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Thursday, 27 February 2014

George Aviet. Translator and Interpreter of the Court in Calcutta 1791-1871

Part of George's will.
Sometimes I get help from the most unexpected places.
Most of you know that I have photographed all the Armenian graves in Kolkata. Those that are written in English I have transcribed, those that are written in Armenian are kindly being transcribed by volunteers and then there are those that are badly worn, or damaged that are really tricky or impossible to do. I have several in the last category.
One of the other elements of Armenian family history in India that I am slowly collecting, are the wills deposited at the British Library. [Recently released to and available digitally] I have just finished transcribing the will of George Aviet who was a translator and interpreter at the Supreme Court in Calcutta. He died in January 1871. In this will there contained some really useful information: “ I will and direct that my body be interred in the yard of the Calcutta Armenian Church next to or as near as may be to the graves of my dear wives Hosanna and Annie, and that the expense of my funeral and other customary charges concerning my burial, including the price of an ordinary size marble slab, obituary inscription and fixing the same in masonry be not more than 600 rupees.”

As usual, when I finish transcribing a will, I turn to the photographs of the graves in my collection and see if I can somehow match up a grave that perhaps I haven’t been able to put a name to. Today, thanks to digital technology and a little bit of organisation, I have managed to identify George Aviet’s grave which until now, I had not been able to.
This is how I did it.
Firstly, I now know from his will that he had 2 wives, Hosanna and Annie. I searched for graves in my collection that I have already transcribed and found Hosanna’s grave. On that basis I know I’m in the right area of the graveyard to try and find George, it was after all his desire to be buried as near as possible to his late wives. I have not been able to locate the grave of Annie.

The uncategorised grave
I was able to identify as belonging to
George Aviet.
 Since I did not use a camera that had GPS or a geo-tagging facility when I took the pictures in 2007, I then looked at the properties of the photograph of the grave of Hosanna Aviet (by right clicking the image) and saw that it was taken on the 24 March 2007 at 06.16. Next, in windows explorer on my computer, I did a column sort by “date taken”. I searched again by the date, 24 March 2007 and time 06.16 and since I know and remember that when I was taking the photographs of the graves in the churchyard, I walked the cemetery in a row-by-row methodical fashion therefore I knew from my method that the grave of George Aviet must be close by. Two images along from Hosanna was a grave that I had not been previously able to identify due to its condition. On looking at it again, I can make out the date of death, 16 January 1871 and the word “translator” I can also see the year 1791 in the Armenian text at the top. Enlarging small sections I can now see the lettering "A V I E T”. Now playing around with the brightness, contrast and mid-tone levels settings I can also see part of the wording “Translator”. I can also see that it says “departed this life on the 16th day of January 18- -. Unfortunately my image cut off the last two numbers, but I am certain it is indeed George Aviet who died 16 January 1871 as per annotated in the Probate on his will.
He is a mostly forgotten community member, who played a large and important part in the legal system of Calcutta, whose name, signature and legal interpretation is still on hundred of documents in a dusty archive somewhere.
I shall be adding this grave to my website soon.

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