little London for Persia’. ‘Bengal merchants and commercial organisation in the second half of the seventeenth century’. September 12 and October 9.. however.167 While soliciting the ‘favour and assistance’ of Khoja Israel Sarhad. (1694-96): 35. 167 N. 1630-1638 (Delhi: Manohar. 90 (1971): 182-216. Surat-Batavia. Barendse.165 The George that left Surat for Gombroon in December 1669. 171 This was in 1704. ibid. in obtaining a good freight of ﬁne piece goods in Bengal for the Sedgewick he was planning to send to Persia in September 1700. Chaudhuri. . 29 August. 1992). 166 English Factories in India. The Sulleiman.1275-87. with their contacts in India. In Basra.A. was hired by the French (in huur bij de Fransen).168 In December 1702 Sarhad offered the English company Rs. was permitted to carry any horse that would be shipped by the agent of Khoja Minas. 169 S.. ed.000 for freighting the Colchester for a voyage to Gombroon and Basra. 300. R. v. W. freighted English company ships. ff. Thomas Pitt referred to his acquaintance with Sarhad and his uncle Khoja Panous Kalantar in London. Bengal Past and Present.G. For Armenian merchants freighting Dutch company ships on the Surat—Bandar Abbas run see R. document 209. and goods and sailed on board the same ship for Surat. 1: 369-71. Early Annals of the English in Bengal. . Despatches to England. 163 162 . 1706: 52-53. ff.164 Khoja Minas. European Merchant Capital and the Indian Economy: a Historical Reconstruction based on Surat Factory Records. Ph. Despatches to England. 168 C. 1268.171 All the three ships that arrived in Armenian Merchants.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 2. Muslim merchants freighted their money. 13 (1668-69): 204. took the responsibility for collecting the piece goods and other commodities and loading them on the company’s ships.A. 1500-1800 309 against pirates and other dangers at sea. VOC 1264. the leading Armenian merchant in Bengal. Dag Register. vol.F. 336. J. 159-60. 38. Maloni. The Arabian Seas .169 The same year the council of Fort St. 6. Wilson. 1685. Coolhaas. belonging to the Armenian Khoja Minas of Surat. The ship could not. Surat. . document 257. George let out the Phoenix to an Armenian for a voyage to Persia via Bengal. VOC 1409. 367-69.
if not more important aspect of Armenian-European relationship was the role of the Armenians as emissaries of especially the English to the Mughals.174 In the wake of troubles in Persia in the early eighteenth century. Juan that left Madras for Manila carried goods freighted by Armenian and Indian merchants.177 Using European bottoms for consigning goods to factors. 4 (1675-1685): 446. It was a relationship of accepting each other for mutual proﬁt. George maintained that such a step would put a stop to the freighting of the Company’s ships that year and drive away all Armenians from their settlements. August 15-18. vol.: 689. Sending emissaries to the head of a state is a practice common since ancient times. the trading companies sent embassies Ibid.000. B. When the Dutch East India Company decided to close their factory at Pegu.175 The other routes where Armenian and European interests were intertwined were the routes to Southeast Asia.: University of Minnesota Press. Manila and China. ARMENIANS AS EMISSARIES Equally.310 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Tranquebar from Denmark in 1709 were to be freighted by the Armenians to Persia. mostly a relative or a member of the community settled at ports like Mergui. including Armenians. H. Despatches to England. 1976): 285. vol. 6: 106. 173 172 .30. The Council of Fort St. Korea. Armenian merchants taking passage on board European ships in Asia was common. silver and opium: Foreign shipping and trading activities at Batavia. the agent of the English at that place proposed that the subjects of the king of Persia and their effects at Fort St. in 1737 Armenian merchants of Madras freighted the Galatea. Despatches to England. Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient.173 Similarly.176 Researches of G. 3: 56.178 Throughout the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries Armenians assisted Europeans in their investment in India. 16841792. 174 English Factories in India. under Captain Mylne to Kung and Bushire. At least till the middle of the eighteenth century European merchants needed Asian merchants. 1600-1800 (Minneapolis. vol.’ unpublished paper presented to the 11th Annual Conference of the World History Association. 3: 56. 178 In 1712 the St. 2002. one Portuguese and one Armenian were entrusted with the task of collecting the outstanding debts of the Company amounting to more than f. Minn. In the early modern period. Furber. 177 ‘Cinnamon. RFSG. 175 RFSG. Pegu and Manila seems to have been common. vol.172 Again. George be seized. 176 Generale Missiven. Souza have pointed to the involvement of Armenians in the commerce carried on by the Portuguese of Macao to Manila and India. Seoul.
184 Ibid.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Subrahmanyam. to head the delegation. (1699-1702) (Calcutta: Firma KLM. . Govindpur and Calcutta in Bengal in 1698 for the sum of Rs. When the king of Ethiopia sent an embassy to the Mughal emperor. 1642-1700: documents related to the journeys of Khodja Murad (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut. 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. R. It was this delegation that secured for the English the right to farm the three townships of Sutanuti. the English company approached Khoja Israel Sarhad. interlopers also were able to secure some trading favours for themselves from the same general. A Selection of Ofﬁcial Documents dealing with its History. 1400-1700’. ed. 183 Ibid.183 At the camp. Das.’184 They had promised the young prince three small pieces of brass cannon. 1979). Walsh and Khoja Sarhad went back from the camp having ‘ﬁnished all business to our greatest satisfaction.185 179 S. Van Donzel. 1698 the Sutanuti council noted that Mr. We have noted above that Emperor Akbar had employed an Armenian as his interpreter. who was sent to the camp of Zabardast Khan as the ‘Political Agent’ of the English. Walsh. Wilson. 180 E. 182 C. 1500-1800 311 to heads of various countries for trading privileges.182 In spite of that. he appointed Khoja Murad. on his embassy to Aurangzeb. Foreign Relations of Ethiopia. The Norris Embassy to Aurangzeb. 185 Ibid.181 In the late 1690s. (London. 1906) vol. I am greatful to Dirk Kolff for drawing my attention to this work. the English company wanted to send a delegation to Zabardast Khan. 16. 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. 2 vols. who was accompanied by Mr. the nephew of Khoja Panous.. On September 22.179 Familiarity with Persian offered the Armenians easy access to the Mughal court and made them extremely suitable as emissaries. . an Armenian. 1: 25-27. . Sarhad was able to win the friendship of the young prince Farrukhsiyar. in Prakash and Lombard eds. At this the English decided to send another delegation. Commerce and Culture. Indian Records Series. also headed by Khoja Sarhad.. The embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of Jahangir is a well known case.000. ‘Persianization and Mercantilism: two themes in the Bay of Bengal History. J. 181 H. It was a period when many attributes of Persian culture were visibly adopted by the courts in countries in South and Southeast Asia. 1959): 211-12.180 Sir William Norris. General of the Mughal’s forces who was suppressing the revolt of Sobha Singh in Bengal.. . In order to secure the rights of the company against the activities of the interlopers. Old Fort William in Bengal. 36-38.
1714. John Pratt third in the embassy to Farrukhsiyar. John Surmon was appointed the ﬁrst. Mr. now Emperor at Delhi. who was engaged in sea-borne trade. 7 (1713-1725): 106. and that he sit and vote in the Council along with the three English gentlemen . 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. 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. be sent. the Calcutta council unanimously agreed that Cojah Surhaud. . By his prudent conduct. and what may be useful for us. on June 5. Generale Missiven. 3. vol. Sarhad knew the Emperor personally who would be favourably disposed to him as the latter had presented the Emperor with diverse toys in his youth. Sarhad had been able to procure the grant of Calcutta for the English. Secondly. and acted as vakil or agent of (his cousin) Aga Piri Kalantar of Fort St. Sarhad was to try to conﬁrm all the privileges that the English enjoyed in the Mughal’s dominions to date in a new farman. seems to have been less successful in trade and was indebted to Aga Piri for a considerable sum. . 2: 67. Khoja Sarhad second and Mr. vol. Therefore. whose interest &c. More importantly. 188 The following information on the Surmon Embassy (including the quotations) is based on Early Annals of the English in Bengal. 187 186 . vol.312 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Khoja Sarhad. and we know no man so qualiﬁed in both these respects as Cojah Surhaud. He was also obliged to try RFSG. and inferior to the Englishmen in the embassy would draw the Emperor’s attention to the Armenian. George. Consequently. 1714 the council noted the reasons for appointing Khoja Sarhad on the mission to the court of the Great Mughal. 2: 157-58. The Dutch referred to him as the ‘notorious Armenian bankrupt’ (berugten Armeensch banquerottier). 187 The next we hear of Khoja Sarhad is in 1713 when the English intended to send a deputation to Farrukhsiyar.000.188 At the meeting held on January 27. It is absolutely necessary that some person who is perfect master of the Persian language and understands our affairs very well.186 This debt was not recovered as late as 1709. The council apprehended that sending Sarhad as vakil. Aga Piri appealed to the English in Bengal to oblige Khoja Sarhad to adjust his accounts. Despatches to England. for the renewal of their privilege of trading free of duties in return for a lump sum payment of Rs. Ibid. the ﬁttest man we can send. He is therefore.
vol. Wilson about Khoja Sarhad: ‘He is said to have been personally known to Prince Farrukhsiyar. 192 W. Compare the following statement made by C. 190 Early Annals. 71. Seth quoted from William Bolts to show that contemporary Englishmen knew the contribution Sarhad made in getting the farman renewed in 1717. 70.5 percent. its ﬂeet and the country trade of the British.190 His attitude during the journey evoked suspicion and irritation among the English. 3. from whom he procured permission to rent the three townships. It was apprehended that Sarhad. William Hamilton. among others. Dr.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 50. K. 50. J. 67. 427. indispensable in all political negotiations of the English in India in the eighteenth century. The council of Fort St. when the embassy left Delhi after the imperial ﬁrman had been obtained. 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. Mr. Edward Stephenson was appointed secretary and accountant to the negotiation with the responsibility to take down the minutes of consultation. Secondly.191 The success of the Surman Embassy was ascribed to the services of Dr. Diary and Consultation Book. The following decades saw the growth of Calcutta. for their negotiation with the governor of Golconda. Sarhad stayed on in Delhi. Also in this case he was not to receive anything if he was not successful. however. 281. 2: 193. George often consulted Aga Piri. C. He afterwards played a conspicuous. would play tricks and enrich himself at the cost of the Company. the son of Prince Azîmush-shân. Firminger. Historical Introduction: 87. But in any case Sarhad was to try to get the customs duty paid by the English at Surat reduced to 2. n. 193 RFSG. . K. cured Farrukhsiyar from a malignant distemper he had been suffering from. 1962): 87. He would not get anything if he failed. vol. George.000.000 would be given to Sarhad if he was successful in all these efforts.192 The service of the Armenians was. 24. the Fort William Council. 214. but not altogether creditable part in the Surman Embassy to Delhi in the years 1715 to 1717’. however. . Early Annals. 191 After the sanad from the diwan at Murshidabad was obtained. R.193 When it was considered necessary to send presents to the nawab of Arcot. Firminger. the company’s surgeon. Khoja Petrus and Hodjee Addy were entrusted 189 M. 1713: 4. 1500-1800 313 to obtain the island of Diu off Masulipatnam for the council of Fort St. Hamilton. W. if not well looked after. .189 Even before the formation of the embassy. R. Old Fort William: 25. 56. 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. Wilson. 2: 154-55. See Armenians in India . A reward of Rs. Sarhad was to obtain for the English the privilege to trade free of customs at Surat for which he would get another Rs. was not unanimous about the inclusion of Khoja Sarhad in it.
1743: 55. Armenians in India: 328-32.195 He was employed again for negotiating with Mir Qasim for deposing Mir Jafar. the ‘evil genius’ of Mir Qasim”. 197 James Long. Selections from Unpublished Records: 421. Circumambulations in South Asian History: essays in honour of Dirk H. Ghosh (Kolkata: K. . Bagchi. Bhattacharya. According to Orme. was a spy of the nawab in Calcutta. Vansittart. Military Transactions. he supplied provisions to the English at Fulta for six months before the arrival of Robert Clive and Admiral Watson from Madras. bankers and foreign trading companies combined to create a rupture that changed the course of the history of India. pointed out that it would be arbitrary to order a merchant of long standing out of the settlement. .314 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA with the task of procuring items suitable for the occasion. 2003): 133-58. C. 1976) henceforth Narrative. But the English never completely trusted Khoja Petrus who. in J. 2: 58. A. 196 H. a brother of Petrus. L. K. and English troops suffer at the hands of his brother. Wajid was ‘the principal merchant of the province’ of Bengal. Petrus was kept as a hostage by Major Adams in his camp lest Ellis. Bengal in 1756-1757.196 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. document 647 and note. the chief of Patna. J. in their eyes. vol. was the commander-in-chief of the army of Mir Qasim.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. Vansittart. ed. was an Armenian merchant-diplomat of Saidabad. It is well known that Plassey witnessed how the vested interests of the ofﬁcials of the court. by A. This was due to the fact that Khoja Gregory.194 Khoja Petrus Aratoon. Prakash eds. Petrus was forbidden to act as vakil to the nawab in future. president of the council of Fort William. for Khoja Petrus. J. passim. popularly known as the Armenian Petrus of Clive. for a recent biography of Khoja Gregory see B. When war broke out between the English and Mir Qasim in 1763. “Between Fact and Fiction: Khoja Gregory alias Gurguin Khan. Banerjee and B. J. S.198 He was settled in Hugli and had transactions with the French and the Dutch through lodges at both Chandernagore and Chinsura. passim. P. M. Gommans and O. a town in the silk producing region near the court at Murshidabad. 198 Robert Orme. A Narrative of the Transactions in Bengal 1760-1764. 195 194 . His Ibid. Petrus was never rewarded for his services to the Company. Together with a Jewish friend. Seth. Kolff (Leiden: Brill. M. He was employed as conﬁdential agent by Clive to negotiate with Mir Jafar for overthrowing Siraj-uddaula. Hill. indigenous merchants. The Armenians in India . Seth. C. He appeared on the scene after the siege of Calcutta by Sirajuddaula in 1756.
he was able to secure the salt farm in 1752 and the saltpetre farm in 1753. 166) and Clive’s letter to Khoja Wajid. 93-94. Wajid owned ﬁve ships and had extensive overseas trade with Mocha and Basra. politics and society in early modern India: Bihar: 1733-1820: 72. Chaudhuri. no. vol. through whom he negotiated with the Europeans.199 Through his lodges at Patna and Surat he was engaged in inland trade.’202 It appears from the letters Siraj wrote to Wajid that the nawab conﬁded in the latter. vol. Wajid wanted the nawab to assist the French with his troops and arranged a meeting between Law and the nawab. vol. Dutch. C. Hill. companies and rulers: Bengal in the Eighteenth Century’. During the few years before the battle of Plassey. English and French Companies. C. Collet and Watts described Khoja Wajid as the ‘greatest merchant in Bengal’ having ‘great inﬂuence with the Nabab. 200 199 . 125-6 (no.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar: 187. 201 K. in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. In 1756. He S. 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. Appendix III. C. Hill. 175). Hill.205 For a long time Wajid wanted to counterbalance the English with the French in the nawab’s court. C. were. described him as a ‘conﬁdential agent with the Europeans. 2: 110 (no. vol. 1500-1800 315 step brother Jubbo lived in Chinsura. As the leader of the Asian merchants. Wajid enjoyed the monopoly of saltpetre and salt. v. Merchants. Bengal in 1756-57. 202 S. S. 205 Nawabi troops.203 When the English plundered Hugli during the dispute with Siraj. On behalf of the nawab. in S. Chatterjee.204 As the English attacked Chandernagore. the chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar who kept a watchful eye on the affairs of the court in Murshidabad. 1: 3-5.201 He had large stakes in the salt trade of Bengal and the opium trade of Bihar. Clive did not agree to the proposal and wanted Wajid and the banker ﬁnancier Jagat Seth to settle the dispute. Wajid was in favour of having the dispute settled through the mediation of the French. translation of the ﬁrst part of a memoir by Monsieur Jean Law. 3. 167. he mediated in conﬂicts between Asian and European merchants. XXXI. He represented the French in the nawab’s darbar and Monsieur Law. Bengal in 1756-57. 204 Letter from Khoja Wajid to Clive. Bengal in 1756-57. 2. Bengal in 1756-57.’200 He had close contact with the Jagat Seths and other merchants of Patna. Through his contacts in the nawab’s darbar. 203 S. he maintained diplomatic negotiations with the Danish. ‘Merchants. Hill. however. But as war with the French was imminent. not sent. ibid.
could make use of the increasing European—in addition to Asian—shipping in the Indian Ocean region. One cannot compare the two structures. . Armenians were part of a pre-modern structure of trade operating on the basis of extended family and other kinship networks. Within two years after the battle of Plassey (1757) that yielded the English political power in Bengal. one can only emphasize their differences. Both the structures co-existed with each other. 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. This letter also was handed over to the English by Wajid. In doing so. He again informed the English that Bussy had written the nawab that he would not be able to go to Bengal and that on receiving this news. Shibbabu. Law informed Wajid that he was on his way to Murshidabad. 206 Letter from Clive to Pigot. 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. (no. Mobility and ﬂexibility had always been characteristics of this ethno-religious network. Arriving at Bhagalpur. it has been necessary ﬁrst to understand how the Armenian merchants organized their trade. to Clive who informed Pigot in Madras that he was conspiring with powerful persons including Jagat Seth and Khoja Wajid. and these characteristics reached their height in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 371). private networks of trade maintained by members of the community remained the source of strength of the Armenians. It coincided with the arrival of the European Companies in Asia when Armenians.316 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA sent his chief gumastah. Wajid was imprisoned on the grounds that he was conspiring with the Dutch and the French. Bengal in 1756-57. 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. Whereas the Companies drew their strength from the state that backed them. but the parameters of the two structures were totally different. as neutral Christians. Unlike the modern joint-stock European Companies.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. the nawab had asked Law to leave Patna for Murshidabad. 2: 368-69.
711-21.’207 Writing extensively on the Armenians in India M. as M. 1500-1800 317 The second issue evolved around the relationship between the Armenians and Europeans. v. Pearson ed. When the Mughals. it was in this light. 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. ‘Asia and the West as partners before ‘Empire’ and After’. the 207 H. exempliﬁed in the classic cases of Calicut and Cochin. This paper has tried to show that Armenian support for European endeavour went far beyond the horizons of mere trading activities. B. Journal of Asian Studies. there were places where they received co-operation. Company documents and contemporary travel accounts conﬁrms the position of Seth. N. For further discussion on this issue. Our study of the last wills and testaments of Armenian merchants. Armenians in India. the position of Seth was politically motivated. Seth showed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries how the English owed their position in India to the Armenians. Indeed. and elsewhere in Asia. 1979). Khoja Wajid. In that structure. He called Khoja Sarhad Israeli. in her work on the Armenians in Persia. J. The Age of Partnership: Europeans in Asia before Dominion (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii. Political Economy of Commerce. But Sarhad himself was hardly aware of the future implications of the beneﬁts he was securing for the English.. this was the theme of the collection of essays in B. as pointed out by Siraj-uddaula. 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. 1969 (4). the nawab of Bengal. merchants of foreign origin traded side by side with indigenous merchants. J. Subrahmanyam. Seth noticed. formed part of the existing structure of trade. Kling and M. Furber.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. has dismissed the notion of co-operation between Armenians and Europeans stating that co-operation was exception and not a regular practice. Baghdiantz Mccabe. Khoja Sarhad was the political stepping stone for the English in India. 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. and their representatives in different parts of India. welcomed the presence of Europeans. According to her. . guided by the idea to attract the attention of the Imperial crown to the state of the Armenians in India and elsewhere. as the ‘political stepping stone’ of the English. 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. see S. XXVIII.
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