Armenians In Calcutta - Holy Nazareth

 

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The Holy Church of Nazareth, Calcutta.  Easter Day 1915.
Photograph: Reproduced courtesy of the Armenian Church, Kolkata, Very Rev. Father Oshagan Gulgulian, copyright: The Armenian Church, Kolkata

Jump to statistical snapshot of the Armenian community in Calcutta between 1811-1835
Jump to Armenian population count in Calcutta for 1814, 1815 and 1836
Jump to Armenian advocates of the Calcutta High Court 1855-1893

temporary wooden chapelThe first Armenian Church, a wooden structure was built by public contribution on 22nd June 1688 and was named St. John.  The East India Company for 7 years contributed £40/- per year towards the maintenance of a priest, this Church was destroyed by fire in 1707.  Three hundred years later in January 2008, a huge fire raged out of control for 5 days in Bura Bazaar very close to the current church and for many long hours the current priest, Father Oshagan Gulgulian along with the dedicated guardians of the church; the committee and wardens,  worried intently about the fire spreading to this, the Holy Church of Nazareth.  On the 5th day after the fire began, his prayers were answered and the fire was eventually put out and the church and the surrounding area was blessed and left unscathed.  It stood on the periphery of a fire ravaged scene standing tall and bright like a phoenix from a flame  Had the fire spread just a few hundred yards further, this church, due to celebrate it's 300th anniversary this year (2008), would also have been lost in the same fashion as the first church in 1707.  Thankfully, that tragedy was averted.
 
 St. John's Church having been razed to the ground, The Holy Church of Nazareth was built seventeen years later in 1724 on the old burial ground of the Armenian community, by Agha Nazar and the architect was an Armenian from Iran named Mr. Levon Ghevond.  The belfry and steeple were added just 10 years later by Mr. Manual Hazarmalian in 1734.  Repaired and renovated in 1763 by Khojah Petrus Arratoon who also embellished the church and built two additional altars, one on the right hand side of the main altar, in memory of his brother Gorgin Khan, who was assassinated near Monghyr, and the other on the left side to commemorate his memory. In 1789 Agha Catchick Arakiel presented an English clock to the Church which he had ordered from the firm of Alexander Hare of London.  The clock arrived in Calcutta in 1792 and was fixed in the clock tower.  Also in 1789, he had the church compound enclosed by a substantial wall, which today is still standing as is the parsonage within the grounds.  Unfortunately, he did not see the installation of the clock as it was 2 years after Mr. Arakiel's death which occurred on the 25th July 1790.
 
 On the south side of the Church can be seen the oldest Christian grave in Calcutta.  The inscription reads "This is the tomb of Reza Beebeh, wife of Charitable Sookias who died on 31st July 1630".  A little further from the south side of the church was Sookias Lane where the Sookias family lived. And today, the name Sookias is still very much associated with the Church by way of Mr. Haik Sookias Jr., who is a past Chairman of the Church Committee. A large number of prominent Armenians are buried in the churchyard.  Amongst them is a Mr. Shircore (in Persian the name means lion-eater).  It is recorded that he fought and killed a lion bare handed; but died of his wounds later. 
 
 Within the compound of the church grounds was a well stocked library.  It was made over to the wardens and commissionaires of the Holy church of Nazareth for the perusal of the Reverend Priests in Calcutta in May 1896.
 
 Over the years, the Church has been fortunate to have received many gifts and bequests, particularly in the 18th century.  Many others by their wills have left large sums, amongst whom was the late Sir Catchick Paul Chater of Hongkong.  He was born in Calcutta in September 1846, and died in Hongkong in May 1926.  By his will he left a very substantial sum of his enormous wealth to the Armenian Church.  One of the many ways in which his legacy has been utilised is by the building of an old peoples home for the Armenian community which was named the "Sir Paul Chater Home".  The foundation stone was laid by Mr. S.K. Sen, the Official Trustee of West Bengal on 21st November 1952.  More about Sir Catchick Paul Chater can be read here.

List of names of benefactors who left large bequests to the Armenian Church, Calcutta

Sir Catchick Paul Chater Mr. T.M. Thaddeus Mrs Sarah Chater
Mr. Z.T. Manuk John Michael and Wife
Mary
Miss Maryn and Miss Mary Gregory Apcar
Mr. Nicholas Mackertich Carapiet Mrs. Helen Moses Miss L.M. Christian
Mr. Arratoon Galoost Mrs. C. Lumbrugen Mr. Joseph Ephraim
Mr. Thomas Seth Apcar Col. S.T. Avetoom Dr. S.J. Manuk [Manook]
Joseph Paul Miss Amy Apcar Arratoon Petrus
Petrus Stephen Arratoon Apcar Senior
and Gregory Apcar Senior
Seth Arratoon Apcar
A.S. Mackertich A.G. Apcar Massey Babjab
Gevork Manuk Anna Iscar Zorab  


Below is a register of names of officiating Pastors and Priests of the Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth, Calcutta, from 1793 - 1957
 [official Church records/registers prior to 1793 were destroyed - see 'Strange But True Facts III' here]

Date

1755
1793-1797
1793-1802
1794-1795
1795-1813
1798-1802
1803-1807
1803-1804
1805-1808
1808-1813
1808-1813
1812-1814
1814-1821
1814-1822
1821-1828
1821-1826
1822-1826
1825-1829
1826-1827
1826-1827
1826-1831
1826-1830
1827-1828
1830-1834
1831-1836
1831-1837
1836-1840
1837-1842
1838-1841
1841-1845
1842-1843
1842-1844
1843-1846
1844-1847
1844-1847
1844-1872
1845-1846
1846-1849
1846-1849
1850-1856
1850-1856
1852-1854
1856-1860
1856-1860
1860-1863
1861-1863
1863-1865
1863-1866
1863-1867
1866-1868
1866-1869
1866-1869
1869-1872
1870-1873
1870-1873
1872-1875
1874-1876
1874-1875
1875-1877
1874-1878
1877-1881
1878-1882
1880-1884
1883-1885
1885-1888
1885-1889
1885-1892
1886-1891
 

Name

Padre Daniel*
Rev. Hacob Ter-Petrosian
Rev. Galstaun Martyrosian
Rev. Gevork Babanian
Rev. Hovsep Stephannosian
Rev. Martyrose Davidian
Rev. Lucas Ter-Gevorgian
Rev. Gabriel Ter-Stephannosian
Rev. Aviet Ter-Minasian
Rev. Harouthiun Ter-Minasian
Rev. Marcar Ter-Carapietian
Rev. Zakaria Ter-Prtrosian
Rev. Aviet Ter-Minasian
Rev. Lucas Ter-Gevorgian
Rev. Hovsep Stephannosian
Rev. Galoost Harouthiunian
Rev. Hovsep Ter-Mackertchian
Rev. Abraham Ter-Karapietian
Rev. Harouthiun Evasion
Rev. Catchatour Harouthiunian
Rev. Anton Avagian
Rev. Hovannes Galstanian
Rev. Hovannes Mackertchian
Rev. Harouthiun Eghiaian
Rev. Lazar Gregorian
Rev. Hovannes Ter-Avietian
Rev. Anton Avagian
Rev. David Mackertchian
Rev. Eliazar Andreasian
Rev. Carapiet Ter-Abrahamian
Rev. Abraham Ter-Carapietian
Rev. Harouthiun Ter-Eliazarian
Rev. Petrose Antonian
Rev. Carapiet Gregorian
Rev. Marcar Andreasian
Rev. Hovannes Khachikian (Vicar)
Rev. Mathevos Gregore Karibian
Rev. Barsiegh Galstanian (Archpriest)
Rev. Martyrose Ter-Hovakiemian
Rev. Mackertich Ter-C. Gregorian
Rev. Mackertich H. Ter-Lucasian
Rev. Hovannes Galstanian
Rev. Harouthiun Ter-S. Ter-Harouthiunian
Rev. Nicholaose Ter-H. Eghiaian (Archpriest)
Rev. Mackertich H.Ter-Lucasian (Archpriest)
Rev. Sylvester Hovhannesian
Rev. Galstaun Nazarethian
Rev. Aristakes Hovannesian
Rev. Dyonisius Ter-Eliazarian
Rev. Retevos Davidian
Rev. Ephiphan H. Gregorian
Rev. Nicholaose Ter-H. Eghiaian (Archpriest)
Rev. Aviet Astvatsatourian
Rev. Martyrose Ter-Hovakimian (Archpriest)
Rev. Gregor Ter-Marcarian
Rev. Gasper Ter-Simonian
Rev. Nicholaose Ter-H. Eghiaian (Archpriest)
Rev. Gregor Ter-Harouthiunian
Rev. Barsegh Ter-Gevork Gasparian
Rev. Dyonisius Ter-Eliazarian
Rev. Minas Barseghian
Rev. Mackertich Petrosian
Rev. Martyrose G. Apcarian
Rev. Rethevos Davidian
Rev. Psack H.Hacobian
Rev. Galstaun Ter-Barseghian
Rev. Gregor Ter-Marcarian
Rev. Elisha H. Mackertoumian
 

Date


1889-1893
1893-1897
1894-1899
1896-1900
1898-1901
1899-1903
1900-1904
1902-1905
1903-1907
1904-1907
1907-1912
1907-1910
1908-1911
1912-1920
1912-1917
1913-1917
1917-1922
1917-1922
1920-1926
1922-1927
1923-1927
1926-1929
1927-1930
1927-1929
1929-1933
1929-1933
1930-1933
1933-1935
1933-1936
1933-1936
1936-1942
1936-1940
1940-1944
1942-1949
1944-1947
1948-1958
1948-1953
1953-1956
1957
1957-1962
1961
1964
1964-1968
1964-1970
1966
1967-1968
1968-1972
1968-1974
1968
1969
1969
1969-1970
1972
1972
1973-1974
1974-1981
1982-1984
1985-1994
1985-2000
2000-2003
2003-2004
2005-2007
2005-2009
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010

2010-2013
2010-2010
2010-2015
2010-2011
2013-2016
2013-2015
2016
2016

Name


Rev. Barsegh Ter-Gevork Gasparian
Rev. Sylvester Hovannesian
Rev. Psack Ter-Hacobian
Rev. Andrews G. Apcarian
Rev. Mesrobe C. Davidian
Rev. Barsiegh P. Alexy
Rev. Mackertich Petrosian
Rev. Essai Ter-S. Johannes
Rev. Carapiet Thoomikian
Rev. Psack H. Hacobian
Rev. Vardan S. Vardanian
Rev. Mashtotz Israelian
Rev. Sarkies Gregorian
Rev. Barsegh P. Alexy
Rev. Marcar C. Davidian
Rev. Garegin Johannes
Rev. Essai Ter-S. Johannes (Archpriest)
Rev. Carapiet Thoomikian
Rev. Vahan Aghanian
Rev. Nierses P. Paul
Rev. Garegin Johannes
Rev. Hambarzoom S. Vardanian
Rev. Carapiet Thoomikian
Rev. Essai Ter-S. Johannes
Rev. Vahan Aghanian
Rev. Nierses P. Paul
Rev. Hovakim Basis
Rev. Theodore Isaac (Archimandrite)
Rev. Vartannes Nazareth
Rev. Garegin Johannes
Rev. Nierses S. David
Rev. Hambardzoom S. Vardanian
Rev. Garegin Johannes
Rev. Vardan S. Vardanian
Rev. Hambardzoom S. Vardanian
Rev. Aramais Mirzaian
Rev. Avetice Edgarian
Rev. B.S. David
Rev. Pogose Petrossian
Bishop Asoghik Ghazarian
Archbishop Haikazoon Abrahamian
Archbishop Haikazoon Abrahamian
Rev. Vazken Stepanian (Priest at Bombay)
Rev. Fr. Kegham Zakarian
Archbishop Haikazoon Abrahamian
Archbishop Haikazoon Abrahamian
Rev. Fr. Vazken Stepanian
Mario Stepanian (Deacon)*
Poghose Aratoon (Deacon)
Sam Aviet (Deacon)
Marytrose Aivaz (Deacon)
Archbishop Haikazoon Abrahamian
Bishop Vahan Terian
V.Rev. Hair Woskan Kalpakian
Very Rev. Fr. Vazken Tatoyan
Rev. Fr. Hagop Guekchian
Rev. Fr. Sarkis Tachdjian
Anthony Galstaun (Deacon)
Rev. Fr. Sahak Sahakyan
Very Rev. Fr. Ghevond Ghervondyan
Very Rev. Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian
Tigran Baghoumyan (Deacon)
Very Rev. Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian
Haroutyn Hambardzumyan (Deacon)
(became Rev. Fr. Avetis below)
Rev. Fr. Avetis Hambardzumyan
(ordained a Priest in Kolkata)
Very Rev. Fr. Khoren Hovhannisian

Very Rev. Fr. Ignatious Malkhasyan
Rev. Fr. Geghard Ghabaghyan
Samvel Harutiunian (Deacon)
Very Rev. Fr. Zaven Yakichyan
Rev. Fr. Arsen Saroyan
Rev. Fr. Movses Sargsyan
Varazdat Kocharyan (Deacon)

*My thanks to Mario Stepanian, son of Rev. Vazken Stepanian for assistance with information and dates in the 1960's and 1970's.
Also Very Rev. Fr. Zaven Yakichyan for updating the list in February 2014

* Padre Daniel was an Armenian priest at the Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth in 1755, details extracted from the Will of Catchick Coja Maul dated 17th November 1755.


  1814 1815 1836  
Male 269 272

290

For 1836 the adults of all ages were 313 and children 192.  The number of houses in which the 505 people resided were 101
Female 195 208 215
Total 464 480 505

Year Births Marriages Deaths
1811 10 7 12
1812 8 2 12
1813 8 4 14
1814 13 5 21
1815 9 4 21
1816 11 7 15
1817 11 3 20
1819 5 1 23
1820 11 5 17
1821 16 4 16
1822 12 5 16
1823 8 2 10
1824 7 6 21
1825 15 5 19
1826 8 3 19
1827 18 5 15
1829 12 4 15
1830 9 4 14
1831 19 3 17
1832 13 2 17
1833 13 3 23
1834 9 7 16
1835 19 4 7
       
Total 280 99 395



An early statistical snapshot of the Armenian community in Calcutta gives you an idea of the thriving community. The Births, Marriages and Deaths of the Armenian population of Calcutta for a 25year period from 1811 to 1835 inclusive.*

Armenian population count in Calcutta for the years*



*Taken from "Statistics of the Colonies of the British Empire 1839, From the Official Records of the Colonial Office"
By Robert Montgomery Martin













Armenian Advocates of the Calcutta High Court from 1855-1893

Inn Names Year of Admission Appointment or Chambers
L Honorable Sir Gregory Charles Paul B.A., K.C.I.E. 1855 Advocate-General
I J.H.W. Arratoon,B.A. 1864 England
I Gasper Gregory 1868 Durbhungah
I G.J. Pogose 1869 Dacca
I Aviet Agabeg 1869 England
I Thomas Alexander Apcar 1870 11 Old Post Office Street
L Malcolm Peter Gasper* 1872 England
L Arrakiel Peter Gasper 1872 9 Old Post Office Street
L J.G. Apcar 1874 Clerk of the Crown
I John A. Apcar 1875 High Court
I A. Arathoon 1875 England
I A.A. Shircore 1875 Chittagong
I St. John Stephen, B.A., LL.B. 1880 9 Hastings Street
I J.N. Pogose 1882 Allahabad
I A.E. Gasper 1882 High Court
I A.T. Apcar, M.A., LL.B. 1883 11 Old Post Office Street
M A.A. Avetoom 1885 11 Old Post Office Street
I Osmond J. Bagram 1887 Rangoon
M M. Zorab 1889 6 Hastings Street
I Walter Gasper Gregory 1889 5 Old Post Office Street
M John George Bagram 1890 Bar Library
I G.I.M. Gregory 1890 Mozufferpore
I C.A.O.T. Gregory 1891 High Court
G.I. J. Ernest Bagram 1893 Bar Library
M John Chater Jordan 1893 N.W.P.

* Malcolm Peter Gasper was one of the leaders of the Calcutta bar.  He was a respected member of the Armenian community of Calcutta, and they paid a tribute to his memory, by erecting a marble mural tablet in the Armenian Church of St. Nazareth. Follow this link to see it





Inn Names Year of Admission Appointment or Chambers
L Honorable Sir Gregory Charles Paul B.A., K.C.I.E. 1855 Advocate-General
I J.H.W. Arratoon,B.A. 1864 England
I Gasper Gregory 1868 Durbhungah
I G.J. Pogose 1869 Dacca
I Aviet Agabeg 1869 England
I Thomas Alexander Apcar 1870 11 Old Post Office Street
L Malcolm Peter Gasper* 1872 England
L Arrakiel Peter Gasper 1872 9 Old Post Office Street
L J.G. Apcar 1874 Clerk of the Crown
I John A. Apcar 1875 High Court
I A. Arathoon 1875 England
I A.A. Shircore 1875 Chittagong
I St. John Stephen, B.A., LL.B. 1880 9 Hastings Street
I J.N. Pogose 1882 Allahabad
I A.E. Gasper 1882 High Court
I A.T. Apcar, M.A., LL.B. 1883 11 Old Post Office Street
M A.A. Avetoom 1885 11 Old Post Office Street
I Osmond J. Bagram 1887 Rangoon
M M. Zorab 1889 6 Hastings Street
I Walter Gasper Gregory 1889 5 Old Post Office Street
M John George Bagram 1890 Bar Library
I G.I.M. Gregory 1890 Mozufferpore
I C.A.O.T. Gregory 1891 High Court
G.I. J. Ernest Bagram 1893 Bar Library
M John Chater Jordan 1893 N.W.P.

* Malcolm Peter Gasper was one of the leaders of the Calcutta bar.  He was a respected member of the Armenian community of Calcutta, and they paid a tribute to his memory, by erecting a marble mural tablet in the Armenian Church of St. Nazareth. Follow this link to see it