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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.
(Paris Teheran: Institut Français de recherche en Iran. 2003. 2: 58. 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. 12 The Armenian Trade of New Julfa and its commercial-economic ties with Russia during the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries. shows that Armenians did not have European type companies. Gaastra ed. in Etudes Safavides. 3 vols. 1988 (in Armenian). 21 September. Chaudhuri. also foreigners in Bengal. Not only were the Companies able to extract special privileges from the sovereigns. after all. A selection of public and private papers dealing with the affairs of the British in Bengal during the reign of Siraj-uddaula ed. 1993). N. 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). By S. Why should the Europeans—the English in particular—insist on fortiﬁcations?11 So far. L. it was precisely that nation that started using force systematically against Asian shipping. ‘The Engish East India Company in the 17th and 18th centuries: a pre-modern Multi-national Organization’ in Blussé. 1991. Calmard. Hill.14 Neither K. Thesis. I have communicated with Khachikian who kindly conﬁrmed her position through e-mail. (London.12 In addition. who. 1775-77) vol. the nawab of Bengal and the English in the middle of the eighteenth century. Edmund Herzig (see note below) and Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe refer to her work in detail. in her study on the Julfa Armenians in Russia. 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. the nawab mentioned that the Armenians. one of the main reasons for dispute between Siraj-uddaula. the privileges were backed up by the threat of the use of force. Isfahan: a Study in Pre-Modern Asian Trade. also Robert Orme. 1905) vol. 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 . ed. 11 Bengal in 1756-57. All of the independent territorial bases the Europeans possessed in Asia were fortiﬁed.10 It should be remembered that armed trade was. 29-46. 1500-1800 281 force. the best analysis of the organization and structure of Armenian trade is to be found in the works of Shushanik Khachikian. A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan. Oxford. D. S. Phil.13 Baghdiantz Mccabe herself offers an excellent account of the career of Marcara. In his letters to the Armenian merchant Khoja Wajid. J. C. (London: John Murray.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 13 The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. and F. With notes and an historical introd. (henceforth Military Transactions) 2 vols. Yerevan. This legacy was continued by the East India Companies. Rene Bekius’s research on the textile trade of the Armenians touches upon their trade in Persia. had not built any fort and traded under the protection of the Mughal government. 287-303. 1: 3-5. also ‘The family ﬁrm in the commercial organisation of the Julfa Armenians’. Companies and Trade.
30-31 August. . The Armenians: A People in Exile (London: Allen & Unwin.17 But that notwithstanding. . Ashmolean Museum. V.16 It was a conscious attempt on the part of Shah Abbas. Jews. . though Baghdiantz Mccabe has suggested that there was a company of Armenian merchants in New Julfa directing the Armenian commerce worldwide.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. 2003. 59-71. to settle them in the outskirts of Isfahan. During the following two centuries the Armenians would traverse the Indian Ocean and sail up to the coast of China.282 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Herzig nor Bekius subcribes to the thesis that Julfa Armenians conducted trade as a centrally organized company. 1600-1730 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. for example. 203. . This connection. she has not given any evidence and has drawn on the work of Khachikian who does not claim there was an East India Company type association of the Julfa Armenians.. and were dependent on the favours they received from the Mughals in Delhi and their representatives in the provinces. Persians and Turks among others. organised by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Iran Heritage Foundation. Armenian merchants were not backed by any national monopoly that would empower them to represent Persia in India. often gave them an edge over others in that they had easy access to the Mughal court. 1981): 81. See David Marshall Lang. . 16 On the deportation of the Armenians see E. Matthee. (1990). for the Indian merchant at an Indian port. Shah’s silk.18 Iranian World. 73-74. including knowledge of Persian. Secondly. who was aware of the expertise of the Armenians in trans-continental commerce. the factory and the fort belonging to his nation and use these symbols either as carrot or as stick as the situation would permit. 1999). 1400-1700’. 18 Ina Baghdiantz Mccabe. however. The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver. 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. Most of the Armenians trading in India were from Persia. P. an Armenian merchant was more like himself than the western European who could point to his company. . stop the Armenians from referring to. ‘The deportation of the Armenians in 1604-1605 and Europe’s myth of Shah Abbas 1. M. where they had long been living. 17 R. Baibourtian. pp. and using their connections back in Persia and Europe. In India they traded at the market places and ports side by side with the Indians. Consequently. Herzig. revenue and information.’ Pembroke Papers 1. No one could. 15 Armenians lived in Persia since pre-Christian times. International Trade . Oxford.
has shown that family ﬁrms with extended patriarchal household as the basis of business organization were a major organ of this trade. Shah’s silk . Civilization and Capitalism. the eldest son Mukesh Ambani took over the charge of the business. 1999). 21 Shah’s silk: 245-250. Lombard (Delhi: Manohar. edited with notes and an introd.21 In the seventeenth century. 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. Reynolds. Cf. . ‘The Tata paradox’. 249. vol. often family members. F. 3 vols. Arasaratnam. 1996). O. 1500-1800. M.24 E. the Ahmedabad industrialist Kasturbhai Lalbhai created companies for his nephews. 285-305.23 However. (London: the Hakluyt Society. if the family ﬁrm provided the basics of the business organization. by William Crooke. there seems to have been no European-type chartered joint-stock Armenian company. 249. John Fryer left a description of the trading method of the Armenians: The Armenians being skilled in all the intricacies of trade at home. Herzig. a quarter part of the gain is their own: from such beginnings do they raise sometimes great fortunes for themselves and Masters. whose money they adventure upon. 1986 passim and B.19 Organizing commerce on the basis of family connections has been common in pre-modern societies in Europe and Asia. . (London: Harper & Row. 1672-1681. 2. Braudel. Bhattacharya. 1500-1800 283 So far as Armenian trade in India and the Indian Ocean was concerned. and on return. 190915). 1982): 150. and travelling with these into the remotest kingdoms. Prakash and D. The Wheels of Commerce. the wealthiest men. Delhi. S. A description of this system was also provided by Fryer: they [the Armenians] enter the theatre of commerce by means of some benefactor. being nine years travels. companies and commerce on the Coromandel coast. Baghdiantz Mccabe. . Merchants. ed. 237-248. . 20 19 . ed. in Commerce and culture in the Bay of Bengal.20 Baghdiantz Mccabe herself admits that family was the basic unit and the preferred system of Armenian merchant associations. in Institutions and Economic Change in South Asia. and by being factors of their own kindred’s honesty. 23 After the demise of Dhirubhai Ambani of the Reliance Industries recently. See S. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel in the eighteenth century: a case for continuity’. . Herzig. Braudel noted that the family offered the most natural and sought after solution for commercial networks. 1650-1740.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 22 A New Account of East India and Persia. for example. Trans. ‘The family ﬁrm’ also. Burton Stein and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press.22 This is the organizing principle still followed in many modern Indian industrial ﬁrms. become by their own industry. see Claude Markovits. 24 A New Account of East India. The Tamil Muslim merchants of the Coromandel coast known as Marakkayars organised their trade on the basis of extended kinship.
5. This ledger book has been edited in Armenian recently by L.284 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA This kind of partnership was prevalent among different merchant communities of South Asia in different forms. e-mail.D. Antony’s College. known as Avetik di Petros. ch. 8. Zachary must have been well established in the trade to Europe. For reference to Khoja Avetik Kalantar as brother of Aga Piri see See Vahe Baladouni. The commenda contracts were basically of two types: unilateral. I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for this clariﬁcation. 2000). Khachikian.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. 26 Edmund Herzig. 237. and Avetik. and in few cases. thesis. 28 Shushanik Khachikian suggested that Khoja Avetik. The Global World of Indian Merchants. George amply testify to the existence of the system until the end of the eighteenth century. This volume offers a unique collection of documents on Armenian merchants and their relationship with the English East India Company. referred to as ‘master’ in the will was most probably the father of Zachary de Avetik. a merchant from New Julfa who 25 Claude Markovitz. University of Oxford. 1998) (henceforth Armenian Merchants). 3 offers a detailed account of the different kinds of partnership known among the Armenians and how these worked. nos.25 The most popular type of partnership prevalent among the Armenians of New Julfa was the commenda contract. under which a small group of sahukars and sarrafs controlled ﬁnancial and commercial transactions over a vast area encompassing Khorassan and Turkestan. operating in Amsterdam in the late 1690s. Journal of the Asiatic Society. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. Papazian. September 21. Armenian merchants of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: English East India Company sources. and Margaret Makepeace ed. and bilateral. ‘De’ or ‘di’ in Armenian names are abbreviation of the word ‘vordi’ meaning son. It is also possible that our Avetik was another person. Khoja Zachary di Avetik of Isfahan came to Madras from Amsterdam in 1714. The shah-gumastha partnership existing among the Sindhi merchants of Shikarpur. Khoja Avetik of Isfahan. 3. incorporating features of partnership. In Amsterdam. 175. One of the principal merchants Zachary represented was his father. 182. in this sense. . where the whole capital was provided by the investor (sleeping partner) and active partner or agent invested the labour. employment. St. Ph. and Aga Piri as the son of Khoja Panous. no. Bekius. 1991. means Zachary the son of Avetik. 27 L. 2003. ibid. 153-86. He had three sons: Hovannes. 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. true partnership. Khachikian and H. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa. These were commenda partnership. 146. Isfahan: a study in pre-modern Asian trade. Gregory. was a variant of this system. commission agency and representation.27 Though such detailed accounts are available mostly in Armenian documents. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade’. his wife Azis was in Isfahan.28 At the time Zachary wrote his will. (1966). By the time he came to Madras. he seems to have had transactions with Sarhad. no. ch. Zachary di Avetik. For Avetik di Petros see R. loan. the English records of the Fort St. where a part of the capital invested came from the active partner. ‘The ledger of the Merchant Hovannes Joughayetsi’.
Khoja Zachary and the latter’s master [?Khoja Avetik]. 169. documents 241. he had three other large accounts with Gregory de Agazar. Siraz. 249. The family tree of Khoja Minasean family p. 32 Was he a grandson of Khoja Minas? See Edmund Herzig. no. See RFSG. 30 Armenian Merchants. who was however. 253.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. not known as a ‘khoja’. 241. 33 It is very much likely that this Issa Gully was the same person as the Armenian Issa Coolly/Coollyan at the Mughal court. 231. E-mails to the author. 31 Records of Fort St. his master [in Isfahan] issued two bills of exchange. .33 Since 1714. 2003 and 1 February. He had four other accounts running—two of these were partnership accounts between himself.1599v. 1500-1800 285 traded with Russia and Holland. George (henceforth RFSG). 1719: 177. 451. .31 He represented at least another merchant of Isfahan. Zachary had two more accounts with the prominent Bengal/Madras merchant Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan. Ma[natsa]gan di Aga Piri and Issa Gully di Avateek Shaudullah. sailing to Pegu. Apart from the account together with his master Khoja Avetik. 14 June 1685. nos. The Armenian Merchants. 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.C.34 Zachary seems to have had an agent called Beethan in Gombroon. (ﬁlm 1035) f. 23 September. 141. Armenian Merchants. Khoja Tarkon [?Tarkhan]. Issa Cooly was noted by the Dutch at Surat as a person friendly with the Mughal ofﬁcial Salabat Khan. like Zachary himself. Gombroon. Similarly. Probates. factors of other principal merchants. Copy of Wills. Tamil Nadu Archives. when he visited India.32 In lieu of a factorage bond worth 300 tomands. Madras and Pegu.O. 34 English East India Company sources refer to one Persia de Marketon freighting goods on the company ships. Diary and Consultation Book. another factor of Khoja Avetik. 171 and 1719: 93 and 120. 1409. handed Gregory (son of Zachery) a full discharge for 300 tomands.). V. see Nationaal Archief. . the Hague (henceforth N. etc. dated 10 September. one worth 150 tomands on Zachary di Avetik in India and the other of similar value on [?his son] Khoja Avetik in Europe. his masters [not named] and Avid de Zeany and two other between Macartoon Yanhoopa. who were also. 1736. One of these accounts 29 Shushanik Khachikian informed the author that the Armenian Sarhad trading in Russia had transactions with a Zachar. Magan di Aga Piri was a son of Aga Piri Kalantar of Surat and Madras (see more on him below). henceforth ‘the last will of Zachary’. 1: The Last Will and Testament of Zachary De Avateek. (henceforth TNA). Diary and Consultation Book. Armenian Merchants . Zachary traded on multiple accounts. he had a partnership account with Macartoon Yanhoopa (the second part does not resemble Armenian names). 2004. He was related to Khoja Zachary and replaced him as the Armenian alderman when Zachary left for Pegu.30 He was one of those merchants who travelled between different places in Europe. Isfahan. Zachary does not mention Tarkhan as his master but mentions that the latter.A. among other places. 1718: 56.29 Already in 1697 we ﬁnd Zachary shipping glass-ware and broad cloth on English Company ships. Records of the Mayor’s Court. Dag Register Surat. vol.
38 Zachary had a partnership contract with Ma[natsa]gan. 38 Ibid. the will does not specify the type of partnerships Zachary had with all these different partners. 188-89 and passim)—though indexed together under one name ‘Coja Aveatick Calendar’ p.000 in the name of Zachary and his sons. For a lively discussion on the agreement see M. a city ofﬁcial appointed by central government in Iran. Seth. 74. 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. 39 Aga Piri was active in Surat during the 1690s. 24. refers to two Avetiks—one without (documents 62. 281. Armenian Merchants. ed. Generale Missiven v. Ph.5 1686-97. 52250 lb.79662. 231-44. the English expected Aga Piri or some other member of the family to go to London in order to look after his business. Aga Piri settled in Madras somewhere at the turn of the century. Ferrier. no. All further references to this work are from this edition. 36 35 . In the other account Zachary. together with his sons. Also. 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. See Armenian Merchants. Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day—a work of Original Research (Delhi: Oxford etc. Though the term ‘Calandar’. He was a ‘well known’ Armenian inhabitant of Surat and broker for the Dutch East India Company. ‘The agreement of the EIC with the Armenian Nation’. 146. Armenian Merchants.35 Was Zachary’s father (Avetik) a son of the famous Armenian Khoja Panous Kalantar. 1937). R. alternately ‘Calendar’. 264. of indigo was purchased by De Keyser at Agra through the broker Aga Piri for f. or ‘Callenter’ is treated in European records as surname. J. it referred to kalantar (alderman or mayor). George had Khoja Simon as ‘The last will of Zachary’. 112 for the text of this agreement. 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. When his father was returning from London to Julfa in 1692. W. 1975): 770.. as the latter possessed a ‘factorage’ bond worth Rs. Khoja Sarkies di Agavelly and Khoja Gregory of Fort St. 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. 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. seems to have acted as factor of Khoja Nazar Jacob Jan.37 Moreover. his own interests as well as those of his sons were intertwined in an extremely intricate cris-cross pattern of partnership. 37 Armenian Merchants. Later he became the Armenian Alderman of the Mayor’s Court at Fort St. 77) and one with the title kalantar (documents 153..286 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA was part of Zachary’s account with his masters [not named]. He was part of a wide-ranging network of commercial transactions in which the interests of his principals (including his father). no. George. In another case in 1732. their other factors. no. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. 183. 179. documents 261 and 262 for example. Unfortunately.
George appointed Khoja Aveat their factor at Pegu. when he set out from Isfahan in May 1740. 8-9. The last will and testament of Coja Catchick Cojamaul deceased. 1737.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. The Companies with their modern structure co-existed with this pre-modern structure of trade. The reliance on the ethno-religious community provided the Armenians of New Julfa with a network that spanned at least half the globe.750. 17 November. and the informal networks formed by the representatives of these formal companies in their private capacity were crucial for country trade. in the wills and testaments of Armenian merchants suggests that the organization of Armenian trade was left to individual initiatives. He had another account with his nephew Marcar di Sattoor. 40 RFSG.42 The references we come across to Armenian trade in Persia and India. 41 RFSG. but the basic differences are clear. as deﬁned by Markovits. 42 Calcutta High Court. 1755. Khoja Thaddeus Aga Piri & co. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court 1731-32. Khoja Simon acted as the Pegu agent of other Armenians and sailed as nakhuda on ships sailing between Madras and Pegu. 1500-1800 287 their ‘factor’ in Pegu. 43 There were of course informal connections behind this formal structure of the companies. a merchant ﬁrm of Fort St. Aveat signed a ‘factorage bond’ with the said ﬁrm valid for ﬁve years and set out for Pegu with a sum of Pagodas 2. Khojamal was employed by the famous Khoja Petrus Woskan who advanced him Rs. based on personal networks of extended kinship and the pursuit of similar goals.000. Upon accepting the ‘factorship’. 220 parts together with the principal sum would go to Khoja Nazar while 100 part of the proﬁt would be Khojamal’s.43 Armenian merchants in the Indian Ocean were rather like the multitude of other Asian merchants engaged in networks of private trade. however. received from Khoja Nazar di Abid Aga the sum of 320 tomands on the condition that out of the proﬁt made. whose structure.000. ‘Principal sum’ advanced by the Aga Piri brothers to be employed in their interest.40 Again. Khojamal particularly mentioned in his testament that the two accounts were entirely separate and should not be mixed up. and here the proﬁt was to be equally divided between the two partners. far from the formal superstructure represented by the East India Companies. This was. 75. Partnership among these individuals in different capacities was indeed a salient feature of this trade. During his stay in Pegu. Khoja Cachick Khojamal. Old Will no.41 In a distinct case of commenda partnership. On his arrival at Madras in September 1740. Brothers. At Pegu he worked together with one Petrus. Pleadings in the Mayor’s Court. The network of the Armenian merchants indeed reﬂected a structure. 224. 18. size and scale made the nature of commercial operations impersonal. Aveat received several consignments from the Aga Piri brothers amounting to more than Pagodas 17. .
144. who got the order issued. in some or other way related to the community. George had been directed to satisfy the merchants’ demands on the New Company as far as these were just. When the separate stock ship Windsor arrived in Madras in 1713.44 Almost any ship sailing between two ports in Asia. Bombay. goods. nos. no. See Armenian Merchants. 1712. that the council of Fort St. the consignment—no matter if it contained an important message related to business or family. Through a multitude of partners and agents.46 From the seventeenth century onwards centres in India—Surat. 262. Khoja Petrus Woscan left New Julfa at for Madras in 1705 when he was about twenty-ﬁve years of age. Khoja Babur di Sultan seems to have functioned as the London agent of other Armenians too. 133. Madras and Calcutta in particular—seem to have come up as places where Armenian capital was concentrated. there was no possibility of disclosure of a confendential information. or both. 2. credit. It is not known exactly when he Claude Markovitz. The merchants of Masulipatnam must have sought assistance of Armenians in soliciting the Company’s favour in London. information and human resources. Wealthy Armenian merchants of such ports had agents at places like Pegu. But to their dismay. In 1711 the governor and council of Fort St. by order of the Court of Directors. George Council to discharge that debt fully. or leaving an Asian port for a destination in Europe could be used for sending agents. The Global World of Indian Merchants. then residing in Madras. One is struck by the continuous circulation of even the leading members of the community. Despatches to England. or consignments. We have noted the case of Zachary above. 261. a couple of bills of exchange or promissory notes. a copy of a contract. Initially the council did not take notice of this rumour. after the arrival of the ship King William. 46 S. rumour had it that the Armenians had received advice that the directors of the Company had ordered the Fort St. produced an original letter to Khoja Babur di Sultan [Piri’s agent in London] dated January 29. George wanted to buy up the new company’s debt to Masulipatnam merchants amounting to Pagodas 80. As the Julfa dialect (Armenian.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. and Manila. 45 44 . 25. In addition to caravans. or even the kin of acquaintances working at different levels. Hill. 1711-14. RFSG.000. C. Aga Piri Kalantar.288 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA facilitating a continuous circulation of capital. The letter acquainted him.3. vol. or representatives of agents. Bengal in 1756-57. It must have been Aga Piri who referred the case to Babur. v. a parcel containing cash or a few precious stones. pattamars or messengers were used for sending messages overland. with many Persian loan words) was the medium of all commercial transactions. a few bales of cloth— was bound to reach the destination.
Even before the rise of Islam that led to the expansion of commerce along the Indian Ocean littoral. 1500-1800 289 sailed for Manila where he spent about twenty years. willing to take up almost any role that suited the occasion. Prior to the seventeenth century. since very ancient times. Babur. He never went back to New Julfa. 49 S. the last will of Petrus Uscan). 1970): 202. probates etc. See my work on the Armenian merchants of Madras (under preparation). that had been mortgaged to others. Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint. and Mughal India provided a broadly similar commercial and liguistic environment. 1994).212-311: the last will and testament of Coja Petrus Uscan (henceforth. tr. . Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade. vol. Though the overseas transactions of his network stretching from Constantinople to Manila were made mostly through his agents and their partners. It is clear from his testament that the beginnings of his fortunes were made in Manila. Syrian Christians and Persians had traded and settled at Indian ports. no doubt in connection with their business. Arabs. both overland and overseas trade connected India with the world outside. Safavid Iran. Armenians coming to India seem to have used the overland route to a greater extent than the overseas route. The ﬂexible and unassuming character of the members of their network. Mangalore. the founder of the Mughal empire already noted the importance of Kabul and Kandahar in the overland route to India. Pulicat. he would take care of the commercial transactions of his compatriots in Pegu.48 At least since the close of the sixteenth century onwards. Copies of wills. ARMENIANS AND THE MILIEU OF THE INDIAN TRADING WORLD As noted above. F. While ports like Cambay. offered Armenians the potential to exploit the existing and newly opened channels of commerce and communication to the maximum. but recovered his ancestral property in that town.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. he travelled frequently between Madras. with Persian as the most widely used language for administrative and cultural purposes.49 In the 47 TNA. 5. 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. ff. in addition and to the overland route. 1600-1750 (First Indian edition. While someone else from his family or community would take over the absentee’s duties. Calicut. 48 Babur-Nama: (Memoirs of Babur). Uzbek Turan. Records of the Mayor’s Court. Cochin and Quilon housed merchants of international communities. He came back to Coromandel in 1722 when he settled down permanently at Madras. 7-13. the Arabian Seas especially provided the major thoroughfare in transcontinental commerce. Dale. from the original Turkish text by Annette Susannah Beveridge (rep.47 Armenian aldermen of Madras often left for Pegu.
53 But considering the distance and the nature of the overland or caravan trade. Levi. ‘Two Armenian grafﬁties from Ziârat. 1994): 219-255. Armenian. tr. 2002). 2 vols. 2 vols. Subrahmanyam (Delhi: Oxford University Press. Revue Etude Armeninnes (1988-89). could easily take as long as six months. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 53 S. H. with its commercial production. with introduction and notes by C. Akbar and the Jesuits. According to M. Seth. which usually took two months. and other merchants followed this caravan route to different market and production centres in north and northwest India. S. 51 Jean Deloche. J. 52 B. From the French by James Walker.54 Moreover. du Jarric. Transport and Communications in India prior to Steam Locomotion. 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. Persian. The Arabian Seas. tr. 11001700. as many of these itinerant traders traded in multiple (relatively small) accounts.. The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade. testifying to relatively stable urban setting. 1984-85). 384. connected through road and river routes. Lahore was a principal commercial centre of India. 471-75. Pakistan’. See R. J. R. a journey from Goa to Lahore via Daman and Cambay (up to Cambay by ship).290 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA same way as Indian Sindhi ﬁrms and Hindu merchants operating in this route spread to Kandahar. Khojamall’s account is not reliable.1. P. ed. . that in the pre-Mughal period. Russell. 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. 158. Neill’s information here is based on the account left by the eighteenth century Armenian merchant-cum-historian Thomas Khojamall. 1993-94. D. Barendse. Multan. it would take a few years to accumulate some proﬁt from all the accounts. Delhi.52 In the early seventeenth century. See his ‘Armenians in India’ especially 15-21.51 Indian rural economy. v. 54 A journey from Surat to Agra took 86 days. Turkish. Grover. It has been suggested. 34. vol. and Sind on the west to Assam and Bengal in the east. ‘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. 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. for Armenians taking this route see J. Isfahan and beyond.50 Except for short segments. 1926): 52-59. XVI. A History of Christianity in India. 1: The Beginnings to A. 1707. the major route from Kabul to Agra underwent few modiﬁcations since the close of the sixteenth century. Markovitz. attracting commodities from far and near brought by merchants of all the nationalities mentioned above. Bukhara. An account of the Jesuit Missions to the Court of Akbar. however. The Global World of Indian Merchants and Scott C. Neill. Payne (London: Routledge & Sons. 1550-1900 (Leiden: Brill.
and to make enough proﬁt to settle the accounts with the master.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. that Diogo Fernandes and Bastião Fernandes made the pilgrimage to the house of the Apostle St. . v. 1932): 271 and S. went back.D. vol. and Turks.58 Pires accompanied both the ﬁrst and the third Jesuit missions to the Mughal court as interpreter. sailing from Cambay as part of the four Gujarati ships annually leaving that port for Melaka where many of them stayed back. It was at the invitation of Coja Escandel (?Iskandar). Portuguese merchants coming from Melaka stayed with Armenian Christians. The Suma Oriental. During the intermittent period the trader had to live at different places along the route. 55 Tome Pires. no one can succeed but these bishops. made new acquaintances and renewed the old ones. an Armenian Christian. Maclagan. among other Armenians. 39.59 Though it is not clear if Akbar met the parents of Mirza Zu’lqarnain.55 In the course of the sixteenth century. because with the people of this country.2:268-69. (London: the Hakluyt Society. 1500-1800 291 (partner)s as well as his own capital. A History of Christianity in India: from Early Times to St. 1964): 226. Moraes. Moraes was not sure if these Christians were Armenians or Syrians. Portuguese missionaries in the early sixteenth century noted that in matters of faith. vol. the ones lucky enough to survive the odds of the weather and the roads. Thomas in Coromandel gave hearing to none except their bishops. At the beginning of the sixteenth century we ﬁnd Armenians. Armenians were elsewhere in India and also engaged in the overseas trade to Southeast Asia. Thomas at St. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne. 1:46. carried goods from one place to another for sale and noted the demand for new ones. A History of Christianity in India . It is true that early Portuguese sources referred to all Eastern Christians as Armenians. Armenians were to be found at different places in India and at least a few Armenian settlements seem to have been there.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 41. S. 52-1542 (Bombay: Manaktalas. together with Arabs. Parsees. M. Maclagan. Neill. . 2 vols. but it is possible that the Christian priests the Portuguese came across in Coromandel were Syrians. 1944). 1984): 407. 59 E. 58 M. In the end. 1: From the Beginning up to the middle of the Sixteenth century (up to 1542) (Bangalore: Theological Publications in India. Mathias Mundadan. A. J. Seth suggested that this Portuguese name was perhaps assumed by the person for strategic purposes. who come from Armenia. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 24. 1: 170. 196. 56 G. vol. History of Christianity in India. the Christians of St. 57 A. A History of Christianity: 466 fn. . Francis Xavier.56 At Pulicat. See E. Thome in 1517. Neill.
who had a close contact with Armenians. He suggested that the stone was probably brought to Calcutta from somewhere else at a later date. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271. 61 60 .63 The mission of the lay brother Benedict Goes to China sent by Fr.g. As regards the possibility of a large Armenian colony in Calcutta by 1630. they were based mainly at Chinsura. 4. however.61 Though we have such accounts of Armenians in different parts of the country in the sixteenth century. 1895-1919). vol. H. see below. Wilson already dismissed it on the ground that the tombstone in question was an isolated instance. who remained with Goes till the end. do not mention any Armenian church in Agra. the rest of the tombstones of Armenians at Agra dated back to 1611. xvii point to the size of the place (e. About Seth’s position that no Armenian women came to India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. See Early Annals of the English in Bengal: being the Bengal Public Consultations for the ﬁrst half of the 18th century. Armenians in India: 102-7. Nair. village. Armenians living in India were See below for more on Mirza Zu’lqarnain. Maclagan. the Armenian had breathed his last near Lahore. As far as South Asia is concerned. Maclagan. 2001). and that the stone was not in situ. Hewsen.60 The brief account of the merchant pilgrim Khwaja Martyrose in Seth’s work reminds us of a Suﬁ saint. Akbar had allowed an Armenian church to be built in Agra as early as 1562. Hewsen’s atlas is a bit confusing because the symbols explained on p. difﬁcult to accept Hewsen’s position that there were large settlements of Armenians already at Agra (by 1562). a hypothesis based on the discovery of the tombstone of Reza Bibi dated July 11. also P. and not in Calcutta. (London: W. Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia. 1924): 1-42. It is more likely that if Armenians were there in Bengal in the early 17th century.64 At this stage of settlement. But the Jesuit priests. T. 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. 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. 64 C. n. R.62 At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jesuit Fr. Seth. Calcutta in the 17th Century (Calcutta: Firma KLM. According to the account of Khojamall. 63 E. Travelling overland from Ormuz. 62 Robert. small town and city) but refer to the size of the community on the map (p. it is clear that they were living in (Mughal) India where both Zu’lqarnain and his brother were born. (henceforth Early Annals of the English in Bengal) 3 vols. it is. Surat (by 1579) and Calcutta (by 1630). M. whom Seth elsewhere dismissed as untrustworthy. 1: 137. Jerome Xavier from Lahore in 1603 was accompanied by the Armenian Isaac. 22-23 he gives the names of seven Armenian priests who died at Agra between 1614 and 1675. On pp. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 213-215. Except for two tombstones from 1557 and 1560. Calcutta became an important centre of commerce in the 18th century following the foundation of the English settlement there in 1690. Thacker. See his Armenians in India: 110. J. 160). C. Hewsen bases himself on Mesrobv Seth’s work. Wessels.292 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the well-known Armenian Catholic with close contact with the Jesuit fathers at Agra or somewhere in Kashmir. 1603-1721 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. E. 1986): 443-46. 1630 in the churchyard of the Holy Church of Nazareth (Calcutta). Armenia: A Historical Atlas (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
who married him to Juliana. J. Familiarity with Persian provided them access to the Mughal court. His daughter was married to Iskandar who was also in the service of Akbar. an Armenian. the three 65 For the legend about the (Armenian) Christian wife of Akbar see M. His father. Seth maintained that Akbar indeed had an Armenian wife. 14 November 1916. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 157-61. M. (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. 1916. in charge of the royal harem. tr. 66 Abdul Hai. Zu’lqarnain did not practise Islam but became an adherent of the Roman Catholic Church. The relationship of the Armenians with non-Christians was often not limited to trade alone. This seems to have been more of a political show as after his conversion. J. For commerce overland they travelled in caravans consisting of merchants of different Indian and west Asian communities.65 As regards the conversion of Armenians to Islam. According to Fr.67 It was not uncommon for Armenians during this period to conceal their faith under some real or assumed political pressure. Also. as we have noted above. 67 Except for the period 1633-35 when he suffered from Shah Jahan’s anti-Christian outbursts. But he also quoted the paper of Fr. 1500-1800 293 well integrated into the existing socio-economic fabric of India.. Armenians in India: 151-61. together with his brother. . which often employed them as trusted interpreters. Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. When the governor of Lahore threatened in 1604 to arrest all the Christians of that city.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Seth quoted extensively from Fr. Hosten’s work in Armenians in India. Pinheiro. Mirza Sikandar. 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. Tuzuk I Jahangiri. For his carreer see Fr. 2 vols. H. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 170-80. was in the service of the imperial harem of Akbar. acquired great favour at the court of Akbar. forcibly circumcised by Jahangir. Hosten published in the Statesman. not much is known so far. where Hosten left the issue open as he had no conclusive evidence. Mirza seems to have enjoyed the favour of Jahangir and Shah Jahan who entrusted him with various responsibilities. Seth. J. some twenty-three Armenian merchants seem to have ﬂed the city hastily. One account that was widely known among the European missionaries and travellers in seventeenth-century India was that of Mirza Zu’lqarnain mentioned above. Overseas commerce too. Maclagan. Iskandar had two sons: the elder son. Hosten. also called Iskandar. Maclagan. 1968). 22-87. vol. was later named Mirza Zu’lqarnain. The life of Mirza Zulkarnain attracted the attention of many contemporary accounts perhaps because of the fact he was. it also provided Armenians with the experience of living under Muslim domination. At the same time. the daughter of the Armenian Mir Abdul Hai. was carried out with merchants of different origins. E. E. 2: 194. By Henry Beveridge. both Zu’lqarnain and his brother Sikandar were forcibly converted to Islam. By Alexander Rogers. ed.66 After Jahangir succeeded to the throne.
74 Saiyid Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai. C. Hill.71 Such co-habitation would be logical even if for entirely strategic purposes. 3. (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 70 P. Hill refers to him as Armenian. Hill. 73 For details on Khoja Wajid see below. Jean Law. 75 See the letters from the Dutch chief Bisdom quoted in S. vol. Akbar and the Jesuits: 135. son of Mir Afzal. ed. 2 vols. Bengal 1756-57. 1892). Appendix III. Foster. . had ever converted to Islam. who has written extensively on Wajid. 1640: “. passim.75 and historians have wondered about this confusion. see S. 13 vols. 6: 281. 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’. as they wished not to be recognised as Christians. C. From the old English translation of 1664 by G. ed. With a life of the author. Sushil Chaudhury. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72. Chaudhury assumes that Wajid perhaps added ‘Muhammed’ to his name to enhance his 68 E.294 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA to four Armenians he met did not want to be seen talking to him. C. was a nephew of Wajid. 71 Ibid. 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. Breton. an introd. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 194.69 Contemporary accounts suggest that Armenians in India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries cohabited with Hindu and Muslim women. . Maclagan.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. Havers. (London: Hakluyt Society. has noted that there is no evidence to show that Wajid.72 Another interesting case. (Lahore: 1975). cf.’ a term indicating Muslim. The name Dominic Pires is not Armenian. Seir i Mutakherin. Letter from the president Fremlen &messrs. v. W. And notes by Edward Grey. English Factories in India. is that of Khoja Wajid.74 Though S. 69 The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India. . Akbar himself seems to have been present at the wedding ceremony of his Armenian interpreter Dominic Pires and his Indian bride in 1582. who was undoubtedly an Armenian. Dutch and French sources refer to him as a ‘moor. . 72 E. translation of the ﬁrst part of the memoir of Jean Law: 187. Seth suggests that this was perhaps an adopted name.73 The indigenous historian Gulam Hussain noted that Khwaja Ashraf Kashmiri.70 These Hindu and Muslim concubines were later either abandoned or accepted as partners through marriage in the church. though we have not come across any conclusive evidence about this one so far. 2 vols. Maclagan. du Jarric. Bengal in 1756-57. vol.”. 1906-27). December 29. Robinson and Wylde at Swally Marine to the Company. a colourful personality of Bengal trade and politics in the eighteenth century. 2: 400.1:126-30. vol. the greater part of whom [Armenians] here call themselves ‘Mussulman’ . .
Appendix E. 1500-1800 295 business prospects. that either Khoja Wajid or his father had embraced Islam at some point of time. ‘Khwaja Wazid in Bengal Trade and Politics’. K.80 Armenians seem to have lived in close social contact with Christians of other denominations. (July 1989-Jan. The Jesuits and the Great Mogul: 271-72. Zu’lkarnain was referred to as ‘the pillar of Christianity’ extending his liberality not only to the Jesuits. (London: Hakluyt Society. 1990).’82 Even 76 S. Polashir Shorojontro o Sekaler Somaj (The Conspiracy of Plassey and the Contemporary Society) (Calcutta: Ananda Publishers. after his forced conversion to Islam. . Maclagan. and the silence of Armenian sources about this personality leads one to think. 80 Scholars like Baghdiantz Mccabe.78 Curiously enough.81 Though Armenians were initially opposed to the activity of the fathers. Rajat Ray wondered how the Muslim Mir Afzal could be related to the Armenian Wajid. as matrimonial relationships between the Armenians and Muslims were not usual. Letters written by Jesuit fathers from Goa attest to the good relationship between Mirza Zu’lkarnain. 1907-36). nationality was not the issue. no. 1628-1634. Khachikian and Zekiyan relate that if an Armenian was converted. who referred to Khoja Petrus and Khoja Gregory—two other well known Armenian personalities in Bengal in the eighteenth century— did not mention Khoja Wajid. Armenians in India: 364-65. 77 R. did not have much to say about Wajid. with reference to the question of monopoly in salt. in the light of the history of the Armenians sketched above. The Indian Historical Review. 1998): 161. Armenians in India . It should be noted that Mirza Zu’lqarnain. while adherence to the church was. This would also explain why Wajid’s grave cannot be found either in Chinsura or in Calcutta.79 Repeated reference to him as ‘moor’ in the records of the Dutch East India Company. 82 The Travels of Peter Mundy. 78 I am grateful to Sebouh Aslanian for drawing my attention to this point. vol. converted to the Catholic Church. 79 Seth refers to Khoja Wajid only in passing. 77 It is extremely interesting to note that Thomas Khojamall. 2: Travels in Asia. Zekiyan adds that as Armenians did not have a state. but also to the rest of the Christians. . Ray. Chaudhury. 1608-67 in Europe and Asia. also Seth. it was possible for the latter to convert some of the Armenians. he was not considered Armenian any more. then governor of the province of Sambhar in Rajasthan and the Jesuits. 22-87.76 Writing about Bengal in 1757. Seth. . 1-2: 137-48. Mirza was a generous supporter of the conversion of the indigenous population by the Jesuits.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 81 E. v. who was at pains in putting together the history of the Armenians in India. 5 vols. who spoke of him as ‘brother’ and procured for him the title of ‘Founder of Agra College.. 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. XVI. the eighteenth century Armenian historian.
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. 1905-07). De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan.85 A Dutch source written in 1630 claimed that Armenians and Persians transported indigo from Byana in huge quantities and textiles from the region around Agra and Delhi to Isfahan via the overland route to Persia and Turkey. 1630.87 It was noted that every year 20. Leiden University (Meppel: 1982): 64-65. 85 See Henry Bornford’s account of his journey from Agra to Tatta [? March 1639] in English Factories in India.000 camels.This list suggests that it would be more proﬁtable to send textiles coming from the centres of production in north India overland. carrying chieﬂy See Purchas: His Pilgrims (Glasgow: MacLehose. Hawkins replied that as a Christian he could marry only a Christian woman. 1099. acted as a boost to the ﬁrst major eastward surge of Armenian trade. Surat-Heeren XVII. 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. But the emperor outwitted him by ﬁnding a match in the daughter of a lately deceased Armenian.A. vol. but not daring to refuse the imperial offer. 1620-1660.296 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the Great Mughals were not in a position to (or did not) make a distinction between Christians of different denominations. vol.84 prompted an increasing number of Armenian merchants to frequent India. and Hawkins felt obliged to obey the emperor. 87 Another estimate put the cost of both the routes at about 50%. 84 83 .O. the envoy of King James II. the main trading partner of Iran. 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. 2000): 245. The proximity of India. 312v. thesis.to 25. Van Santen. 30 July. The Economy of Safavid Persia (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. indigo and sugar exported overseas to Persia to those taken overland at 70:30. including a wife. H. Ph. Armenians were thus already established in the ﬁeld.D. W. together with Persian merchants continued to use the overland route to India in the seventeenth century. Extremely embarrassed.C. then to Bandar Abbas by ship. Van Santen maintains that this list underestimated the overland trade as it did not include the quantity of indigo from Byana transported overland. Pleased with Captain William Hawkins.86 An estimate made in the 1630s put the ratio of textiles. 6: 134-138.. Jahangir wanted him to settle down in India and offered him all accommodations. V. There is evidence to show that Armenians. III: 15-16. Willem Floor. 86 N. and again to Isfahan by caravan (27% of the cost).
166891 From Isfahan Isfahan Kandahar Multan Lahore To Kandahar via Mashed Kandahar via desert route Multan Lahore Agra Distance in miles 375 250 160 50 110 It has been assumed that the growth of the overseas trade of Surat in the second half of the seventeenth century did not automatically imply an increase in the total export from India. (Amsterdam: Halma. De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. Ibid. 1: 426. Noord en Oost tartarye. vol. Distance between Isfahan and the major cities in India as calculated by an Armenian merchant of Julfa. Van Santen De VOC in Gujarat en Hindustan: 65. Bulk of the commodities that had earlier been taken overland. and were forced to return to Surat for shipment to Persia on board Dutch and English ships. The Arabean Seas: 154-64. vol. 92 H.90 In 1668 Nicolaes Witsen. Van Santen.92 The rebellion at Kandahar (1709).ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Barendse.89 Due to the import of a large quantity of cotton textiles in Isfahan by a caravan consisting of 6. landstreken. 1705). rivieren. arrived at Isfahan from India. steden. there was little demand for the textiles carried by the Dutch Company. Willem Floor. 1: 725. welke voormaels bekent zijn geweest. The Indo-Gangetic plains and the sub-Himalayan zones. Generale Missiven. 91 Nicolaes Witsen. for the question of the continuity of overland trade from India in the seventeenth century see R. W. Beneffens verscheidene tot noch onbekende. 90 H. I am grateful to René Bekius for drawing my attention to this work. W. en plaetzen. J. Table. The Economy of Safavid Persia: 200-10.000 camels in 1644. 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. en meest nooit voorheen beschreve Tartersche en nabuurige gewesten. 89 88 .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. was being shipped from Surat at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries. 2 vols. 1500-1800 297 piece-goods. 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. in de Noorder en Oosterlyke gedeelten van Asia en Europa enz. of te bondig ontwerp van eenige dier landen en volken.
he was touched by the demonstration of affection on the part of the English president Thomas Rastel. and quite a few to Armenian women. with their families seems to have increased. e. That is why many of them are married to women from Syria.298 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA however. v. 263. 1986): 158-62. Dutch Factories in India. 98 L.g. J. Strange Company: Chinese Settlers. worked as interpreter for Pieter van den Broecke who arrived there as director of the Dutch East India Company in 1620. Seth. January-June: 136. Isfahan. Blussé van Oud-Alblas. vol. 1984): 19n. ‘Surat—its past and present’ Calcutta Review.99 93 Muzaffar Alam. continued to be connected with Persia and Central Asia through Kabul and Kandahar during the period that followed. 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.93 Seth found only one tombstone of an Armenian woman at Surat in the sixteenth century (dating from 1579). (1848) 9. the number of Armenian merchants settling in India . 97 See Om Prakash. the interpreter of the English lodge at Surat. were married. . who often sent Della Valle his own coach and his interpreter. Coen.1 (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. 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. 1: 29. He was informed that this pattern was encouraged in order to populate Batavia: At Batavia Dutchmen settled with their family enjoyed many privileges. 1627-1623. Anonymous. 95 Ibid.94 This is inaccurate and simplistic. contrary to those of the English. India and other countries.96 The relationship between the Armenians and the two northwest European nationalities at Surat was rather close. Mestizo Women and the Dutch in VOC Batavia (Leiden: KITLV. the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies. 1986): 141-43. who considered women as a pre-condition for trade.97 When Della Valle was in Surat with his Georgian wife. 99 The travels of Pietro della Valle in India.98 Della Valle noticed that many of the Dutch Company’s servants. the Dutch decided to follow the Portuguese example. The Crisis of Empire in Mughal India: Awadh and the Punjab 1707-48 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Armenia. After initial attempts of shipping marriageable women or entire families to Asia had failed.95 Subsequent to their settlement in New Julfa. because Seth was aware of the presence of Armenian women in India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. advocated the policy of populating Batavia. 96 The large proportion of women among the Armenians of Surat drew attention of an Englishman even two centuries later. It was the time when Jan Pietersz. Armenians in India: 126. 94 M. A Catholic Armenian called Iskandar Beg.
an Armenian woman from Baghdad. 2: 265.102 On his trip to Ahmedabad. H. . W. W. 108 Pieter van den Broecke . too. journaal: 265. vol. was baptised along with Catherina. who looked upon the girls as his own daughters. where Armenians were active in the indigo trade. A. W. H.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. vol. was present at the wedding party Ibid.108 Della Valle. 102 Pieter van den Broecke in Azië.107 Some Armenians informed Van den Broecke that Huijbert Vissnich. Ph. the Company chief in Persia. 2: 268. the lodge of the Dutch at Surat was initially set up in the house of Mariam Gomez. who. 101 100 .104 Next year Yadgar’s daughter Marican was married to Issack Scholliers. As godfather. 1. Cf. formed part of one Christian society. van Santen. .O.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. was the godmother. 124. he lodged at the palatial building owned by the director Van den Broecke. 104 Ibid. vol.. This time.101 On Christmas Day in 1621 the slave girl of Sebalt Wonderaar. accompanied by a few female servants for the convenience of Mrs. ed. Visscher was married to Mariam Gomez. 1: 120. along with the English and other Christians of Surat. . together with other Europeans. the wife of Yadgar. 2: 5.100 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. van Santen (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff.C. 107 De Geschriften van Francisco Pelsaert over Mughal Indië. Van den Broecke was witness to the event. 123. gifted them with 600 and 500 guilders respectively as presents on this occasion. who sent the young Armenian wife of one of the Dutch factors. . 103 Ibid. 325. 2 vols. It has been assumed that before it was shifted to another building. was not performing his duty and was giving preference to his own interests above those of the Company. Della Valle. Kolff and H. Van den Broecke stayed at their sarai. the senior merchant of the Dutch lodge. vol. the girl child of the well known Armenian Yadgar. vol.. 1627: Kroniek en Remonstrantie. vol. 1962-63). 1500-1800 299 At Surat. Van den Broecke was the godfather and Angela. ed. The junior merchant Paulus Stigel van Neurenberg married the daughter of Khoja Rafael. the Company could borrow money from Mariam at an interest of 1 per cent per month. 105 Ibid. in Gujarat en Hindustan: 10. De V. 28. 331. 78. Coolhaas (’s Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff. 106 The travels of Pietro Della Valle .106 When in 1621-22 the Dutch Company was facing a shortage of capital. an assistant in the Dutch lodge. D. n. Van den Broecke. 1.105 The merchant Anthoni Claesz. 1979): 22.
Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat.113 Whenever there were forty Armenians resident in a town under the jurisdiction of the Company. f. 1: 120. see Ashin Das Gupta.119-125. Armenians were to trade and settle at all English ports on the same terms as English freemen. 113 See Armenian Merchants e.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. an eminent merchant of Isfahan and the East India Company in London in 1688.300 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA of the assistant Willem Jacobsz. 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. N. A. ‘to stand by and protect each other if need be. Surat. 123. documents 116. addresserende. the daughter of an Armenian merchant from Ahmedabad.109 A critical insight into the situation in Gujarat.110 The Dutch-Armenian marriages. as all trees whether bearing fruit or not deserve dewdrops from the heaven. 122. I am grateful to Ms. 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. 124.’ Piri pointed out to the director of the Dutch lodge. als mede tot restauratie van de gelden schade in Mocha. ‘Corte Remonstrantie van de gelegentheijd van Guseratte. 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. Though the agreement was not put into effect due to the opposition of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. Aga Piri appealed to the chiefs of all the European Companies in the name of Christianity. a temporary The travels of Della Valle vol. and possess all rights enjoyed by British subjects. 136. 146. and Mariam. 9. versekeringe ende ook verbeteringhe der comptoiren en negotien van Guseratte ende Persia. 148.’112 What was the situation like in European settlements like Madras and Calcutta? As per the agreement signed between Khoja Panous Kalantar. A. 111 De Geschriften: 17-25. 184. 112 N. ‘Christians are obliged. 1979. 117. Perzien en Arabien ook eenighe noodwendighe procedures welke in die quartieren dienen gehouden te worden tot preservatie. 110 109 . Natalia Tojo for drawing my attention to this document. 1700-1750. Wiesbaden. VOC 1549. en affbreuke des algemeijnen vijants. Dag Register. ff. the attitude of Van den Broecke towards these marriages and the relationship between the English director Thomas Rastel and his Portuguese ﬁancée. 507.505v. 140.g. inv. c. 1. pr consequent tot merkelijke voordeel van honorable Comp. Collectie Sweers. ch. no. for a description of Surat in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
documents 121. 1693/94. (London: Murray. documents 116. 131. 141. George. Vestiges of old Madras: 1640-1800: traced from the East India Company’s Records preserved at Fort St. ship owning merchants often avoided their settlements. 1500-1800 301 church was to be built for their use. D. the Company was sure it would proﬁt from the freight. v. 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. Armenians were allowed to freight the Company’s Europe-bound ships with commodities like shellac.1: 543. 127. and to whom we pay no wages being as good a security to our garrison and trade as hired English soldiers . the English East India Company was recommending that its employees attract Armenians to the English settlements and encourage their trade in every possible way.g. document 156. Since the English left the port to port trade in Asia to private enterprise already in the late 1660s. 163. 116 Ibid. the growth of the European settlements provided the Asian merchants with alternate bases of operation. 120. crowded the English settlements.119 The regulations of the European Companies prohibiting trade with rival establishments could be avoided through a network based on kinship. they were in a position to procure goods at a cheaper rate. 3 January. Because the Dutch Company was a direct participant in the intra-Asian trade. As they wanted to 114 H. 117. . and passim. . Company in London to Fort St.117 Moreover. 4 vols. 117 Ibid. which will in a few years aggrandize our revenue.115 Experienced Armenians like Aga Piri were entrusted with training freshly arrived factors of the Company in language and the method of trading. the Company allowing £50 a year for seven years for the maintenance of a priest. pig-iron and wax. Bhattacharya. 124. e. 142. .116 As the Armenians were familiar with the centres of production and market places in India. 115 Armenian Merchants. many private Asian merchants serving the Europeans in numerous ways. they would populate the settlements: It is undoubtedly our interest to make our garrisoned ports in India marts for nations. 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. Love. 119 B. As India goods were very much in demand. stick lac.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. George and the India Ofﬁce and from other sources. ‘The Chulia merchants of southern Coromandel’.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. 1913). 118 Ibid. no.114 In the 1680s and 1690s. and ground granted them for the erection of a permanent place of worship.
Despatches to England. document 139. vol.302 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA attract local shipping magnates to their ports. George. but the nawab demanded Rs.121 The English were willing to pay as much as Rs. Khoja Nazar built the Armenian Apostolic Church (called St. document 239. 123 Armenian Merchants. As there were some proceedings against him in the nawab’s (Shuja Khan) darbar in Murshidabad. Bengal Public Consultations. 126 RFSG. many of them were annually sailing to Bengal. quoted in S. 125 Armenian Merchants. too. The East India Company and the Economy of Bengal (from 1704 to 1740). Persia and other places. (Calcutta: Graphic Art Press. while more were expected.126 With the growth of the ports of Bombay. 122 Ibid. 50. while stopping him from sailing for Europe. The case was later settled by Nazar’s vakil at the darbar. 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. 20. 35. vol. Elihu Yale noted that recently ‘a few more’ Armenians had come to settle in Fort St. 1733. 2: 147. In analysing the relationship between the nawab and the English. 17 April.000 to make up the case. 121 120 . ibid. the European settlements were a place of refuge. Manila. also made it sure that he did not fall in the hands of the nawab’s people. Bhattacharyya presents other cases as well.000. the English in Calcutta. Despatches to England. 124 RFSG. 1: 1694-96. Bhattacharyya. George. the council noted that though there were a few Armenians constantly residing at Madras. Zulﬁqar Khan’s camp and Golconda and thus by the bulk of their trade contributed greatly to the revenues of Fort St. 59.123 In 1696. A case in point was that of the Armenian merchant Khwaja Nazar. and/or trading with the king’s camp. Madras and Calcutta in the eighteenth cen- Ibid.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.120 Armenians followed the same pattern. Aceh. 1969): 55. For merchants trying to escape the wrath of indigenous elites. Indian merchants could use the Companies against one another. 55-60. Nazareth after him) in Calcutta in 1724.125 By 1711 Armenians had become ‘numerous and opulent’ in Madras.122 In 1691.
as we have noted above that there was a constant ﬂow of Armenians in and out of the town. especially English settlements became the major habitat of the Armenian community in India.130 It is possible that such wealthy merchants. Patna and Dhaka. 2. He expressed the wish that Armenian merchants coming to Madras for trade should feel obliged to stay in those buildings. Khoja Petrus Aratoon. George wanted to levy a land tax for the construction of a town wall in 1718. dealing in real estate. 1958): 9. 1: 65. 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. hence many women. Arathoon (Calcutta.W. 2623. ibid. 2: 162. the number of permanent residents of a place could have been small. Only Khoja Petrus Woscan was allowed to continue at his Choultry Gate Street redidence. Ghulam Husain noted that Khoja Wajid. vol. Their house in Charles Street was rented by the Company for ‘public purposes’. 128 127 . Most of the promises made by the English were geared to securing their own trade and revenue.132 However. H. Saidabad. the Armenian merchant prince of Bengal. 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. Orme noted that north of the White Town in Fort St. Vestiges of old Madras. As many Armenians travelled frequently to distant places organizing the business. 426. the Armenians pleaded exemption from payment on the ground that they were only six in number. The survey seems to have included only very wealthy Armenian residents owning extensive landed property. The eminent Armenian. owned landed property in Madras. but it is possible that many relatives and other families were housed in the same building. 1500-1800 303 tury. Ghulam Husain Khan Seir ul Mutakherin vol. Khoja Sultan David. the eminent merchant of Bengal and brother of Khoja Gregory owned twelve houses.131 The church also offered lodging to travelling Armenians. Love. the course of events in the eighteenth century had changed the situation in Madras. D. Nadjarian. 405. Military Transactions. M. O. 130 Robert Orme. owned at least forty-two houses in Madras.129 The legendary merchant Khoja Petrus Woscan. who constructed the Marmalong bridge and the ﬁfty-six stone staircases leading to the mount of San Thome. vol. though many of them were settled at places like Surat. George in The church at Saidabad was built in 1758. The information may not be entirely correct. Life story of Mr. Hugli. had a harem with 125 women. A. Armenians were suspected to have assisted the French when the latter attacked Fort St.127 When the council of Fort St. Calcutta High Court.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Chinsura and Dacca. George were many good buildings belonging to Armenian and rich Indian merchants. 132 H.128 The number is misleading. 494. 400 fn. nine in Calcutta and one each in Serampore. 131 The ‘last will of Petrus Uscan’. European. provided housing to the lesser members in the diaspora. albeit against the payment of rent. M. The income from the rent would be invested in the welfare of the town of New Julfa and the Armenians there.
the second city in the British colonial empire. it is interesting to note that in all the cases that have come down to us. 139 I owe this information to P. The Grand Hotel. See H. 1680-1800 (Madras: Madras Government Press. George to direct the Armenians to leave the White Town. Selections from Unpublished Records of Government: for the years 1748 to 1767 inclusive. George. Relating mainly to the Social Condition of Bengal with a map of Calcutta in 1784. Calcutta in Urban History (Calcutta: Firma KLM. Ed. vol. the fence gradually fell down. 140 Records of Fort St. 135 P.138 Many of the magniﬁcent buildings in the White Town of Calcutta were built by the Armenians. especially the Armenians. Vestiges of old Madras. 1973): 161.139 The formation of bigger Armenian settlements around the church did not reduce social contact between Armenians and western Europeans. Nair. 426. Ibid. and by 1750 the English Company ordered the council of Fort St. especially into the intermediate zone. as ‘very useful people.134 Calcutta.133 Those who possessed landed property in the White Town. 1916).’ Armenians were to be allowed to inhabit the Black Town. Saha (Calcutta: Mukhopadhyay. Long.140 H. the Nizam Palace. 136 Ibid. As far as Armenian-European marriage is concerned. However. the brides were Armenian and the bridegrooms European. 137 Ibid. Love. M. 2: 403-404. Sinha. as ‘no bad consequences from their residence’ were apprehended. the Park Mansions—to name only a few— bear testimony to the zeal of the Armenian pioneers of the real estate business in Calcutta. resulting in the development of new areas. One well-known marriage in Surat in the late eighteenth century was that between Hripsimah. George registered only 9 marriages between Armenian and western European individuals between 1680-1800.304 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA 1746. became an embellishment..136 The Black Town gradually drove wedges into the White Town. Dodwell ed. 467. the urban area began to grow and spread and the component elements began to interpenetrate. T. with its accommodational function. or the ‘Grey Town’ where the Portuguese.135 In the colonial period. Greeks and Armenians were settled from the pre-colonial times. 138 J. List of marriages registered in the Presidency of Fort St. also suffered from the phenomenon of dualism reﬂected in the Europeans’ concern for defence and security. were to sell it to European Protestants.137 As late as 1758 the Court of Directors were anxious not to discourage Armenians and other inhabitants of Calcutta from settling within their bounds. 1978): 7-8. The fort. where no Armenian was to live in future. The chapel and other buildings built by Petrus Woscan at Vepery were transferred to the Danish missionaries. D. manifested in the fort and the fence. 134 133 .
Armenians were suspicious of the Europeans and often openly hostile towards them. . 23. and Robert Henry Leembruggen of the Dutch East India Company. so far as the intra-Asian trade was concerned. has maintained that Armenian merchants’ relationship with their European counterparts was ambivalent. M. was the private trade of the Europeans. On the one hand. 143 See his ‘The Armenians and the East India Company in Persia in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries’. 212. As the daughter of the wealthy Armenian merchant Eleazer Woskan. Armenians in India: 263-66. not the other way round. ‘Julfa Armenians were more willing to have ﬁnancial dealing with foreigners than to enter into trading partnership with them. See note 2 above. 144 E.’ ‘Grey. J.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. 2nd series. Seth. it should be pointed out that the potential of conﬂict was very much present as the Europeans in the Indian Ocean. The Economic History Review. 1500-1800 305 Whether in the traditional port towns like Surat. 79. COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH EUROPEANS: COMPETITION OR CO-OPERATION? Considering the relationship between Armenians and Europeans. 107 and passim in Armenian Merchants .142 Ferrier noted the importance of the Armenians and other local merchants as suppliers of credit to the European Companies in Persia. 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. On the other hand. 245 for the Company’s arguments in connection with the trade in Persia. The English Company explicitly mentioned how by catering to their trade. they co-operated with the European Companies. were at the same time aiming at the commerce which had so far been the mainstay of the livelihood of many Armenians. Armenians themselves would also proﬁt. 142 The tension of the Europeans could be noted in their account of Armenians. Isfahan: 203-6. The Armenian Merchants of New Julfa.’ or ‘Black’ town of the European settlements.’144 Baghdiantz Mccabe’s position is that it was the Companies that solicited co-operation of the Armenians. also see documents 5. until at least the middle of the eighteenth century Armenians provided a major source of strength for the European presence in India.141 A more important element. . Herzig.143 Herzig. See M. The next section will focus on the interaction of Armenians and Europeans in the ﬁeld of commerce in India. or in the ‘White. 141 See Armenian Merchants. Hripsimah was ﬁrst married to an old Armenian called Stephen Agabob. In the ﬁnal analysis. 26 (1973): 38-62. while wooing the Armenians. no. in his study of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa. Following the death of the latter she was remarried to Leembruggen. .
Kolff and Van Santen have pointed to the greater relevance of the marriages between Armenians and Europeans in this respect.151 Steensgaard. getting them ready for shipping. The trade that was carried on here was small-scale and in luxury goods. an attempt to get access to the credit and extensive network of trade of the Armenian merchants. 283-84.146 In India. on the other hand. who studied the I. was a long drawn and extremely intricate process. C. Van Leur noted that in the primarily agricultural societies of Asia. Van Leur’s thesis has been criticised by many 146 145 . as we have seen. Armenians did not have to enter into any trading partnership with them. It is true that Armenians were already established in the trade of the Indian Ocean.145 Bekius has shown. 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. Bekius. 148 De Geschriften: 21-22.150 Yet. transporting them to the port of embarkation. by merchants whom he termed peddlers. 1955): 133. does not imply that it was only the Europeans who needed Armenians. starting from the procurement of goods at the centres of production. 150 It was part of the policy of the English East India Company to employ small vessels owned by Armenians for coasting trade.306 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA the trade carried on by the European Companies was no match for that of the Armenians. R. Indonesian Trade and Society: Essays in Asian social and economic history (The Hague: Van Hoeve. 151 J. ‘Armenian merchants in the textile trade. Many of them possessed their own shipping. and reaching the ultimate destination. 3: 141. Baghdiantz Mccabe.148 Marriage relationships often went hand in hand with business interests. the ‘market’ where the goods were disposed at a reasonable proﬁt.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. in their opinion. That so many servants of the Dutch East India Company—much more than their English counterparts—got married to Armenian women. that Armenians both competed and co-operated with Europeans. and consequently.149 This however. 149 Ibid. was. In his study of Indonesian trade and society. agricultural surplus was extracted by the state. Early Annals of the English in Bengal vol. East India Companies were no competitors of the Armenians. Shah’s silk: 327-47. Armenians intermarried with western Europeans and ﬂocked to the European towns. and not the other way round.’ 147 Armenian Merchants enumerates 114 cases where Armenians served the English East India Company in different capacities between 1617 and 1708/09. index 3. Van Leur.
no. The merchant Abraham Isaac who passed away in Calcutta on August 18. delay in reaching the port might mean missing a sailing season. Khoja Catchick Khojamal. Chris Bayly noted that when operating in a market that was intransparent.’157 In historians. c. a reason that inspired Ashin Das Gupta to characterise that merchant prince as peddler. Steensgaard. including the customs duties. in C. The Trading World of Asia and the East India Company. 48. 1770-1870: 242-65. introduction. As markets were non-transparent and information incomplete. P. O. 1993): 299-300. 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. While many of the Armenian merchants trading on behalf of a principal were peddlers.155 merchants like Zachary Avetik. The cost of the other transactions made by Isaac varied from Rs. A. 152 N.. 4926.g. 1660-1670 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Barendse. 1998). ‘Portfolio capitalists and political economy in early modern India’. 138-39. Meilink Roelofsz. M. supply in the peddlers’ market was limited and could not be adjusted to the ﬂuctuation in demand. 1962). J. Subrahmanyam and C. The Imperial Impact: Studies in the Economic History of India and Africa (London: Athlone Press for the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. it was exposed to the dangers of the road. 1796 had a credit of little over Rs. A. ‘Indian merchants in a Traditional setting: Varanasi 1780-1830’. Hopkins ed. 155 See e. Bayly. 136-37. Dewey and A. The Arabian Seas. The Political Economy of Commerce in Southern India. Asian Trade and European Inﬂuence in the Indonesian Archipelago between 1500 and about 1630 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. 2 to Rs. 153 The cost of transporting cloth from Agra to Surat. Bayly. g. also S. Khoja Minas.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.152 Due to limited production. 156 See below. also S. Subrahmanyam. See R.512. It is possible that he started as an agent of Khoja Petrus Aratoon who was paid Rs. K. See e. 1978).153 Not only was overland transport slow.154 Analysing the modus operandi of the merchants in early modern India. Merchants. and when supply and demand were unpredictable. Hence the payment of protection cost to the local rulers of all the territories through which the caravans passed..W.156 Khoja Petrus. Calcutta High Court. 327-36. See his Indian Merchants and the decline of Surat. To this was added the hazards in the transportation of the commodities from the centres of production to the ports of shipment. could amount to 40 per cent of the cost price. and many others like them seem to have been like those merchants termed by Bayly as ‘port-folio capitalists. A. 1550-1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. a merchant often divided his investments among various partners and pursuits with a view to spreading the risk and sharing the proﬁt. N. G. The Asian Trade Revolution: 22-31. Chaudhuri. 1. Subrahmanyam ed. 1978): 186. Markets and Trade in Early Modern India. 200 toward the discharge of a bond. A. prices ﬂuctuated making trading operation extremely insecure. 1640-1700 (Leiden: Centre for Non-Western Studies. 1500-1800 307 caravan trade of the Middle East. 157 C. . upheld Van Leur’s characterization of Asian trade by characterizing Asian merchants as peddlers and the markets as peddlers’ markets. While all this pushed up the cost of transport. 135. in S.
But it also ensured direct shipping of goods and persons and was less hazardous than the route via the Levant and then Middle East. 11 (1661-1664): 328. 65. f. the Dutch director at Surat. This trade was organized by Armenians in Holland. Their agents carried piece goods from Bengal and Coromandel to Europe and took back Dutch and English broad cloth to Tranquebar.308 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA spite of all the elements of tension and conﬂict involved. was one of the Madras Armenians involved in this trade. 159 N. bought 200. 3 (1711-14): 18.000 pounds of indigo and 30.. De Keijser. following a ban on the trade of the Europeans. encouraged the procedure as some empty space in the Asia-bound ship was utilised in this way. which left London on April 29. 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 . It is possible that Khoja Zachary. XXXII-XXXIII. During 1693-94. and the Armenians had to pay freight charges. however. like many other groups of Asian merchants. Long before the agreement of 1688. 1646 and reached Swally in November of the same year. .159 Such cover was indispensable so far as trade to Manila was concerned. 8 (1646-1650): 86 and vol. The actual carrying out of the trade. vol. Armenians.158 This being said. Khoja Baba Sultan. 71 for similar evidence. Though wills and testaments do not throw much light on this aspect—except when an unrecovered due was involved—. 161 RFSG. 160 See English Factories in India. 67. was part of a broader framework and it is here that the Armenian merchants cooperated with Europeans in numerous other accounts by lending money. .160 In the eighteenth century. of course. 11 December 1694 (copy) VOC 1548. and two Armenians of Madras. . Armenians freighted Asia-bound ships of the English Company. co-operated with Europeans because the presence of the latter provided Asian merchants with further opportunities of spreading the risks. it should be added that Armenian merchants appear to have acted in different capacities and were dexterous at keeping the accounts separate. The Dolphin. carried Armenians. sailing as nakhuda on board European ships. . Despatches to England.A. De Keijser and the Council at Surat to the Directors. and providing cover when necessary.656. . vol. also Armenian Merchants . the correspondent of Aga Piri Kalantar of Madras in London. Armenians were using Danish company ships for their Europe trade. mentioned above. documents 62. traces of such co-operation are to be found in the archives of the European companies. acting as agents or suppliers.000 pieces of chadar Dariabadi under the cover of Aga Piri. freighting their ships. 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. 68.161 The Companies.
The English Company servants in Bengal stated that Armenians bought textiles 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than them. Generale Missiven. 29 August.A. v. and goods and sailed on board the same ship for Surat.170 The French ship Pontchartreijn renamed Queen Louise carried freightgoods worth Rs. . Dag Register. 300. Muslim merchants freighted their money. in obtaining a good freight of ﬁne piece goods in Bengal for the Sedgewick he was planning to send to Persia in September 1700. 159-60.G. Despatches to England. Coolhaas. For Armenian merchants freighting Dutch company ships on the Surat—Bandar Abbas run see R.A. R. Surat. R. belonging to the Armenian Khoja Minas of Surat. Barendse.165 The George that left Surat for Gombroon in December 1669. 168 C. vol. 336. 167 N. was hired by the French (in huur bij de Fransen). freighted English company ships. took the responsibility for collecting the piece goods and other commodities and loading them on the company’s ships.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. (1698-1713): 271.168 In December 1702 Sarhad offered the English company Rs.1616-1617. VOC 1409. W. sail to Persia as it hit the shore near Point Palmyras and had to unload the goods at Tranquebar. Wilson. Surat-Batavia. The ship could not. ff. . 1268. 166 English Factories in India. Chaudhuri. 170 RFSG. 1: 369-71. 1992). 163 162 . It is expected that the Armenians will freight the Little London for Persia’.169 The same year the council of Fort St. N. with their contacts in India. ed.. 171 This was in 1704.. Bengal Past and Present.F.163 The Armenians.1. 13 (1668-69): 204.1275-87. 2. vol. 1500-1800 309 against pirates and other dangers at sea. In Basra. vol. J.000 for freighting the Colchester for a voyage to Gombroon and Basra. Early Annals of the English in Bengal. 1685. (1694-96): 35. 169 S. document 257. ibid. however. the leading Armenian merchant in Bengal.000 belonging to Armenian merchants. 165 R. was permitted to carry any horse that would be shipped by the agent of Khoja Minas. Thomas Pitt referred to his acquaintance with Sarhad and his uncle Khoja Panous Kalantar in London. 164 Armenian Merchants. Despatches to England. Compare: ‘.171 All the three ships that arrived in Armenian Merchants.164 Khoja Minas. Ph. 367-69. VOC 1264.167 While soliciting the ‘favour and assistance’ of Khoja Israel Sarhad. September 12 and October 9. 38. The Sulleiman. who owned at least ﬁve ships himself. 90 (1971): 182-216. European Merchant Capital and the Indian Economy: a Historical Reconstruction based on Surat Factory Records. The Arabian Seas . ‘Bengal merchants and commercial organisation in the second half of the seventeenth century’.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. George let out the Phoenix to an Armenian for a voyage to Persia via Bengal. . 4 March.166 Minas had purchased two ships from the English who again rented the ships and sent them to Persia. document 209. Maloni.S. 6. . 1706: 52-53. 2 1701/02—1710/11. 1630-1638 (Delhi: Manohar. ff.
including Armenians. vol. George be seized. mostly a relative or a member of the community settled at ports like Mergui. ARMENIANS AS EMISSARIES Equally.177 Using European bottoms for consigning goods to factors.175 The other routes where Armenian and European interests were intertwined were the routes to Southeast Asia. 175 RFSG. 6: 106.174 In the wake of troubles in Persia in the early eighteenth century. 3: 56. 1600-1800 (Minneapolis. The Council of Fort St.172 Again.30. Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient. Manila and China. vol. Despatches to England. 176 Generale Missiven.310 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Tranquebar from Denmark in 1709 were to be freighted by the Armenians to Persia. At least till the middle of the eighteenth century European merchants needed Asian merchants. if not more important aspect of Armenian-European relationship was the role of the Armenians as emissaries of especially the English to the Mughals.176 Researches of G. in 1737 Armenian merchants of Madras freighted the Galatea. 2002. B.: 689.’ unpublished paper presented to the 11th Annual Conference of the World History Association. Pegu and Manila seems to have been common. 174 English Factories in India. Furber. Sending emissaries to the head of a state is a practice common since ancient times. Seoul. H. 16841792. the trading companies sent embassies Ibid. Souza have pointed to the involvement of Armenians in the commerce carried on by the Portuguese of Macao to Manila and India.173 Similarly. one Portuguese and one Armenian were entrusted with the task of collecting the outstanding debts of the Company amounting to more than f. Despatches to England.: University of Minnesota Press. Juan that left Madras for Manila carried goods freighted by Armenian and Indian merchants. Armenian merchants taking passage on board European ships in Asia was common.000. 4 (1675-1685): 446. 173 172 . silver and opium: Foreign shipping and trading activities at Batavia. 177 ‘Cinnamon. the agent of the English at that place proposed that the subjects of the king of Persia and their effects at Fort St. under Captain Mylne to Kung and Bushire. In the early modern period. 1976): 285. vol. RFSG. 3: 56. Minn. Korea. When the Dutch East India Company decided to close their factory at Pegu.178 Throughout the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries Armenians assisted Europeans in their investment in India. vol. August 15-18. 178 In 1712 the St. 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. It was a relationship of accepting each other for mutual proﬁt.
16. 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. Commerce and Culture.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA.181 In the late 1690s. in Prakash and Lombard eds. R. Wilson. on his embassy to Aurangzeb. It was a period when many attributes of Persian culture were visibly adopted by the courts in countries in South and Southeast Asia. 185 Ibid. the nephew of Khoja Panous. to head the delegation. J. 184 Ibid. Old Fort William in Bengal. It was this delegation that secured for the English the right to farm the three townships of Sutanuti. an Armenian.. When the king of Ethiopia sent an embassy to the Mughal emperor. interlopers also were able to secure some trading favours for themselves from the same general. ‘Persianization and Mercantilism: two themes in the Bay of Bengal History. 36-38. . The Norris Embassy to Aurangzeb. 1979). I am greatful to Dirk Kolff for drawing my attention to this work. 1906) vol. (1699-1702) (Calcutta: Firma KLM. At this the English decided to send another delegation. Foreign Relations of Ethiopia. 1400-1700’. 1642-1700: documents related to the journeys of Khodja Murad (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut. who was accompanied by Mr. also headed by Khoja Sarhad. On September 22.185 179 S. 180 E. (London. 181 H. In order to secure the rights of the company against the activities of the interlopers. 1959): 211-12. 2 vols. General of the Mughal’s forces who was suppressing the revolt of Sobha Singh in Bengal.’184 They had promised the young prince three small pieces of brass cannon. . Indian Records Series. Walsh. who was sent to the camp of Zabardast Khan as the ‘Political Agent’ of the English.. A Selection of Ofﬁcial Documents dealing with its History.180 Sir William Norris. Sarhad was able to win the friendship of the young prince Farrukhsiyar.183 At the camp. 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.182 In spite of that. We have noted above that Emperor Akbar had employed an Armenian as his interpreter. 1698 the Sutanuti council noted that Mr. 183 Ibid. . The embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of Jahangir is a well known case. Subrahmanyam. Govindpur and Calcutta in Bengal in 1698 for the sum of Rs. ed. the English company wanted to send a delegation to Zabardast Khan. Van Donzel. 1: 25-27.. he appointed Khoja Murad. . the English company approached Khoja Israel Sarhad. Das. Walsh and Khoja Sarhad went back from the camp having ‘ﬁnished all business to our greatest satisfaction.179 Familiarity with Persian offered the Armenians easy access to the Mughal court and made them extremely suitable as emissaries. 1500-1800 311 to heads of various countries for trading privileges. 182 C.000.
now Emperor at Delhi. 187 186 .312 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA Khoja Sarhad. and we know no man so qualiﬁed in both these respects as Cojah Surhaud. vol. and inferior to the Englishmen in the embassy would draw the Emperor’s attention to the Armenian. Mr. Secondly. 187 The next we hear of Khoja Sarhad is in 1713 when the English intended to send a deputation to Farrukhsiyar. Ibid. the ﬁttest man we can send. who was engaged in sea-borne trade. It is absolutely necessary that some person who is perfect master of the Persian language and understands our affairs very well. and that he sit and vote in the Council along with the three English gentlemen . 188 The following information on the Surmon Embassy (including the quotations) is based on Early Annals of the English in Bengal. More importantly. be sent. on June 5. 3. for the renewal of their privilege of trading free of duties in return for a lump sum payment of Rs. 2: 67. vol. Khoja Sarhad second and Mr. 1714 the council noted the reasons for appointing Khoja Sarhad on the mission to the court of the Great Mughal. 1714. 7 (1713-1725): 106. vol.186 This debt was not recovered as late as 1709.000. whose interest &c. 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. and acted as vakil or agent of (his cousin) Aga Piri Kalantar of Fort St. John Surmon was appointed the ﬁrst. Unable to recover his dues. Sarhad was to try to conﬁrm all the privileges that the English enjoyed in the Mughal’s dominions to date in a new farman. . Therefore. He was also obliged to try RFSG. The Dutch referred to him as the ‘notorious Armenian bankrupt’ (berugten Armeensch banquerottier). Generale Missiven. 2: 157-58.188 At the meeting held on January 27. By his prudent conduct. Despatches to England. Consequently. . John Pratt third in the embassy to Farrukhsiyar. Sarhad had been able to procure the grant of Calcutta for the English. Aga Piri appealed to the English in Bengal to oblige Khoja Sarhad to adjust his accounts. George. the Calcutta council unanimously agreed that Cojah Surhaud. 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. seems to have been less successful in trade and was indebted to Aga Piri for a considerable sum. He is therefore. The council apprehended that sending Sarhad as vakil. 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. and what may be useful for us.
the son of Prince Azîmush-shân. See Armenians in India . Wilson about Khoja Sarhad: ‘He is said to have been personally known to Prince Farrukhsiyar.193 When it was considered necessary to send presents to the nawab of Arcot. .000. It was apprehended that Sarhad. 190 Early Annals. Mr.5 percent.190 His attitude during the journey evoked suspicion and irritation among the English. . 50. however. Firminger. the Fort William Council. among others. Compare the following statement made by C. 192 W.192 The service of the Armenians was. 50. but not altogether creditable part in the Surman Embassy to Delhi in the years 1715 to 1717’. would play tricks and enrich himself at the cost of the Company. C. Diary and Consultation Book. But in any case Sarhad was to try to get the customs duty paid by the English at Surat reduced to 2. 67. 281. He afterwards played a conspicuous. Khoja Petrus and Hodjee Addy were entrusted 189 M. 1500-1800 313 to obtain the island of Diu off Masulipatnam for the council of Fort St. Wilson. if not well looked after. vol. Early Annals. Dr. . Also in this case he was not to receive anything if he was not successful. cured Farrukhsiyar from a malignant distemper he had been suffering from. 2: 193. He would not get anything if he failed.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. its ﬂeet and the country trade of the British. Old Fort William: 25. 2: 154-55. the company’s surgeon. The council of Fort St.189 Even before the formation of the embassy. vol. 191 After the sanad from the diwan at Murshidabad was obtained. Firminger. from whom he procured permission to rent the three townships. George often consulted Aga Piri. for their negotiation with the governor of Golconda.000 would be given to Sarhad if he was successful in all these efforts. Historical Introduction: 87. n. The farman that Farrukhsiyar granted the English in 1717 was more respected than the old one and made them the most favoured nation in Bengal. R. Hamilton. K. R. Sarhad was to obtain for the English the privilege to trade free of customs at Surat for which he would get another Rs. 56. George. W. 427. when the embassy left Delhi after the imperial ﬁrman had been obtained. 3. Historical Introduction to the Bengal Portion of the Fifth Report (Calcutta: Indian Studies Past & Present. 70. 1713: 4. The following decades saw the growth of Calcutta. Edward Stephenson was appointed secretary and accountant to the negotiation with the responsibility to take down the minutes of consultation. Secondly. Sarhad stayed on in Delhi. 1962): 87. Sarhad had left for Patna when the rest of the embassy was still in Murshidabad. indispensable in all political negotiations of the English in India in the eighteenth century. Seth quoted from William Bolts to show that contemporary Englishmen knew the contribution Sarhad made in getting the farman renewed in 1717. K. was not unanimous about the inclusion of Khoja Sarhad in it.191 The success of the Surman Embassy was ascribed to the services of Dr. 214. 193 RFSG. A reward of Rs. however. William Hamilton. 24. J. 71.
a brother of Petrus. 2: 58.197 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. document 647 and note. S. pointed out that it would be arbitrary to order a merchant of long standing out of the settlement.195 He was employed again for negotiating with Mir Qasim for deposing Mir Jafar. J. A Narrative of the Transactions in Bengal 1760-1764. According to Orme. A.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. Kolff (Leiden: Brill. the chief of Patna. passim. This was due to the fact that Khoja Gregory. 198 Robert Orme. Petrus was never rewarded for his services to the Company. the ‘evil genius’ of Mir Qasim”. president of the council of Fort William. in J. Bhattacharya. J. L. It is well known that Plassey witnessed how the vested interests of the ofﬁcials of the court. popularly known as the Armenian Petrus of Clive. C. Military Transactions. His Ibid. by A. for Khoja Petrus. was the commander-in-chief of the army of Mir Qasim. he supplied provisions to the English at Fulta for six months before the arrival of Robert Clive and Admiral Watson from Madras. indigenous merchants. He appeared on the scene after the siege of Calcutta by Sirajuddaula in 1756. Gommans and O. Together with a Jewish friend. C.198 He was settled in Hugli and had transactions with the French and the Dutch through lodges at both Chandernagore and Chinsura. in their eyes. When war broke out between the English and Mir Qasim in 1763. Bengal in 1756-1757. ed. Seth. was a spy of the nawab in Calcutta. Armenians in India: 328-32. Wajid was ‘the principal merchant of the province’ of Bengal. 197 James Long. Seth. Banerjee and B. passim. K.194 Khoja Petrus Aratoon. Selections from Unpublished Records: 421. J. Ghosh (Kolkata: K. bankers and foreign trading companies combined to create a rupture that changed the course of the history of India. Vansittart. vol. But the English never completely trusted Khoja Petrus who. for a recent biography of Khoja Gregory see B.314 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA with the task of procuring items suitable for the occasion. Hill. Circumambulations in South Asian History: essays in honour of Dirk H. and English troops suffer at the hands of his brother. was an Armenian merchant-diplomat of Saidabad. The Armenians in India . Petrus was forbidden to act as vakil to the nawab in future. Petrus was kept as a hostage by Major Adams in his camp lest Ellis. M. Vansittart. a town in the silk producing region near the court at Murshidabad. M. 2003): 133-58. Bagchi. . 1743: 55. P. . “Between Fact and Fiction: Khoja Gregory alias Gurguin Khan. He was employed as conﬁdential agent by Clive to negotiate with Mir Jafar for overthrowing Siraj-uddaula. 196 H. Prakash eds. 1976) henceforth Narrative. 195 194 .
politics and society in early modern India: Bihar: 1733-1820: 72. Appendix III. 93-94. Chatterjee. Clive did not agree to the proposal and wanted Wajid and the banker ﬁnancier Jagat Seth to settle the dispute. 200 199 .’200 He had close contact with the Jagat Seths and other merchants of Patna. 205 Nawabi troops. vol. 2. Wajid was in favour of having the dispute settled through the mediation of the French. 125-6 (no. Wajid owned ﬁve ships and had extensive overseas trade with Mocha and Basra. Bengal in 1756-57. the chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar who kept a watchful eye on the affairs of the court in Murshidabad. Bengal in 1756-57.201 He had large stakes in the salt trade of Bengal and the opium trade of Bihar. As the leader of the Asian merchants. 201 K. vol. he maintained diplomatic negotiations with the Danish. vol. 3. in S. XXXI. C. he was able to secure the salt farm in 1752 and the saltpetre farm in 1753. chief of the French factory at Kashimbazar: 187. English and French Companies. through whom he negotiated with the Europeans.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Merchants. 167. Chaudhuri.204 As the English attacked Chandernagore. Bengal in 1756-57. ibid. 175). Hill. 166) and Clive’s letter to Khoja Wajid. 1: 3-5. Dutch.205 For a long time Wajid wanted to counterbalance the English with the French in the nawab’s court. Hill. not sent. 204 Letter from Khoja Wajid to Clive. translation of the ﬁrst part of a memoir by Monsieur Jean Law. In 1756. described him as a ‘conﬁdential agent with the Europeans. Wajid wanted the nawab to assist the French with his troops and arranged a meeting between Law and the nawab. Bengal in 1756-57.’202 It appears from the letters Siraj wrote to Wajid that the nawab conﬁded in the latter.203 When the English plundered Hugli during the dispute with Siraj. He S. C. Through his contacts in the nawab’s darbar. Hill. in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. On behalf of the nawab. vol.199 Through his lodges at Patna and Surat he was engaged in inland trade. But as war with the French was imminent. no. 203 S. however. Wajid enjoyed the monopoly of saltpetre and salt. v. Collet and Watts described Khoja Wajid as the ‘greatest merchant in Bengal’ having ‘great inﬂuence with the Nabab. 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. 2: 110 (no. Hill. were. he mediated in conﬂicts between Asian and European merchants. C. companies and rulers: Bengal in the Eighteenth Century’. ‘Merchants. He represented the French in the nawab’s darbar and Monsieur Law. S. C. 202 S. 1500-1800 315 step brother Jubbo lived in Chinsura. During the few years before the battle of Plassey.
It coincided with the arrival of the European Companies in Asia when Armenians. 371). Law informed Wajid that he was on his way to Murshidabad. Mobility and ﬂexibility had always been characteristics of this ethno-religious network. and these characteristics reached their height in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. as neutral Christians. could make use of the increasing European—in addition to Asian—shipping in the Indian Ocean region. 206 Letter from Clive to Pigot. This letter also was handed over to the English by Wajid. Within two years after the battle of Plassey (1757) that yielded the English political power in Bengal. Unlike the modern joint-stock European Companies. private networks of trade maintained by members of the community remained the source of strength of the Armenians. it has been necessary ﬁrst to understand how the Armenian merchants organized their trade. Familiarity of the Armenians with the trading world of Asia added a different dimension to their relationship with Europeans—the English in particular—and helped the Armenians in further extending their activities. He again informed the English that Bussy had written the nawab that he would not be able to go to Bengal and that on receiving this news. The deportation of a large number of Armenians to Persia by Shah Abbas in the beginning of the seventeenth century was instrumental in a major eastward surge of Armenians. Whereas the Companies drew their strength from the state that backed them. but the parameters of the two structures were totally different. 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. to Clive who informed Pigot in Madras that he was conspiring with powerful persons including Jagat Seth and Khoja Wajid. one can only emphasize their differences.316 BHASWATI BHATTACHARYA sent his chief gumastah. One cannot compare the two structures. Arriving at Bhagalpur. . Armenians were part of a pre-modern structure of trade operating on the basis of extended family and other kinship networks. (no. the nawab had asked Law to leave Patna for Murshidabad.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. Shibbabu. Wajid was imprisoned on the grounds that he was conspiring with the Dutch and the French. In doing so. 2: 368-69. Both the structures co-existed with each other. Bengal in 1756-57.
Journal of Asian Studies. J. When the Mughals. it was in this light. Khoja Sarhad was the political stepping stone for the English in India. He called Khoja Sarhad Israeli. the nawab of Bengal. there were places where they received co-operation. According to her. ‘Asia and the West as partners before ‘Empire’ and After’. Armenians in India. Indeed. as pointed out by Siraj-uddaula. Our study of the last wills and testaments of Armenian merchants. Political Economy of Commerce. In that structure. has dismissed the notion of co-operation between Armenians and Europeans stating that co-operation was exception and not a regular practice. 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. 1979). the 207 H. Pearson ed. merchants of foreign origin traded side by side with indigenous merchants. 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. For further discussion on this issue. and their representatives in different parts of India. 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. as the ‘political stepping stone’ of the English. 711-21. Furber. and elsewhere in Asia. Seth noticed. this was the theme of the collection of essays in B. J. the position of Seth was politically motivated. Subrahmanyam. v. The Age of Partnership: Europeans in Asia before Dominion (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii. 1500-1800 317 The second issue evolved around the relationship between the Armenians and Europeans. . But Sarhad himself was hardly aware of the future implications of the beneﬁts he was securing for the English. Company documents and contemporary travel accounts conﬁrms the position of Seth.ARMENIAN EUROPEAN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA. Seth showed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries how the English owed their position in India to the Armenians. 1969 (4). guided by the idea to attract the attention of the Imperial crown to the state of the Armenians in India and elsewhere. B. This paper has tried to show that Armenian support for European endeavour went far beyond the horizons of mere trading activities. 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. Kling and M. in her work on the Armenians in Persia. N. formed part of the existing structure of trade. XXVIII.. exempliﬁed in the classic cases of Calicut and Cochin. as M.’207 Writing extensively on the Armenians in India M. Baghdiantz Mccabe. welcomed the presence of Europeans. Khoja Wajid.
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