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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Armenian Life, Love and Loss. Malcolm Peter Gasper And His 'Singular Aversion To His Wife'.

Wall memorial
at the Armenian Holy Nazareth
Church Kolkata
Continuing my theme of highlighting individual Armenians with an India connection, this story is about the complex and tragic love of two most unlikely of individuals.

Malcolm Peter Gasper another successful barrister produced out of the Calcutta community born 1848 in Calcutta and tragically died at sea off the coast of Aden in 1890. His memorial stone reads: 
“Sacred to the memory of Malcolm Peter Gasper Esq., (barrister-at-law) eldest son of Peter Malcolm and Madeline Gasper born at Calcutta 15th June 1848 died at sea off Aden 3rd August 1890 aged 42 years 1 month and 19 days. Who after taking the medal at the Doveton College, Calcutta in the year 1863 completed his education in England where he was the first Armenian student who appeared and successfully completed for the Indian Civil Service examination in the year 1869 but his health failing him he soon after qualified for the Bar and came to India in 1872. By his own exertions he attained a prominent position among the leading members of the local Bar in which he distinguished himself by his exceptional talents. The untimely loss of one whose future was so bright and promising has been deeply mourned by a large circle of friends and admirers who being members of the Armenian community have erected this Tablet to his memory.”

As we can see from the epitaph above, he was by all accounts, in the prime of life. He had been a law student at Lincoln’s Inn, London in 1869 and called to the Bar in 1871. During the early part of 1870, whilst in London he met Louisa Prosser the daughter of a butcher from Worcester in the heart of England. Louisa did not admit her father’s humble trade on the marriage certificate but rather stated he was a “medical doctor deceased”. 

The marriage certificate between Malcolm Peter Gasper
and Louisa Pross
Malcolm and Louisa married at the registry office in St. Pancras London on the 20th July 1870. Their first child a son, was born just a couple of months later in September of that year in London, their second child a daughter was born in Calcutta in 1874. Louisa struggled with her health whilst in India and with her husband Malcolm Gasper busy carving a career in law, it was decided that Louisa should return to England in 1875. After two years away from her husband, Louisa returned in Calcutta on the 29th November 1877, six months later on the 30th June 1878 Louisa gave birth to a full term baby. Whilst in England Louisa had an affair.
The divorce petition between
Malcolm and Louisa
co-respondent Martin Sarkies
At first Louisa denied it, but the correspondence in the divorce proceedings shows that eventually, she admitted she had been unfaithful during her time in England and “threw herself on the mercy of her husband”. He continued his divorce on the grounds of her adultery in which Malcolm Gaspar named the co-respondent as Martin John Sarkies.
Martin John Sarkies born in Dacca in 1855 was the youngest son of the well known Armenian Dacca merchant John Carrapiet Sarkies. Martin was also a barrister. He went to school in Darjeeling and studied law at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge in the UK, eventually called to the Bar in 1882. However, as a young student he and Louisa embarked on an affair almost immediately she arrived in the UK. It appears to have started around May 1875 and continued to October 1877, the baby she bore on the 30th June 1878 in Calcutta was his.

The death record of little Bertie Gasper
With divorce proceedings ongoing, Louisa alone in Calcutta was facing the wrath of a cuckolded husband but even more tragically her baby, named Bertie, lived only 6 weeks, dying on the 13th August 1878. She had lost her husband, a baby and was rebuffed and rejected by Martin Sarkies. By 1881 Louisa was back in the UK living in Kensington with her young daughter by her husband Malcolm Gasper. The census record shows that she was supported financially by Malcolm Gasper, presumably because their daughter was in the UK for her education. It is unknown what happened to Louisa after this date.
The divorce of Louisa and Malcolm was completed in 1880.

The marriage certificate of
Martin Sarkies and Belinda Russell
Meanwhile in April 1881 Martin Sarkies was living in Brighton, still a student at law, and in August of that year at St. Mark’s Church, Brighton, he married the girl next door, Belinda Russell. Her family are on the same census sheet as Martin Sarkies in the next house. This was a short-lived union because in 1883 Belinda filed for a divorce citing cruelty. The divorce was reported in many UK newspapers as it was quite sensational for its time: 
Western Mail 30th June 1884
Divorce petition of Martin Sarkies
and Belinda
In the Divorce Court of Friday before the Right Hon. The President, the suit of Sarkies v Sarkies was heard. This was the petition of Mrs. Belinda Annie Marie Sarkies for the dissolution of the marriage by reason of the cruelty and misconduct of her husband, Mr. Martyrose Johannes Sarkies, a barrister. Dr. Deene, Q.C. and Mr. Searle appeared for the petitioner, and Mr. Inderwick Q.C., and Mr. Bayford for the respondent, but practically there was no defence. The parties were married on August 10, 1881, at Brighton, and the following day they came to London, putting up at the Grand Hotel. A few days afterwards the respondent ceased to sleep with his wife (who was the daughter of the late Colonel Russell), except at long intervals, and after December 1881, the co-habitation ceased. When remonstrated with by the petitioner as to his strange behaviour he replied that he could give no reason for his conduct except “that his idol was smashed”, and that he had ceased to care for her. According to the evidence of the petitioner, the respondent used abusive language towards her and had threatened her, in addition to which he had insulted her in the presence of her friends. While they were living at Radcliffe Street, Kensington, he told her that he only intended that they should live as brother and sister, when she asked him for some brotherly affection. He had called her a liar and hypocrite. In support of the cruelty evidence was given to the effect that the petitioner at times appeared very much distressed; that the respondent used to threaten his wife; and that he treated her with great neglect; while her mother, who was called, deposed to be struck on one occasion by her son-in-law. In regard to the other charge, testimony was adduced to the effect that the respondent consorted with loose women.
Sir James Elmnen was of opinion that the respondent’s misconduct was clearly established, but in regard to the cruelty the circumstances were not such as were usually laid before the court. He appeared to have conceived a most extraordinary aversion to his wife, whom he habitually neglected and insulted, although he never was guilty of actual personal violence. There was one insult of the grossest kind, which, the respondent, a barrister, and presumably, a gentleman, did not deny, and that was in regard to her having a divorce from him. Taking that in combination with the rest of the case, he (the learned judge) came to the conclusion that legal cruelty had been established, and he granted a decree nisi, with costs.”
Both Malcolm Peter Gasper and Martin Sarkies went on to marry again, but no amount of searching can bring Louisa up either in the UK or India.
Malcolm Peter Gasper’s second marriage took place with Alice Pringle in November 1881 in Calcutta, as we know from his epitaph his untimely death in 1890 meant she was left with two young children aged 5 and 7. Alice remarried in June 1895 to Frederick Kehl in Calcutta, dying there in 1937.
Insolvency notice of barrister, Martin Sarkies,
whose application for discharge was rejected
and put back 2 years six months.
Meanwhile, Martin John Sarkies seems to have been living beyond his means, enjoying the inheritance from his father’s estate. He first appears in the papers in January 1896 as insolvent, later in July 1896 he applied to the High Court for discharge from his insolvent state. However, the judge, Mr. Linklater (today, a very familiar name in the world of law) did not feel that Martin Sarkies’s speculations had been particularly professional and deemed that his discharge would be considered in a further two years six months from the day of the application. Presumably after he was cleared of bankruptcy he then went on to marry a few years after his divorce from Belinda to Ada Watkins in 1902 in London. They had no children. Martin died in Dinard France in 1915 his estate amounted to £40 his widow Ada died in 1940 also in France her estate amounted to around £300. Incidentally, Ada had also been previously married to Arthur Bloor, who ironically had committed adultery; her divorce from Arthur was granted in January 1900. I wonder if she ever knew the full story of the affair her husband Martin had had with Louisa?
Belinda also remarried in 1886.
It appears everyone, except Louisa, regained some sort of life with new partners after this tempestuous time.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Break Down Your Indian Armenian Family History Brick Wall

For those who don't think that the newly release British Library records can help them with their awkward India-Armenian family history brick walls, here is an example of a typical page of Administrations of those who died Intestate in 1789.

The Wills and Inventories are there and will help to break your brick wall down, you just need a little patience.

More Genealogical Gems From The Recently Released Records of the British Library Now Online

These two images are a snapshot of the medical records of two separate Sarkies family members who went on to have very successful careers as a surgeons. Here you can see the letter of character recommendation as written by the Armenian Church Calcutta, and a rare view of an original Armenian baptism certificate issued from the same church.

The records are full of thousands of interesting and useful pieces of information, you just need to be patient and interrogate them with an open mind. The search engine isn't as good as Ancestry, so to some extent you must use creative thinking to find what you are after.

There are approximately 2.5 million records from the British Library now on line - Armenian ancestry and records have never looked so good.

Continuing With My Small Reviews of the Indian Armenian Wills and Inventories Dataset

Today I have Marcartoom Carrapiett of Pulicat. A well respected policeman of his time, he can be seen mentioned in local Indian newspaper publications of the era.

Not much is unusual about the contents of this particular document apart from the fact that Macartoom specifcally places into it his heart-felt disappointment regarding his eldest son. Little did he know that 160 years later his last words and wishes would be digitally available in the public domain for all to read and empathize with.

Carrapit Thomas from Ancoolis, died in Calcutta 1789

This story is brought to you with the support of the
AGBU UK Trust.
Carrapit Thomas died in Calcutta 1789, a native of Ancoolis.
The Armenians Wills at the British Library are a constant source of surprising detail and information.

Today I am presenting Carrapit Thomas. He made his Will in Calcutta on the 21st March 1786[1], he was a long way from his family some of whom were living in Constantinople.  His Will is one of the more interesting; with a number of bequests and legacies it gives us a glimpse into his life and who and what he considered important.

Carrapit Thomas a native of Ancoolis (I believe this should read Agulis) died in Calcutta on the 30th July 1789[2]. He made his will on the 21st March 1786, it is an unusual occurrence that the date of the will and the date of his death are separated by nearly 3 years, most wills were regularly written only days, sometimes hours before the demise of the testator. This will is full of detail, I have highlighted bequests which include to constantly burn candles in his memory. He was a long way from home.

“That I Carrapit the son of Thomas a native of Ancoolis, but at present an inhabitant and a merchant of the town of Calcutta, having no sort of disease whatever, but being in perfect health in body and in full possession of all limbs thereof of sound mind understanding and of perfect memory, considering and thinking the uncertain and temporary life of mankind, and that all men are once to die. I therefore have written this my will with my own hand and confirm the same, that after my departure from this world (that is after my death) this my will may be of effect and remain uncancelled immoveable and unalterable. It being my duty to explain and declare by this my will, the last pleasure of my heart and regulate in this manner.”

He goes on to appoint his executor: “First of all I appoint my successor and executor of this my will my well beloved and faithful Godson Aga Moses Cachick I did a spiritual service to him now it is his duty to serve me a little in a temporal way. He is to be the master and executor of this will.

First of all, I give a full power and free authority to him the said Aga Moses, that after my death he is first to cause my body to be entered in the ground of Saint Nazareth Church, masses and funereal ceremonies to be properly performed and then all such other matters as ought to be discharged he may discharge………”

He bequeathed several items of silver, instructing they should be made and presented according to his wishes.

“To be made a silver lamp for the use of Saint Nazareth’s Church of Calcutta which is to burn continually and for the charge of the oil, I will under write – 500 …….
To the Church at Chinsura – 100
To the Church at Dacca – 100
To the Church at Saydabad – 100”

“Secondly. I leave my dwelling house as a memorial and heir of mine the value of which is 14,000 Sicca Rupees which I dedicate and make a present of to Saint Nazareth’s Church of Calcutta, but upon this condition, that no person shall have any power to sell or mortgage the house. It shall remain as a memorial for ever.”

“……………..I therefore beg of Mr. Cachick that he will use his power to order and to excuse the same to be done and fully performed. This is my last pleasure which I have written in this my will.  I request this my will be approved and confirmed by all the opposers of the same are bound to answer me before the impartial tribunal of Christ and the approvers of it as just and right blessed be God I wrote of my own hand.  That is

Carrapit Thomas of Ancoolis.

Calcutta Shemes 1st the year 1786 or 171…….”

Although Carrapit was from Ancoolis it is clear from his will and the bequests he left that he held the Armenian Churches, particularly in India, in high regard.

Even though he had appointed Aga Moses Cachick as his executor and Moses’s father Catchick Arrakiel to oversee him and the responsibilities of fulfilling Carrapit’s instructions, Admon of the Will was granted on the 22nd October 1789 to Astwasattoor Gregory and Jacob John. It is likely that Moses and his father ultimately declined to act as executors.

The 19 page Inventory[3] of sale gives an insight into a wealthy successful merchant.  The first page of the inventory shows a selection of the items Carrapit owned with the name of the purchaser on the right along with the price paid.

Randomly reviewing the extensive listing, I came across this. It is quite rare to find on an inventory list 12 pairs of spectacles for one individual, yet here they are, made of silver and gold.

The second column is a list of the names of the respective purchasers of the items at the auction sale.

Nine pairs of silver jointed spectacles were sold to: Isaac Malchus, Aga Emneaz (3 pairs, one with a silver case), Rajahram Baboo, Simon Georgean, Carrapiet Chattoor (1 pair with a silver case), Aviet Astwasattoor. Three pairs of silver jointed spectacles with a gold case were sold to: Mr. Narcess, Mavroody and Carrapiet Chattoor.

The jewels and precious stones from the inventory were sold at the same auction. There were various ruby, agat, diamond and emerald items sold in 1790.

Item                                                     Purchaser
1 diamond cross with a gold chain      Given to the Church by the order written in the last will
1 Agat cross set with diamond            Aga Catchik
1 Agat set with emerald and ruby       Arrapiet Dionysuis
1 Agat cross set with stones               Peter Suckias
1 diamond ring                                    Peter Suckias
1 diamond ring                                    Abraham Pogose
1 diamond ring                                    Mr. Moses Joseph
1 diamond ring                                    Abraham Pogose
1 diamond ring                                    Simon Phanuse
1 diamond ring                                    Jacob Joseph
1 diamond button                                Zackariah Johannes
1 emerald ring                                     Greek Georgey
1 emerald ring                                     Abraham Pogose
2 emerald rings                                   Mr. Simon Phanuse
2 emerald rings                                   Arratoon Petruse
1 emerald ring with diamond sparks   Aga Morraud Elias
1 ruby ring                                           Aga Catchik
1 ruby ring with diamond sparks         Jacob Joseph
1 ruby ring                                           Moses Joseph
1 pair diamond breast buttons Alexander Mirzacan
1 pair diamond earring                        Hajee Abdul Rakman
1 Nilloom ring                                      Abraham Pogose
2 rings 1 topaz and 1 loll                     Hajee Abdul Rakman
3 rings                                                 Isaac Malchus
3 rings                                                 Simon Georgean
2 atterdanies and 1 breast pin Gorgin Georgean
1 stone cross                                       Simon Georgian
3 rings                                                 Hajee Abdul Rakman
2 Agat crosses set with stones           Arrapiet Dionysius
1 pair emerald buttons                        Arrapiet Dionysius
2 rings                                                 Jacob Joseph
1 diamond champakully 32 pieces      Mr. Simon Phanuse
5 emeralds in one box             Alexander Mirzacan
1 box containing 6 large and
4 small pearles                                    Arrapiet Dionysius
1 box                                                   Peter Suckeas
1 bundle of pearles                             Gorgin the Gerogean
1 Mahak stone                        Isaac Malchus

With no mention of a wife or children in Carrapit’s Will, his family line died with him. However, he did mention two nephews, children of his sister and a cousin who was a child of his father’s brother.

Carrapit Thomas died on the 30 July 1789 and is buried in the compound of the Armenian Holy Nazareth Church, Calcutta. “…………..that after my death he [the executor] is first to cause my body to be entered in the ground of Saint Nazareth Church, masses and funereal ceremonies to be properly performed and then all such other matters as ought to be discharged he may discharge……..
His final wishes were executed.

This is the tombstone of Karapet, the son of Tome from Agulis, who passed away on 12 Ghamar (30 July), 1789[4].  [His will gives his name in English as Carrapit Thomas]

[1] British Library Ref: L/AG/34/29/6/40 – Bengal Wills 1780 - 1938
[2] See his grave at the Armenian Church of Holy Nazareth, Calcutta
[3] British Library Ref: L/AG/34/27/12/108 – Inventory and Accounts of Deceased Estates Bengal 1780 - 1938
[4] Photographed by Liz Chater, transcribed by Alina Salnazaryan

Armenians In India by Mesrovb Seth Now Online

Armenians In India From The Earliest Times To The Present Day by Mesrovb Seth is now online

Researching Forgotten Armenian Names of India

Have spent several hours today researching a name not normally associated with the known and familar names of the Armenians of Calcutta. Have discovered several variations on the spelling - Ptum, Pitum, Pittoom, Pattom, Petum. It is another of the many Indian Armenian family names that have simply died out but were once well known both in Calcutta and Madras.