A son of Constantine Zohrab, he was
a doctor who practised mainly in Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey and
had supposedly studied in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and also in London, The
Edinburgh University archives told Dr. John
Zorab, in 1999, that they only had a record of a "Pavoli Zohrab",
from Constantinople, being enrolled for one year (1827-1828), and that
there was no record of his having graduated. Indeed, Tuckerman
(1895, pp. 278-9) has an anecdote showing how easy it was for a
Westerner to pass himself off as a doctor in Turkey. However,
Hunter (1876, p. 137) states that
"Dr. Zohrab ... has been for many years attached to the mission
at Constantinople, and ... is, I believe, a British subject."
One would hope and expect that it would have been somewhat harder to
fool a British Embassy about one's British qualifications! Paul
retired to Brussa,
in Turkey, where his brother John lived.
One might doubt Paul's friend (Tuckerman
(1895), p.248)'s assertion that Paul's mother was Scottish, when
other sources say that she was a Venetian Armenian, Mary
de Serpos. Certainly, the name "Pavoli" points
to a Venetian, rather than to a Scottish mother. However, his
foster mother was indeed Scottish, because his
obituary in the Eastern Express of December 5 1883 states that a
Mr. Gordon took an interest in Paul when he was
a child, because of his intelligence, and took him back to Scotland
(with his parents' agreement), and got him studying medicine at the
age of 10! It turns out that this "Mr. Gordon"
Thomas Gordon, and Paul's cousin, Peter
Thomas Henry Gordon Zohrab, was probably named after him.
Certainly the dates seem to fit, since Peter
was (at least -- see below) 14 years younger than Paul.
Tuckerman also states that Paul "had the accent
as well as the physique of a Highlander."
If he had lived in Scotland from childhood, he would indeed likely have
a Scottish accent, and may have regarded his foster mother as his real
mother, but he could hardly have faked the physique. Armenians
are generally of short stature, but it seems that the stereotype of
the Scottish Highlander does not include tallness (See http://ffxiv-roleplayers.com/wiki/index.php?title=Sylas_Peregrine).
states that, since independence, "Armenian athletes have won a
total of thirteen medals, in wrestling, weightlifting and boxing"
at the Olympics, which hints at strong upper bodies rather than a runner's
legs. Armenians are also highland people, and one Zohrab (by marriage)
has a theory that highland people have relatively short legs and relatively
long upper bodies (presumably, a low centre of gravity and large lungs
are assets in highland countries). Another mystery is Paul's year
of birth, because the above obituary states that he told someone, in
the year of his death, that he was 84, although family records had him
as only 77. Maybe his ambitious parents passed him off, at 17
years of age, as a 10-year-old child prodigy, in order to get him a
good education in Scotland!