Jump to content


Sir Paul Catchick Chater

  • Please log in to reply
30 replies to this topic

#21 Yervant1


    The True North!

  • Super Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 18,217 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 10 September 2017 - 08:15 AM

Times of India
Sept 9 2017
The benevolent Armenian
Sep 9, 2017, 07:09 IST
On what would have been his 171st birth day, La Martiniere School has collabo rated with the Indo-Armenian Friend ship NGO to remember Paul Chater, the 'Grand Old Man of Hong Kong'. 

This pioneering Kolkata Armenian might only be known to the school's alumni and the people of Hong Kong, but his legacy continues to support millions through his philanthropic work and business acumen. Born in Kolkata on September 8, 1846, Sir Paul studied as a foundationer at Claude Martin's school and left as a qualified surveyor, a minor achievement that would, quite literally , build the foundations for Asia's business hub. 

Seen floating in a small dinghy out in the waters off Hong Kong, many thought he was out fishing as usual, but there was no bait at the end of his fishing line; there was a crude depth gauge. Over the course of months, he was measuring the depth of the waters. This data would lead him to carry out one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in Asia: the expansion of Hong Kong by an estimated 57 acres using 3.5 million tonnes of earth, thus increas ing the overall size of the island. This project led to the foundation of one of his many companies, Hongkong Land. 

On Friday, at La Martiniere, a number of dignitaries assembled to unveil a bronze bust of Sir Paul, to be located between the Martin and Chater buildings at the school. The Bishop of Kolkata, the Right Reverend Ashoke Biswas, the Armenian Ambassador to India, Armen Armen Martirosyan and the secretary of La Martiniere, Supriyo Dhar, as well as Sir Paul's biographer Liz Chater and National Coordinator of the Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO Karen Mkrtchyan, will be present. "The unveiling of the bust is the product of a long-held ambition to remember and recognise a man who is arguably Kolkata's most important Armenian," says Mkrtchyan, an Armenian from Armenia but who studied at the Armenian College in Kolkata and, before that, at La Martiniere. 

In a sign of the growing links between the two nations, an Indian artist has been commissioned to sculpt the bust. Originally from Odisha, Kantikishore Moharana has represented India on various international platforms, including twice at the International Sculptors' Symposium in Nagorno Kharabagh. The bronze bust took him a month to make.   

  Sonia John, who was both a foundationer and a member of the board at La Martiniere, says: "Sir Paul Chater left a very generous donation for the poor Armenians of Kolkata. His donation has allowed many Armenians to study at La Martiniere, including myself. It is because of these donations that he is still revered at La Martiniere, which was saved from certain closure due to his benevolence." 

Dhar holds Sir Paul in equally high regard "The school was in a very grave financial situation and its future looked uncertain. If it hadn't been for Sir Paul's generous donation, I am not sure the school would be here today."   

  Sir Paul owned, or had a stake in, over 20 businesses in Hong Kong, including many utilities. He held a number of senior government posts -treasurer and chairman of the Queen Victoria Jubilee Committee, member of the governor's executive council, consul for Siam in Hong Kong and chairman of the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Committee.He had a great interest in sports too -he was the longest serving chairman of the board of stewards of the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club (1892-1926). For his achievements, he was awarded the Legion d'honneur by France and made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George by the British. The myriad of business interests allowed him to donate Rs 11 lakh (its equivalent today would be tens of crores) in the early part of the 20th century to his alma mater when it was on the verge of collapse. 

Both Hong Kong and La Martiniere are thriving today, thanks to major interventions by Sir Paul.Hong Kong is the financial trading hub of Asia while La Martiniere is one of the city's top private schools.


"It is a wonderful thing that La Martiniere and Indo-Armenian NGO have done. Sir Paul should have more recognition than he currently gets, and I hope this permanent statue will go some way to helping that happen," says Liz Chater, Sir Paul's distant relative and a genealogist currently working on a biography of Sir Paul.


Sir Paul's legacy is visible elsewhere in the city too: the `Sir Catchick Paul Chater Home for the Elderly' is in the same compound as St Gregory's Chapel near Park Circus, the rear gate of which leads into the Armenian section of the AJC Bose Road cemetery , where many famous Armenians are buried including some of Sir Paul's relatives; one of the companies he founded is still trading here in Kolkata -Jardine Henderson; and two plaques honour his memory at the Armenian Church in Burrabazaar.His palatial mansion in Hong Kong `Marble Hall' accidently burnt down but his final resting place there remains, as does Chater Road and Chater Garden, constant reminders of a Kolkata boy .


The author is an Armenian and a distant relative of Sir Paul Chater . He works as a historian, is a Kolkata heritage enthusiast and conducts heritage walks and tours in the city.


(Anthony Khatchaturian) 

Get latest news & live updates on the go on your pc with News App. Download The Times of India news app for your device.

  • MosJan likes this

#22 Yervant1


    The True North!

  • Super Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 18,217 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 18 February 2019 - 10:56 AM

Dear Liz, it was a pleasant surprise that I found this article about you and I am very happy that you are back at this great work. Wish you well! Note for visitors of Hyeforum: If you search our forum for "Liz Chater" you will find many threads about her tireless work and effort, there are very valuable information about history of Armenians in India. Thanks Liz again for your work.

The Daily Star, Bangladesh

Feb 17 2019
Recovering the stories of the Armenians of Asia
Liz Chater
Interview by Moyukh Mahtab

Liz Chater, a family history researcher based in the UK, has been working on the Armenian communities in South Asia since 2010. Currently, she is working with the Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection in Armanitola on the Bangladesh Armenian Heritage Project, which aims to "build the stories, starting from the ground up" of the Armenian communities of Bangladesh and India. In an interview over email with Moyukh Mahtab, she talks of her own heritage, which led her to her research interest, and of her past and present projects.

How did you come to be interested in the Armenian communities of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in Asia?

My interest in Armenian genealogy in Asia began because of my own family history in India and Dacca [Dhaka]. Like a lot of people here in the UK I was curious about my family's past but actually knew very little about my own family name. My father didn't speak much about his life as a child in India and of course when he passed away it was too late for questions. His brother had been killed in the Second World War at 17 years of age. Their father had also died in the 1940s and I was very young when their mother died, so there simply was no one that I knew of who could tell me about the India connection. My mother gave me a little information and armed with that I travelled to the British Library in London to see what I could discover. I soon realised that there were many people with the name Chater in India and I decided that it would be useful to try and record everyone in the archives with my surname, to try and build a bigger picture. It wasn't long before I found references to my Chater line in Calcutta and Dacca, and that was the spring-board for the journey of a lifetime.


Lower Circular Road Cemetery, Kolkata, where a number of Chater family members are laid to rest.

Naturally my research led on to a wider collection of Armenian names. It dawned on me that there was very little information available at the time (around the year 2000) online that was Armenian related. Instinctively, I wanted to try and bring the Armenian family presence in India into a more accessible place to help others who may also be looking for their own Armenian connections in India. I created my website (www.chater-genealogy.com), and started putting general Armenian family history related information on it. Of course when you are researching, you are constantly working backwards and it wasn't long before my enquiries had taken me from the early 20th century, back to the 19th and even earlier to the late-18th centuries and beyond. The further back I went the more engrossed in Armenian family history I became and invariably an answer to a query often created more questions. I began to develop a much deeper interest—a passion for Armenian family history in Asia. I quickly recognised it as one of the less popular aspects of genealogy in India. With only a handful of people who had undertaken research on Armenians and their families in India, it made me even more determined to get involved at roots level. Helping people realise their own personal history, particularly if it contains an Armenian connection, is very important to me.

You mention your search for your family roots in Dhaka and Kolkata. Who were the Chaters here?

Like many Armenians who settled in Asia, my particular Chater line migrated to India from Persia. I am very fortunate that the family bible of my branch has survived. The earliest entry in the bible is of Arakiel Chater, son of Abraham Martyrose and Magdalene Chater. It states he was born on October 11, 1832 at 7am. Tuesday in Dacca. It goes on to record that Arakiel married Miss Elizabeth Florentine on October 4, 1851 and that she died on November 20, 1857 at 6pm on a Friday. The bible records their children and other generations too.


Document recording that Arakiel and Elizabeth's first child was born on May 13, 1853 Copyright: Liz Chater

In the image provided it can be seen that Arakiel and Elizabeth's first child was born on May 13, 1853, whom they named Magdalene. A second child, Elizabeth was born on February 2, 1856 on a Saturday and that she sadly died on the October 5, 1880, although it does not state where.

Whilst assisting with the Bangladesh Armenian Heritage Project, what has been exciting for me personally is the process of organising the translating and transcribing of the Church registers. These will eventually be added to the Church website. However, what should be borne in mind is that the Dhaka Church registers are not the original ones. Those seem to have disappeared long ago—the registers the Heritage Project are working with are ones that are much later copies, probably written up in the 1950s or 1960s. Nonetheless, having got them transcribed to English, I have been able to match entries from these records with those entered in my family bible.


References to the Chater family found in the registers of the Armenian Church. Copyright: Armenian Church

Arakiel became a clerk in a Judge's office in Arrah, Mymensingh and Dinajpore. One of his seventeen children was my great grandfather Abraham who became a Post Master working in Port Blair for 10 years, then later Calcutta, Patna and Bankipore. Abraham went on to have at least thirteen children of his own, some of whom did not survive infancy.

I have found the records at the British Library invaluable in my personal research. Besides the baptism, marriage and burial returns, there are numerous other records available for consultation. For example military papers, wills and estate inventories, directories, newspapers, East India records, personal papers, Parliamentary and Treasury papers, Marine Department records such as ships' journals and logs, telegraphic, customs, intelligence and secret records, and much more.

Previously, you have worked on the genealogies of the graves in the Armenian Church in Dhaka. Could you tell us about that project?

I have made several trips to India, particularly Kolkata and during the course of each visit, I made a point of photographing as many Armenian graves and tombstones as I could. On returning home I spent time transcribing the ones in English and uploading them on to my website. The Armenian ones were trickier. I don't speak or read Armenian, but I was fortunate that an Armenian student from Kolkata I met on one of my trips shared my passion for history and with his help, along with the help of one of the Armenian teachers, as well as a number of other people including Professor Sebouh Aslanian, these language-locked stones are once again telling their stories, but this time in English. As I began to make progress with the Armenian tombstones in India, I turned my attention to the ones in Dhaka. I hired a photographer to capture all the stones within the compound of the Armenian Church and once again set about transcribing those I could, and getting professional help for the ones written in Armenian. The Very Reverend Fr Krikor Maksoudian's help was invaluable in this regard.


The Chater family bible. Courtes: Liz Chater

The Armenian community in Asia has such a rich history, the stones will one day wear away and those people who lay beneath and the stories of their respective lives will be lost and forgotten. If I am able to make a contribution to the preservation of the Armenian presence in Asia then I will be very pleased to play a small part in that.

During a trip to Kolkata in 2005, I was fortunate to be given permission to access one of the many baptism, marriage and burial registers of the Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth. I was able to photograph the very early baptism register entries between 1793–1859. It was of course written in Armenian and I once again had to find a patient and willing helper to translate and transcribe them. It took around two years to complete the register and I was very happy to donate all the work to The Families in British India Society (www.fibis.org) for their growing database of freely available data.

What are you working on currently? How has been the response about the project with the church in Dhaka?

Currently, the Bangladesh Armenian Heritage Project is the main focus of my attention. Over the last few months we have made appeals to anyone who may have had a family connection to the Armenian community of Dhaka at any point during the history of the church. Considering the community's numbers have always been small in Dhaka, both Armen Arslanian (warden of the church) and I are very pleased with the response and contributions that have been made so far. We have been given access to personal family archives, containing a wealth of commercial related documents, photographs and stories.

Armenian musician Rouben Karakhanian who visited the Armenian Church Dhaka in the 1930s. Courtesy: Liz Chater

A completely unexpected side-story that has come to light is of an Armenian musician called Rouben Karakhanian. In 1935 Rouben was in Kolkata visiting the Armenian community there. Travelling on to Dhaka he played a concert in the grounds of the church; the Armenian community enjoyed it immensely. The musician found a most attentive audience and a new friend in a young 22 year old Armenian, Ruben David who was living with his uncle and family at the church who happened to be the resident priest, Reverend Ter Bagrat. The musician gave the young Ruben two signed photographs that became treasured possessions of Ruben's family, and we are delighted that the David family are sharing their archive with the Heritage Project. What is even more extraordinary is that when I was talking through this discovery with Armen, he was rather taken aback, because as a young boy, he remembers meeting the musician 30 years later in the late 1960s at his own home in Los Angeles. Rouben Karakhanian had been invited by Armen's parents to play at their house. Suddenly in 2018, because of his own sequence of life events, Armen, as warden of the Armenian Church in Dhaka found himself remembering a long forgotten memory of his early childhood. Armen says: "Looking at the photograph of Rouben the musician I find myself being reminded of a moment from my very early childhood time that I had no idea would connect me to my future responsibilities of the Armenian Church in Dhaka”—the extraordinary circle of Armenian life, spanning many decades and continents.

As a team, we are pressing forward on the work of the Bangladesh Armenian Heritage Project and continue to appeal for anyone who has or had a family connection to the Armenian community in Dhaka to get in touch with us. This is very much a community driven venture. When we first started this project, we had no idea what material, if any, would be shared with us. A story like that of the David family above just shows how a long forgotten photograph perfectly preserved in an album can be given a breath of life and meaning again.

It seems that with this subject there is a lot that we can still learn about our shared pasts—is there enough research being conducted in this regard?

I haven't come across an Armenian who hasn't got a story to tell but so much history is being lost, forgotten even destroyed. We all have a responsibility to preserve and record what we can as well as help to rediscover the elapsed past. We are fortunate to have Armenian academics dedicating their careers to exactly that.

For more details regarding Liz Chater’s research, visit chater-genealogy.com and chater-genealogy.blogspot.com

The Armenian Church would love to hear from anyone with an association to the Armenian families who once lived in this part of the world for their forthcoming research project. To get in touch, email armenianchurchbangladesh@gmail.com

For more on the Armenian Church in Dhaka, visit their Facebook page




  • lizchater likes this

#23 lizchater


    Junior Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 44 posts
  • Gender:Female

Posted 18 February 2019 - 02:23 PM

Thank you so much for sharing this article and your kind words regarding my research efforts. If anyone has Armenian connections to the community in Bangladesh, please do get in touch with  me. It would be good to include as many people and their stories as possible in the Bangladesh Armenian Heritage Project.

  • MosJan likes this

#24 Yervant1


    The True North!

  • Super Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 18,217 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 19 February 2019 - 10:10 AM

Good to hear from you! :)

#25 Yervant1


    The True North!

  • Super Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 18,217 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 13 May 2019 - 09:35 AM

Another gem from Liz Chater! :)

The Daily Star, Bangladesh
May 12 2019
The Pogose School: An Armenian legacy in Old Dhaka





The Pogose School in Dhaka is a familiar landmark in the city. What is perhaps unfamiliar to the Armenian Diaspora around the world is that it was opened in 1848 by local Armenian Joakim Gregory Nicholas Pogose. His Armenian family network extended into Calcutta as well as Dacca. His parents were Gregory Nicholas Pogose and Elizabeth née Sarkies. Through his mother’s family line one can see a deep-rooted philanthropic trace; his great grandfather, Sarkies Ter Johannes, was co-founder of Johannes Sarkies & Co., and during Ter Johannes’s lifetime contributed enormously to the poor, destitute and needy. His grave inscription reflects: “… he was charitable to the homeless and distributed money bountifully.”




Joakim Pogose of Dacca married a second cousin, Mariam née  Avdall of Calcutta. The influence of personal advancement through educatiowas something she was already very familiar with. The significance of her well-regarded father, Johannes Avdall, the headmaster of the Armenian College & Philanthropic Academy in Calcutta from 1825 for 45 years, would have only made Joakim even more determined to create a school in Dacca. What better mentor than his own father-in-law, a leading educationalist of his time? Imagine if you will, the conversations these two would have had; no doubt discussions on education and the complexities of setting up a school, and how Joakim could learn from the first 25 years of the Armenian College’s existence. Poignantly, In Johannes Avdall’s will, he left a small legacy to: “….my esteemed son-in-law Joakim GN Pogose…..”. 




Avdall was the perfect motivator for the forward thinking Joakim, emulating his father-in-law, Joakim became the headmaster of his own establishment. Knowing his extended Armenian family were already making a significant difference through education in one part of India, he realised it was within his gift to create a similar institution in Dacca, this was simply inspiring for Joakim. The determination and drive by Armenians in India to learn, develop and progress is something the early settlers recognised to be very important. Joakim was no different, and was in the fortunate position to be able to financially support his dream.


In 1856 Joakim and his cousin Nicholas Peter Pogose were on the local and managing committees of Government Colleges and School for Dacca. 

In April 1859 Joakim, along with his wife Mary and their four sons travelled from Dacca, via Calcutta to England. Also making this journey were other Armenians from Calcutta; Master Malchus, Mr and Mrs and Master Paul and their three children (and two servants); and Master Apcar. It may be that the Pogose’s were acting as guardians on the voyage for Master Apcar. The vessel docked in Southampton and the Pogoses continued their journey to London. The 1861 census shows the family at 26 Queen’s Terrace, Paddington, in temporary boarding house accommodation. Education for his own children was paramount in Joakim’s mind and although by 1862 he and Mary were by now back in Dacca, their second son, John Avdall Pogose was successful in gaining prizes in English, Maths and Classics at Kings College School in London, an institution run in conjunction with St. Marylebone and All Souls’ Grammar School, a most prestigious institution. The Pogose name regularly featured in the prize list for the school for several years after this. Meanwhile John Avdall Pogose’s brother, Nicholas Joakim Pogose was elected to the Eton Club in October 1869, indicating this is where he continued his education until he went to Oxford.

Meanwhile in Dacca, Joakim (also known as JGN) Pogose was amongst many things, an active Freemason. In recognition of his dedication to the craft, he was presented with as solid gold Past Master’s jewel. Reported in the Indian Freemason’s Friend as follows:

‘Lodge Good Hope – The brethren met emergently on Wednesday the 9th September [1863]... the proceedings were rendered most gratifying by the ceremony which next took place, of presenting to Bro. J.G.N. Pogose, P.M. of the lodge, in a suitable and graceful speech from the E., - besides a splendid collar and apron – a very handsome solid gold P.M.’s jewel, most tastefully executed with buckle and holder, ribbon and case complete, having on a blue ground, a square, and the diagram of the 47th proposition, encircled with a neatly corded vine and cassia border, and surmounted with a square and compasses supporting a double Triangle, richly embossed and chased, bearing on the inverse the following inscription:

“Presented by the Brethren of Lodge Good Hope (No. 1058), Dacca, to W.Bro. J.G.N. Pogose, as a token of fraternal regard, and in acknowledgement of his valuable services to the lodge, particularly whilst W.M. in 1861.’

And around the obverse:

‘Lodge Good Hope (No. 1058).”

The gift was acknowledged by Bro. Pogose in the most thankful and appropriate terms, and with feelings of the warmest gratitude.’


By 1871 a new set of Dacca Pogose boys were now at St. Marylebone and All Souls’ school. The census for that year indicates brothers John Nicholas Pogose, Joakim Nicholas Pogose and Carapiet Nicholas Pogose had been enrolled as boarders, following in the footsteps of their elder cousins. These boys were the sons of Nicholas Peter Pogose  (cousin of Joakim Gregory Nicholas Pogose) and his wife Mariam née Sarkies. Nicholas Peter Pogose and his wife had sailed from Calcutta in October 1869 on the “Mongolia” with three children, treading a well-worn educational path set by Pogose School founder cousin Joakim Gregory Nicholas Pogose and his family.

Joakim, who by now was a familiar parental face to the teaching faculty at St. Marylebone and All Souls’ School, was one of a number of parents who presented prizes for the students’ examination success. In 1871, Joakim presented the Geography 1st prize to the value of 2 guineas; the English Essay Prize to the value of 1 guinea; the Euclid prize to the value of 1 guinea; the Note prize to the value of 1 guinea, (this was for the best note written by any boy under the age of twelve); and two Pogose brother’s gained certificates of merit in German. Incidentally, also at this school were two boys named Malchus and Apcar and it is very likely these are the same children who came to England with the (JGN) Pogoses in 1859.


By December 1873 JGN Pogose had been appointed to the Mitford Hospital Committee  in Dacca, along with fellow Armenian Marcar David who ran a successful jute business in the city. These two community driven individuals can often be seen trying to make a positive difference by contributing and helping the local Dacca population.

Joakim Pogose’s grandfather, Nicholas Marcar Pogose, was a man of enormous wealth in Dacca, having inherited some of it from his own father Marcar Pogose (sometimes also known as Poghos Marcar). In Dacca, as a Zamindar, Nicholas Marcar Pogose was able to build an impressive and substantial property and land portfolio of his own, and it is this combined early wealth that enabled Joakim Gregory Nicholas Pogose to be in a position to open the Pogose School in the city.

However, it wasn’t just his own school that interested him. Joakim actively supported a visiting women’s rights campaigner from England who was focused on education for women and reform. Mary Carpenter dedicated her life to promoting female education and better standards of living around the world.  Having already travelled to India a number of times, she returned once more in 1875, landing in Dacca where her hosts, Joakim and his wife Mary made her most welcome. During her time in Dacca, and fully supported by the Pogose’s, Mary Carpenter gave numerous talks about female education, infant training systems, reformatories, sanitation, industrial schools and providing better homes for the poor. She visited local jails to encourage better conditions for prisoners. She suggested merging the local branch of the National Indian Association (originally established by her) with the local Philanthropic Society, thus giving further strength to the purpose of female education. In her speech at the farewell reception held by Joakim and Mary Pogose, she said: “…sanitation is a subject which you will do well to take up; do not oppose Government in its efforts in this city to make sanitary improvements; you stand in very great need of them; you will improve in physique if you live more healthily...”.


On the evening of Tuesday, December 28, 1875 her Pogose hosts bade her farewell. They were joined at the reception at the Pogose’s well appointed home by a number of local gentlemen, and Mary Pogose was just one of three local females to attend the occasion. Clearly, gender equality was still a distant dream for such gatherings.  In thanking everyone, and particularly Mary Pogose, Miss Carpenter said: “…it seems but yesterday that Mrs. Pogose led me into my chamber, nicely decorated with evergreens and fitted up for my comfort. I am very happy that I came to see you.” Eighteen months later Mary Carpenter passed away at her home in Bristol, England, but her legacy continued long after her demise.

In 1876, Joakim and his cousin Nicholas Peter Pogose were honorary magistrates in Dacca together.

Joakim died on December 3, 1876 just two months after his fourth son Paul who had passed away In October of that year at just 22 years of age. By the end of this tumultuous year Mary Pogose had buried a son and a husband. She meticulously and carefully created identical tombstones for them; they are placed only yards apart in the Narinda Cemetery, Dhaka. Tragically, Mary and Joakim had already buried their third son, Nicholas in 1872 who had died in St. Leonard’s, in Sussex of typhoid. Initially Nicholas had been buried in Kensal Green cemetery in London, but, was re-interred at St. Sepulchres, Cemetery, Oxford close to where he had studied.


Mary’s life continued to be difficult. Her remaining two sons, Gregory and John became “mentally incapacitated”. Both initially seemed to have promising careers in front of them, but by 1893 she was providing care and supporting them both financially. Concerned about their financial future after she died, Mary ensured there was sufficient money and physical support for both of them in her will. Mary died in Calcutta in March 1893 and is buried in the Holy Nazareth Armenian Church in the city.

Today, there are no living descendants of the Pogose School founder JGN Pogose and his wife Mary. The school continues to educate students in Dhaka. Pogose’s father-in-law’s school in Kolkata, The Armenian College & Philanthropic Academy also continues to thrive. It will be celebrating its 200 year anniversary in 2020.

A less successful cousin, Nicholas Peter Pogose, was briefly the proprietor of the Dhaka Daily News, as well as a Warden of the Armenian Church Dhaka, but during his lifetime was declared hopelessly insolvent.  Nicholas’s son Peter Nicholas Pogose and his wife Eugenie née Manook seem to spend the majority of their lives playing catch-up and trying to avoid their creditors. Peter was embroiled in a spectacular court case for fraud, eventually being found guilty.

You can read the full story as part of the Bangladesh Armenian Heritage Project stories at http://armenianchurc...ty/nicholas-...

Liz Chater is Coordinator and lead researcher for the Armenian Heritage Project Bangladesh.
























  • MosJan likes this

#26 lizchater


    Junior Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 44 posts
  • Gender:Female

Posted 13 May 2019 - 03:00 PM

Thank you once again for sharing this article.

#27 Yervant1


    The True North!

  • Super Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 18,217 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 May 2019 - 09:04 AM

Thank you once again for sharing this article.


#28 Yervant1


    The True North!

  • Super Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 18,217 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 08 July 2019 - 08:24 AM

The Daily Star, Bangladesh
July 8 2019
Armenian heritage in Bangladesh
Stephen Family of Dhaka stephen_family_1.jpg?itok=r1_bD5HS
The Armenian community Dhaka celebrating Armenian Christmas, 6th January 1952. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater

The unravelling of family history and their associated stories can sometimes take unusual twists and turns. Armenian family history in Asia is no different. There were only 126 Armenians in Dhaka in 1831 in 42 houses, averaging 3 people per household (1). Alongside them was a small population of Greek residents numbering just 48, the Portuguese community had 144 people and there were just 4 who were French. By contrast, there were over 31,000 Hindus and in excess of 35,000 Muslims. The Christian community was negligible.

In an earlier story I uncovered previously, unknown information on the founder of the Pogose School in Dhaka, Joaquim Gregory Nicholas Pogose aka Nicky Pogose (who married Mariam Avdall, the daughter of Johannes Avdall, headmaster of the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy in Kolkata). Johannes had at least 10 children all born in Calcutta. Two other daughters of his also settled in Dhaka, having married Armenian merchants of that city.

For those of you who like facts and figures, sources and citations as well as biographical details, this is for you.

One of the other daughters of Johannes Avdall was Catherine Avdall who married another leading Dhaka community member, Zaminder Stephen Johannes Stephen (2). He quickly dropped his Christian name and was known as Johannes Stephen (3) Together they had at least five children between 1854 and 1860.  After Catherine’s untimely death in 1861 (4) aged just 25 years, Johannes Stephen found himself in the unenviable position of having to care for his young family, from infants to children aged 7. Johannes remarried for a second time in 1867 (5) at the Catholic Church in Dhaka to 17-year-old Annie Ter Martyrose with whom he went on to have at least four further children.

Mrs. Gregory Paul Melitus; in the top picture is Mary (née Elias), sister of Mammar Bagram (née Elias), Mary’s daughter Barbara is below. Image Courtesy: Liz Chaterstephen_family_2.jpg?itok=yNMpOKcF

Mrs. Gregory Paul Melitus; in the top picture is Mary (née Elias), sister of Mammar Bagram (née Elias), Mary’s daughter Barbara is below. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater
Confirmation of St. John Stephen’s birth was signed by his uncle, J G N Pogose. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater

Their marriage celebrant was Fr. Felix Francis Mari Fortunate Marzuchelli, a charismatic, well-travelled Italian priest, who was a Doctor of Philosophy and a Professor of Literature. Fr. Felix had married in 1853 in Geneva, Switzerland to an English young lady from Somerset called Elizabeth Harris (6) He had been appointed Chaplain at Dhaka in April 1867 but stayed only a year or so, before moving to Darjeeling (7), then later Hazaribagh (8). Eventually, he and Elizabeth (who was known as Nina) settled in England. The marriage he conducted between Johannes Stephen and Annie would have been one of the first after his arrival in Dhaka from England.

Chart showing the immediate family tree of Johannes Stephen of Dhaka. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater

By the time Annie was 24 years of age, she was looking after Johannes’s nine children from two marriages. The children of Johannes Stephen and Catherine were:

  1. Twin sons born in 1854, Dhaka (9). One named St. John Stephen (10),  the other didn’t survive.

St. John Stephen, a life bachelor who was educated at St. Paul's Darjeeling, North India. In the autumn of 1873, he travelled to England and from that time up to March 1875, St. John was privately tutored by Mr. Walter Wren, of Powis Square London, who specialised in intensive tuition predominantly preparing students for the British Army. Moving swiftly from Powis Square, St. John commenced his residency at Caius College, Cambridge in October 1875. In June of the following year he was elected a foundation scholar. He went on to achieve first place in all his college examinations each year he was there. Mr. Routh was his private tutor and Rev. N.M. Ferrers his college tutor (11). He studied law, and was called to the Bar in 1880 at the Inner Temple, London, going on to practise at the High Court, Calcutta (12). St. John was also a member of Managing Committee of the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy in Calcutta in 1901, taking a very keen interest in the students and their further education (13). He died in Calcutta in 1915 of cardiac syncope and is buried in the Lower Circular Road cemetery (14). In his will he appointed his sisters, Rosie and Kate, as executrixes. He bequeathed to his brother Kent a gold watch that had once belonged to their father Johannes. The remainder of his estate went to Rosie and Kate (15).

2. Kent Hume Stephen born in 1856, Dhaka (16).

Kent married another Armenian, Barbara Melitus, in June 1895 in Kensington, London (17). Barbara had been born in Calcutta in 1868 (18) to Gregory Paul Melitus and Mary née Elias. Through her father’s mother Anna Maria, Barbara can trace her family back to Coja Sultan David Shahmir, an eminent merchant of Madras who was born in Julfa around 1690 and died in 1754 in Pondicherry. Extraordinarily, as a side note, Shahmir’s tombstone was found in 1997 in a shipwreck of an East India vessel “Earl Temple” on the southern edge of Thitu Reef in the South China Sea. It was eventually raised from the deep. Further and more detailed information on how an Armenian gravestone was discovered at the bottom of the ocean can be found in Up from the Watery Deep: The Discovery of an Armenian Gravestone in the South China Sea by Susan E Schopp.

Barbara Melitus’s own maternal line is just as illustrious. Her grandfather was Agha Owen John Elias, locally well known in Calcutta as a generous and philanthropic man during his lifetime. A memorial wall plaque inside the Armenian Church Kolkata indicates the high esteem he was held in. “Sacred to the memory of the late Owen John Elias Esquire. Born 1st November 1786. Died 12th March 1860. This tablet is erected by the Armenian community of this place as a mark of their appreciation of his private and public virtues. His charities to widows and orphans and the poor will not remain unrewarded in heaven. His gifts to the churches, schools, asylums and hospitals, which have made his name to be generally respected, have specially endeared it to his own countrymen.” Remarkably, there are portraits of Agha Owen John Elias and his wife Barbara hanging in a beautiful country house in England, “Chenies Manor” in Buckinghamshire, and, according to their tour guides, are often complimented on by members of the general public who visit the estate.

Grave of Johannes Stephen. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater

Meanwhile, in 1875, Kent enrolled in the Royal Indian Engineering College in Staines, Middlesex studying there until July 1878. He gained his first engineering position at the London and North Western Railway between October 1878 and March 1879, then Chatham Water Works between April and August 1879. With this civil engineering experience behind him, he returned to India and was employed with the India Public Works in irrigation for the next 24 years (19), eventually retiring back to England in 1903.

Extraordinarily, our research coordinator, Liz Chater has in her archive a copy of the original marriage settlement made between Barbara Melitus and Kent Stephen (20). 

He and Barbara lived at 46 Holland Park Road, London, and her parents lived at 47. He passed away in 1907 in Kent, leaving his widow Barbara. She also died in Kent in 1938. They didn’t have any children.

Prior to her marriage to Kent Stephen, Barbara was “presented” to Queen Victoria in one of the regular “Drawing Room” gatherings of London society, an honour for any up and coming young lady. This particular soiree was covered in great detail in the newspapers, and the occasion, with a meticulous description of the dresses worn by Barbara and her mother, was included. Liz Chater’s archive contains copies of photographic images of mother and daughter taken at the event.

The extraordinary thing about these pictures is that when Liz was shown them a few years ago, the owners didn't know who they were or what the occasion was, just that they were "Melitus" ladies. With some time and a lot of patience, she has been able to establish that they were in fact mother and daughter, Mary (wife of Gregory Paul Melitus) and Barbara Melitus.

3. Rosaline Stephen born in 1857, Dhaka (21).

Rosie and her sister Kate (Catherine) both remained spinsters. As their parents Catherine and Johannes had passed away in 1861 and 1876 respectively, and their stepmother Annie had passed away in 1893, it would have been a daunting prospect to continue to live in India without immediate family around them. The Armenian community in Dhaka was becoming smaller towards the end of the 19th/early 20th centuries, a number of whom were naturally migrating to England. Rosie and Kate made that choice as well, no doubt encouraged by their brother Kent. The sisters lived together in London at 26 Chepstow Villas, Bayswater. Kate died in 1926 before Rosie, who passed away in 1938. The two sisters are buried together at Mitcham Road Cemetery, Croydon, Surrey (22).

Mackertich Stephen requests certificate of Call to Bar, May 4, 1867. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater

#29 Yervant1


    The True North!

  • Super Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 18,217 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 08 July 2019 - 08:24 AM




In Rosie’s will she left the following bequests summarised as follows:

(Furniture to be distributed according to Rosie's written wishes in a separate letter; unfortunately, these were not attached to my copy of the will.)

£500 to niece Ellen Primrose Saunders

£500 to grand-niece Winifred Joan Newill

£500 to cousin Florence Macnaughten Stephen

£500 to be held in trust for grandnephew Michael Stephen (23) to be paid to him when he attains the age of 21. During his minority, the income from the £500 is to be used for his education and maintenance.

An amount sufficient to provide a tombstone for her grave and to maintain the tombstones and graves of siblings, Mackintosh John Stephen and Kate Stephen, as well as Rosie's grave.

The residue of her estate to be invested and form the following trusts: one-fourth part for "Our Dumb Friends League", 72 Victoria Street SW1; one-fourth part for "The Dogs Home" of 4 Battersea Park Road, SW8; one-fourth part for the School for the Blind Swiss Cottage NW3; one-fourth part for "The Friends of the Poor" Gentlefolks Department, 40 Ebury Street SW1.

There were very specific instructions that the leasehold on her residence of 26 Chepstow Villas was not to be sold to the person or persons owning the freehold "even though such person or persons owning the freehold shall offer a higher price therefore than anyone else."

In a codicil made and dated 29th April 1931, Rosie made the following changes, clearly reassessing her priorities:

“I revoke the legacies of £500 to Ellen Primrose Saunders and Winifred Joan Newill and instead bequeathed them £100 each.”

She re-confirmed the £500 legacy to her cousin Florence Macnaughten Stephen.

Rosie bequeathed to her maid, Winifred Victoria Pope, £200 "as a memento of the faithful service and consideration she has shown me."

Rosie revoked the legacy to Michael Stephen of £500 to be kept in trust and changed it to £100 to be kept in trust until he attained the age of 21.

4. Carapiet Stephen born in 1858, Dhaka.

Carapiet or Carr Stephen married Ellen Nora Read in June 1883 at All Saints Church, Kensington (24). They had two children: Primrose Ellen Stephen born in Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington in 1884 (25) and Christopher Gerald Stephen born in Calcutta in 1890 (26).

As can already be seen, Primrose was remembered in her Aunt Rosie’s will (above). In 1906 at Delhi, Primrose went on to marry Ernest Howie Saunders, a captain in the Royal Irish Rifles (27). The marriage was witnessed by her mother Ellen who by that time had remarried to Montague Mark Noble (28). Ellen’s first husband and father of Primrose had passed away in 1896 in Cawnpore (29), where he was buried (30).

A few lines about Primrose’s husband Ernest. He was a highly regarded and decorated soldier who had been captured at Reddersburg South Africa on 4th April 1900 (31) and held as a prisoner of war with Winston Churchill and Lord Asquith during the Boer War. 

Ellen Nora Read chart. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater

He was born on 18th November 1877, son of Colonel William Egerton Saunders, CB. He was educated at Dove’s College and then Sandhurst Military School when he passed out in 1894 (32). He entered the Royal Irish Rifles on 8thSeptember 1897, as Second Lieutenant, becoming Lieutenant in the Army on 8th December 1899, and in the Royal Irish Rifles on 24th February 1900. He served in the South African War, 1899-1902; employed with Mounted Infantry; took part in the operations in Orange Free State, March to April 1900; in the Transvaal, June to November 1900; also in Cape Colony, 1899 to 1900 mentioned in Despatches (33); awarded Queen's Medal with three clasps, and King's Medal with two clasps. He was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (34): "Ernest Howie Saunders, Lieutenant, Royal Irish Rifles. In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa". He was invested by the King on 18th December 1902. On 8th September 1900, he was promoted to captain in the army, and on 24th November 1908 was transferred to the Indian Army, in which he became Major on 1st September 1915.

Grave of Goolnabad Stephen. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater

QSA (3) CC OFS Trans (Lt, DSO RIR), KSA (2) (Lt, DSO RIR), 1914 Star and Bar (Capt, DSO, S&TC), BWM, Victory Medal with MID (Maj), 1911 Delhi Durbar (35).

During WWI Ernest sustained a gunshot wound to his knee. He was admitted to a hospital in England where he convalesced for 10 months eventually being transferred to a military camp in Syria (36).

As I watched the 75th anniversary commemorations for D-Day in Portsmouth on the 5th and 6th June this year, I couldn’t help but think of Lt. Col. Ernest H. Saunders. Although not a WWII soldier, he was ready to serve wherever he was required. In 1939 he declared he “was awaiting orders from the war office” and was conveniently living in Portsmouth, close to the military base, still wanting to “do his bit” for his country even though he was now in his 60s. During his career he served his country with honour, dedication and commitment but his service record has faded as the years have passed by.  It is ironic that he died alone in March 1956 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, with just a local roadsweeper and two military representatives attending his funeral. 

A copy of the original marriage settlement made between Barbara Melitus and Kent Stephen. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater

From the newspaper obituary:

“A Lieutenant-Colonel who won the D.S.O. and was captured with Mr. Winston Churchill and Lord Asquith in the Boer War was buried yesterday week.

And his only close friend at the funeral was a roadsweeper.

The old soldier was Lieut-Col. Ernest Howie Saunders (78) of 120 Stubbington Avenue, North End, and his roadsweeper friend was Mr. R. Palmer, who, since the death of Mrs. Palmer, had taken over her duties and kept house for the Colonel.

“I knew the Colonel for 20 years,” Mr. Palmer told a reporter.

“He had no relations apart from a daughter living in Kenya, so I have made all the funeral arrangements and for the time being, I am paying for them.”

The funeral did not pass completely unnoticed, however. Two ex-servicemen’s associations were represented.

The South African War Veterans’ Association by their Present Capt. R.R. Clay, and the Old Comtemptibles by their Vice-Chairman, Mr. J. Spillane.

Mr. and Mrs. S.P. Rainsdale, of the Portsmouth Golf Club, were also at the funeral as the Colonel was one of the club’s original members.” (37)

Ernest came from an extraordinary line of military men, his father, grandfather and great grandfather were all highly decorated in the British Army and Navy respectively. This really was an appalling end for such a respected military veteran.

Ernest Saunders was buried in Milton Cemetery, Portsmouth, Hampshire on the 8th March 1956, reunited with his wife Primrose Ellen who had died on the 10th April 1938 at St. Mary’s Hospital Portsmouth of myocardial degeneration and pernicious anaemia (38). She was buried on the 14th April 1938.

There was never a headstone placed on the plot for Primrose Ellen nor later Ernest, presumably the roadsweeper was unable to fund a memorial stone. Tragically, this makes his illustrious career even more forgotten. The plot was never tended or remembered by either families and became abandoned very quickly. Portsmouth City Council reclaimed it in 1981 and used it for an unrelated burial of a female on top of the remains of Ernest and Primrose. It remains unattended, except for the cemetery grounds-men doing their general rounds.

Anyone wishing to pay their last respects to Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Saunders D.S.O., and Primrose can visit the unmarked grave at Plot T, Row 18, Grave 12 (39).

Ernest and Primrose’s daughter Winifred was born in Meerut, India in 1909. Winifred was remembered in her great aunt Rosie’s will who bequeathed a legacy of £500. In a later codicil this was reduced to £100. Winifred married a military gentleman, Wilfred Marston Newill, in Kensington, London in 1928 (40). She passed away in Perth, Australia in 1967 (41); her husband Wilfred had passed away in Kenya in 1963 (42).

Primrose’s mother Ellen, went on to have at least one child called Montague Horatio Nelson Aubrey [M.H.N.A.] Noble in 1897 with her second husband, the highly ambitious forces veteran Montague Mark Noble. Montague Jr also joined the services and was awarded the Military Cross during WWI (43).

M.H.N.A. Noble was half-sibling to Primrose and Christopher who were twelve and six years old respectively when their father Carapiet Stephen died in 1896. As Ellen’s husband and the children’s stepfather, Montague Noble, took on the responsibility of parental guidance during their formative years, it was his influence that was the driving force for his young stepson Christopher Stephen to join the military; it was the same path for his own natural son Montague. Contrary to popular belief, there was no military connection for Christopher’s Stephen line in India or Dhaka. The Stephen’s were merchants, not soldiers. Ultimately, Ellen outlived her highly decorated second husband Montague, he died in 1922 and is buried in the Brompton Road Cemetery in London. In his will of 30 May 1918, Montague provided only for his widow Ellen, his son by her and any future issue his son may have, there were no bequests to his stepchildren Primrose or Christopher (44). Ellen passed away in June 1931 and she is buried with her second husband in Brompton Road cemetery (45).

5. Catherine Stephen, born in 1860, Dhaka.

Kate remained a spinster and lived together with her sister Rosie at 26 Chepstow Villas, Bayswater. She passed away in December 1926 leaving all her estate to Rosie. The two sisters are buried together at Mitcham Road Cemetery, Croydon, Surrey.

The children of Johannes Stephen’s second marriage with Annie Ter Martyrose were:

6. Mkrtich Stephen, born in 1868, Dhaka.

Mkrtich anglicised his name and became known as Mackintosh John Stephen. A lifelong bachelor, having joined the Indian Postal Service in June 1893, he worked his way up through the ranks and in December 1895 was promoted to superintendent. Within a short time, he was appointed personal assistant to the Deputy Postmaster General in Burma between November 1898 and March 1909. Further success came when he was promoted to deputy Postmaster General and Inspector General of the Railway Mail Service and Sorting in October 1913. A new appointment came in June 1918 as Deputy Postmaster General for Bengal and Assam and his final post was Postmaster General for Bihar and Orissa in July 1921. He retired to England in May 1924 (46). In his will dated 8th November 1928, he left a small legacy to a female friend in London, Miss Ruby Middleton, and the remainder of his estate he left to his brother Stephen Paul Stephen with a note that under his discretion Stephen should distribute gifts to friends and family already mentioned to him verbally by Mackintosh (47). He passed away in April 1929 in Brighton (48).

7. Stephanos Stephen, born in 1870, Dhaka.

Stephanos anglicised his name and became known as Stephen Paul Stephen. He described himself as a mercantile merchant. Just like his siblings, he too moved to London upon retirement where, as a bachelor, he lived in Pembridge Square, Notting Hill Gate. His net estate was valued at a modest £3,600 and apart from a small legacy of £100 to his brother Mackintosh, Stephen went to great lengths to ensure his old servant in India, named Bhikari Das in the village of Oltanga, should receive Rs 1,000 (49). Stephen died in April 1930 in Menton, France (50) and was the last surviving son of Johannes Stephen.

8. Robert Abercrombie Stephen, born in 1872, Dhaka.

Robert began working for the Indian Government in May 1894 (51). Like his brother Mackintosh, he too rose through the ranks, became a magistrate and went on to be the deputy Commissioner for Excise and Salt in Bengal. Robert married twice, firstly to Ivy Sherman in Simla in 1908 (52) and secondly to Vida Judd in 1919 (53). Robert died in the Calcutta General Hospital, Woodburn Ward of cardiac failure and was buried in the Lower Circular Road cemetery by Rev. E. Keeling of St. Thomas’s Church (54).

9. Elizabeth Stephen, born in 1874, Dhaka.

Young Elizabeth lived only until she was eight years of age. She died in Barrackpore of pneumonia in 1882 (55).

Zamindar Johannes Stephen died in Dhaka in November 1876 of fever and piles (56). Annie, his second wife, died in 1893 in Allahabad of hepatitis and broncho pneumonia (57).

Mariame Hume’s property montage. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater

Johannes had at least 6 siblings:





1. Catherine, born 1825, remained a spinster, died in Barrackpore 1907 (58).

2. Kent Hume Stephen, born 1830, Dhaka. Became a deputy magistrate. Died at Singapore on his way to Hong Kong January 1868 (59).

3. Carr Stephen, born 1835, married Rosamond Eleanor Parry in Delhi in 1870 (60). They went on to have at least five children: Catherine Julie Stephen (61); Alice Isabel Mary Stephen (62); Carr St. John Stephen (63); Robert Hume Stephen (64); Florence McNaughten Stephen (65).

Carr Stephen was a barrister, passing the Bar exam in June 1866. He rose to become a judge in the small cause court in the Punjab. He published three books: Indian Registration ActHandbook for Delhi and Archaeology of Delhi. Carr died in Delhi in 1891 of heart disease (66). Meanwhile his wife Rosamond had set sail from London in December 1887 (67) on the vessel “Port Piri” en route to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands taking her young children, Alice aged 12, Carr aged 9, Bertie aged 7 and Florence aged 3 years, with her. Having arrived in early February 1888, the family were there for less than a month when Rosamond passed away on the island (68). It would appear Rosamond’s own extended and complicated step-family in England may well have taken the children under their wing. The children were educated in England; Alice and Florence in Suffolk, whilst Carr and Robert were schooled in London. Carr became a travelling salesman whilst Robert devoted himself to his religious beliefs and became a clergyman. Alice took vows and became a nun at the Convent of Poor Clares, Herefordshire and although nothing is known of Florence, she was clearly in the thoughts of her cousin Rosaline Stephen who had written her will in 1931 and left a small legacy to her.

Front page of the will of Rosaline Stephen. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater

4. Aratoon Johannes Stephen, born 1836. Married Mary Sarkies in February 1860 at the Armenian Church Dhaka (69). They had at least five children: St. George Kent Hume Stephen in 1861 (70); Jan Denkin Stephen in 1862 (71); Gulnabath Stephen in 1863 (72); Arratoon St. John Stephen in 1875 (73); and Margaret Stephen in 1877 (74).

During the early 1880s, Aratoon Johannes Stephen, a landholder, had lived at the Chowringhee Hotel in Kolkata. Embroiled in litigation in which he tried to defend a case where he had taken a loan from a money lender in Kolkata in the name of his eldest son, he lost and was declared insolvent. He made attempts to clear his debts, but was unsuccessful and then as the sub-editor of The Statesman he was again declared insolvent 1887. By 1889 his Official Assignee declared a small dividend payment to his creditors. He continued to work as the sub-editor of The Statesman until his death in 1900 in Calcutta. He was buried in Park Street cemetery (75).

5. Mackertich Stephen, born 1837, studied law and passed the Bar exam at Lincoln’s Inn. The attached rare letter (76) signed in a very unsteady hand by him and dated just a month before he died, makes one wonder if he was attempting to get his personal affairs in order. He died a bachelor on the 3rd June 1867 in Dhaka and is buried in the compound of the Armenian Church (77).

6. William Stephen (78). Nothing is known about him.

Their parents were Johannes Stephen Snr. (born 1790 Julfa) and Goolnabad.

Johannes Snr married twice, first to Goolnabad around 1822, she passed away in Dhaka in January 1838 aged 35 years (79) and is buried in the grounds of the Armenian Church. He quickly remarried in December 1838 to Sultana Athanes, granddaughter of Alexander Panioty who was the doyen of the Greek community of Dhaka. She passed away in January 1843 and is buried in the Armenian Church compound in Dhaka (80).

Johannes Stephen Snr. had two sisters, Catherine and Mariam, who were also based in Dhaka. Catherine (81) married Gregory Thorose, a tide waiter with Calcutta Customs, around 1812. They had two daughters, Huripsimah Regina Thorose Gregory (71) and Nanajan Nanook Thorose Gregory (71).

Wall plaque for Catherine, wife of J Stephen. Image Courtesy: Liz Chater

Mariam67 had married three times, all in Dhaka (82), firstly to Martyrose Kaloos, secondly to Arratoon Michael (from whom she had inherited on a large scale) and thirdly to an Englishman Edmund Kent Hume (83). All three marriages were childless. After her death in 1833, her brother Johannes Stephen Snr began court proceedings against her third husband Edmund for a share of her estate. He failed and Edmund inherited her wealth. He went on to marry again to Pheunnah Honor McClean in 1845 (84). Pheunnah died on 15th September 1849 and Edmund the following day. They were both buried in the Christian cemetery at Dhaka.

To give you an idea of Mariam’s wealth, here is a selection of her properties in Dhaka at the time of her death.

This example of the Stephen family network is a perfect illustration of how quickly the Armenian connection was lost in Dhaka as families naturally migrated to larger cities with more opportunities. Land disputes, litigations and lack of prospects all had a negative impact, yet those who did stay believed they could make a go of it.

Today, there are no Stephen’s left in Dhaka. Their lands in and around the city are long gone—broken up into smaller pieces and parcels and now heavily built upon. The numerous descendants of Johannes Stephen Snr and his siblings are living all over the world and some of them won’t even know of their connection to Dhaka or their Armenian heritage.

In 1831 those 126 Armenians had no idea of the history and legacy they were leaving behind. Today, our focus is on preserving the Church and helping the local Dhaka people in every way we can. We continue to build on those early foundation stones maintained over the last 200 years by extraordinarily selfless custodians to whom we are all very grateful. The Armenian Church in Dhaka stands today because of this small but fiercely strong and determined community whose presence over the centuries and decades has been an integral part of Dhaka life.

Liz Chater is the coordinator and researcher for the Armenian Heritage Project Bangladesh. The project is still accepting contributions, and is keen to reconstruct the history and family stories of the Armenian presence in Bangladesh. The project has already received material from contributors in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and India. If you have something you would like included, please get in touch via our social media pages, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or website www.armenianchurchbangladesh.com 







  1. Gleanings in Science, Jan-Dec 1831 Vol.3
  2. The Friend of India September 1853
  3. The Friend of India 8 September 1853
  4. The Friend of India 26 December 1861
  5. Marriage record N1-122-81
  6.   British Consulate Marriages, Geneva 1810-1968
  7.   The Homeward Mail April 1867
  8.   The Homeward Mail December 1875
  9. Allen’s India Mail 17 October 1854
  10.   Armenian Church baptism register No. 74
  11. The Ipswich Journal January 1879
  12.   Men At The Bar, P.446
  13.   Report of the Managers of the Armenian College & Philanthropic Academy 1901
  14.   Burial record N1-407-129
  15. His Will. L/AG/34/29/161/15
  16.   Armenian Church baptism register No. 83
  17.   The Morning Post June 1895
  18.   The Times of India November 1868
  19. UK Civil Engineer Records 1820-1930
  20.   Original document held by the Melitus family, photographed by Liz Chater in 2011 and reproduced with permission
  21. Armenian Church baptism register No. 90
  22.   The Times May 1938
  23. Michael was the son of Christopher Stephen, who was the son of Carr Stephen, Carr was Rosie’s brother
  24. Marriage certificate
  25.   Birth certificate
  26.   Baptism record N1-214-264
  27.   Marriage record N1-335-56
  28.   Marriage record N3-76-81
  29.   Times of India 1896
  30.    Miscellenea  Genealogica et Heraldica. On a recumbent marble cross: “In loving memory of CARR STEPHEN the third son of John Stephen Esqr of Dacca, born 20th December 1858, died 3rd February 1896, aged 37 years.”
  31. South African Field Force Casualty Role
  32.   Dove’s College Register 1871-1899
  33.   London Gazette 10 September 1901
  34.   London Gazette 27 September 1901
  35.   See the AngloBoerWar website for biography
  36.   British Armed Forces, First World War Soldier’s Medical Records MH 106/1221
  37. Hampshire Telegraph and Post 16 March 1956
  38. Death certificate
  39.   Portsmouth City Council, Registrar of Cemeteries
  40.   Marriage certificate
  41.   Australian Death Index
  42.   Kenyan Gazette 23 March 1964
  43.   Haileybury records
  44. His will L/AG/34/29/180
  45.   Burial record Brompton Cemetery, Plot 2E/40.9/20.9
  46.   UK Registers of Employees of the East India Company. India Office List
  47. The Will of Mackintosh John Stephen
  48.   England and Wales death index
  49.   The Will of Stephen Paul Stephen
  50.   National Probate Calendar
  51.   Deaths in the Uncovenanted Service. L/AG/34/14A/12
  52.   Marriage record N1-349-67
  53.   Marriage record N1-441-103
  54.   Burial record N1-445-340
  55. Burial record N1 182-188
  56.   Burial record N1-158-289
  57.   Burial record N1-228-156
  58.   Times of India 1907
  59.   Times of India 1868
  60.   Marriage record N1-131-423
  61.   Baptism record N1-147-20
  62.   Baptism record N1-155-64
  63.   Baptism record N1-173-66
  64. Baptism record N1-173-66
  65.   Times of India 1883
  66.   Burial record N1-216-403
  67.   Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839-1923
  68.   GRO Overseas Deaths
  69.   Armenian Church Dhaka Marriage Register No. 22
  70.   Armenian Church Dhaka Baptism Register No. 109
  71.   Armenian Church Dhaka Baptism Register No. 118
  72.   Armenian Church Dhaka Baptism Register No. 125
  73. Armenian Church Kolkata Baptism Register No. 1557
  74.   Armenian Church Kolkata Baptism Register No. 1558
  75.   Burial record N1-285-15
  76.   From the private archive of Liz Chater
  77.   Armenian Church Dhaka Burial Register No. 87
  78. Name extracted from Indian Decision (Old Series) Vol VIII
  79. LDS film 1356948 items 3. Also her grave
  80.   Armenian Church burial Register No. 21
  81.   Will of Mary Hume
  82.   Law Report: Indian Decision 30 November 1841 No. 63
  83.   Marriage record N1-24-111
  84.   Marriage record N1-67-58

#30 lizchater


    Junior Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 44 posts
  • Gender:Female

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:15 AM

Thank you once again for sharing this latest article on Armenian heritage in Bangladesh.


For anyone interested (and if you've got the reading stamina) you can see the full unedited version of this story on the website.

  • MosJan likes this

#31 Yervant1


    The True North!

  • Super Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 18,217 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 09 July 2019 - 08:50 AM

Dear Liz, thank you for the link. Every time I read these articles, somehow it makes me feel as if I'm transformed to that period of time and living it in real time. 

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users