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Descendants of Zohrab of the Manuchariants

The Zorab Branch

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Three branches of the Zohrab family settled in British India and/or the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), and some of them changed the spelling of their surname to "Zorab" -- apparently in order to distinguish themselves from the Parsee family called "Zohrab".  Some of them used the surname "Manuk" -- see zdetail3.html .  It is not certain which of them came from Iran and which (if any) came from Holland.  According to a history of the Safavid dynasty,

"After Shah Abbas ousted the Portuguese from the island of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf in 1622, Bandar Abbas (Port of Abbas) became the center of the East India Company's trade. But Later the Dutch East India Company received trade capitulations from Shah Abbas. The Dutch soon gained supremacy in the European trade with Iran, outdistancing British competitors."

Baladouni & Makepeace (1998) describe how the British East India Company was trying to take the place of the Armenians in the cloth/silk trade.  Since the Armenians were very influential in the Persian economy under Shah Abbas I, they were presumably able to persuade the Shah to trust the Dutch, rather than the British. 

If the Dutch and the British were the two main European trading powers in Iran, they would have been the Europeans who the merchants of the Zohrab/Zorab/Manuk family there would have been most likely to get to know.  That perhaps explains why some Zorabs/Zohrabs/Manuks ended up in the Dutch East Indies and British India.

Mackertich Zorabian moved to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1815, according to Hans Zorab.  The year 1815 marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars, which are significant as far as Kevork (George) Manuk(ian) Manuchariants was concerned.  George was extremely rich, had lent money to the Dutch government, and had refused to help the British take over the Dutch East Indies during the Napoleonic Wars, because of his friendship with the Dutch.  His wealth and good connections with the Dutch authorities probably encouraged Mackertich to join him there (the Zohrabs/Zorabs/Manuks seem to keep in contact with each other).

It seems likely that the first Zorab to move to India was Manook Zorab a younger brother of Mackertich.  Manook is said to be the one who dropped the "h" in the spelling of his surname.  He is unlikely to have moved by himself to India in 1815, since he would have been only four years old at that time, so he probably went later, or went initially to the Dutch East Indies with his brother.  Mackertich and Manook were possibly living in Persia at the time of their move, but they could have moved from Holland.  Wikipedia states:  

Many Armenian merchants in Amsterdam went to Southeast Asia in the 19th century to trade, and to set up factories and plantations, establishing a community of Armenians in Java.

The Napoleonic Wars were also important to the Armenians in Amsterdam.  Wikipedia states:

The Napoleonic wars put an end to the Armenian life in the Netherlands. The city of Amsterdam was almost depopulated after its occupation by the French.

When India and Indonesia became independent in the 20th century, most or all Zorab family members moved to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or Australia.


Zorabs in Persia

Zorabs in British India

Zorabs in the United Kingdom

Zorabs in Africa

Zorabs in Australasia

Zorabs in the Dutch East Indies & the Netherlands


Zorabs in Persia

According to Ter-Gregorian (cited in Zeller), "The Zorab family of New-Julpha is the only family there who, from generation to generation, have contributed to the Armenian literature as well as teaching that language."

Descendants of "Zohrab I" who spelled their surname as "Zorab" were probably descendants of Zohrabs who had migrated to India, because it was there that the Zohrabs dropped the "h" in their surname to avoid confusion with the Parsees of that name.

Minas Mackertich Zorab (1833-1896) was a successful painter, who painted several icons in the Armenian churches of New Julfa, Isfahan, Iran. There may have been another Minas Zo(h)rab(ian) who was a painter in the 17th Century, according to Judge Edgar Zorab. This could be the book which mentions the 17th century painter: Die Kultur Armeniens.


Zorabs in the United Kingdom

The Zorabs in British India seem mostly to have settled in the United Kingdom, when India became independent. 

An important case in the law of Trusts involved Charles Peter Zorab as one of the parties, since he was a trustee of two trusts associated with the famous British Armenian millionnaire, Calouste Gulbenkian. There were three cases (the basic case, and then appeals to two higher courts in succession). The final, House of Lords case was called: Whishaw and Another Appellants v Stephens and Others Respondents [1968] 3 W.L.R. 1127.


(Click on the photographs to get an enlarged view.)

Charles Peter Zorab as boy (? at Eton)
Judie Zorab (née Coates), dressed for a wedding
Charles Peter & Judie in Geneva (Easter, 2nd April, 1953)


There was a "dynasty" of Zorab medical people, which started in British India and later moved to Britain (see the page on Zorabs in India).  Of this dynasty, Dr.John Zorab, Anaesthetist, Lecturer at University of Bristol, Vice-President of Association of Anaesthetists, and President of World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists, was an expert on the Zorab branch of the Zohrab family. He provided a lot of the information which is on this website. He also obtained the official Zorab Grant of Arms, involving the Zorab Coat of Arms, Zorab Crest and Zohrab/Zorab Badge.

His father, Arthur Batoum Zorab, who played tennis at Wimbledon, was a medical doctor, as were three of his brothers. His fourth brother was a dentist! Dr. Phillip Arthur Zorab was a specialist physician in the research towards a cure for spinal curvature (scoliosis) and has a symposium series named after him: http://www.bsrf.co.uk/events/50th-anniversary-ipzs.html .

Four of the five brothers (John was too young at the time) served as officers in the British army during World War II. The family home in Southampton was flattened by a German enemy bomb, luckily their mother Olive and some younger family were out at the time. Phillip was an artillery officer and via the front in North Africa and Italy ended up in Greece during the liberation there but was caught up in the civil war there. Edward his brother pioneered eye operations at field hospitals at the front. John later went to the war in Vietnam assisting the USA anaesthesia doctors and gaining valuable experience which he used when specialising in the head injury and A&E units at Frenchay hospital, Bristol.


(Click on the photographs to get an enlarged view.)

Dr. John Stanley Mornington Zorab
Rev. Mark Zorab and his uncle, Dr. John Zorab, at Lake Sevan, Armenia

Dr. John Stanley
Mornington Zorab

Rev. Mark Zorab and his uncle,
Dr. John Zorab,
at Lake Sevan, Armenia


Zorabs in Africa

Zoe Zorab was murdered in 1999 at her home in Johannesburg, South Africa, by robbers: http://www.geocities.ws/mterras/zoezorab.html

(Click on the photograph to get an enlarged view.)

Carey and Zoe Zorab

Carey (left) and Zoe Zorab







A dissertation on water conservation mentions Rex Zorab as having been the Environment Manager, Harmony, Chairman of WBEC at Randfontein, South Africa in 2008.


Zorabs in Australasia

See also the references to Katherine Zorab's prowess (Bolwarra, New South Wales, Australia) at rolling-pin throwing on the page: http://gloucester.yourguide.com.au/detail.asp?class=news&subclass=general&story_id=495427&category=General&m=7&y=2006

Gerald Zorab, born 1928, an Armenian Dutchman previously resident in Java, Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), applied in 1946 for registration as an alien in Australia, and later for naturalisation.  He had spent 3 1/2 years interned by the Japanese during World War II. 

Gerald Zorab, 1946








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Latest Update

11 October 2015