This article is part of a continuing series documenting the available records for research into one’s Armenian family roots. Part I in the series supplied a historical background on the Armenian genealogy movement as well as specific records available for Syria. In Part 2, records from Lebanon and Israel were detailed. Part 3 covered the records of Greece and Jordan.
Southeast Asia – Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Singapore
The Armenian communities of Southeast Asia trace their origins to international trade routes. Merchant families have played an important role in these communities for centuries. Many unique aspects of this community make the paths to researching it quite varied.
For one, the Armenian communities of Southeast Asia were intimately tied to the British Empire and its world-wide business interests. As such, British colonial records offer an important source for information. Luckily, Liz Chater runs a useful blog devoted to the Armenians of India and beyond. I cannot say enough about the wonderful work she has done.
Chater suggests starting with the website for Families in British India Society (FIBIS). You can search their database for free and access additional services for a fee. You can find a number of Armenian related names. The British Library contains some of the Armenian baptism, marriage and burial records from India. Digitized images of the records can be accessed findmypast. A fee will be charged after a 14-day free trial.
There are other general resources available via websites and Chater has documented these as well as useful suggestions on her website. One can also contact the individual churches at the following addresses compiled by Chater.
Also, as stated in previous articles in this series, the Latter Day Saints (LDS) Family History Library contains a wealth of information related to Armenian church records. FamilySearch.org is in the midst of a long-term project to digitize their collection of records. The result will eventually be that instead of ordering microfilm, researchers will be able to view the records on-line at a local Family History Center or at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Some records are also available without restriction now through FamilySearch.org.
The following details the time periods for which individual church records are available through the LDS Family History Library:
- St. Haroutiun (Bangladesh) – 1831- 1981
- St. Hovhannes Garabed (Burma) – 1857-1981
- St. Bedros (Bombay, India) – 1917-1978
- Holy Church of Nazareth (Calcutta, India) – 1793-1982
- Armenian Apostolic Church (Madras, India) – 1829-1908
- Armenian Apostolic Church (Tangra, India) – 1793-1979
- St. Hovhannes (Jakarta, Indonesia) – 1836-1964
- St. Kevork (Surabaya, Indonesia) – 1927-1976
- St. Krikor Lusavorich (Singapore) – 1827-1976
Unfortunately, the images of many of these early records are very difficult to read. In addition, the naming conventions can seem odd to those unfamiliar with this type of work. Nonetheless, they are an excellent primary source.
Previously, I have not mentioned the role memorial books (“houshamadyan”) for different locales can play in genealogy. Houshamadyan.org has a wonderful bibliography of the memorial books compiled by Mihran Minassian.
Many of these books contain detailed information and biographies of natives of the specific village, town or district. They supply a wealth of information, not only on specific people, but also on general Armenian village life. In the case of India, there are some wonderfully detailed sources, specifically Mesrovb Jacob Seth’s massive tome “Armenians in India.”
|Saint Mary’s Armenian Church, Chennai
60 Armenian Street
|Saint John the Baptist Armenian Church, Chinsurah
|Holy Resurrection Armenian Church Dhaka
4 Armenian Street
|The Armenian Chapel, Delhi
Armenian Cemetery Rama Park
|Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth, Kolkata
2 Armenian Street
|Saint Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church, Kolkata
41B North Range,
|Saint Peter’s Armenian Church, Mumbai
89 Nagindas Master Road
|Saint Mary’s Armenian Church, Saidabad
Girbijapara, P.O. Khagra
|Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator Singapore
60 Hill Street
|Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Tangra
2 South Tangra Road
|Yangon Armenian Church
66 Bo Aung Kyaw Street
The Armenian communities in what is now the Republic of Serbia date to at least the 17th century. A surviving parish register covering Belgrade and Petrovaradin was located in the Armenian Catholic Mekhitarist Monastery of Vienna, Austria (manuscript #1338). The register of sacraments begins in 1732 and continues to 1931 in some cases. Given the importance of the Mekhitarist order and its extensive libraries in both Vienna and Venice, it is hoped more gems like this are found and made available. Microfilmed in 1981, the LDS Family History Library also contains the records of the former Yugoslavia.
One of the other interesting sources from the archives of the Mekhitarist order is a student roster from the Mourad-Raphael College of Venice. It begins with students who graduated in 1841 and continues into the 1890’s. While the form includes space for the names of the mother and father of the student, it is rarely filled in. However, the birthplace and years enrolled in the college are typically shown. The great majority of students were from Constantinople [Istanbul], but also occasionally from the Black Sea region and even less frequently elsewhere.
My Grandfather George william Harrison married Ellan Harriet Gregory in 1897 in Dhurrumtolla his 2nd marriage was to her sister Ophelia Gregory 1907 His brother Charles Gilbert Harrison married Ann marie Gregory from the same family in 1898 i would like to no mire about this family as i was told that they are Armenians
Gregory is a common Armenian name, Harrison is not.
3 daughters of Matthias Gregory were married to 2 brothers, the sons of Thomas George Harrison. This may be of some interest to me, as my first cousins are Gregory, and it is possible I may have a Gregory ancestor as well.
Mesrovb J Seth, was first cousin to my great great grandmother Mary Manuk. And his brother Dr Seth Seth married her sister Annie Manuk. The book is full of our family history.
D R Arathoon,
I was interested to see your surname, and your connection to Mesrobv Seth through your great great grandmother Mary Manuk.
My own great grandfather was Robert Lewis Arathoon who was born in Madras, now Chennai though he went on to live in England. His father was John Arathoon a banker in Madras, but his wife was not Mary Manuk. (I have forgotten her name.)
I wondered if our branches of the Arathoon family might be connected?
Am trying to help my cousin find a little more of her mother’s background. I believe Katerina Minassion was born in Armenia. She became the 2nd ‘wife’ & life partner of Nigel Gordon Dunbar circa late 1930s-1940 in Calcutta. They were not officially married but had issue. The family went to UK in 1946/47. Am after information about Katerina’s earlier life & back ground in India, her parents & when she got there. Where would I start?
Can I get any information on the Armenian Church that was built in the 19th century at the West Assam town of Dhubri and was converted into a ladies club by the English officers of the Dhubri Match Factory around 1930? It needs mention here that Assam is an Indian state and Dhubri is now the headquarter town of the district of the same name.– Ajit Patowary, Guwahati. December 03, 2018, Monday.
If a bold step is taken by Armenian Ambassador in India consulting with the Government of India, We are ready to support with GPR(Ground Penetrating Radar). We are sure that the remain of lost Armenian Society at Assam, India will be excavated, by which the history of the two countries will be changed.
We have located a European burial ground at Dhubri( as per the Archive record of 1922), In the Census of 1911, done by British Government, 18 numbers of Armenians were there, no any record of other Europeans are not there.
The State Archaeology Department made a survey of that Armenian Church at Dhubri, all documents are with us.
We want a positive action from the Armenian Republic to confirm the existence of a old Armenian Church at Dhubri, Assam, Inda.
My 5x great grandfather is Petrus Arathoon, he had 2 daughters. Ashkhen Arathoon married to my 4x great grandpa, Isaiah Zachariah. His 2nd daughter, Anna Arathoon married a Moses. Petrus and his daughters are born in Madras, India. They later sailed to Singapore and became notable merchants there. Dear sir, is there anywhere I could find about their lives in India? Thank you
My fourth great grandfather was Anton Babik possibly anglicised from Babikian . Born 1777 in Trieste . I’m trying to find out any information on the Babik/Babikian families if possible?
He married a French national whilst working for the East India company in Madras/Pondicherry .
I also am interested in an Augustus Arathoon who was a plaintiff in a court case with my 3rd great grandfather W. Van ingen .
If anyone can shed any light I’d be most grateful !