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20 November 2014

Bombay to Blighty - Arratoon-Crokatt an Unusual Union

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Wills are a great source of untapped family history.

A few years ago I purchased from the National Archives at Kew in London, a number of Wills that I thought had a vague Indian-Armenian connection. In other words I took a bit of an educated guess at them. The writing was cursive and very difficult to read, even with enlarged images on the computer, it was a torturously slow process.

As with any Will I acquire, if it looks interesting I transcribe it. One such Will was that of Taukhui Arratoon. I knew nothing about her and was curious to know and try and find out why an Armenian lady was in London in the early 1800’s. It was most unusual to find a female writing such an early Will outside of India. At first I thought she must have been a widow of an Armenian, as it turned out, that thought couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Taukhui wrote her Will in London on the 14th March 1815, added a codicil on the 2nd April 1829 with a 3rd codicil was added on the 18th October 1835. This indicated to me that she was well and truly established in England. Taukhui’s exact date of death has not been possible to find but she died some time before the 25th January 1837 in Kensington as this was the date that two of her executrixes, Madelina Forbes Mitchell (more of her later) and Mary Mason made an oath stating they had known Taukhui in her life time. The Will was proved and granted to Madelina Mitchell and Mary Mason at London on the 2nd February 1837. It is therefore plausible to suggest that Taukhui died some time between the 18th October 1835 (the date of her last codicil) and the 25th January 1837.

Snapshot view of Taukhui’s Will.

Taukhui Arratoon was an Armenian lady from Bombay, probably born around 1768. She is yet another example of an Armenian female from India who became a companion to a British gentleman, bore his children but in the eyes of the establishment was never quite good enough to marry him. She was however, treated reasonably well compared to some other Armenian females in India who were entangled with men from ‘home’. Taukhui had a sister named Joanna who stayed a life-long spinster and who also ended up in England and living with Taukhui, firstly in London and then after Taukhui’s death in Kelverdon in Essex.

Taukhui had two children with Daniel Crokatt in Bombay. John born around 1783 and Daniel born in 1784, their baptism records both state ‘filius populi’ i.e. they were illegitimate children but they took their father’s name. Daniel Crokatt was from a wealthy Scottish family, his father having made a vast fortune trading in (Charles Town) Charleston South Carolina. Daniel was born May 1744 in Richmond, Surrey and was one of at least six children of James Crokatt and his wife Esther Gaillard.

N3-3-509 states filius populi i.e. illegitimate son
N3-3-314 states filius populi i.e. illegitimate son


To give you an idea of the enormous wealth that Daniel’s father James Crokatt possessed here is an extract from his Will of 1777.

James Crokatt snapshot of Will

“I have given to my daughter Mary Nutt at her marriage about six thousand Pounds, I have also given my son Daniel Crokatt at different times after and since his being in the service of the East India Company about the sum of four thousand Pounds, I also gave my eldest son Charles Crokatt about the sum of ten thousand Pounds at his marriage and settled ten thousand Pounds by marriage contract payable at his or my death which sum I have since paid to his executors and have besides lost a very large sum by his failure. I have also given my wife Esther by a deed dated 19th August 1767 in trust…..a long annuity of four hundred Pounds a year for her life and after her death to my daughter Joan crokatt now Cranford and her children……also to my daughter Joan Crokatt alias Joan Cranford eight thousand Pounds…………….”

Using a useful “measuring worth” website At today’s values £6,000 equates to approximately £670,000. £10,000 equates today at approximately £1,128,000.00 £8,000 equates today at approximately £900,000

An interesting extract from ‘The Papers of Henry Laurens’ states: “James Crokatt, the son of Charles Crokatt of Edinburgh, was a merchant in Charleston, South Carolina for many years before he left for England in 1737. With his Carolina fortune he established himself as the foremost “Carolina merchant” in London. On his arrival in London he was referred to as a “Scotch Jew Lately come from So. Carolina.” He was largely responsible for the bounty that Parliament granted to the Indigo planters of South Carolina in 1748 and was that colony’s agent in London from 1749 until 1756. “

The Henry Lauren papers go on to say that James’s wife, Esther Gaillard was the daughter of John Gaillard. Three of her children with James; Charles, Mary and James were all born in Charleston, South Carolina whilst the remaining three younger children, Daniel, Jane and David were born in England.

Whilst Daniel’s eldest brother Charles was involved with their father’s business as London agents for South Carolina, his uncle (James’s brother) who was also called Daniel Crokatt was trading in Jamaica and involved in the slave trade. In his Will of 1813 Daniel Crokatt ‘late of Jamaica but currently of Fishguard Pembrokeshire’, left bequests to his “grand nephew Sir James Cranford, Baronet” as well as his “grand nephew Daniel Crokatt formerly of Bombay but now supposed to be a prisoner in France and to his legitimate children but in case the said Daniel should die without leaving any legitimate children then I give and bequeath unto Ann Hutton……….” This is a rather pointed remark at Daniel Crokatt of Bombay who had at that stage only the two illegitimate sons by Taukhui.

Besides the side-lining by colonial society in Bombay and London, Taukhui suffered more humiliation because in March 1791 Daniel Crokatt married Jane Seton daughter of Daniel Seton Lieutenant-Governor and Chief of Surat. Taukhui’s boys being only 7 and 8 years of age at the time of their father’s marriage. One can only wonder at the feelings Taukhui must have experienced.

Marriage of Daniel Crokatt and Jane Seton N3-3-381

Sadly, Daniel and Jane’s first born child died in December 1791 shortly after birth. I do not think they had any other children. Jane died in London on the 17th May 1802 after a “deep decline” the newspaper notices stated that her husband was the ‘late Counsel at Bombay’.

Daniel Crokatt ended his days in Paris where it would seem he had created yet another life for himself. He died there on the 12 December 1827. In his Will he left an annuity of twelve hundred Francs per annum that he had executed before a Royal Notary in Paris in favour of Mario Brigot Willior for the term of her natural life, there is nothing in his Will indicating who or what kind of position she held in his life. He further bequeathed the remainder of his estate to be split between his only surviving natural son (by Taukhui) John Crokatt and a female called Miss Flora Eugene Lafond “who for several years past has devoted herself to my service and from whom I have received the most zealous and unremitting care and the kindest attention……..”.
Snapshot of Daniel Crokatt’s will written in France

As already mentioned, Taukhui’s first born son by Daniel Crokatt was named John. Although born and baptised in Bombay it is quite likely he and his brother Daniel would have been educated in England. Daniel may not have married Taukhui or formally recognised her in any way, but the two children took his name and therefore were afforded a certain level of lifestyle and respect by others in their younger years. Once adults, both brothers forged singularly different lives to those they could have had in India. John married on the 14th June 1808 at St. James’s Piccadilly, London to a French woman called Caroline Mary Ann Michele.
Marriage of John Crokatt and Caroline Michele

 Caroline’s family were well known musicians in London. Her grandfather Leopold de Michele was a musician and chief copyist in the Italian Opera at the Kings Theatre London as well as acting at the orchestra librarian there in the late 1790s. Caroline’s aunt Elizabeth Michele (Leopold’s sister) married Joseph Mazzinghi who was apprenticed to Leopold, Joseph becoming a respected musician in his own right. John and Caroline went on to have two children of their own, Ann Matilda Crokatt born in 1817 died a spinster in May 1881 in Nice, France. Her brother Daniel John Edward Crokatt was born in October 1820 in Paris but no further records have so far been found for him. Their mother, Caroline also died in Nice in 1877.

John’s brother Daniel Crokatt Junior married Mary Cartwright in April 1808, Daniel junior was a widower at the time of this marriage but no earlier marriage for him can be found. The marriage to Mary was short-lived because Daniel sought a legal separation and ultimately divorce from her on the grounds of her adultery in 1815, a case that caught the attention in a number of English newspapers.

Taukhui maintained a certain lifestyle in London living with her sister Joanna who had a flair for art. Taukhui, realising that there would be no financial support either from her own far-away family, nor the Crokatt clan, ensured that her sister was well provided for in her Will. Shrewdly, Taukhui was meticulous in the attention to detail of a deed that she and Daniel Crokatt had entered in to in London in 1801. The fact that Taukhui and her boys and Daniel and his wife Jane were all in London at the same time, perhaps shows that there was courtesy and civility amongst all parties. Nonetheless, Taukhui may not have ever married him but she was sufficiently intelligent to secure a large sum of money which would have afforded her some standing and respect in London society and given her family financial security in an otherwise unforgiving city.

“This is the last will and testament of me Taukhui Arratoon heretofore of Bombay in the East Indies and now residing in Rolls Row in the parish of St. Pancras in the county of Middlesex whereas in and by a certain deed poll or testament in writing under the hands and seals of Daniel Crokatt heretofore of Bombay aforesaid but then of St. James’s Street in the county of Middlesex Esquire, John Stutt of the City of London Esquire, Christopher Rolleston of the same city merchant, John Samuel Torrano of Kensington Esquire in the county of Middlesex Esquire and me the said Taukhui Arratoon therein described as residing at Turnham Green in the said County of Middlesex and bearing date on or about the sixteenth day of January in the year of one thousand eight hundred and one after writing that in pursuant and performance of the proposal and agreement therein mentioned the said Daniel Crokatt had that day transferred the sum of three thousand pounds three per cent consolidated Bank Annuities into the names of the said Daniel Crokatt John Stutt Christopher Rolleston and John Torrano……”

She continued

“I the said Taukhui Arratoon do by this my last will and testament and testamentary appointment in writing by me signed by me signed and published in the presence of and attested by the two credible persons whose names are intended to be subscribed hereto as witnesses to the execution hereof give bequeath and appoint the said sum of three thousand pounds consolidated three per cent annuities and the dividends and annual produce thereof unto my said sister Joanna Arratoon who now resides with me her executors administrators and assigns upon trust to cause thereout and pay my funeral expenses debts and the following legatees in Sterling money that is to say……….”

“To the said John Samuel Torrano the sum of fifty pounds for a ring as a small acknowledgement for the trouble and interest which he has kindly taken as out of my said trustees to my dear eldest son John Crokatt Esquire of the India Board Office Whitehall the sum of fifty pounds for a ring to his brother my dear second son Daniel Crokatt Esquire Inspector in the West Indian Commissioners Office No. 10 Spring Gardens the sum of fifty pounds for a ring to my dear friend Mrs. Smith the wife of Nicholas Hankey Smith* of Great Thurlow Hall in Suffolk Esquire the sum of twenty pounds for a ring……”

*Mrs. Smith the wife of Nicholas Hankey Smith was also an Armenian lady from India. Her name was Anni nee Petruse and it is quite likely that Taukhui and Anni’s families were quite familiar with each other back in Surat. Annie had married Hankey Smith in Calcutta in August 1806, she bore him six children, one of whom was Madelina Forbes Mitchell nee Smith who was an executrix to the will of Taukhui in London. This would indicate that the two ladies and their children were close and in regular contact with each other. Anni’s marriage to Hankey Smith also fell by the way-side and they separated in London in October 1822, although never divorced. Hankey Smith had started a relationship with Susan Pierpoint with whom she had seven illegitimate children, all of whom benefitted handsomely from the estate of Hankey Smith. Annie and her children did not fair so well.

Anni Hankey Smith nee Petruse. Photo courtesy of the publically available Green Family Tree on

Nicholas Hankey Smith. Photo courtesy of the publically available Green Family Tree on

Taukhui ensured that after her death her sister Joanna was not left destitute: “I give bequeath direct and appoint all the rest residue and remainder of the said sum of three thousand pounds three per cent consolidated bank annuities unto my said sister Joanna Arratoon her executors administrators and assigns……”

“I give to Captain George Smith [son of Anni and Nicholas Hankey Smith] the sum of five pounds for a ring as a small token of my regard. I give to Mrs Forbes Mitchell [daughter of Annie and Nicholas Hankey Smith] for a ring the sum of five pounds for a ring as a small token of my regard”

Taukhui’s son Daniel Crokatt Junior died in Northamptonshire in July 1820, and although divorced by this time from Mary Cartwright it would appear that Mary was the Administratrix of her ex husband’s intestate estate, the court papers describing her as the “lawful widow and relict”. They did not have any children.

Taukhui’s sister Joanna made her Will in 1850 in favour of her only surviving relative, John Crokatt her nephew.
Snapshot of Joanna's will

Apart from a few small bequests to local friends in Kelvedon John inherited what was left of the three thousand Pounds deed that Taukhui had drawn up with Daniel. Joanna had clearly lived carefully because John inherited approximately two thousand two hundred Pounds from his aunt. An auction notice was placed in the local paper advertising the sale of Joanna’s possessions.
The auction notice of Joanna's possessions

 Daniel’s brother John who had retired as a senior clerk from the Indian Board Commission in London on a pension of £566-13s-4d per annum (the equivalent today of around £44,500) died in Lucca, Italy in September 1855 where he had gone to take the waters. His wife Caroline survived him by 22 years and died in 1877 in Nice, France.

 It is very unlikely that the brothers John or Daniel Crokatt ever met their Indian Armenian family and cousins. Having been acknowledged by their father at birth and thus taken his name, they essentially became English, and India was no doubt a far off land that was only spoken of by their mother and aunt.

Useful links
Armenian graves in India
Families in British India Society
National Archives
British Library
French National Archives
LDS Family History
British Newspapers
National Archives of India
 Details of the Crokatt family can be found in the Papers of Henry Laurens: Sept. 11, 1746-Oct. 31, 1755