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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Man Overlooked: A Faded Memory of a Glorious Career

Who was this man who:

Graduated from Edinburgh University in 1880 as Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery
Studied in Paris under Professor Jean Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière
Studied in Vienna under Professor Albert 
Undertook private studies at Cambridge and St. Thomas’s Hospital, London
Was appointed a member of the Royal College of Surgeons
Founded the firm Jordan, Forsyth, Grove and Aubrey, Hong Kong medical practitioners
Was Acting Colonial Surgeon in Hong Kong
Was Chief Health Officer in Hong Kong
Was one of the original founders of the Hongkong College of Medicine and a lecturer
Was the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Hong Kong University from its foundation
Was a founding original member of the University of Hong Kong
Was a lecturer, and Pater Professor, of Tropical Medicine at Hong Kong University
Was the Vice Chancellor of Hong Kong University
Headed a successful and thriving private medical practice in Hong Kong
In 1915 during the Great War he was a Surgeon Major of the Hongkong Police Reserve later appointed to Surgeon Superintendent
Was a Senior Official Justice of the Peace in Hong Kong
Was a Past Master of the Masonic Perseverance Lodge Hong Kong
Was a District Grand Master Scottish Freemasonry Hongkong and South China

A remarkable summary of someone with a most extraordinary life.

What nationality was this high achieving man?
Armenian.

Where did he come from?
Calcutta, India

What was his name?
Doctor Gregory Paul Jordan M.B., C.M. Ed., M.R.C.S. Eng.

Who was he?
One of two nephews in Hong Kong of Sir Catchick Paul Chater.

Gregory Paul Jordan was born in Calcutta on the 6th November 1856 and baptised in the Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth in the city on the 24th February 1856[1].  The youngest child of eight born to Jordan Paul Jordan and Anna nee Chater.  Anna was the eldest sibling of Catchick Paul Chater separated by 17 years between them. Anna married in 1845[2] before her brother was born in 1846. Their parents both died relatively young, their father in 1853 and their mother in 1855. Anna, the eldest of 13 siblings was thrust into the role of mother to the younger one; Hosannah, Catchick, Sophia and Joseph. By the time their mother died in 1855, Anna also had seven of her own children to nurture, all where born in Calcutta and baptised at the Armenian Church.[3]

Baptism Register entry from the Armenian Church Register of Calcutta
Photo: Liz Chater private collection






Gregory Paul Jordan’s father Jordan Paul Jordan was a stock and share broker in Hong Kong and the Far East[4]. Hailing from the mercantile Jordan clan of Madras and prior to that the family, like so many, came to India from New Julfa. Unlike Catchick Paul Chater who was orphaned at seven[5], Gregory Jordan and his siblings enjoyed family life with both parents who cared and protected them although Anna did the lions share of parenting. Catchick Chater and his brother Joseph were swept up by Anna and became part of her Jordan family. Although Gregory Jordan and Catchick Paul Chater were nephew and uncle there was only 10 years between them and they grew up like brothers.

It would seem that Jordan Paul Jordan was based out in Hong Kong and Shanghai for some considerable time[6], travelling regularly back to Calcutta, all eight of his children were born between 1846 and 1856 in Calcutta where it seems that Anna based herself. However, by 1863 the Jordan family were in Hong Kong and in 1864 Catchick Paul Chater sailed on the Armenian ship ‘Lightning’ from Calcutta belonging to the Apcar Shipping Line and went to join them.

Gregory ‘s early kindergarden education was clearly in Calcutta yet it seems the Jordan family did not stay long in Hong Kong and by 1865 had returned to Calcutta where he continued his education and later enrolling in a local medical college.  Anna died in 1870[7] when Gregory was 14 years of age, his father Jordan died five years later[8].

Like many others in India seeking an education and better future, Gregory Jordan later enrolled at Edinburgh University as a medical student. By the time the 1881 census[9] was taken Gregory had graduated and is described on the census return as lodging with George and Agnes Richie  “a Bachelor Of Medicine & Master Of Surgery (Edinbro University) (Now Practising) Extraordinary Member Royal Medical Society Edinburgh”. 

The 1881 Scottish census with Gregory Jordan
staying with the Richie family
 Around 1883, hopping from one end of Great Britain to the other he was appointed resident surgeon at the Dorset County Hospital on the South Coast of England. By 1885 Gregory had been admitted as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England having completed further medical studies at St. Thomas’s hospital in London, privately in  Cambridge, and then in Vienna and at La Salpetriere in Paris under the renown neurologist Charcot.9 below

On the 26th May 1885 Dr. Gregory Jordan accompanied by his uncle Joseph T. Chater arrived in Hong Kong on the S.S. Oceanic from San Francisco[10]. Gregory’s other uncle Paul Chater[11] was by now established and successfully positioned in the colony to be able to call in a favour or two should Gregory require it.  As it turned out, it wasn’t required and he began a career where he was clearly able to stand and be recognised on his own merits. By the middle of 1885 the Hong Kong Government Gazette announced that Gregory Paul Jordan of Caine Road was qualified to practise in Hong Kong and his name had been added to the Register of Medical and Surgical Practitioners.

Dr. Gregory Jordan's first entry in the
Hongkong government Gazette
By 1886 Gregory Jordan was Hong Kong acting port Health Officer conducting his duties with professionalism and diligence. That led on to him being given the post as acting Colonial Surgeon because the incumbent was returning home for a holiday. Gregory also approached this new position with great professionalism, and all achieved by the age of 30. Circumstances dictated that Gregory Jordan eventually took over as permanent Hong Kong Health Officer of the port in 1888, a post he entered into with great enthusiasm because he too, just like his uncle had simply been completely captivated by Hong Kong, it’s people and the allure of the Fragrant Harbour. Simply put, he held Hong Kong dear to his heart and wanted to do what he could to help the people be it local Chinese people or foreign settlers, in short he had great plans.

Hongkong Government Gazette notification
of Dr. Jordan's appointment to Acting Health Officer
 The Alice Memorial Hospital was one of the schemes that he was involved with. Throwing his energies into anything medicine based on the island Gregory took on a punishing routine of round the clock commitments of the Port Health Officer as well as running a successful private practice along with various public service roles and much needed education of up and coming medical professionals. The Alice Memorial Hospital was largely funded by the London Missionary Society and barrister-doctor Kai Ho Kai in memory of his English wife Alice.  Gregory Jordan attended the foundation stone laying ceremony and he was mentioned and thanked in the speeches as one of four civil practitioners who had volunteered their professional help to get the Alice Memorial hospital going. It was further announced that a medical school was to be attached to the hospital where “European medicine and science may be studied”. This was the beginning of the Hong Kong College of Medicine that Gregory helped to set up with Dr. Patrick Manson, and Drs. Young and Hartigan.[12]

The two Jordan brothers listed in the Hongkong
Government Gazette in 1889
 He worked ceaselessly on the island through numerous outbreaks of cholera and plague; in fact it is a miracle that he did not succumb to any serious illness because it was his responsibility to board the many ships, boats and sampans arriving in and out of Hong Kong harbor on a daily basis. There could be up to 15 passenger ships a day each containing several hundred travelers and he was tasked to board each of them and assess their health as they disembarked.  Having worked and dedicated 15 years of his life without a break to the health of Hong Kong, Gregory Jordan was urged to take a holiday away from Hong Kong for a while. As it turned out, a break in his punishing work schedule came with the untimely death of his brother Paul Jordan at Gregory’s home and practise ‘Forest Lodge, Caine Road’. On the 9th February 1901 Paul Jordan passed away. The local papers reported that  “His death was preceded by a complication of physical troubles and he was unconscious for some time before the end.”  The Chater and Jordan families had had more than their share of bereavements to contend with, it was after all, only 5 years since the death of Paul Chater’s beloved younger and equally successful brother Joseph who died suddenly aged only 35 years in 1886 also on the island. Gregory Jordan had attended him during his illness but could not prevent his passing away.  Paul Jordan was laid to rest at Happy Valley cemetery just a few yards from his uncle Joseph Chater in an area that seems to have had plots reserved for family interments.

Paul Jordan was a successful broker in his own right in Hong Kong, he was a partner in the firm Jordan & Joseph but after his death that partnership was dissolved.

The Jordan’s and the Chater’s had their own monograms that they used on headed paper, personal family items as well as chinaware for dinner services and household silverware.  This is an example of the late Paul Jordan’s family monogram on one of his dinner services which is inlaid with 22ct gold.

The Jordan monogram on the family
dinner service. 22ct gold and platinum
Photo: Liz Chater private collection
 After the death of his brother Paul, Gregory Jordan left Hong Kong for a well earned holiday in England.  He departed Hong Kong on the 19 March on board the Doric travelling via Shanghai, Nagasaki, Kobe, Yokohama and Honolulu arriving in San Francisco on the 17th April.  From there he took the overland train where he boarded the Wassau in New York in June for the 5 days crossing to Liverpool.
Basing himself in London, he was able to reacquaint himself with other members of the Armenian community who had settled in the Capital and it also allowed him precious time to catch up with the many cousins the Jordan’s and Chater’s had in England.

How exactly he met Mrs. Marion Daly is unclear.  She was the wife of Charles Daly who was a qualified dentist who had practised in London, Bristol and Cardiff. Marion and Charles had married at the Westminster Registry Office, London in 1889. Marion can be found on the 1901 census at the address of her mother and brother in London. Her occupation is listed as ‘Medical Electricienne’ whilst her mother is a retired ‘manageress costumier’ and Frederick her brother a ‘draper’s clerk’. Marion’s background was Catholic having been born and baptized in Dublin in 1867. Marion had another brother, George Henry Ormsby who qualified as a doctor in 1896 in London, a younger sister Jane cannot be traced therefore it is likely she died at a young age.

Gregory was in England on a long and extended stay to recuperate and recharge himself after the grueling years and responsibilities in Hong Kong.  A burgeoning closeness developed between him and Marion during the remainder of 1901 and a surprise was in store for her in early 1902.

Her marriage to Charles had probably broken down a long time before she had met Gregory, because although she started divorce proceedings in early 1902 it is quite unlikely that she would have done so without some sort of help financially as well as emotional encouragement.  It is probably no coincidence that Paul Chater arrived in London in the spring of 1902 in readiness for the forthcoming coronation of King Edward VII. Paul Chater was already aware that he was to be knighted so preparations for his ceremony, as well as the coronation and other associated social commitments filled his time.  He and Gregory Jordan were spotted in London by a journalist who reported in the Daily Mail in May 1902 that “he had seen Sir Catchick Paul Chater  the other day with Dr. Jordan  and thought he was not looking so badly, however, he is going to Marienbad for the waters.”

Meanwhile Marion’s divorce papers were filed on the 1st May by her solicitors G.C. Topham of London Bridge.  They state that Marion had indeed married Charles Daly on the 29th August 1889, and that she had lived with him in various locations as he built up his dentistry practise.  During the course of the marriage it came to light that Charles Daly was in fact already married and had been since 1884 to Adelaide Caroline Isaacson whom he had married whilst living in British Guiana. His wife was in a lunatic asylum in Gloucester and Charles was paying for her maintenance, all without the knowledge of Marion. Marion was distraught by his deceit and although it was difficult to prove, she did indeed manage to get a copy of the marriage certificate of Charles and Adelaide with the help of the Colonial office in London. I cannot help but think that this was probably assisted in no small way by the contacts that Paul Chater had in that particular Governmental department. For a woman to commence divorce proceedings at the turn of the century usually meant you were either (a) well off, or (b) well connected, the stigma to divorce was enormous and it took nerve and confidence (as well as money) for a woman to undertake such a process. With her mother and one of her brothers in the costume and drapery business it is most unlikely that they were sufficiently financially comfortable to be able to help Marion with the costs of the divorce.  I do not believe she did it alone. Paul Chater was very close to Gregory and would have offered to ‘take care of things’, of that I have no doubt. 

Marion's dirvorce papers
again Charles Daly
 Under the protective wing of Paul Chater, Marion was welcomed into the fold. She was a delightful tonic for Gregory and it was clear that his intentions were long term.  The summer of 1902 was socially frantic and Marion would have been swept up into a world that was, perhaps unfamiliar to her. Gregory Jordan was presented at Court in July at the Colonial reception at St. James’s Palace, an occasion that was highly regarded, many tried and failed for that all important handshake. The blip in proceedings was the planned date for the coronation of 26th June which was put back to 9th August due to a decline in the King’s ill health. However, coronation celebrations in the Capital and up and down the country continued on, and as part of the frenzy of celebration a Fleet Review took place on the 16th August at Spithead on the South Coast where Paul Chater was an honoured guest of the influential Rothschilds family. Levees, dinners, theatre visits all ensued and Gregory Jordan along with Marion would have accompanied Paul Chater to as many occasions as possible.  The summer culminated in Chater’s knighthood which took place on the 24th October 1902 at Buckingham Palace.

Marion’s Decree Nisi came on the 1st August 1902, and the Decree Absolute[13] 6 months later on the 9th of February 1903. Her marriage to Charles was deemed null and void and she was free to do as she pleased.

After the coronation events both Sir Paul and Gregory had to turn their thoughts to returning to their respective businesses. The newly knighted Sir Paul Chater and his nephew Gregory Jordan began their journey back to Hong Kong. Joining them on the long trip was Charles Sassoon Gubbay a friend and business associate of Chater, they all travelled down through Europe taking the scenic route to Port Said.  However, they had unexpected company along the way.

A few years ago, I found an interesting book by Belle Livingstone[14], telling of her exploits. In her eyes Chater was a marked man and it was her sole intention to set up and capture the attention of Sir Paul Chater. Here is a short story I put together a couple of years ago, it follows on nicely from the Knighthood in October 1902.

Belle Livingstone: A [K]night’s distraction. Sir Paul Chater is Beguiled

After a particularly busy summer in England culminating in his knighthood award ceremony at Buckingham Palace in October1902, and whilst the newly knighted Sir Paul Chater was making his way back to Hong Kong with his companion, Charles Sassoon Gubbay via Paris and Europe, an enterprising young American socialite, named Belle Livingstone, was brazenly planning how she could use them and their money to help her win a bet she had made to travel round the world on her wits and five Pounds. 

Having arrived in Paris, she contrived with Louis, the manager of the Café de Paris to ensure she was placed to dine at a table next to theirs, and, once recognised by Gubbay and exclaiming it as an amazing co-incidence, the three of them spent the evening together, the two gentlemen completely entranced by Belle and her jokes and entertaining stories.  The deceiving ploy continued at the end of the evening when the well briefed Louis approached and made a short speech congratulating Belle on her birthday.  “This inspired piece of deception was delivered with just the right air of deference and compliment.  Messrs. Chater and Gubbay rose to the bait like a couple of king salmon to a Royal Coachman”. Chater said: “A Birthday? You don’t say! This calls for champagne!” And Louis brought out the best magnum he had.  After the Café de Paris, the three of them moved on to Maxim’s the naughtiest place in Paris.  The manager bowed almost double as he, Belle recalls, “led my merry moneybags to a choice table.  Whilst we were watching the dancers and sipping our champagne Gubbay asked the question I had been waiting for.  “Look Belle, there’s nothing imperative about you going direct to Monte Carlo, is there?  Why don’t you take a little trip to Port Said with us? Paris-Rome express tomorrow night, boat from Genoa the next night. Paul and I need a little cheering up on board. We’ll see that you get a steamer back to Monte Carlo from Port Said.What do you say?”“ And so Belle Livingstone travelled with them and made sure that Sir Paul and Charles Gubbay had only very pleasant memories of the trip, she was at her most gracious and entertaining.  As they parted they tried to get her to go all the way to Hong Kong, Gubbay said: “You’re a circus Belle.”  She had mentally marked Hong Kong as one of her ports of call and she “had every intention of digging into their pockets again in their own home town.”

Extracts from “Belle Out of Order” by Belle Livingstone

Finally arriving back in Hong Kong on Christmas Eve 1902, the local newspapers happily reported their return from ‘home’.

Marion was still in England but continued to stay in touch with Gregory, keeping him updated on developments in the divorce.


On Thursday 3rd November 1904 at the consecration, of Scottish District Grand Lodge Sir Paul was supported by 29 officers of District Grand Lodge present and past, as well as by many English masons.  Amongst the names of those present were those of two Armenians, A.V. Apcar and M. Seth.  It must have given Sir Paul particular pleasure to install his own nephew Dr. Gregory Jordan as District Grand Master of a sister district, witnessed by two of his own widely scattered nation.[15]

Masonic Installation Certificate for
Wor. Bro. Dr. Gregory Paul Jordan
Photo: Liz Chater private collection
 The next day on the 4th November Marion arrived in Hong Kong from England. Accompanying her was her uncle Rev. Father Kelly (her mother’s brother). Marion had two days to ready herself for her wedding and on Monday 7th November at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Gregory Paul Jordan and Marion Ormsby-Daly were married. Her uncle Rev. Kelly assisted with the wedding and the bride was given away by Sir Paul Chater.

The wedding was reported in the Hong Kong newspapers:

A quiet wedding took place today at 3p.m at St. Joseph’s Church, Garden Road.  Dr. Gregory Paul Jordan  and Mrs. Marion Josephine Ormsby-Daly were united in the bands of holy matrimony.  The Rev. Father Kelly (who is an uncle of the bride) conducted the ceremony and was assisted by the Rev. Father Augustine.  The church was prettily decorated for the occasion with flowers, palms and pot plants, the chancel being a perfect garden of exquisite exotics.
Sir Paul Chater (who is an uncle of the bridegroom) gave the bride away, while Mr. A.G. Ward acted as best man.  Mr. E. Danenberg officiated on the organ and the service was fully choral.  There being according to custom, no bridesmaids, the bride was supported by Mrs. J.M. Atkinson. As the happy couple came out of the church the Misses Stella, Phoebe, Iris and Diane May and Masters Nigel and Bernard Atkinson and Maurice and Gerald Slade scattered flowers across their path.  The bride wore an elaborate frock of delicate white lace over white silk, and a white hat with plumes and carried a beautiful bouquet.

The bridal party then went on to the residence of Sir Paul Chater at Caine Road where the wedding breakfast was held.  A most representative gathering was present, invitations having been sent out to two hundred guests, and the large dining room of Sir Paul Chater’s home was just not sufficient enough to hold those attending, and many were gathering around all the doors.  Photographs of the bridal party were taken.

The Hon. F.H. May,  in proposing the toast to the bride and bridegroom, asked all present to charge their glasses.  He was an Irishman, and all knew that Irish ladies were renowned for their beauty and goodness of heart and they had evidence of this before them.

The bridegroom, both professionally and socially, was a man of the kindest heart, who had endeared himself to those present, and also to many who were not present.  It said something for the Medical Officer’s professional skill that he (the speaker), who had a wife and four daughters present in excellent health, had just dined out on fourteen successive occasions, and still felt fit for more (laughter).  He assured the happy couple that in this right little tight island, they would receive the heartiest of welcomes.

The toast was enthusiastically drunk and cheers for the bride and bridegroom were loud and long.

Dr. Jordan, in responding on behalf of his wife and himself said:

I cannot find words adequately expressive of the warmth of my feelings to all who are gathered here today for the flattering reception given to my wife and myself.  We shall carry away a pleasant and lasting recollection of the kindness extended to us.

With regard to the proposer of the toast, I shall not attempt to answer his speech.  I can only say that my relations with him, and with the rest of you, have been one of the greatest sources of joy and pride, and I have to thank you all for having so cordially received us here today, and I only ask you now that the same friendship as you have extended to me in the past, you will still extend to my wife and myself.

On behalf of my wife and myself I have to thank you most cordially for the hearty welcome extended to us, for your kind congratulations and also for your lovely presents.

The happy couple then received the congratulations of all present, and, taking advantage of a quiet moment, left the house thus avoiding the showers of rice with which they would have otherwise been greeted.

Varied and handsome were the presents, a large number being brought out by the bride from friends at home, she having been lately arrived.

The following is a list.

Sir Paul Chater, a diamond necklace and pendant; Mr. & Mrs. Chang Kai Ming, pearl bracelet; Mr. & Mrs. Leigh Parker, gold bracelet; Mr. & Mrs. H.C. Marshall, gold matchbox;  Mr. & Mrs. S. Sassoon, gold necklace with sapphire and pearl pendant; Mr. A.G. Stokes, silver cigarette case;  Mr. E. Pabaney, gold chain and “good luck” bracelet; Mr. Wong Lai Sang, gold coin bracelet; Mr. A.N. Mody, pearl and diamond earrings; Mr. and Mrs. H.M.H. Nemajee, pearl mounted watch; Mr. and Mrs. H.D. Gaspar, writing case; Mr. & Mrs. Holdsumes, carved black-wood table, Mr. Wei On, silver punch bowl; Mr., Mrs., and Miss Brotherton Harker, ancient panels; Mr. and Mrs. M. W. Slade; silver photo frame; Mr. & Mrs. T. Jones, cushion; Mr. & Mrs. E. Jones, cushion;  Mr. Shigenaga, ancient Chinese vase with silver dragon; Mr. F.H. Arjanee, silver frame; Mr & Mrs Humphries, silver card tray; Dr. and Mrs Bell, silver mounted inkstand; Mr and Mrs Beck, silver spoons; Mr and Mrs Goetz Satsuma card tray; Mr and Mrs Hutton Potts; pair of silver photo frames; Mr and Mrs Edward Shellim, silver card tray; Mr and Mrs Peters, silver punch bowl; Mr and Mrs E. Ellis, silver toast rack; Mr and Mrs A.G. Aitkens, silver dragon; Mr. V.H. Deacon, silver coffee set; Mr and Mrs Arathoon Seth, silver liqueur set; Mr S.A. Seth, silver writing set; Mr. D. Macdonald, silver card bowl; Mr. A. Babington, drawing room clock; Hon. Mr and Mrs F.H. May,  and the Misses May, silver writing set; Mr and Mrs J.A. Jupp, silver ink stand; Mr. J.R.M. Smith, solid silver salver; Mrs. Vernon, silver cruet set; Mr and Mrs A Mackenzie, silver photo frame; Mr A.G. Ward, silver photo frame; Mr and Mrs Volpicelli, carved ivory vase; Mr. Aratoon V. Apcar, silver punch bowl; Mr and Mrs Grant Smith, silver trinket box,; Dr. Keyt, silver cigarette case; Mr and Mrs John A Plummer, pair of silver sweet dishes; Dr. and Mrs J.M. Atkinson, four silver flower vases; Mr. A.F. Forster, silver match holder; Dr. and Mrs Kew, silver box; Mr. B.L. Botliwalla, silver photo frame; Dr and Mrs Hunter, silver photo frame; Mr and Mrs H.W. Slade, silver flower vases; Hon. R. Shewan, silver egg dish; Mr. John Gregory, silver card tray; Mr C.J. Cooke, silver pin cushion; Mr and Mrs Mowbray Northcote, silver butter dish, and flower holder; Mr and Mrs Tarrant silver pot pourri, Mr. W. Taylor, silver mounted claret jug; Capt., and Mrs. Milroy, silver fruit spoons; Mr and Mrs Bisney, silver tea set; Mr and Mrs Tildon, silver flower vases; Mr and Mrs N.A. Siebs, gold plated fruit spoons; Mr and Mrs Geo P. Lammert, carved black-wood chair; Mr. James Rankin, silver lamp; Mr. T.F. Hough, clock; Mr and Mrs Ahmet Rumjahn, silver box; Mr and Mrs E.M. Hazeland, silver flower vases; Mr and Mrs J.A. Plummer, flower bowls in silver; Mr and Mrs H. Crombie, fruit dishes in silver; Mr and Mrs J.T. Douglas, silver bowl; Mr and Mrs A.S. Mihara, ivory fan and silk doyley; Dr. Forsyth, patent razors; Mr and Mrs McLean Gibson, sweet dishes; Mr and Mrs Grace, silver flower vases;, Mr H. Percy Smith, silver specimen vase; Mr and Mrs A.H.M. da Silver, silver spoon, Mr. A.H. Skelton and Mrs S.A. Skelton, silver fruit dish; Mr and Mrs Adam Gibson, silver photo frame; Mr. Bruce Shepherd, silver epergne; Mr and Mrs G.J.B. Sayer, album; Mr and Mrs D.H. Silas, silver card tray; Mr Wei On, silver bowl; Mr and Mrs A.E. Hodgins, set of lacquered tables; Mr and Mrs Shelton Hooper, picture; Mr and Mrs J. Hooper, silk embroidered table cloth; Mr. J. Orange, Chinese puzzle; Miss Ellis, silver card tray; Mr and Mrs Pinchkney, book; Mr and Miss Swan, bridge box; A. Chuck, tea set; Mr. A. Howard, silver card trays; Mr and Mrs Alfred Herbert Rennie, carved blackwood chair; Mr. Fung Wa Chun, Chinese embroidered satin coat;  Hon. Dr. Ho Kai, set of silver mounted finger bowls; Mr and Mrs E.J. Jordan, clock; Mr. and Mrs Herbert Tomkis, vase; Mr and Mrs Ho Tung, silver flower stands;  Mr Armin Haupt, clo’sonne vases; District Grand Lodge of Scottish Freemasonry, set of silver flower vases and silver mounted finger bowls; Mr and Mrs Fred D. Goddard, silver bowl; Mr and Mrs E. Osbourne, bronze lobster ornament; Mr S.D. Moonshee, silver card tray; Mr and Mrs T.A. Rose, cushion[16].”

From this moment onwards, Marion embraced life in Hong Kong with her new dynamic husband and his popular and respected uncle. Dr. Jordan was as keen on the annual race meetings in Hong Kong as Sir Paul was.  He had his own stable and racing colours and his ponies were entered as owned by Mr. Medico. In February 1914 his pony ‘Aldwych’ won The Valley Stakes, The Hong Kong Stakes and The German Cup, whilst Sir Paul won the blue riband race the Hong Kong Derby with Jewel Aster.  The next month Marion, a keen gardener was a serious contender in the hotly contested horticultural show, giving Sir Paul a run for his money in the various plant categories, here is a small extract of some of those results.

Peak Gardens

3 pots of Marguerites 2nd Sir Paul, 3rd Mrs. Jordan; 3 pots of nasturtium (tall varieties) 1st Sir Paul, 3rd Mrs. Jordan; 3 pots of fan palms 1st Sir Paul, 2nd Mrs. Jordan; 3 pots of palms (other than fan palms) 1st. Sir Paul; 3 pots of Salvia 1st Sir Paul; 6 pots of annuals or plants raised from seeds the same season 2nd Sir Paul,; 3 pots of flowering plans other than annuals 1st Sir Paul; 3 pots of Arums 1st Sir Paul, 2nd Mrs. Jordan; 3 Azaleas 1st Sir Paul; 3 pots of Carnations and/or Picotees 2nd Sir Paul; 3 pots of Dianthus other varieties excluding Carnations and Picotees 2nd Sir Paul; 3 pots Cactus Dahlias 2nd Sir Paul; 3 pots of Geraniums 1st Mrs. Jordan, 2nd Sir Paul; 3 pots of Narcissus Tazetta 1st Sir Paul; 3 pots of Nasturtium (dwarf varieties) 1st Sir Paul; 3 pots of pansies 1t Mrs. J. Jordan.


 In May 1914, prior to a long awaited voyage back to England, she was honoured with an address of appreciation by the Catholic Women’s League in Hong Kong for her work and dedication.

The trip back to England was a bitter-sweet occasion for Marion because her mother Anne had died in 1913 in Standish, Lancashire at the home of Marion’s brother doctor George Ormsby. Although Marion was the sole executrix, because she was living in Hong Kong the estate was being administered through the Probate Court by Anne’s uncle Rev. Robert Kelly, the same uncle who had assisted at her wedding in 1904. Also in England for the summer were Sir Paul and Lady Chater, although they did not all travel together as Sir Paul had business commitments in Hong Kong, he and Lady Chater sailed a few weeks later.
Dr. Jordan’s practice continued to grow and by 1914 he had a total of five doctors in the partnership. Based in the heart of the new praya reclamation area that had been brought to its completion by Jordan’s uncle Sir Paul just a few years earlier, the practise was on the 3rd floor of Alexandra Buildings. Whilst Gregory Jordan and Marion were in England his Hong Kong University lecturing commitments in tropical medicine were taken over by an old adversary Dr. Francis Clark.

Whilst in England in 1914 he volunteered for war service but being a gentleman in his late 50s that offer was declined.  However, upon his return to Hong Kong in 1915 he joined the police reserve and was appointed Surgeon-Superintendant a position he maintained until the end of the war in 1918.

A particularly tragic time was the fierce fire at the race course in Happy Valley in 1918. Dr. Jordan was one of many medically trained people trying to help give help to those who had been caught up in the inferno. For others it was simply too difficult to avoid and over 600 people perished in the fire when the matsheds in the Chinese stands caught fire and simply engulfed the spectators on the ground. There was an enquiry into the tragedy and both Dr. Jordan as a senior doctor on the island and his uncle Sir Paul as chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey club were inevitably involved. 


The Fire at Happy Valley Race Course 1918
Image: Liz Chater private collection
The Jordan’s managed to successfully juggle the unavoidable strains of a busy medical practice with a delightful and hectic social scene.  He spoke fluent Cantonese and Mandarin and was a trusted and highly respected doctor amongst the native Chinese community on the island, making him even more in demand than some of the other doctors. When Dr. Jordan was having difficulty in keeping up with his appointments, the Chinese community pulled together and purchased a car for him so that he found things less of a strain, and was thus able to continue to attend to his native patients as well as his Port health autority duties.

The Memorial to those who lost their
lives still exists today near the
Hong Kong Stadium
Photo: Liz Chater private collection

By 1921, well past colonial retiring age, Gregory Jordan resigned as Hong Kong Port Health Officer a position that he had held for over 50 years, he also took the opportunity to retire from Hong Kong University as its Vice-Chancellor. Upon retiring he was presented with an honorary doctorate of laws in recognition of his service by his successor Sir William Brunyate who said:

“It is sometimes true of those upon whom honorary degrees are confirmed, that the distinction is not academic. That is not so in the case of Professor Jordan. Not only has he studied in his own university but in Paris, London, Vienna and in my own university, Cambridge.  He has been associated, I believe, with every public work – medical work – in this colony since his arrival here.  It is quite recently that thrugh his influence we are indebted for additional medical schools………..and one other title to fame I may mention. When we draw up our list of pious founders and benefactors, foremost amongst them will figure the original founders of the Hongkong College of Medicine, Sir Patrick Manson, Sir James Cantlie and Professor Jordan.”

After the ceremony the students carried Dr. Jordan from the Great Hall to his car and towed the car from Pokfulam into town. Jordan had, after all, collected $20,000 from his friends to furnish the Students’ Union Building, the students were enormously fond and respectful of him.

In June of 1921 Gregory and Marion Jordan sailed for a well earned rest in England. Although they arrived safely he had become unwell due to a recurring heart problem. He and Marion had settled into their flat at St. James’ Court, Buckingham Gate, London for a few weeks before taking a trip to Harrogate The English Spa for the healing properties of the waters that contained sulphur, iron and minerals.

Gregory and Marion returned to London but once again he took another turn for the worse, rallying slightly before he finally succumbed to a heart attack. He passed away on the 4th  December.

All the Hong Kong newspapers
reported the passing away
of Dr. Jordan in London























The Hong Kong Telegraph reported the funeral in one of its January editions:

Friday 9th December: A large gathering of Hongkong, Shanghai and other China friends attended the funeral today of the late Dr. Gregory Paul Jordan L.L.D who died after a short illness on 4th December at his residence, 236 St. James’ Court, London, S.W.  The burial service was conducted by the Rev. W.H. Aldia of St. Paul’s Church, Portman Square (formerly of West China), and the hymns sung by the choir of the London College of Choristers were, “Forever with the Lord”, and “Abide with me”.  The internment was made at Kensal Green Cemetery. 

The simple tombstone to
Dr. Gregory Jordan, kensal Green Cemetery
Photo: Liz Chater private collection
Included amongst the gathering were Mrs. Marion Jordan (widow), Mrs. Paul Jordan, Major John P. Jordan R.G.A., and Mr. G.P. Jordan nephews, the Misses Jordan and Mrs. Bennison (nieces) Messrs G.H.E. and E.P.D. Gaspar, Rev and Mrs. Scott MacPherson, Rev. Father Kelly, Dr. Ormsby, M.O.R. (Wigan R.D.C. brother-in-law). Mrs. Paul Chater, Mr. Donald McDonald, Mr. Shelton Hooper, Mrs. Apcar, Major and Mrs. J. Hope, Miss Balthazar, Mr. & Mrs. J.F. McGregor, Mr. L.V. Lang, Mr. Killard-Leavy, Mrs. Irlam, Mr. William Thompson R.N., (Hongkong Water Police and representing the United Service Lodge of Freemasons, E.C. China), Dr. Koch, Mr. M.F. Murray, Mr. N.F. Blanch, Mr. A.P. Wood, Mr. & Mrs. Redmond Barrett, Mrs. Walter Norfolk, Mrs. Harston Barrett, Mr. T.F. Hough (Past District Grand Master of Hongkong and South China E.C.), Mrs. Scott Harston etc.

Among the large number of beautiful wreaths were beautiful emblems from the widow, relatives, the District Grand Lodge of Hongkong and South China E.C. (of which Dr. Jordan was a past prominent officer), the United Service Lodge 1341, E.C., the University of Hongkong (per Sir James and Lady Cantie), Sir Henry May, K.C.M.G. (former Governor of Hongkong) and Lady May, Capt. and Mrs. C. Paul Chater, Mr. & Mrs. J.L. Crockett, Mrs. A.T. Spear, Mr. & Mrs. H.J. Gedge, Sir Newton and Lady Stabb, Mr. & Mrs. E. Ormiston, Mrs. Scott Harston, Mr. & Mrs. N.E. Blanch, The Household, Mr. T.F. Hough, Mrs. Shelton Hooper, Mr. & Mrs. J.F. MacGregor, Mr. & Mrs. G.C. Moxon, Mr. & Mrs. H. Barrett, Mr. & Mrs. M.W. Slade, Mr. & Mrs. F. Baird, Mr. A. Shelton Hooper, Dr. & Mrs. Killard-Leavey, Mrs. Edgar, Commander F.M. Hodgson R.N., etc.


Prior to his death, one of the schemes that Gregory Jordan was deeply involved inwas the creation of a library at the Hong Kong University for the Students Union. He was not able to see it completed but to ensure that it was, his uncle Sir Paul Chater stepped in to complete the funding for it. He pledged whatever it took and in September 1922 the library was indeed completed. An ever-lasting tribute by a loving uncle for his nephew. The opening ceremony was performed at the request of Sir Paul by Gregory’s widow Marion on the 16th September 1922. A week later she returned to England for good and lived out her days there.






Yet another legacy left to the world by a Calcutta born Armenian.


[1] See baptism register entry 1149
[2] Allen’s India Mail - 1845
[3] The Armenian Church Baptism register on microfilm can be viewed when ordered in advance at any family history centre around the world, please check www.familysearch.org for centre locations.
[4] See Hong Kong Government Gazettes
[5] www.chater-genealogy.com for detailed family history and tree
[6] Hong Kong PRO, Carl Smith Cards 114037 + others
[7] British Library N1-133-106 burial record
[8] British Library N1-153-199 burial record
[10] China Mail and Hong Kong Daily Press 26-27 May 1885    passenger lists.
[11] For details on Sir Paul and other members of his family see

[12] Summaries and extracts from ‘Hong Kong Practice. Drs. Anderson & Partners the First Hundred Years’ by Katherine Mattock
[13] See divorce papers – National Archives, Kew, London
[14] Belle Out Of Order, by Belle Livingstone
[15] Chater-Cosmo Transactions Volume 4 for 1982
[16] The Hong Kong Telegraph 8th November 1904

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Making Their Mark in Madras: Catholic Armenians, 1840.


Albert Arathoon, a young and promising 15 year old Catholic Armenian had a very strong family history. On his paternal side he was descended from Chorhatsgerentz Stepan Manuel (sometimes referred to Stephen Manuel of Persia). On his maternal side his mother Margarida Baboom was an Armenian born in Macao and whose own father, Gregory Baboom was a merchant trading between India, Hong Kong, Macao and Manila to name but a few. I will do a separate post on the Baboom family of Madras and China in due course.

Albert’s father John was a successful banker in Madras. The sons of the family were all sent to England for their Education and his family was so highly thought of among the Catholic community and by the religious heads of the Catholic church in Madras, that in December 1840 young Albert was selected, as a 15 year old boy, to lay the foundation stone of St. Patrick's Catholic Church at St. Thomas's Mount. It was reported as follows:






Ceremony of Laying the Foundation of a Roman Catholic Church at St. Thomas’s Mount. 

On Tuesday the 8th instant the First Stone of a new Roman Catholic Church was laid at St. Thomas’s Mount, by Albert, the eldest son of John Arathoon Esq. As usual, on such occasions, some pieces of the current coins of Great Britain and of India, together with a copy of a public Journal (The Examiner were chosen in the present instance) were placed beneath the Foundation of the intended edifice. We subjoin a copy of the Inscription which was deposited together with the preceding memorials. 

Quod Rei Religionis Et Reipubllicae

Felix Faustamque Sit.

Sexto Kalendarum Decembris

Anno

Post Christi Nativitatem

MDCCXL

Ecclesiae Sti. Patricii

Apud Montem Majorem

Primum Lapidem Posuit

Optimoe Spei

Ingenuus Adolescens

Ex Majoribus

Fidei Catholicae Addictissimis

Oriamdus

Albertus Arathoon

Translation of the Inscription



On the Eighth Day of December

A.D.1840.

Albert Arathoon

An Ingenuous Youth, of Great Promise

Descended from Ancestors

Who were most Devoted

To the Catholic Faith

Laid the first Stone

Of the Church of St. Patrick

At. St. Thomas’s Mount

May this Even Happily

And Auspiciously Conduce

To the Welfare of Religion

And

Of the Empire



At the conclusion of the ceremony, Bishop Carew addressed Mr. Arathoon to the following effect.



“My Dear Young Friend



I have been induced by several considerations to invite you to take a principal part in the ceremony, which has been now performed.  Were I to advert merely to the circumstance, that you are the representative of a respectable family, which for ages has been most devoted to the Catholic Faith and which by its benefactions to Religion is entitled to particular notice on an occasion like the present, this alone would justly have due weight with me.  But whilst I respect the claims derived from ancestors, I would remind you that they are as shadows, unless sustained by personal worth, and that the very records of the virtues of those ancestors, if destitute of such an accompaniment, only aggravate by contrast the faults of a degenerate descendant.  Happily, the claims, which you may put forward on this head have not been impaired by you – on the contrary, if the harvest of your mature age should, as I pray that it may, correspond with the promise of your opening manhood, you will enhance the inheritance of your ancestors and transmit it with increased lustre to your posterity.



You have been already informed of the motives which induced me, to solicit your co-operation on this occasion.  I remembered, that you were the senior pupil of the seminary of St. Mary, which was established on my arrival at Madras, that for the two years which since then have nearly elapsed, your uniform attention to your religious duties and studies afforded to your superiors sincere gratification, and supplied to your fellow pupils a strong incentive to literary industry and exemplary piety.  I also reflected, that in the ordinary course of events you were soon to enter on that course of life which is marked out for you, and I wished, before you would have retired from the seminary, to evince in the most public manner, my approbation of your conduct, and the strong hopes I entertain, that your career in society will be creditable to the place of your education, useful to society, honourable to yourself, to your family and to the religion of your ancestors.  In any country, a young gentleman, possessed of the advantages you enjoy, could confer great benefits, more especially on the humbler classes in his vicinity.  But in this country, the value even of one such member of society is inestimable.  For, were one young gentleman here to devote, from his entry into public life, with constancy and uniformity, even only a moderate portion of his time, his talents, his influence and his wealth to the moral and temporal improvement of the poor in his neighbourhood, can it be doubted, that the most important advantages would hence result.  In Europe, instances of this kind happily abound.  Here, alas! Almost a single such example in unknown.  It is not for me, at present, to point out the causes of this anomaly; you must be more familiar with them, than I am.  But, I trust, that better days, even for this country are nor far removed.  Days, when such examples, as I have alluded to, will not be extraordinary, days when those in power, will feel it to be alike their duty and their interest, to assist in providing for the education of the almost countless Catholic youth, for whose instruction not even the donation of a spelling book can now be obtained from government.  Days, when the asylum established by private benevolence to rescue the Catholic orphan from the danger of being perverted, will be visited by some other public functionary besides the tax gatherer, who is to be annually sent to collect from the refuge of the fatherless one hundred Rupees quit rent.  Days when the dying soldier will be cheered in his agony by the consoling assurance, that his little ones will grow up in their father’s faith and that their tender years will be watched over, not by heartless mercenaries, but by those who have bid adieu to the world and its rewards, and who, like her, whom the scriptures declare that all nations shall call blessed, while they remain virgins by purity, become by their tender charity the mothers of the destitute and of the orphan.  I cherish fondly the hope, that we shall yet witness these consoling scenes.  Even the ceremony of this day forbids me to abandon such happy anticipations, for it shows, how much the liberality of one governor can accomplish.



Assuredly such a precedent will have its due effect on those who may succeed Lord Elphinstone, and we may expect that thus, the hopes we cherish will be eventually accomplished.  There are moreover ten million of our fellow Catholics in the United Kingdom, many of them are possessed of wealth and influence; I know that they are not indifferent to your welfare and that they will not be ungrateful to your friends.  That they seek to be informed of your necessities, and that, as circumstances permit, they will cheerfully co-operate, both, to relieve your wants and to obtain, for you the full enjoyment of that civil and religious liberty and equality, which are, at once, the glory and the safeguard of the British Constitution.”



To the address of his Lordship, Mr. A. Arathoon returned the following very appropriate answer.



“My Lord,





I feel and will always feel proud of having been the first student who entered Saint Mary’s Seminary. It was the first establishment that has been opened for Catholic youth in this Presidency.  Without endangering the religion he inherits from his fathers, the Catholic youth may receive there that education which will make him an ornament to society.  There he has within his reach every thing in science and learning which adorns and enlightens the mind.  Remembering that I am, if I may say so, the foundation stone of Saint Mary’s Seminary, to know of its prosperity shall always be a subject of sincere joy to me.  When engaged in my worldly occupations, I shall always look back with fond recollection to the happy days I have sent in it, free from all solicitude, except that of the student who frequently thinks his own labours the most difficult, and I will rejoice when the salutary influence of St. Mary’s Seminary shall have reached through society.



My friends and those feel an interest in my welfare congratulate me on the improvement I have made during the two last years.  I have indeed laboured with assiduity too; but I ascribe my improvement to the system of education adopted in the seminary, and above all to the care and attention of the gifted and respected president who has given his invaluable services to the education of youth.



Your Lordship has made kind allusion to my family, I have only to observe on this point that I hope the Divine aid may enable me to preserve with credit the sacred deposit of faith which I have received from them.  That living in the true practice and observance of its laws, I may become a really useful member of society here and prepare myself for hereafter.  With the deepest sense of gratitude for the honor conferred on me.  I have to acknowledge my best thanks to your Lordship for your kindness I have always experienced in my intercourse with your Lordship.  I have only to add my best wishes and hopes for the success of your undertaking.”



When Mr. Arathoon finished his reply, the Bishop proceeded to perform that part of the religious service which had not as yet been completed.  At the conclusion of the ceremony, the numerous assemblage which attended, retired, evidently much pleased with all they had witnesses.  -  Madras Examiner, December 10”.

Albert Arathoon married in 1865 in London to Louisa Andoe, her family originally came from Ireland. Her grandfather Hilary Andoe was a distiller in Ireland before moving to France in 1760 setting up a wine exporting and brandy distilling business. He and his family returned to London and settled there in the early 1790’s, Hilary died there in 1797 where his wife Catherine died in 1821. Louisa’s father William was born in France but he was just an infant when Hilary settled in London amongst the French community. Louisa married on the 1st July at Our Lady’s Church, Grove Road, St. John’s Wood, it was a particularly joyous occasion because it was also a double wedding.  Lousia’s sister Mary was also married at the same time to her bridegroom Edward Rymer a leather merchant.

Immediately after Albert and Louisa’s wedding they set sail for Madras and their first of six children Mary, was born in June 1866 at Albert’s father’s home near Nungumbaukum. Five more children were born in Madras between 1867 and 1874.

Albert had a premature demise in 1877 aged just 53 years.  He was on the ill-fated Meikong vessel that hit rocks 3 miles south of Guardafui (off the coast of Somalia). Passengers were able to make their way from the ship to shore, although it was being thrown around by the surf the lifeboats were lowered and starting to take people cautiously to safety.  Albert was one of only two men who died during the process of helping others.  He was overcome with exhaustion and heat stroke assisting others as they walked in the desert trying to reach the Gulf of Aden where a rescue ship called Glenartney was waiting. A journey that was fool-hardy in the blistering heat with no water or sun protection but a necessary one to ensure the passengers and crew were saved.



After the tragic death of Albert, Louisa left India returning to England and by 1881 had placed herself at the Convent of our Lady of Sion in Kensington with her four daughters, Mary Louise, Catherine, Isabelle and Alice. Ten years later the 1891 census reveals that Louisa was living at Pembroke Gardens Kensington accompanied by her unmarried children Mary and son Albert who was a leather merchant. Louisa’s youngest son Hilary was a medical student.  Also at the same address at the time of the census were Louisa’s two sisters Catherine Gibb and Isabelle Andoe. All were looked after by two household staff a maid and a cook.

The Bath Chronicle and Herald 13 April 1929


Louisa died on the 7 April 1929 in Bath, England. However, after a small service in her local church of St. John’s on South Parade, Louisa was burial in Kensal Green cemetery, in the family grave.  Probate of her estate was given to her son Hilary who had clearly had a successful career as he was noted as being a Royal Navy Commander (retired).

I am certain that had Albert lived, he too would have made his mark in life and been successful just as his sons had been after his untimely death. It was quite out of the ordinary for a 15 year old boy to lay the foundation stone of a church, I do hope it is a story that continued down through the generations of the family.





 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Debeneau of Meerut Should Be Dubignon

I was curious about the daughter of Major Owen (John) Jacob (he died 1857) whose daughter (according to Mesrovb Seth 'Armenians in India' Page 141) married a Frenchman called Debeneau, I thought I’d do a little research on her.

Seth says: “[Major John Jacob] had an only daughter who married a Frenchman Debeneau, who was distantly related to General Ventura of Ranjit Singh’s Sikh Army. Their son, James Denbeneau, with his wife and children lived at Sirdhana with their grandmother, Major John Jacob’s widow, in rather crippled circumstances.”

Having spent a few hours researching, it would appear that Seth doesn’t seem to have got it quite right.

The name is not Debeneau but Dubignon, James Dubignon was a son of Robert Walter Dubignon and an Armenian lady called Ellen nee Moses his wife. Ellen’s sister Ann married the well known Colonel Jean-Baptiste Ventura.

James Dubignon married Ellen (or Helen) Jacob Petrus daughter of Major Owen (John) Jacob. Ellen died after giving birth to her second child in 1861, the child also died and was buried with her in Meerut Cantonment. James and Ellen’s first child John Dubignon survived, married and went on to have issue with descendants living today.

This is something to be aware of. If you are using Seth's book as a reference for Armenian family history you should remember he does not source or cite references to his work, so it is imperative to independently verify anything that he quotes. The British Library is a good starting point for such verification and now that their birth, marriages and death records are online, it makes researching and double-checking a whole lot easier

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bombay to Blighty - Arratoon-Crokatt an Unusual Union


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

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

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

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

Snapshot view of Taukhui’s Will.


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



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

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


.
































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

James Crokatt snapshot of Will








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

Using a useful “measuring worth” website http://www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare/relativevalue.php At today’s values £6,000 equates to approximately £670,000. £10,000 equates today at approximately £1,128,000.00 £8,000 equates today at approximately £900,000

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

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



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

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

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




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

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



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



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

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

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

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

She continued

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

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

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

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

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












































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

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

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

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



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



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

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

Useful links
Armenian graves in India www.chater-genealogy.com
Families in British India Society www.fibis.org
National Archives http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
British Library http://www.bl.uk/
French National Archives http://www.archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr/arn/
LDS Family History www.familysearch.org
Ancestry www.ancestry.com
Findmypast www.findmypast.co.uk
British Newspapers http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/
National Archives of India http://nationalarchives.nic.in/
 Details of the Crokatt family can be found in the Papers of Henry Laurens: Sept. 11, 1746-Oct. 31, 1755 http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fxaBS2dV8bEC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

Monday, 8 September 2014

Armenians in Rangoon

Elizabeth Carapiet Jacob’s legacy for a new Armenian Church in Rangoon.

Records of how the Armenian Church in Rangoon was funded and built after the disastrous fire of 1850 are all but lost. The original church was a wooden structure and was consumed by the unforgiving flames of that calamitous incident.



My chance finding of this Will and its contents give a unique and precious insight into how one individual of the Armenian community in Rangoon was desperately hopeful that her legacy could help to rebuild a new and better church for the local Armenians to worship at.




Source: British Library L/AG/34/29/86/87
In the name of the Lord God Amen. I Elizabeth Carapiet Jacob who was born in Rangoon and who am a resident thereof and an Armenian by nation and a Christian by faith being in a tranquil and perfect state of mind, make this my last will that the same may continue from after my deceased. I hereby direct that my respectable executors shall cause my body to be interred after my decease in the Armenian Burial Ground in this city [Rangoon] at a moderate expense and then call in and collect my entire estate and receive my dues and pay my debts and give and pay the residue to my heirs and successors in manner following, that is to say.

I give and bequeath the sum of one thousand and five hundred Companys Rupees to the Holy Deiparous Church of Rangoon to this end that they shall purchase a house in Calcutta with the said one thousand and five hundred Rupees and accumulate the net amount of the rents after payment of charges until the same shall have risen to five hundred Rupees when they shall lay out the amount at interest and on the said Holy Deiparious Church of Rangoon being about to be re-erected they shall give the said five hundred Rupees and the interest thereof whatever the same may amount to, to the managers of the Holy Deiparous Church of Rangoon in order that that sum being added to the amount of the national contributions the said church may be re-erected at Rangoon to the pride of my nation and the Glory of God and then afterwards they shall transmit the net produce of the rents minus charges from time to time to the managers of the Holy Deiparous Church of Rangoon for the purpose of supplying the necessaries and expenses of the said church.

Elizabeth made this bequest in her Will because in December 1850 the original Armenian Church was razed to the ground by a catastrophic fire that swept across the whole of the city.


Reports of the fire were carried in Indian newspapers as well as others around the world
Elizabeth's Will was written in the Armenian language by a local community member.
It was then read back to her in the Burmese language before she signed it.
The Will was translated into English in Calcutta by the Court appointed
interpreter George Aviet.


Later on in the Will Elizabeth goes on to say:

If the English Government restore or procure the restoration of our lost properties then I direct that my executors shall obtain my share and portion which will be more than fifty thousand Rupees and invest the same in the purchase of a few houses in Rangoon if that city remain under the Sovereign authority of the English but if it should not then they shall buy houses at Calcutta and with the net produce thereof minus charges establish a school at Rangoon for the purpose of educating the children of indigent Armenians gratuitously and the well regulated management thereof shall be assigned to patriotic and well disposed men to be elected and approved of by the nation.



And after making payments and distributions in this manner should the residue of my estate amount to more than one thousand Companys Rupees then I direct that my executors shall with that amount purchase one or two houses under the Flag of the English Government either at this place or at Calcutta and transmit the net produce minus charges thereof to my the officiating Priests of the Holy Deiparous Church in Rangoon but if it should not be more than one thousand Rupees then I give and bequeath the same subject to the pleasure of my respectable executors to be disposed of as they may think best.



In confirmation I affix my seal and signature to this my will in the presence of three witnesses this day the twenty seventh day of the month of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty two. Elizabeth [her x mark] Carapiet Jacob

We the undersigned bear testimony that she in our presence sealed and signed this will and acknowledged it to be her last will and testament at Rangoon 27th July 1852. C.P. Catchick J.S. Jordan Carrapiet Zecharia.

A true translation of the annexed Armenian will 8th September 1852. Geo. Aviet.
Elizabeth’s husband, Carapiet Jacob who had been born in Julfa, died in Rangoon in August 1850 leaving his entire estate, valued at around fifty thousand Rupees to Elizabeth. She appointed her nephew Stephen Gabriel Eleazar as power-of-attorney to enable her to obtain probate in the Courts of Calcutta for her husband’s estate. Stephen’s English and native languages (he lived in Calcutta rather than Rangoon) were likely to be more proficient than the two languages she knew which were Armenian and Burmese. It would seem that Carapiet and Elizabeth did not have children as besides the bequests by Elizabeth to the Holy Deiparious Church of Rangoon (the Armenian Church of Rangoon), she left legacies for various nephews; children of her sister Margaret.

Sharman Minus, whose family were very much part of the Armenian community in Rangoon has a very interesting blog that recalls history and a number of personal memoires of this almost forgotten Church, it can be found here Chasing Chinthes.

It is also quite a timely find because there will be an Armenian Pontifical visit to the Far East at the end of September. His Holiness, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians will be in Asia from September 28th to October 5th.

As announced on the respective Facebook pages of the Armenian communities in Hong Kong and Singapore - see links below.

ChinaHay
Armenians in Singapore - South East Asia

The following press release by the Henri Arslanian, Chairman of the Armenian Community in China says:

Dear friends,

We are pleased to announce that His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians will be in Asia from September 28th to October 5th.

You will see below the details of 2 important events that will take place in Singapore and Myanmar to celebrate the visit of His Holiness. As the dates coincide with the National Day Golden Week in China, I am sure that many of you will be interested in attending these events.

SINGAPORE - Sunday 28th September 2014 - time tbc - Holy Mass will be celebrated in the Armenian Church of Singapore. His Holiness will also bless two Khachkars recently installed in the Church gardens. Lunch will be served following the Holy Mass. Please rsvp with the community in Singapore if you will be able to attend: community@armeniansinasia.org

MYANMAR - Saturday 4th October 2014 - time tbc - Holy Mass will be celebrated in the Armenian Church in Yangon. More details will be announced soon.

I know that many of you will be very interested in attending these events due to their historical importance. I will of course attend both the Singapore and Myanmar events to represent the Armenian Community of China.

Look forward to seeing you all soon.

Henri Arslanian
President, Armenian Community of China



It is a very exciting time to have a current Catholicos scheduled to visit the Armenian Church in Myanmar. It has been a back-water for a number of years and has just a handful of Armenians who have chosen to stay in Yangon. It will be a wonderfully historic occasion. I cannot find a reference to a previous Armenian Patriarch visiting the Armenian Church in Rangoon. However, in 1876 there was a visiting Armenian Prelate to Hong Kong, who had already seen the communities in Penang and Singapore. It is likely that he also went on to visit the community in India perhaps he also made the journey to Rangoon.




Extract from the North China Herald and the S.C.&C. Gazette December 1, 1876

Report from Hong Kong


Among the passengers who have arrived and departed by the ‘Arratoon Apcar’, is the name of the Armenian Prelate, Archbishop Gregoris. The Right Reverend gentleman has come on to Hongkong as a traveller, to know and see something more of the Chinese and Chinese cities than he has done in Penang and Singapore. The few Armenian residents at Hongkong possessing no special place of worship, the Prelate was unable to hold any service, but he read prayers (of course, in the Armenian language), over the grave of S.A. Seth at the Protestant Cemetery, as the tombstone was being put up. The Right Reverend Father, in his full robe, and with a hat of a peak shape, presented a sight never before seen in this part of the world. Though an Archbishop, under whose See are the Armenian churches in India and Persia, he is only 42 years old, and has made a favourable impression on his few resident countrymen, to whom he made a pleasant address on Sunday last at the residence [Caine Road] of Mr. C.P. Chater. 


The grave of Seth Aviet Seth in Hong Kong over whose tomb the Archbishop said prayers.

The inscription says:

“Sacred to the memory of Seth Aviet Seth who was one of the earliest merchants of Singapore. He came to China in 1845. Born in Madras and died at Hong Kong on 11th February 1875 aged 65 years. Be ye also ready: for in such as hour as ye think not the son of man cometh. St. Matthew XXIV. 44.” 


For those interested in their Armenian family history roots in Burma, the LDS film number 1356948 [Item 2] contains the records of St. John the Baptist Armenian Apostolic Church in Rangoon. It will have a comprehensive list of the only recorded Armenian births, marriages and deaths in Burma that are still available. The LDS film has more entries than those held at the British Library.

Friday, 11 July 2014

An Armenian Buried in Bombay - 1788

I really like stumbling upon old and completely forgotten Armenian entries in registers. Here we have on the 15th July 1788 the burial of Zachariah Avanzar an Armenian in Bombay. Who was he? I have no idea but it is one of the earliest burials of an Armenian in Bombay that I have found. I know of two other early burials one in 1786 the other in 1777.

Zachariah Avanzar an Armenian buried in Bombay 1788