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04 January 2016

He Was Armenian: Albert Abid - Valet to the Nizam of Hyderabad - The Updated Story

This story is brought to you with the support of the
AGBU UK Trust.

…..Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less travelled…

Albert Abid, ‘Groom to the Chambers’ of the Nizam of Hyderabad. From Julfa to Devon via a Princely Indian State, read how a dressing boy came to be a squire of a country estate in Devon.

Firstly, I would like to pay tribute to the late Omar Khalidi. He was a research librarian at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and it was he who first brought Abid to my attention. Omar regaled me with his research and the remarkable story on the ‘Amazing Albert Abid’. He told me that he had completed a small paper on Abid and that it had been published in a family history journal in Devon, England back in 1999[23].  We met and spoke several times between 2005 and 2009 and some time later I was very sad to learn of his passing in 2010. I hope this Abid blog will go a little way to updating Omar’s story.

Albert Abid


PLEASE NOTE: The numbers in square brackets  [ ]  do not hyperlink in this blog, please manually scroll to the bottom to see a corresponding link

To start this biographical story, I would like to dispel at the outset the perpetually (and incorrectly) repeated line that Albert Abid was Jewish. Having taken the time to acquire from the National Archives at Kew Albert’s naturalisation papers and application to become a British citizen, the sworn affidavit signed by him states he was born in Julfa in Ispahan. Further evidence (images below) from his last Will and Testament give the best and most conclusive demonstration of proof to his race and birth place.

The story begins in the streets of Ispahan, Persia. Albert Abid, son of an Armenian called Abid Abid and his wife Shapery Satoor was born on the 11th February 1848 at Julfa[1]. Abid senior was a jeweller/goldsmith. Mesrovb Seth in his book Armenians in India[2] claims that Albert Abid’s ‘real’ name was Avietick Satoor Hyrapiet and that he, like other Armenians from India, changed his name ‘out of vanity….. to a silly combination of European and Mohammedan names’.  This may well be true, but unfortunately, Seth’s book lacks extensive source citations and references. Where Seth acquired this idea from cannot be verified, and later in this blog, it can be seen that Albert’s marriage certificate and naturalisation application both clearly indicate the family name as Abid.

Although it has been difficult to trace Albert’s early life in the Armenian community of Julfa, with some sort of education behind him, he was able to secure positions with a number of British officers in Persia.  One of those was with Captain Charles Bean Euan Smith. Diplomacy rather than soldiering was Smith’s forte and he found himself attached to a special mission to Persia. Smith was Personal Assistant to Major-General J.T. Goldsmid in Ispahan[3]. Between 1870-1872 they embarked on a journey through Persia, a record of which was written by the participating officers Majors St. John, Lovett and Albert’s man, Euan Smith. A full account of this trip can be found here As Pish-Khidmat to Euan-Smith, Abid would have participated in this mission and not only acted as his man-servant but as interpreter too.

In 1873 by the time he was 25, Albert was part of the Shah of Persia’s entourage who embarked on a tour of Europe. One of several interpreters to the Shah, Albert must have had a reasonable schooling to be able to fulfil his duties to His Imperial Highness. The Shah’s tour started in Tehran in April of that year. The royal party visited Moscow, St. Petersburg, Berlin, the Rhine, Belgium, England: London, Liverpool, Manchester, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Portsmouth, France: Cherbourg, Caen, Paris, Versailles, then Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Turkey and Georgia before returning to Tehran in September.

The luxury and opulence the Shah conducted this tour was beyond our modern imaginations today, a piece in the Pall Mall Gazette of May 1873 described a small part of the extravagance.

“The Shah of Persia will be accompanied by his whole Cabinet and by three wives.  He has set apart £5,000,000 Sterling for his European journey.

The Russian Academy Gazette says that the train which is to convey the Shah to St. Petersburg will consist of twelve carriages, one being for baggage, one the kitchen, and a third a dining-room.  The Imperial carriage in which the Shah and his grand vizier will travel is to be the seventh in the train, the sixth, immediately preceding it, being occupied by the minister of the Shah’s household and by the three princes.  The Persian Minister in Russia, with the other Ministers, will travel in the fifth carriage, and in the eighth, or that immediately behind that of the Shah, will travel Prince Menschikoff and other Russian officials.  The remaining carriages will be occupied by the physicians, officers and servants of the household.  The Shah is now expected to reach St. Petersburg about the 21st or 23rd inst., and he will occupy the apartments on the ground-floor of the Winter Palace, Persian etiquette forbidding his residence in upper rooms.  Only sixteen members of his suite can reside under the same roof as their sovereign, and therefore the remainder must be accommodated elsewhere.  The Shah’s uniform is covered with diamonds and other precious stones valued at two million of Roubles.”
There is a very interesting account of the tour available to read online “The Diary of H.M. The Shah of Persia during His Tour Through Europe in A.D. 1873 by J.W. Redhouse.”

Albert would have witnessed the incredible spectacle of the Shah’s welcome in London that brought thousands of people onto the streets.

After the Shah’s tour Albert can next be found back in Europe. Vicar-ul-Umra a leading nobleman of the Paigah family of Hyderabad was, according to Harriet Ronken Lynton in her book ‘Days of the Beloved’, also conducting a European tour with his own staff and entourage. Vicar-ul-Umra’s personal chamberlain was a Parsi named Shapurji Chenai. Shapurji found the demands made by his superior on the trip left him no time to take care of the wardrobe. Shapurji hired a valet, Albert, who would later return to Hyderabad with the party. At this stage it would seem that Albert had no direct contact with the nobleman, but whilst in Hyderabad Albert came to the personal attention of Vicar-ul-Umra. Vicar had called upon Shapurji at his home and ‘intrigued by the novelty of a European servant (Albert’s dress and demeanour would have been very influenced by his British masters), Vicar requested the valet to be sent to him. This servant was still with Sir Vicar at the time that he (Vicar)  gave Falaknuma Palace to Mahbub (the Nizam of Hyderabad). While the Nizam was inspecting the palace he saw the man (Albert) and, learning that he had served there for some years, asked that he be left in his post. So the valet entered the service of Mahbub Ali Pasha. Thus Albert started a long, dedicated and loyal service that would become a mutually beneficial relationship between him and the Nizam.  It was in Hyderabad whilst employed by the Nizam, that Albert met his future wife, Annie Evans.

Annie Evans – Her Family


Annie Evans family tree

Annie’s parents William and Elizabeth Evans nee Stephens were both born in Herefordshire, England. William in 1817[4] and Elizabeth in 1826[5].

William and Elizabeth had 9 children summarised below.

Charles Evans – 1844 (brought up by his maternal grandparents)
Elizabeth Evans – 1846 (servant in a gentleman’s household at 15, he was unexpectedly widowed she continued to work for him, eventually he married her)
William Sidney Evans – 1849
George Evans – 1854
Lucy Evans – 1857
David Evans – 1860
Sarah Georgina Evans – 1861 (married in India to William Marr, Annie Abid was a witness. William died and she remarried George Frederick Arthur Perry. George became a tutor and secretary for Albert and Annie Abid at Dulford House)
Thomas Evans – 1864

Annie was been born on the 2 January 1851 and baptised on the 20 March 1851 at the St. John the Evangelical church Perry Barr, Staffordshire. Contrary to books and journals, Annie was actually English by birth as were her parents William and Elizabeth nee Stephens, who were both born in Herefordshire. However, during the Imperial Diamond Case trial in 1891 Annie referred to herself as Welsh, and I think this was because the Evans family association with Wales was very strong, it was simply a matter of geography that she had been born in England, she clearly felt she was Welsh.  Several of her siblings were born in Llantilio Pertholey and it is the last place where the family were together.

Annie’s baptism record
Annie perfected 19th century spin with great aptness, probably relying on the fact that it would have been very difficult and time consuming for people to delve into her background.  She was neither the daughter of a Sergeant-Major[6] nor was she a daughter of a gentleman.  The Evan’s early family story would seem to be one of hardship and struggle. Head of the household was William, he had married Elizabeth Stephens in the early part of 1843 in Weobley, Herefordshire. 

William was a struggling farmer, moving between Staffordshire, Wales and Herefordshire and variously described as an agricultural labourer, a gardener or simply a worker.  Life must have been brutal for William and Elizabeth, because their first child Charles, who was born in 1844 in Bishopstone, Herefordshire, went to live with Elizabeth’s parents, (John and Mary Stephens) permanently and was raised by them. Charles grew up and became a wheelwright just like his grandfather. When Charles married and had his own family he made sure that he looked after his grandfather in his latter years. There’s no record indicating that Charles ever went back to his parents’ home to live.

The second child born to William and Elizabeth nee Stephens was a girl, Elizabeth Evans in 1846 in Staunton on Wye. She is recorded as being 5 years of age on the 1851 census[7] in Staffordshire with her parents William and Elizabeth, where he was listed as a gardener. By 1867, aged 15, Elizabeth had moved to Somerset and was in the household of Wellington Ellis and his wife Ann, as a young servant. What Elizabeth’s siblings didn’t know was that their future was about to be shaped by her role as a servant girl.

William Sidney Evans was next to be born in 1849 in Holmer, Herefordshire. Although he is recorded as being with the family on the 1851 census in Staffordshire aged just 2 years, by the 1861 census at the age of 12, he was in Monmouthshire.  Living away from the family and listed as a “cow boy” on a farm of 110 acres which was completely unconnected with the Evans family.

After William, Annie was born, followed by George Evans in 1854 in Staffordshire, Lucy or Louisa Evans in 1857 in Llantilio Pertholey, where she died in 1864, David Evans who was born in 1860 also in Llantilio, then Sarah Georgina in 1861 again in Llantilio and finally Thomas Regent Evans in 1864 in Llantilio Pertholey.

Tragedy struck soon after the last child Thomas’s birth. Their mother Elizabeth (nee Stephens) died in 1866 in Llantilio Pertholey[8], leaving their father William to cope with the children; it seems he didn’t manage very well.

Burial record of Elizabeth Evans at Llantilio Portholey

The eldest daughter Elizabeth who, in 1861 was a servant in the house of Wellington Ellis and his wife Ann, came to the rescue, not only of her siblings but of Wellington too.  Sadly Wellington’s wife Ann passed away on the 16th July 1864, Elizabeth remained as his housekeeper and was no doubt a great comfort to him. Roles were reversed in 1866 when Elizabeth’s own mother died, leaving young children.  On the 6th October 1870 at the Registry Office in Bristol, in a low key ceremony Wellington married Elizabeth Evans who was 32 years his junior, and as we have already seen, was his servant girl.  

Marriage certificate of Wellington Ellis and Elizabeth Evans

The 1871 census revealed that he had also taken in almost the entire Evans family, David, Thomas, Sarah and the future Mrs. Albert Abid, Annie Evans.  All were listed at the same address of Ashcombe Lodge, Weston-Super-Mare, the home of Wellington and Elizabeth. To try and quell any gossip it would seem that Wellington kept the marriage under wraps for a few years, because the census indicates that Elizabeth was described as the unmarried house-keeper, whilst Annie was an unmarried lady’s maid.

In late 1874 Wellington and Elizabeth had a daughter named Augusta Hope Ellis, perhaps she was named after Wellington’s own sister who was also called Augusta Hope Ellis. Wellington’s daughter Augusta married her first cousin once removed Charles Regent Ellis in 1903. He was the son of Henry Williamson Welbore Ellis, the son of Wellington’s brother, Frederick Regent Ellis. Charles and Augusta went on to have two daughters.

Wellington was not without some influence and respect in the area.  The family name carried a lot of weight. His father Thomas, had been a soldier in the 17th Light Dragoons and an artist, of Ty Du, a large house with grounds of over 86 acres, situated in the parish of Llantilio Pertholey, near Abergavenny. Thomas Ellis was also a magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Monmouthshire.

It is likely that through Wellington’s connections, and after some refinement and coaching in conduct and etiquette, Annie Evans, daughter of a gardener, managed to secure a position as lady’s attendant/governess to Lady Meade wife of Sir Richard Meade who was the British Resident in Hyderabad. Lady Meade was in England with her young child, Meade wrote to his wife from Baroda, India on the 26th September 1875 and said: “ ….We are making our preparations for the trip to Bombay, and I can hardly realise that in less than two months I shall again, please God, be at Bangalore with dear old Fred (his youngest son who was about 5 years of age, to whom he was much attached) and looking for the return very soon after of one still more dear, viz., your dear self!...”[9]

Annie’s World

Cross-referencing this account against the testimony Annie gave at the Imperial Diamond case in 1891[10] where she stated: “…When I was travelling with Lady Meade as her attendant, I performed the duties of a house-keeper and taught her little son.  The duties of a travelling attendant include the duties of a lady’s maid to a certain extent….” It can be clearly seen that in 1875, by a twist of fate at the hands of her sister Elizabeth, Annie was escaping the cruel and bitter life that had dogged the family and their poor father.  Annie was on the cusp of her first trip to India where she would set eyes upon Albert Abid the man she would go on to marry, she was to become his soul mate, his true north.

Extract from the Imperial Diamond trial. The Times of India 18 December 1891.

As expected, upon arriving in India Annie travelled to Hyderabad with Lady Meade and little Frederick who were rejoining Sir Richard Meade. It was here that Annie met Albert Abid. There is some speculation that Annie became a governess to a child of the Nizam of Hyderabad, however, that is an unproven point. What is clear is that having spent a couple of years in India, by 1881 Annie had returned to England and was in the employ of another family in Sherborne in Dorset by the name of Green7. Three of the children in her care had been born in India. The youngest of the Green children was Leonard Rothwell Green (son of Hubert Rothwell Green a surgeon and Mary Ann) and only 3 years of age. I speculate that to minimise the return journey expenses from India to England Annie may well have placed a classified advertisement in the Indian papers seeking a position of companion/lady’s maid/governess in return for her ticket home. Once back in England, Annie began planning her wedding whilst being comfortably employed in a respectable position in the west country.

I can find no passenger record of Albert arriving in England to prepare for his marriage. Nevertheless, Albert Abid and Annie Evans were married in London in July 1882[11] at the Trinity Church, Upper Chelsea having declared their intention on a Marriage Allegation[12].

The marriage Bond allegation between Albert Abid and Annie Evans

Holy Trinity Church Upper Chelsea
Where Albert and Annie were married

Marriage register entry for Albert Abid and Annie Evans

In October Annie returned once again to Bombay from London on the steamer ‘Brindisi’[13] and a new life quickly setting up home with her husband Bertie.

Albert was already a well established figure in Hyderabad, as well as being the Chamberlain to the Nizam, he astutely set up a shop aimed predominantly at European gentlemen catering to their tailoring needs. It was a shrewd move and it wasn’t long before his shop became popular and successful. Another story from the book[14] by Harriet Ronken Lynton suggests that Albert was prone to ‘recycling’ items that once belonged to the Nizam. She states: “…socks were another source of illegitimate profit.  Mahbub wore only silk ones from France and discarded them after a single wearing. The valet used to collect them, but, as Mahub’s foot was unusually small, even for a man of his delicate build, the socks had little resale value.  Undeterred by the limited market, the enterprising valet had them beautifully laundered, re-affixed the paper labels he had preserved from their original appearance, and after a reasonable lapse of time sold them back to his master as a new shipment just arrived from France.”

It is in The Times of India of September 1885, tucked away in the small classified section that the only reference to any other Abid family member has been found. I believe Abid Satoor may be a brother. A. Abid is Albert and Makertish Satoor perhaps a brother, cousin or uncle. Certainly, after lengthy efforts to uncover further information, I find I am none the wiser but I will continue to pursue this line of enquiry in the near future.

Albert Abid’s shop in Hyderabad celebrating Queen Victoria’s Jubilee

Albert Abid was in service to the Nizam here at Chowmahela Palace, Hyderabad. He and Annie enjoyed free and full access to the Nizam at all times.

Albert and Annie’s Children

Image courtesy of John Zubrzycki

All their children were born in India, their early years’ kindergarten and junior education had been conducted with tutors. With Albert’s life revolving around the every comfort and desire of the Nizam, one can imagine that the children probably didn’t think it at all unusual to be visited by the Nizam at Abid’s shop nor indeed unduly impressed with his opulence, they were too young to really understand. Their early memories would have been full of the Nizam, the Palace, servants, and the fabulous jewels the Nizam became known for.

Their first child, Gladys Constance Satoor Abid was born on the 21 November 1883 and baptised 16 January 1884 at Chaddergaut[15].

baptism record of Gladys Abid

Elizabeth Flora Satoor Abid, known as Queenie was born 7 January 1885 and privately baptised 17 January 1885 at Chaddergaut, she was later received in the church on the 18 February 1885[16].

baptism record of Elizabeth Abid

Aviet William Satoor Abid was born 9 October 1886 and baptised on the 19 November 1886 at Chaddergaut[17]. The baptism records that Albert was in the service of the Nizam.

baptism of Aviet Abid

Alexander Malcolm Satoor Abid was born 9 June 1889 and baptised 18 July 1889 at St. George’s Church, Chaddergaut

The baptism record of Alexander Malcolm Abid showing Alexander Malcolm Jacobs as godfather.

This last child to be born, Alexander Malcolm Satoor Abid was particularly significant. He was given the same name as a friend and business associate of Albert’s without whom Albert would not have been so financially successful.  On the 15th July 1893 Annie wrote to Alexander Malcolm Jacob thanking him for having stood godfather for her child whom they had named after him.

Alexander Malcolm Jacob and Albert Abid had been two great friends, each feeding the others desire to make money. Alexander was a jeweller and frequently sold precious and highly sought after gems and jewels to the Nizam. For his part, Albert took 10% of each sale from Alexander and in return  Albert smoothed the access path to the Palace and the Nizam. This arrangement made Albert a wealthy man and, independently of his position as Valet to the Nizam, he set up a shop in Hyderabad supplying everything a European gentleman might require, and the Nizam was a regular customer. Annie also had a shop aimed at the wives of the European men. Prior to her marriage she had no experience in retail, fortunately her husband gave her the money to set it up and Annie went on to offer millinery, corsetry dressing making and ladies clothing generally. Annie’s shop also supplied a great many items to the Nizam, and he would spend over £1,000 a year in her store[18]. The Abid’s were very quick to observe society’s requirements and the Nizam  trusted Albert completely, after all who else would know his tastes and how to dress him if it wasn’t his own Valet? In addition to the shops they ran, Albert also built two very large and magnificent houses that were situated near the Palace at Saifabad[19].

With Annie’s success, both with her family and her business, it opened the way for members of her own family to also go to India. Her sister, Sarah Georgiana met and married William George Marr an Assistant General Outfitter in Chudderghaut near Madras on the 21st February 1887[20], Annie Abid was a witness, interestingly she has added the middle name “Alice”.

Marriage record of Sarah Georgina Evans and William Marr

Sarah and William Marr had two children in India: Wellington Best Marr born in 1888 and Winifred Hope Marr in May 1889 who only survived two months. Compounding Sarah’s grief for the loss of her baby daughter was the death of her husband 10 days later in August 1889, both deaths appear on the same burial record[21].

Burial record of little Winifred Marr and 10 days later her father William.

Sarah decided to return to England and to try to ease the financial burden, Sarah placed an advertisement in the Times of India in September 1889 to care for young children in return for her paid passage back to England.

Sarah did eventually return to England with her surviving child Wellington sailing on 21 February 1890 from Bombay to London on board the steamship ‘Clyde’.

With nowhere else to go, she returned to the place she had already called home as a young girl, Ashcombe Lodge in Weston-Super-Mare and into the caring arms of her ever welcoming sister Elizabeth and her husband Wellington Ellis, after whom Sarah’s son was named.  Once again Wellington Ellis was the anchor for the Evans family. 

The Imperial Diamond Trial

In 1891 the friendship of Alexander Jacob and Albert became strained, then difficult and ultimately hostile. Alexander had a diamond that he thought the Nizam would want to own. It was called the Imperial Diamond and weighed in at just over 184 carats.  Alexander asked for a deposit from the Nizam who showed a great deal of indifference towards the precious gem but just enough interest to want to see it.

Alexander arranged for the diamond to come to India from England and discussed the potential sale of it with Albert and whether he thought the Nizam would be interested enough to pay for it. Briefly, whilst both were sitting in Eden Gardens in Calcutta, Albert got to see and hold this incredible stone. Alexander had hidden the diamond in a bag around his neck, and at the same time carried a box of ice in which were hidden other beautiful jewels that he hoped he could sell.  Alexander had spent a great deal of his own money as a deposit to release the diamond from the London jeweller who had possession of it and when the Nizam declined the diamond, Alexander requested his expenses be paid.  A sensational court case ensued where the Nizam claimed Alexander had embezzled money, Albert and Annie were called as witnesses and their testimony incensed Alexander, they had cut him loose. The case was covered almost daily in the Indian newspapers between September and December 1891. Alexander was eventually found innocent of the charge, but the fall out from the case was that he was a ruined man. The once bonhomie that Alexander and Albert had enjoyed was now a thing of the past. Alexander never recovered his reputation and within three years Albert moved his family to England and a new life. The diamond became known as the infamous Jacob Diamond and is now in the possession of the Government of India[22]

The Drawing Room of Chowmahela Palace, Hyderabad where precious jewels and gems would have been purchased by the Nizam with the assistance of Albert Abid.

Moving on

There has been discussion about why Albert Abid and Annie set up home in Devon. Omar Kalhidi in his short essay[23] on Albert Abid asked the question: “why did Abid choose to settle down in the rural South West Country, rather than in the capital, where even if there were no Armenians, there were plenty of Indians?”  He asked two historians of the Indian Diaspora in Britain for their opinion. 

Rozina Visram said: “having enriched himself it could be that he now saw himself more as a member of the upper class, even as an Indian aristocracy, particularly as he had been with the Nizam for so long…….In Britain he might have wanted to be seen as a member of the Indian nobility…….”

Khalidi also consulted Michael Fisher who said: “Perhaps Abid wanted to be isolated from Indians and other Armenians who would know his earlier career as a valet…..”

I think the reason they settled in Devon is a lot simpler.  As can been seen from earlier, Annie still had family in the South West of England. Of course she would also have got to know Dorset and Devon well during her time as Governess to the Green family in Sherborne, there is no denying that it is a beautiful part of the world.  That, coupled with the fact that two of her sisters and a couple of brothers were still in the south west, made far more sense for her and Albert to settle where there were family. After all, Albert knew very few people in London and with the intention to ensure their own young family could have as an idyllic childhood as possible, Annie would have wanted those she loved to be close by to share in the secure and loving environment that perhaps she and her siblings were deprived of in their own childhood.  

 I have created a map showing key pinned locations in the west country. By the time Albert, Annie and their children had returned permanently to England in 1894 Wellington Ellis, husband of Annie’s sister Elizabeth had died. He had been protector and provider for many years to the Evans siblings and whether deliberately or by chance, Albert stepped into that position.

In 1894, Col. Mackenzie the Resident in Hyderabad conducted an interview with the Nizam part of which touched on Albert Abid’s decision to settle down in England[24].

 Extract from the interview with the Nizam regarding Abid's intention to settle in England

In a rather superior tone, Col. Mackenzie, reported the contents of the conversation back to the Government in London by letter and he was surprised and rather incredulous at the thought of Abid taking up residence and settling in Devon. Mackenzie finished his letter with a touch of pompousness and with an unnecessary under-hand cutting flourish he said: “…you know of course that Abid was E. Smiths and Matthews dressing boy……” This was British establishment declaring that Albert had gone above his station in life.

By June 1894 Albert had successfully bid on a beautiful property, Dulford House in 147 acres set in the heart of the Devon countryside. It was an eighteenth century white brick house. Originally built by the 7th Earl of Montrath it had previously been known as Montrath House or Strawberry Hill[25]. Albert was delighted with his purchase  and having completed the sale the family moved from the Indian Princely State to an English country estate on the 1st August. It cost him £50,000. By today’s standards that is the equivalent to just over £5.2 million.

The Devon and Exeter Daily Gazette 22 June 1894
Dulford House, purchased by Albert Abid

Within a year of moving in he was making structure changes and additions to the house.

He also began to immerse himself into the community and village life. In June 1895 it was report that “….the annual feast of the Sick and Benefit Club of this Parish [Kentisbeare] was held in fine weather. The members, headed by the Cullompton Volunteer Band marched first to Dulford House, where Mr. Abid welcomed them kindly, and promised a subscription of £2 to their funds…….” Astutely knowing that as an outsider, he had to work hard to become known as an acceptable member of the local community, a year later he allowed an ‘Ambulance Class’ to be set up and regularly held at Dulford House.  

Albert around the turn of the century.

During his time in India, Albert was a member of a local Volunteer Rifle group where he enthusiastically competed in shooting competitions. He continued with his passion for shooting in the West Country, and another parish newspaper reported that Albert had announced he intended to present a silver trophy to be shot by the Volunteers of Devon, it was to be made by an Indian jeweller. Commissioning just the right individual was not going to be difficult for him, having seen some of the finest work of the best jewellers in the world whilst working for the Shah of Persia, Vicar ul Urma and the Nizam of Hyderabad, Albert would have had someone in mind who could produce an impressive trophy. Orr & Co of Madras fitted the bill perfectly.

The Times of India – passenger list 31 March 1897. Albert commenced his journey back to England with the trophy.

Some time since we mentioned that Mr. Albert Abid, of Dulford House, in response to a communication from Captain Gratwicke, had intimated that it would give him very much pleasure to present a trophy for competition at the meetings of the Devon County Volunteer Association.  Mr. Abid, who spent many years in India, has just returned from a visit to that country, and has brought the trophy back with him, and it is now on view at the establishment of Mr. Templer Depree, High Street Exeter. 

The trophy is a magnificent piece of Indian workmanship from the establishment of Messrs. P. Orr and Sons, of Madras.  It is probably a unique specimen of the silversmith’s art.  The trophy was designed and manufactured according to Mr. Abid’s special instructions.  It takes the form of a punch bowl, and is hand-made throughout.  The work is peculiarly Indian. The bowl is elaborately decorated with a series of embossed Indian representations, the more prominent of which are temples, bungalows, and palms, and an Indian religious procession. On the base of the bowl is a richly-embossed lotus design, this plant being sacred and held in much veneration by the orthodox Hindoos. The rim of the bowl is notched rather than Vandyked. Between each space is a native swami, or god.  All the work is in high relief. The bowl bears the inscription:-

Presented to the Devon  County Volunteer Association
In 1897
By A.Abid Esquire,
Dulford House, Collumpton, Devon

The bowl stands upon an ebonised plinth with a silver shield and for its care a velvet-lined lock-up case has been provided.  The gift is a very valuable one, and Volunteers throughout the county will cordially appreciate the generosity shown by Mr. Abid. In writing to Captain Gratwicke, Mr. Abid mentioned that it gave him the greatest pleasure to be able to present the trophy, and he hoped that Devonshire might in the future take an even higher place in contests than she had in the past.  Below is a sketch of the bowl.  It weighs 77 ounces, measures 13in across, 12in in height with the plinth and 7 ½ins without the plinth and 39in in circumference.

In July 1897 the programme for the Devon County Volunteer Association Prize Meeting was issued. The competition was scheduled to take place between the 17-19 August. The Abid Challenge Trophy was to be shot for by the officers of the county. The stipulation for keeping the cup was that it had to be won three times by the same individual.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 20 August 1897 – The Abid Challenge Trophy.

In May 1898 Albert’s sons Aviet and Alexander took part in a children’s fancy dress ball. The Devon and Exeter Gazette reported that: “…one might go a long way before finding a more charming gathering than that of Mdlle. Schneider’s pupils at the Rougemont Assembly Rooms. The children went through the varied programme of intricate dances in an extremely pleasing manner which spoke volumes for the perfect tuition which they had received. The majority of dresses were exceedingly tasteful and becoming. Two of the most gorgeous costumes in the brilliant assembly were worn by the Masters Abid, of Dulford House, who appeared as Oriental Princes.  Their robes and turbans of rich purple velvet were handsomely embroidered in gold and jewels, and around their necks they wore many strings of superb pearls, which excited the envy of ladies present……”

It is no real surprise the boys looked the part of genuine bejewelled Princes given that their father had worked for one for years.  One can only imagine about the jewellery collection the Abid’s had when they settled in England, pearls were probably the least precious items in the family’s possession.

Whereas Khalidi in his paper indicates that Albert had fallen from grace with the Nizam after the court case and left India permanently, in fact Albert regularly returned to India, although he probably wasn’t as welcome by the Nizam as he had been, there was still contact between them. Albert had business interests, as well as his successful thriving ‘Abid shop’ in Hyderabad that required his regular attention, he also had his ice factory, electric motor and engineering factories. His factories produced thousands of dozens of pure mineral waters daily and many tons of ice[26]. Albert also saw a need for pharmacies and established one in Hyderabad and another in Secunderabad, both of which he staffed with fully qualified European chemists. These dispensaries were open night and day and were relied upon by the residents of these two cities. His factories and shops provided essential income and employment for a large number of people and many families were supported by his diverse business interests.

In September 1898 he was noted as a passenger on the S.S. Peninsular that arrived on the 24th in Bombay. 

In June 1899 Albert advertised in the Friend of India for an engineer capable of working with his ice factory in Hyderabad.

The Next Step - Naturalisation

Later in July 1899 Albert left Bombay on the P&O Steamer S.S. Egypt en route to Marseilles and onward from there to England.  On the 9th October 1899 in Exeter, Albert started the process of applying to become a British citizen.  

Extract from Albert’s original naturalisation application.

Those who were named sureties on the application all stated they had known Albert for some considerable time, indicating that they too were associated with him during his time in India. 

James William Benson – was a jeweller and silversmith in Old Bond Street London, he stated he had known Albert 16 years.
Eugene Phillip Oakshott – was the owner of the Asia’s biggest department store, J.W. Spencer & Co in Madras, he stated he had known Albert 10 years.
Frederick William Emery[27] – was one of the partners of Messrs. P. Orr & Co of Madras[28] [29], he stated he had known Albert 15 years.
George Frederick Arthur Perry[30] – was a tutor (he had previous taught Albert’s children), he stated he had known Albert 6 years.

All of them were living in England at the time of the application and therefore legitimately able to act as sureties.

Part of the application was a reference given by The Superintendent of Devon Constabulary, R.G. Collins.  It would appear to conflict with the observations of a local Devon historian Derrick V. Rugg’s account of the Abid’s as referred to in Khalidi’s paper6 in which Rugg said: “despite the wealth and the patronage of local charities, church and the club, all the attributes of someone aspiring to be a Squire, evidently the Abids were not socially accepted. When Albert Abid arrived he sent cards as the gentry did to invite folk to “at home” afternoons. But nobody came to Dulford House.” 
Superintendent Collins’s observations were quite the opposite.  He said: “In returning the accompanying paper I have the honour to report as follows.

Dulford House is in the parish of Broadhembury, the post town in Cullompton. This property together with about 147 acres of land was purchased in the early part of 1894 by Mr. Albert Abid who took up his residence there with his wife and family. Since that time he has spent internally and externally a large sum of money upon improvements and is now his permanent residence.  He is very much respected by the surrounding district, and there is nothing known against his character and respectability. He takes a real interest in the Volunteer movement in his county and a short time ago gave a handsome Challenge Bowl made in India, value £50 to be competed for.

Mr. Albert Abid has been personally known to me since his residence at Dulford House now upwards of 5 years and believe him a loyal and faithful subject to Her most Gracious Majesty the Queen…………..R.G. Collins, Supt.”

There are numerous newspaper reports about the Abids suggesting that in fact they were well liked by the parish members and were welcomed and included in many community activities, certainly in their early years at Dulford.

He finalised his application on the 27th November 1899 and immediately he and the family left England for India via Marseilles returning to Bombay and onward to Hyderabad in time for the festive season.

Albert’s application was approved and he swore his oath of allegiance on the 16th March 1900.

Albert didn’t confine his investments wholly to India. The extended 26 roomed[31] Dulford House he had created as a home for his family was of course their main residence, but he also bought a small town house only 48 miles away in Dorchester which he rented out. The Voters List for Dorchester between 1901-1908 is evidence of the secondary property owned by Albert7.

Dorchester Voters List showing Albert Abid’s rental property.
Albert’s rental property would have looked similar to this one in the same road.
The newspapers of London and Devon covered an incident involving Albert Abid. He and Annie were in capital staying at the Paddington Hotel and were waiting in Bond Street in London to see the visiting French President, Emile Loubet. Unwittingly Albert became a victim of robbery.  It would appear he didn’t realise it at first until someone in the crowd shouting “that man has got your pin!” The thief, James Rixon aged 43 and a painter, was caught and brought before the magistrates on the 7th July 1903 charged with stealing the diamond and black pearl pin worth £200 (£19,000 at today’s value). Although the culprit was caught the pin was never recovered. Rixon was found guilty of stealing and with four previous convictions behind him he was sentenced to 22 months hard labour.

Albert and Annie can be found once again on a passenger list in September 1903 sailing from London to Bombay on the ‘Moldavia’.

In May 1904 Dulford House played host to the Ladies’ Rifle Club competition which took place on the lawns of the mansion.  Needless to say, the prizes were given by Albert and Annie Abid. The first prize was a silver-mounted suspended purse and the second prize a silver-mounted stamp-box which was won by Gladys Abid but good manners dictated she did not take her winnings, and it was therefore passed to the lady who came third. Queenie Abid came three places behind her eldest sister.

Gladys Comes of Age:
Dulford Moves to the Beat of the Gramophone

1904 proved to be an exciting year for the Abid family. The summer at Dulford House was full of joy and anticipation. Albert and Annie’s eldest daughter, Gladys was about to come of age and what extravagant celebrations plan the Abid’s had for their daughter.  Although her birthday wasn’t until November (the baptism record clearly states her birthday was November, but the newspapers reported Gladys came of age in the July. Did the Abids bring her birthday forward so the party could be held in the summer sunshine?), they were determined that Gladys should have a party to remember and one where the community could share in their happiness. They were besotted with all their children and if the planned celebrations were an indication of anything, the other children could expect equal extravagant treatment when it was their turn to come of age.

Local newspapers once again regaled in the events that Albert had planned.  A great deal of interest is being taken in a forthcoming event in the neighbourhood of Broadhembury – the coming of age of Miss Gladys Abid, of Dulford House.  Mr and Mrs Abid, who have always shown their desire to advance the welfare of the neighbourhood are making most hospitable arrangements and all their neighbours are to participate in the rejoicing. There is to be a school treat for the children of Broadhembury and Kentisbeare, and there will also be a garden party and a ball.  I am sure all will wish Miss Abid may have a very bright and happy life[32].

It would indeed take a very mean-spirited individual not to appreciate the time and enormous effort put into the birthday celebration by Albert and Annie for Gladys.  Their generosity and openness, not just towards their daughter but towards the whole of the parish must be admired. Several events were planned starting with the elderly community who were invited to Dulford House for tea.  Saturday 22nd August was a party for the children who attended schools in Kentisbeare and Broadhembury. Co-ordinating a full programme for over 200 youngsters as well as catering for them gives some indication of the type of household Annie was running. ‘The juvenile visitors were heartily welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Abid and Miss Gladys Abid, and were conducted through the charming grounds to an adjoining field, where every preparation had been made for their enjoyment.  The Kentisbeare children were accompanied by the teaching staff and the Vic (the Rev. E.S. Chalk) and Mrs. Chalk. The Broadhembury scholars were also accompanied by the teaching staff and the Rev. C.L. James and Mrs. James.

With faces beaming with delight, the youngsters entered into the amusements provided for them with great enthusiasm. The girls indulged in swinging and other games, while the boys among other things, played cricket. A match – Kentisbeare v Broadhembury – was arranged and caused much fun. Broadhembury winning by 29 runs to 28.

Mr and Mrs Abid, Miss Queenie Abid (daughter) and Mr. A.W. Abid, and Mr. A.M. Abid (sons) and several members of the house party now at Dulford House were present in the field during the afternoon and did everything in their power to make the festivities as enjoyable as possible. A tug of war and several races were arranged and Miss Abid, whose kindly disposition won the hearts of all the children distributed charming prizes among the successful competitors.

Tea was served in picnic fashion about 5 p.m. around a handsome marquee, which was brought home from India by Mr. Abid a few months ago.  

Typical 19th century design of an Indian marquee, probably similar to Abid’s. Copyright British Library India Office: Prints, Drawings and Paintings.

Each child was presented with a mug bearing the name “Gladys” and the figures “1883-1904” worked in blue.  They also received a penny of this year’s minting. During tea gramophone selections were given which highly pleased the guests. Shortly after 6 o’clock the children were drawn up, and in a short speech the Rev. C.L. James gave his heartfelt thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Abid for their great kindness towards the children. All would leave with mementos which would always remind them of the festive occasion. They wished Miss Abid a long life, health and happiness. Three cheers were invited for Mr. and Mrs. Abid and members of the family. In return Mr. Abid called for cheers for the vicars and the children, the schools each cheered each other and the proceedings will long be remembered by the children.”

After the children’s event at the weekend, there followed a celebration garden party in the surrounding grounds of the house.

“…a large number of friends in the pretty grounds gathered for a fashionable party.  All the influential families of the Cullompton district were present.  The garden party was one of a series of very interesting functions commemorating the coming of age of Miss Gladys Abid.

Situated in the heart of a picturesque stretch of country, Dulford is a charming place. Just now the beautiful gardens attached to the domain are a mass of bloom and leaf.  On either side of the drives leading to the house standards, embellished with the national colours, were inserted in the ground, and from them were suspended flags in a choice variety of colours. A pretty archway was also erected near the residence.

Rugg’s5 comment about the Abid’s not being socially accepted are at odds with how they were perceived by the local press.  Mr and Mrs Abid are extremely popular in Cullompton and the surrounding district, and the townspeople share with the villagers of Broadhembury and Kentisbeare good wishes for their daughter’s happiness. The Cullompton Volunteer Band was in attendance and they gave an admirable programme of enlivening music until the distinguished party broke up at half past nine.

Miss Gladys Abid received a large number of choice presents. Yesterday she was presented with a beautiful silver-mounted table mirror, accompanied by a finely illuminated book containing the names of subscribers, all tenantry on the estate….”

The list of guests, (which included a number of people from the Armenian community based in London and they are marked with an *) who attended the garden party and later the highlight of the weeks’ festivities, the Ball on the 25th August were as follows:

Mr and Mrs. J. Ackland, Mr and Mrs Adams, Miss B. Adams, Mr and Mrs. A. Aganoor*, the Misses Aganoor*, Mr and Miss Armstrong, Mr and Mrs Apcar*, Mr and Mrs Andreas*, Mr. P. Amherst, Mrs and Miss Anderson, Dr and Mrs. Alleyne, Mr and Mrs Amour.

Dr. and Mrs Banks, Mr Burton, the Rev. and Mrs Stephen Bennett, Mr and Mrs Burrow, Mr and Mrs. A. Burrow, Mr. and Mrs Bosson, Mr and Mrs. J. Balthazar*, Mr and Mrs. J. Balthazar Junr*., Mr. J. Balthazar*, the Misses Balthazar*, Mr. C. Bland, Mr. and Mrs. Benson, Mr and Mrs Bartlett, the Misses Bartlett, Mr. Reginald Bartlett, Mr and Mrs Barlow, Mrs and Miss Briggs.

Mr and Mrz Cazlot, Mr and Mrs Coddington, Mr and Mrs. N. Clifton, Mr and Mrs J. Capell, Col. J. Clerk, Mr and Mrs Collins, Mrs and Mrs Chalkner, Mr and Mrs R. Cleeve, Rear-Admiral and Mrs Craige, Miss Craige, Dr and Mrs Crosleigh, Miss Crosleigh, the Rev and Mrs. E. Chalk, Mr W.G. Clarke, Mr. J. Clarke, Mr. T.C. Clarke, Mr. Charmarette, Mr and Mrs Chard, Mrs C. Clerk.

Mrs. Dunkerly, Mrs and Miss Dennis, Mr and Mrs Daniels, Mr and Mrs Drewe, the Misses Drewe.

Mr and Mrs C.R. Ellis, Mrs. W. Ellis, Mr. R. Ellis, Mr and Mrs A.E. Ellis, the Rev. Edwards, Mr and Mrs Eames, Mr and Mrs Emery, the Misses Emery, Mr. J. Eadie.

Mrs. Fisher, the Rev. and Mrs Forrester, the Rev and Miss Forbes.

Dr. and Mrs Gidley, Canon and Mrs Ghambrooke, Mr and Mrs Gwelo Goodman, Mr and Mrs Gane, Mr w. Grant, Lieut-Colonel and Mrs Gundry, Prebendary and Mrs. Gowering, the Misses Gowering.

Mr. Hutchings, Mr and Mrs Hay, the Misses Hay, Mr. J.W. Hay, Prebendary and Mrs Howard, Miss Harris, Mr and Mrs Heenan.

Mr and Mrs Randall Johnson, Miss Randall Johnson, Mr and Mrs Joakim*, Mr. S. Joaquim*, Mrs and the Misses Joaquim*, the Rev. and Mrs. Johnstone, the Rev. and Mrs Lister  James, Mr and Mrs. Johns.

Mrs and Miss Kindersley, Mr. W. Kindersley, Mr. E. Kindersley, Sir John and Lady Kennaway, Mr. John Kennaway, Miss Kennaway.

Colonel Ludlow, Colonel and Mrs Lawrie, Major-General and Mrs. Beresford Lovett, Miss Law, Mr and Mrs. Larence.

Mr and Mris Moberly, Mr and Mrs G.E. Mackenzie, Miss Mackenzie, Mr. R. Mackenzie, Mrs. J.A. Mackenzie, the Misses Matheson, Mr and Mrs Malony,  Mr and Mrs Trice Martin, Miss Mackintosh, the Misses Mortimore, Major and Mrs Moss, Mr and Mrs Newton Miller, Mr and Mrs Matthews, Colonel and Mrs Moore, the Rev. and Mrs Moozaart, the Misses Moozaart, Mr and Mrs Mackintosh, Colonel and Mrs. Macgregor, the Misses Macgregor, Mr and Mrs. C. Chester, Master, Mrs and the Misses Moore, Mr and Mrs Melsome, Mr. Marshall.

Mr. and Mrs Nicholls, Mr and Mrs H.G. New, Mrs. New.

Mr and Mrs Opie, Mr. P. Opie, Mr. and Mrs Obelt, Mr and Mrs Oakshott.

Mr and Miss Potter, Mr and Mrs Prideaux, Mr and Mrs Pridham, Mr and Mrs Pryce, Mr and Mrs Perry, Mr and Mrs Mac-Rea-Peacock.

Captain and Mrs. Slazenger, Mr. W.L. Sandenson, Mr. L.S. Smith, Mrs and Mrs Slaughter, Mr and Mrs Sarkies*, Mr. and Mrs. T. Sarkies*, Mr and Mrs A.H. Stevens, Captain and Mrs Slazengee, Mr and Mrs Stephens, the Misses Speke, Mr and Mrs Sellwood, Dr and Mrs Slack, Mrs and Misses Sweet, Mr. P. Serre, Mr and Mrs Shaporjee.

Miss Taylor, Mr. A. Tolhurst, Mr and Mrs Tasker, Miss Travers, Mr and Mrs Turner, the Rev. and Miss Tanner, Dr and Mrs R. Tweed, Dr. and Mrs. E. Tracey.

Miss Venn, Mr and Mrs. H. Vakeil.

Mr and Mrs Watt, Mr and Mrs Wutzlar, Mr and Mrs Wills, the Rev and Mrs Wyndham, Sir W. and Lady Walrond, Mr and Mrs I. Walrond, Colonel and Mrs. Walrond, the Rev. and Mirs Welchman, Mr and Mrs Waggott, Mr and Mrs Wilkinson, Mrs Weldon and party.

*Members of the Armenian community from London.

The parishes of Kentisbeare and Broadhembury had never seen such a spectacle before as that lavished on his daughter by Albert, and it looked like another lavish event would once again keep Albert and Annie busy.

Caught up in the complete euphoria of a week long celebration of Gladys’s birthday the family announced in the local papers her engagement to Reginald Bartlett of Sidcup, Kent. Both he and his parents had attended the party.

The Western Times 1 September 1904.
Soon after the engagement announcement, Albert and Annie left England for their regular autumn trip to India. What they didn’t know was that this engagement would not end in a wedding. There is no marriage record for Gladys and Reginald, and no record why the engagement was broken off. Gladys went on to marry in 1909 to a local young man by the name of de Schmid.

Albert and Annie were very sociable people.  In fact far from Michael Fisher’s claim in Khalidi’s paper that “perhaps Abid wanted to be isolated from Indians and other Armenians who would know his earlier career as a valet and so squash his pretentions to being a squire...” the Abid’s were in regular contact with Armenians in London who in turn had settled there from India. 

Apcars and Abids: Armenians from India

Annie Apcar was the widow of ‘Toonie’ Apcar.  She was born to Armenian parents, Carrapiet Balthazar and his wife Ovsanna in 1871 in Rangoon.  

Annie Apcar and her Balthazar sisters.
Arratoon ‘Toonie’ Thomas Apcar was born in 1858 in Calcutta to Thomas Arratoon Seth Apcar and Hripsima. Toonie’s grandfather, Arratoon Gregory Apcar was the founder of the shipping company Apcar & Co. The Apcar empire and family network in India was vast.  (for another detailed Apcar related story, please read my blog on Charles Leslie De Vine and Sarah Amelia Apcar, cousin of Toonie, to see how she faired with the double-dealing bigamist.) 

Annie regularly wrote to her daughter Kitty whilst she attended boarding school near Brighton.  It is fortunate that this precious social history has been preserved by the family in a book:  “Letters from a Merry Widow and Two Gentlemen 1906-1914” by Christopher Carlisle.  There are several mentions about their friends the Abids of Devonshire and in a letter dated 22 July 1906, Annie Apcar is noted as telling Kitty that their plans to visit Dulford were “knocked on the head, as I hear Mrs. Abid is not well……”.

In the summer of 1907 Albert and Annie Abid celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.

And to commemorate their milestone Albert and Annie donated two hymn-boards to their local church at Kentisbeare, the inscription read: “The gift of Albert and Annie Abid, of Dulford House, Cullompton, in commemoration of their silver wedding, June 26, 1907”[33]. They are still in the church today.

In early August 1907 Albert once again opened up his house to the local community hosting a fete in order to support  the local District Nurse Fund, something he had done annually since moving in to the house in 1894[34].  “The park, Oriental tents and decorations were kindly lent by Mr. A. Abid…”

In December 1908 Annie Apcar once again wrote to her daughter Kitty saying: “You have got an invitation from the Abids to go down to Devonshire for 2 dances – one on the 28th and the other on the 30th of this month but I’m afraid it’s impossible. D.V. I want to leave for Paris on the 28th….”.  A later letter dated 31 December from Annie to Kitty indicates that in fact Kitty did go to the Abid’s. “Many thanks for your joint letter (from the Abids’ home in Devon), it was most interesting and I am so glad you both enjoyed yourselves – I do hope you had as nice a time last night….[35]

Albert and Annie were in the long established habit of spending Christmas in India, and January 1909 saw Albert and Annie set off after their festive break on their return journey from India to London via their usual route of Marseilles. Only a few days after arriving back in Devon they had the news of the death of Richard G. Collins, ex Police Superintendent of Devon and the man who had given Albert such a glowing personal testimony to his character at the time of his naturalisation application in 1894. As a small mark of respect, Albert’s own carriage joined in for part of the cortège procession to Butterleigh where the funeral took place.

Meanwhile, Annie Apcar’s regular correspondence with her daughter Kitty next mentioned the Abid’s in her letter of 11 February 1909, it said “I have asked Gladys and Rex Abid to dinner tomorrow night: I wonder if they will come. I can’t do anything for them when Mary goes away…”  And in another letter two days later on the 13th Annie wrote “Yesterday, at least last night I had quite a nice little dinner party – Gladys and Rex Abid, the two Edgar girls [Also Armenians] Jack and Mickie, Mary and myself.  It passed off very well and finished off the duty I owed…….”

In Secunderabad in March 1909 the Mounted Hyderabad Rifles held an assault-at-arms competition. The event of the day was the Scout Kadair, the Times of India reported …Mr. Passy pulled the running peg over a fairly large course, Sergt. Cameron, Lce-Sergt. Pearce, Trooper Chandler and Green following. After a vigorous scuttle Lce-Sergt. Pearce got his spear home and won the prize. A beautiful allegorical Inkport presented by Mr. A. Abid….”. Albert was still more than happy to support shooting competitions, whether at home or in India.

Gladys Betrothed to Eric de Schmid

However, the big and exciting news for this year was that Gladys was engaged to be married, and this time it all looked very positive.

The Western Times 10 March 1909

Annie Apcar heard the news and wrote to her daughter Kitty on the 12 May “…Here is a piece of news for you. Gladys Abid is engaged to de Schmidt (I can’t spell his name), the policeman, and the wedding is to be in July and we are all called to go to it.  You will be home for it and it’s by the end of the month.  She is wild with happiness………”.

Another opportunity for Albert to participate in a local event was at the end of May 1909 when the first exhibition of arts and crafts in Cullompton took place. A number of items were sent for the display and Albert contributed “a very fine specimen of carving on mother of pearl shells”. Just one of many items from his eclectic collection from around the world.  I don’t think Devon really knew how to take him, they had heard of exotic people and places, but very few had seen them. At almost every social occasion Albert brought the unusual to it, try as he might to be an English gent; he wore the right clothes, educated his children in the English way, threw himself into the English lifestyle, yet his dark looks and eastern accent betrayed him.

In another letter to Kitty on the 2nd June 1909, Annie wrote “I had a letter from Gladys Abid saying we must must go to her wedding but there wouldn’t be room at Dulford.  “Couldn’t you motor down”, she says, “and stay at Cullompton or Exeter and with the car you could get to us so quickly”. I think it’s a ripping idea, don’t you?....”

Meanwhile the Banns[36] were read on the 4th, 11 and 18th July for Gladys and Eric.

The marriage certificate for Gladys and Eric. Note the name change comment at the top, I refer to this a little later in the blog.

Image of St. Andrew’s Church Broadhembury via

“The contracting parties being well known, much interest was evinced in the event.  Flowers and palms decorated the chancel of the church. The bride, who was given away by her father, was gracefully attired in a directoire gown of ivory crepe-de-chine, embroidered in silver, with a Court train of brocaded satin, lined with chiffon, and tulle veil over a wreath of orange blossom. She wore a peridot and pearl pendant, the gift of the bridegroom, and carried a shower bouquet of white roses.  There was one bridesmaid. Miss Queenie Abid (only sister of the bride), who was dressed in a Princess gown of pale blue embroidered chiffon over satin, trimmed with panels of gold embroidery, with large pale blue satin hat trimmed with ostrich feathers, and she carried a directoire stick, mounted with pink carnations. The bride’s mother was attired in a gown of mauve embroidered chiffon over satin trimmed with Cingalese lace, and wore a floral toque to match. She carried a lovely shower bouquet.

The service was fully choral, and conducted by the Rev. C. Lister James (vicar). As the bride entered the church the organist (Mr. A. G. Pilkington L.C.M.) played the Bridal March from Lohengrin. There were two hymns, “The voice that breathed o’er Eden” and “Lead us, Heavenly Father, lead us.”  The best man being Mr. Hugh S. de Schmid, only brother of the bridegroom. Mendelssohn’s Wedding March was played as the bridal party left the church.

A reception was afterwards held at Dulford House, on the lawns which were charmingly arranged for the occasion with tents and marquees, the guests numbered 320. Later Mr and Mrs de Schmid left for London, near where the honeymoon will be spent. The bride’s going away dress was of pale grey cloth in directoire style, with lace coated trimmed with pale grey crepe-de-chine, piped with pink.  She wore a lace hat, trimmed with William Allen Richardson roses, and carried a Maltese lace sunshade over pink silk.

The presents numbered nearly 200. Among them was a revolving dish from the Cullompton Bench of Magistrates, and a small accompanying address, bearing the names of Messrs. E.F.M. Alleyne, J.W. Clarke, R.H. Clarke, J.H. Franklin W.J.A. Grant, T.H. Hepburn, E. Lucas, E. Lutley, H.H.G. New, W.H. Reed, T. Turner, Col. H.B. Grundry, and the Clerk Mr. A. Burrow.  The staff and children of the Broadhembury School gave the bride a silver inkstand, suitably inscribed, and a silver spirit kettle and stand were given by the gardeners, engineer and carpenter at Dulford House, and a silver tea service by the indoor servants and farm employees.

The bridesmaid’s hat, and much of the bride’s trousseau millinery, were supplied by Mrs. A. Mashford, 225, High Street, Exeter.

De Schmid Background and the Name Change
It can be seen on the marriage record that Eric de Schmid changed his surname. “De Schmid altered his name at the time of the great European war and took the name of SPENCE in November 1917…..”

Notice in the London Gazette declaring his change of name.

Eric de Schmid was born in Devon in 1880 son of William Herbert Ferdinand de Schmid, Police Superintendent, and Wilhelmina Stopford Hunt[37]. Eric’s parents William and Wilhelmina had four children, the others being Noel Stopford de Schmid 1881-1883, Guy Sillifant Spence de Schmid 1882-1883 and Hugh Swayne de Schmid 1885-1978.

Eric changed his surname because of the anti German feeling in the country during WW1, and in particular in Carlisle where Eric was the serving Chief Constable. There was a great deal of hatred of anyone thought to have German connections, even though he’d been born in Devon and his father in Italy, it wasn’t something he could convince people of otherwise.  He chose the name SPENCE because it was his grandmother’s (Eliza) maiden name37.  She had been English, born in Hull in 1810 and married Eric’s grandfather Louis, Baron de Schmid (who had been born in Germany) in Tuscany, Italy in 1833.

Eric was awarded the King’s Police Medal in the 1925 New Year’s Honours List by King George V. He had dedicated his entire working life to the service of the police force. When he retired, he and Gladys returned to Devon.

Eric and Gladys had a daughter, Barbara Constance de Schmid (later to be known as Spence) in August 1911 in Devon. Barbara married a William Andrews in 1940 in Devon and they went on to have two daughters.

Gladys died in 1955 in Devon and Eric five years later also in same county.
De Schmid family tree

Alexander Malcolm Abid

Alexander Malcolm Satoor Abid

In the Proposal for membership of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers[38] in 1928 a comprehensive career biography was completed some of which I reproduce below.

He had been educated in England with private tutors and he then joined Clifton College where he studied from 1898 to July 1904. He did not attend any university.

Having decided engineering was the career he wanted to follow, he was apprenticed to and trained under Messrs. W.H. Allen Son & Co Ltd., Queen’s Engineering Works, Bedford from October 1904-1909.

On completing his articles of Indenture he entered the British Lindley Refrigerating Company in Birmingham and worked there for three months. After that we went to the Phychly Motor Garage Northampton to gain experience in to that particular branch of mechanical engineering with a view to gaining sufficient experience to enable him to work abroad.  In August 1909 Alexander returned to Hyderabad where his father appointed him Chief Engineer at the family firm, Messrs A. Abid & Co taking charge of the Ice Plant. 
Just after his arrival in Hyderabad in August 1909 Alexander Abid, turning his hand to something a little more delicate, he invented a new toy. He sent over the details and specification from Hyderabad to England where his brother Aviet, now a solicitor arranged for it to be formally recognised at the Patent office[39].

Abid, A. W. S. Aug. 17. Mechanical toys. - Relates to a toy figure adapted to remain in stable equilibrium in any position. The figure a has jointed arms a and, integrally connected with the arms, a relatively long curved member b at the extremities of which are weights c. The result is such that the centre of gravity of the combination lies beyond or below the figure. In whatever position the arms are placed, the figure moves into a position of equilibrium.

During the course of his time in Hyderabad Alexander built a 15 ton L.B. Ice Plant and was solely responsible for its efficient working as well as an aerated water factory which was attached to the plant. He was in control of 50 men and continued to work for his father’s company until 1923.

After that, and clearly not affected by the apparent fall-out his father Albert had with the Nizam over the Jacob Diamond court case, Alexander was appointed Chief Inspector of Boilers and factories in the H.E.H. the Nizam’s Service and Executive Engineer of the district water pumping stations in the dominions. He was later appointed the officer of Chief Factory Inspector in the H.E.H. The Nizam’s Dominions. He went on to have sole responsibility of inspecting, supervising and the efficient working of 460 steam boilers scattered about the Dominions and four water pumping stations. Ultimately taking responsibility for the government office staff and assistants Alexander was overseen by Mr. B. Collins C.I.E. Director General of Commerce and Industries.

Having successfully erected the 15 ton ice plant in 1916 he later went on to oversee the installation of two Worthington Simpson Steam Pumping Engines for the Vanded Water Works in H.E.H. The Nizam’s state.

Eventually he left working for the government and concentrated full time on building up the Abid & Co business started by his father. A classified advertisement in The Times of India shows that Alexander was happy to sell off a piece of land that was bordered on two sides by Chudderghat Road and Post Office Lane, on one of the other sides was the family shop A. Abid & Co and then a bungalow.

In September 1917 Alexander met and married Winifred Devlin[40], her father James was also in the service of the Nizam.

Marriage record of Alexander Abid and Winifred Devlin

Alexander and Winifred never had children but adopted her sister’s children, Barney and Kevin. Barney Devlin recalls: “when my mother was dying from cancer, Alexander and Winifred cared for myself and Kevin. Winifred in her own right was a very vibrant and impressive person, and her personality helped make the Abid Evans very influential in all circles.  She was awarded so many awards for her voluntary works including the Kaiser-e-Hind medal. Being great entertainers, all special and important people were always around, both Princesses Durushahwar and Niloufer included. The Abid Evans lived mostly in the Banjara Hills, Alex died in the early 1970s of throat cancer and Winifred some years later either in the late 70’s or early 80s.  Both were buried in the Naryanaguda cemetery[41].”

Elizabeth ‘Queenie’:
 Betrothed and Jilted by Hugh de Schmid

It is ironic that the humiliation Gladys had suffered with her first engagement announcement to Reginald Bartlett was something that her sister Elizabeth “Queenie” would also have to endure. Certainly, the girls suffered early romantic bad luck.

Elizabeth’s engagement to Hugh Swaine de Schmid, brother of Eric de Schmid, was announced with great verve and joy on the 8th March 1912 with a notice in The Times as well as the local Devon[42] newspapers. The wedding date had been fixed for just 18 days later on the 26th March at St. Mary’s Church, Kentisbeare. Albert and Annie must have been thrilled; their two daughters were marrying two brothers, both local young men and from a respectable family. The father of Hugh and Eric was William de Schmid and the local Chief Constable of Devonshire police. Hugh’s burgeoning career in mining with the Canadian government would take the newly married couple to live in Canada after the wedding.

The engagement was announced in the Times of London between
Mr. Hugh Swaine de Schmid and Queenie Abid in March 1912

Prior to the intended date Queenie spent time at the Rectory of Kentisbeare thus allowing her to qualify as a parishioner[43], although according to Rev. Chalk’s recollections “she did not seem very happy, as if having a foreboding. The marriage was postponed because the bridegroom alleged he had injured his ribs due to the rolling of the ship.” One delay followed another until it was revealed that Hugh had “jilted her and shamefully married someone else in Canada. Queenie never got over it and faded out of public life.” 

Hugh de Schmid returned to Canada on board the Lusitania on the 27th April 1912 from Liverpool to New York and onward to Canada.  In June 1913  he married Kathleen Keeley in Ontario, Canada. According to his obituary in 1978, they had three sons, two died young and the third son, Neville, went on to marry and have 5 children of his own. These of course were cousins to Eric and Gladys’s daughter Barbara.

It must have been incredibly awkward for Queenie when Hugh, his wife Kathleen and their children came to England to visit family in Devon, passenger lists indicate they visited in 1922 when Neville was only 8 years of age, later Neville travelling on several occasions to England.

Elizabeth is recorded as a regular traveller throughout her life, but remained a  spinster. She died in Nice, France[44] in 1973 aged 88.

Another Family Wedding:
Aviet Abid to Maria Kurz

Aviet, like his brother Alexander, was privately educated at home and then at Clifton College, Bristol.  Law was his chosen path and he passed his final exams in 1910.  He worked with John Bartlett a solicitor in Kent who happened to be the father of Reginald Bartlett who had briefly been engaged to Aviet’s sister Gladys. Clearly there was no bad blood between the Abid and Bartlett families, and Aviet’s position with Bartlett was a spring-board for him to eventually further his career in law.

An announcement in The Times of the impending marriage of Albert’s eldest son, Aviet who was now a well established solicitor, to a German woman named Maria Kurz once again filled the family with joy and excitement. However, it was to be a short-lived family happiness.

The engagement announcement in The Times, July 1913 between
Aviet Abid and Maria Kurz
Marriage record of Aviet Abid and Maria Kurz 1913

As a British subject in Germany in November 1914, Aviet found himself caught in the round-up in Berlin by the Germans of all British nationals and unable to avoid being interned. He, and hundreds of other British civilians and merchant seamen, along with foreigners from other nationalities with British connections, were interned at the hastily constructed prisoner of war camp at Ruhleben racecourse by Spandau, near Berlin, Germany. Most would not see freedom from the camp until the end of the war[45]. It was not a labour camp, as so many were, but a holding camp that became a “mini” England. Nevertheless, the conditions were appalling and extremely difficult. An account of the Ruhleben Prison Campcan be found here. There are other equally informative blogs and sites on the internet using the search term ‘Ruhleben Camp’.

Layout of the Barracks at the Ruhleben camp.

An index of the Ruhleben Camp has been created by Marcus Bateman from the National Archive index of the camp made in September 1916[46]. It show’s Aviet Abid and where he had been living at the time of being captured.
RL TO ENGLAND 6/11/1915

On the 6th November 1915, a year after his forcible detention and as part of a prisoner exchange programme, Aviet was released and returned home to Devon. The family placed a notice in the local papers.

The Devon and Exeter Gazette 17 December 1915

Mr. A.W.S. Abid, solicitor, elder son of Mr. Albert Abid, Dulford House, Cullompton, and one of the exchange civilian invalids who returned from the Ruhleben prisoners’ of war camp last November. Owing to Mr. Abid’s health, which is seriously undermined by the hardships of his internment in Germany, he will not be able to resume his professional duties with his firm in London (Messrs. Leader, Plunkett and Leader) for several months.

Aviet returned to his job around 1918. He and his wife Maria lived firstly in Notting Hill and later in Blackheath in Kent.  They had two children both girls, one in 1921 and the second in 1925.

In October 1933 the partnership he worked with was dissolved, and he went on to practise alone.

Albert found that during and after WW1 attitudes towards him and his family had changed.  He had suffered a great deal of unfounded suspicion of being a German sympathiser. As we have already seen, his eldest son was captured and his son-in-law Eric de Schmid also had to endure such hatred and suspicion. Albert felt hurt that people would think in such a way, he had spent a number of years demonstrating loyalty, his generous actions and community spirit, he was glad to be a British citizen and thought he had been accepted in the parish as a faithful British subject. He paid a high price for his foreign looks and peculiar accent, for employing one or two Indian servants and having a broad range of multicultural friends. Albert thought he was amongst friends in Devon, but the war created mistrust and even loathing, things were never the same after the war.  He and Annie became withdrawn and no longer held parties, meetings or gatherings for the people of the parish. In his notes41 Rev. Chalk said “..the Abids were seldom seen for the remaining years of their life. The dinner bell in the Dulford House stable-tower was heard still every day from the Rectory (two fields away) but it was our sole reminder of their existence.  It ceased over one day in 1925.”

A Lonely End

Anticipating life’s Final Call, Albert went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that he and Annie were together, but separated from the community around him. There were to be no church burials for them. He had a family vault built in the grounds of Dulford House, he thought this would be the final resting place of both he and Annie.

Annie died on the 4th  November 1922 and was buried on the 10th.  Her death certificate cites diabetes mellitus and chronic interstitial nephritis valvular disease of the heart, her daughter Queenie was beside her and later registered the death.

In his notes, Rev. Chalk described the vault as “an elaborate eastern-style mausoleum” and recalls a dark but slightly amusing story.

“…Abid had a habit of visiting the vault from time to time to meditate over Annie’s coffin.  The garden-staff were warned not to go near that spot on pain of instant dismissal. But there were two Kentisbeare garden-boys and they could not resist the temptation, the more so as their stern employer had not been seen or heard for two days or so.  When they drew near the mausoleum, they were startled to hear a knocking from within. They fled for their lives and fortunately reported the matter. For Squire Abid was inside, having been trapped therefore two days by a spring-lock! When he was liberated he was so grateful that he magnanimously forgave them and retained them in his service….”

The funeral of Mrs. A. Abid of Dulford House, took place at Cullompton on Friday in the family vault in the house. Previous to the internment Rev. Lister James (Rector of Broadhembury) consecrated the vault.  The coffin of oak covered with wreaths, was taken on a bier through the drive over the grounds she loved to her last resting place.  The mourners were members of the family, the nurses and employees. Lovely palms were placed round the vault.

Her estate was valued at just over £11,000, at today’s values it would be approximately £500,000.  In her Will dated 19th December 1919 with a codicil on the 5th June 1922, as expected she left legacies to her immediate family.

Extract from Annie's Will

Her jewellery and personal effects went to her husband, her shares in A. Abid & Co went to Aviet her eldest son with instructions he should be made a director. Annie left legacies to both her daughters as well as her granddaughters Barbara C. Spence and Annie Maria (Aviet’s daughter). It is in this Will of Annie’s that the discovery of a sister of Albert came to my attention. “…and to my dear husbands sister Flora otherwise known as Mrs. Marker….).  This is the first time that we learn her name which is possibly spelt incorrectly (it could be Marcar or Markar), Annie left Flora an annual annuity of £40 which she later revoked in the codicil.  The remainder of her estate went to Aviet. Annie recognised she hadn’t left anything to her other son Alexander but stated “I have every reliance on my dear husband providing for him out of his [Albert’s] holdings in the said company.”

Notices in the local newspapers as well as The Times announce that Albert passed away on the 23rd July 1925. He died of a cerebral haemorrhage with his daughter Queen at his side.

Death notice in The Times, London

Albert's death certificate

Albert Abid – His Legacy

And finally, in his own hand detailing his last wishes and the unquestionable proof that Albert Abid wasn’t Jewish, he was Armenian. His last act of kindness and generosity was not to Devon but to the place where he had been christened, the Armenian Church in Julfa.

Extract from the Will of Albert Abid

“This is the last Will and Testament of me Albert Abid of Dulford House Cullompton in the County of Devon Gentleman. I appoint my son Aviet William Satoor Abid of Number 16 Newgate Street London E.C. (hereinafter called my Trustee) to be the Executor and Trustee of this my Will.  I devise and bequeath free of duty the picture of the Lord’s Supper now in the Dining room at Dulford House aforesaid and the sum of two hundred Pounds to the Armenian Church of Julfa Ispahan in which I was christened. And the sum of one hundred Pounds to my village church at Julfa Ispahan aforesaid………”  His estate was valued at £30,148, at today’s values that would be just over £1.5 million.

He wrote his Will on the 12th March 1923 with a codicil written on 24th October 1924. He died at Dulford House on the 23rd July 1925. Albert was buried with his beloved Annie in the grounds of Dulford House interred in the purpose built mausoleum he had erected to hold the remains of Annie just a few years earlier.

Dulford House became the property of his son Aviet Abid, but he wanted a clean break from everything and less than two months after Albert died Aviet began the process of clearing the house and offering it for sale.  

Two months after Albert's death, Aviet put Dulford House up for sale.

“Whitton and Laing will sell by auction on the above premises on Tuesday and Wednesday next at 11a.m. each day, valuable surplus furniture and effects, including, Richly toned boudoir grand piano by M.T. Rachals and Co., Hamburg Dresden, Oriental and stoneware china; plate, brass and bronze effects; Watson’s whole plate camera, 2 ½ h.p. Radco motor bicycle about 1,300 plants in pots.

Catalogues, price 6d each of the auctioneers, 20 Queen Street, Exeter.

On view Monday, the 14th September, from 11 to 4.

The Residence, with garage, stabling, lodges, charming grounds, well-timbered park, woodlands, Home Farm and buildings, in all about 150 acres, for sale by private treaty.

Particulars may shortly be obtained from Messrs Ellis, Son and Bowden F.S.I., Land Agents, Bedford Chambers Exeter……

In November 1927, and continuing the clean break process he had begun in 1925, Aviet went on to change his name by deed-poll in a deliberate effort to distance himself from his father’s name. The surname he took was Evans his mother’s maiden name.

Aviet Abid's name change to Evans

The house remained unsold for the next two years, Aviet once again attempted to get rid of it, this time with different agents.

The Devon and Exeter Gazette 19 July 1929

Aviet opened the doors of Dulford House one last time to support raising funds for a new parish hall. A dance was held in the billiard room and although the local paper tried hard to talk-up the occasion it simply wasn’t the same as those that had gone before.

The Western Times 20 September 1929

In August 1930 the remainder of Dulford House was striped out and sold for salvage at the local auction.  Notable in the listed contents were “2 Milner Patent fire-resisting jewellery safes, with double doors, 2 drawers and 3 bolt locks, 3ft x 2ft, 9in x 2ft. 6ins deep over all. 1 Chubb fire-resisting book safe, 1ft 8in x 3ft x 1 ft. 5in, internally, with 2 shelves…..” if only those safe walls could talk.

According to Rev. Chalk’s notes41 Aviet wasn’t successful in selling Dulford House and in the end it was completely demolished. The only thing remaining in 1934 was the “tessellated pavement”.  The mausoleum was also demolished, the bodies of Albert and Annie were removed and quietly re-buried in St. Andrew’s Church, Broadhembury churchyard. 

The stables and grounds of Dulford House became Dulford Nursery. According to the local authorities in Devon the only thing left today in 2016 are some gate posts they believe Albert added to the entrance to the property when he was doing other renovations.  The gate posts are now officially a Grade 2 listed structure and part of English heritage. (No photographs available).

A Abid & Co in Hyderabad traded for nearly 30 years after Albert’s death, headed up by Alexander and Winifred Abid Evans (he too changed his name). The brothers Alexander and Aviet took the decision to liquidate the company, and the process was started in 1948.[47]

By November 1951 the winding up was complete.[48]

Albert’s son Aviet Abid Evans made his Will in September 1953, he died on the 29th December 1961. He included a very heart-felt and touching paragraph about his wife.

“I desire to place on record my appreciation of my dear Wife’s profound sense of duty as a wife and mother and of her love which has never faltered through all perils trials illnesses and adversities endured by both and which but for her encouragement and help would have proved too much for me and I trust that our daughters will never forget her devotion to them……..”

Aviet requested to be cremated and his ashes scattered.

Without a doubt, Hyderabad had a special place in Albert’s heart; it is where he lived life to the full, witnessing many incredible occasions and where he had the privilege of holding one of the most impossibly beautiful diamonds in the world - the Jacob Diamond. It may have cost him his lifestyle in India but it released him into a more worthy family-orientated life that allowed him to be in control.

Albert Abid was an Armenian from Julfa. Gained his fortune in Hyderabad and ended his days as a gentleman squire of a Devonshire mansion house.

Colonial British officers may have ridiculed him, people of Devon may not have fully understood him; Dulford House may be gone and now the family is all but a memory in a vicar’s scrapbook in a records office in Devon. But today Albert Abid’s legacy lives on in Hyderabad in an area named after him, Abids Circle. Whatever your view of him, he left an ever-lasting reminder of his presence, not in his place of birth nor his adopted country, but in India where he had lived in palaces and noble houses, looking after the enormously rich as well as serving the people in his shop.

The man from Julfa now rests in Devon.

Via  In loving memory of Annie Abid (nee Evans) of Dulford House. Died 4th November 1922 aged 72 years. Also of Albert Abid beloved husband of the above died 23rd July 1925 aged 77 years. Peace Perfect Peace.

…..Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled*…

And what an interesting journey it was.
*“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.


A Merry Widow and Two Gentlemen [Book] / auth. Carlisle Christopher. - Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire : Images Publishing (Malvern) Limited, 1995.
Armenians in India from the Earliest Times to the Present Day [Book] / auth. Seth Mesrovb Jacob. - Calcutta : Mesrovb Seth, 1937.
General Sir Richard Meade and the Feudatory States of Central and Southern India. A Record of Forty-Three Years' Service as Soldier, Political Officer and Administrator [Book] / auth. Thomas Henry Thornton C.S.I., D.C.L.. - London, New York and Bombay : Longmans, Green and Co., 1898.
Jewels Of The Nizams [Book] / auth. Krishnan Usha R. Bala. - Mumbai : Government of India, 2001 reprinted 2006.
Locating Home. India's Hyderabadis Abroad [Book] / auth. Leonard Karen Isaksen. - Stanford, California : Stanford University Press, 2007.
Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art. [Book] / auth. Association The Devonshire. - Cullompton : The Devonshire Association, 1910.
The Langstaffs of Teesdale and Weardale. Materials for a history of a yeoman family gathered together. [Book] / auth. Blundell George. - London : Mitchell Hughes and Clarke, 1906.
The Mysterious Mr Jacob, Diamond Merchant, Magician and Spy. [Book] / auth. Zubrzycki John. - Noida : Random House India, 2012.
The Ruhleben Prison Camp: A Record of Nineteen Months' Internment [Book] / auth. Cohen Israel. - London : Methuen & Co Ltd, 1917.

Sources used:
British Library
California Digital Newspaper Collection
Digital Library of India
Families in British India Society
Find A Will, Government Website
Forces War Records
Hathi Trust Digital Library
Hong Kong newspapers online
Liz Chater’s Private Archive
London Gazette
National Archives Kew
Papers Past. New Zealand newspapers online
Singapore newspapers online
Trove. Australian Newspapers online
Qatar Digital Library

This story is brought to you with the support of the
AGBU UK Trust.

Copyright Liz Chater 2016

[1] National Archives, Kew. Naturalisation application, HO 144/451/B30778
[2] Armenians in India, by Mesrovb Seth. P.113
[3] British Library IOR/X/3126/3/2 - Route map of the special mission to Seistan and Mekran, from Ispahan to Gwadur by Quarter Master Sergeant David Bower, Royal Engineers. To accompany the Journal of Capn. C. Bean Euan Smith, Personal Assistant to Major-General J.T. Goldsmid, C.B.
[4] 1851 Census
[5] 1841 Census
[6] Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries Vol. 38, part VI, autumn 1999 P.163. I am grateful to John Zubrzycki author of ‘The Mysterious Mr Jacob, Diamond Merchant, Magician and Spy’ for sending me a copy of this difficult to obtain publication.
[8] Monmouthshire Burials
[9] General Sir Richard Meade and the Feudatory States of Central and Southern India; A Record of Forty-Three Year's Service as Soldier, Political Officer and Administrator, by Thomas Henry Thornton, P.232

[10] The Englishman newspaper 15 December 1891 kindly provided by John Zubrzycki . (The Imperial Diamond case was covered extensively in all Indian newspapers).
[11] Marriage certificate
[13] Times of India, Arrivals in Bombay October 1882 – via
[14] The Days of the Beloved, by Harriet Ronken Lynton, New Delhi 1988.
[15] British Library baptism record N2-2-20
[16] British Library baptism record N2-66-28
[17] British Library baptism record N2-67-267
[18] The Times of India, 18 December 1891 P.7. Her testimony in the Imperial Diamond Case
[19] The Times of India, 18 December 1891 P.6.  His testimony in the Imperial Diamond Case
[20] British Library N2-68-78 marriage record
[21] British Library N3-63-323 burial record
[22] For a gripping factual story on Alexander Jacob including the Imperial Diamond case,  I would recommend ‘The Mysterious Mr Jacob Diamond Merchant, Magician and Spy’ by John Zubrzycki
[23] Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, Vol 38, Part VI August 1999 P.164
[24] British Library: IOR/R/1/1/1232. Hyderabad affairs. Interview between Col. Mackenzie, Offg. Resdt. & the Nizam. Abid's intention to settle down in England
[25] See Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries Volume XI January-October 1920, P.35.
[26] Cyclopedia of India P391-394
[27] Frederick Emery received a commission worth £3,000 from Mahboob Ali Pasha (6th Nizam). In 1888 he was summoned to the Palace at Hyderabad as a guest of the ‘King of the Deccan’ and accommodated in a magnificent suite. In a letter to his mother Emery wrote ‘I am assured that I am the first and only European coming here on business that His Highness ever entertained. I was summoned to His Highness just after midnight having travelled 540 miles and had no time to wash or dress. I was ushered into the King’s chamber and remained with him 40 minutes and had a very satisfactory business interview with him.’  In close attendance at this meeting would have been the ever present Albert Abid. See Jewels of the Nizam P.216.
[28] P. Orr & Sons made a number of jewellery items for the Nizam.
[29] Jewels of the Nizams. Usha R . Bala Krishnan. P.216
[30] George Perry went on to marry Annie’s widowed sister Sarah, and George subsequently ended up working for Albert full time at Dulford House.
[31] The 1911 Census for Dulford House states the total number of rooms
[32] The Devon and Exeter Gazette 29 July 1904
[33] Reports and Transaction of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art. Cullomption, July 1910. Vol. XLII P.310
[34] The Devon and Exeter Gazette 2 August 1907 P.13.
[35] Letters from a Merry Widow and Two Gentlemen 1906-1914, edited by Christopher Carlisle 1995, P. 78+79.
[36] South West Heritage Trust 1324A/PR/1/12 via
[37] The Langstaffs of Teesdale and Weardale. Materials for a history ... Longstaff, George Blundell, 1849-1921.;view=1up;seq=718
[39] European Patent Office.
[40] British Library N2-122-105 marriage record
[41] Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries, Omar Khalidi P.167.
[42] The Devon and Exeter Gazette Friday 8th March 1912, P.11
[43] Rev. R.S. Chalk ‘The Amazing ‘Squire Abid’ of Dulford House,’ typed but unpublished scrapbook P53-54, in Devon Records Office.
[44] GRO Deaths Abroad 1966-1994. Vol.C page 0102
[45] Website: The Ruhleben Story
[46] National Archives, Kew -  MT 9/1094
[47] London Gazette 16 January 1948
[48] London Gazette 13 November 1951


  1. Hi Liz Chater
    An exceptional biography on an exceptional family,the Abid's.
    I am currently doing some house research for a neighbour in Weston - super - Mare where there were Evans associations via Wellington Ellis and where Annie Evans also lived in the 1871 census - Ashcombe Lodge.

    In their house Deeds Annie Abid was the first owner of their own house, less than 100 m from Ashcombe Lodge, Milton Road, Weston - super - Mare which was in her and later her son's ownership for 33 years - a great connection to the amazing Abid story and clearly Annie Adid wanted an investment in Weston - super - Mare, perhaps to maintain Evan sibling links.

    I've done some further research and happy to share if you drop me an e-mail message and happy to discuss issues arising.
    kind regards -Keith

  2. Hello Keith, thank you for taking the time to write. I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. I'm afraid I don't get email addresses with messages left here. If you'd like to write to me via the contact form at the top of the blog, I'll be able to reply to you privately. Kind regards, Liz.

  3. Hello Liz, Keith forwarded this amazing story to me because Annie Evans (Abid) was my 3rd great aunt, her brother, my 2nd great grandfather Charles Stephen Evans emigrated to Queensland Australia in 1886 with his immediate family, and as far as i know there was never any communication between any of the siblings. Thank you for sharing her story.