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Descendants of Peter Paul John Zohrab

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Peter Paul John (possibly known as "Paul") Zohrab

In 1795, some members of the Zohrab family are said to have escaped from Persia to Turkey. Donoghue (2004) (page 297) states that the father of Sophie Zohrab (and therefore also of her brothers, Constantine and Peter Paul John) was not Constantine (as stated on the family tree up to 2012) but Paul Zohrab, second dragoman (and later first dragoman) at the Danish embassy at Constantinople/Istanbul. However, there could have been confusion about who was who, because it seems to have been common for family members to be known by their middle names, rather than by their Christian names. Donoghue (2004) also states that Thomas Thornton had described Paul, in a letter to Sir Robert Liston, as "in the service of His Danish Majesty" in Constantinople. That information puts the exact sequence of events and this section of the family tree in question. It is possible that Paul was taken by his parents to live in Istanbul, and that those Zohrabs who were living there were later joined by those others who had escaped the 1795 massacre in Iran. There are other possibilites, as well, of course.


A Note about Dragomen

Tuckerman (1895) states:

The 'dragomen' -- interpreters -- attached to foreign embassies and legations in Oriental countries must not be confounded with the dragomen employed by travellers in those countries.  The former are educated gentlemen who are not only masters of the principal languages spoken in foreign lands, but are in confidential relations with their chiefs, and are distinguished by their diplomatic tact and reticence.  There is a sort of freemasonry between themselves, and although they never reveal the secrets of their respective embassies, they pick up a good deal of information, which can be communicated, with discretion, to each other. (p.204)

According to Peter Paul John's son Peter's manuscript, Peter Paul John and Constantine were educated in England. (Tuckerman (1895) states that Constantine's son, Paul, received all of his education in Scotland).  Paul married his first wife, Elizabeth Hitchins on 17 Sep 1807 in Saint Pancras Old Church, London, England.

Peter Paul John and Constantine imported the first cargo of dried figs from Smyrna (Turkey) to London. Peter Paul John's son's manuscript states:

"... But when the first war (Napoleonic War? -- PDZ) broke out, and Turkey was against England, my father was appointed secret English Minister to Constantinople & was sent to Malta by the English frigate 'Isis', & thence secretly in a foreign merchant ship. After this he settled down in Malta as a merchant."

The second Napoleonic War ended in 1815, so it was presumably on Malta, where he became British, that he met his second wife, Frances (Fanny) Williams, whom he married in Malta in 1816.

He spoke Armenian, Farsi, Turkish, English, and probably French, as well, and he worked as an interpreter (dragoman), as well as an agent, for the British government. From 1830, he spent at least 8 years in Erzerum, the capital of Turkish Armenia, sharing accomodation with a Mr. Abbott, an agent for the British Consul, James Brant (see below). This is according to Lady Patricia Maddocks' book.

According to this webpage, Peter Paul John died in October 1869 at Smyrna, Turkey, at a very advanced age, and had been for many years employed by the British Consulate at Erzeroom, the Capital of Turkish Armenia. Frances, born about 1787, died in 1862 on Malta and her tomb (below) was damaged by a World War II bomb.


Frances Zohrab (nee Williams)

Frances Williams or (possibly) Kate Archer Williams (Clothing apparently not contemporaneous with person named on back of picture)

Tomb of Frances Zohrab, Ta'braxia Cemetery, Malta (photograph courtesy of Dr. John Zorab)


Undamaged tomb, similar to that of Frances Zohrab, Ta'braxia Cemetery, Malta (photograph courtesy of Dr. John Zorab)


Peter and Fanny had eight children: Peter Thomas Henry Gordon, Edward John Paul, Cecilia Alexandra Sophia, Adela Harriet Louise Carmela, Evelina Anne Marie, John, Matilda Nura Eliza Thurburn and James Ernest Napoleon .


View from the cave of Ferhad, "2 hours from" Erzerum, Turkey, ca. 1846

Three Zohrab sisters (Cecilia, Adela and Evelina) on a picnic in the Cave of Ferhad, "2 hours from" Erzerum, Turkey in 1843


Sir William HolmesLady Adela Holmes (nee Zohrab)

Sir William Holmes & Lady Adela Holmes (nee Zohrab).

(Photos courtesy of Lady Mary Holmes and Dr. John Zorab. These photographs remain the property of the Holmes family.)


Evelina and Richard Brant

Evelina married James Brant.


Sir William Holmes wrote a book called "Sketches on the shore of the Caspian". One descendant of Lady Adela Holmes (nee Zohrab) (her great-grandson) was Sir Peter Fenwick Holmes MC (born 1932; died 2002), Chairman of Shell Oil. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,3604,667502,00.html


James Ernest Napoleon Zohrab, 1863


According to Maddocks (1989), links between various branches of the family were kept up, and Leonard Kars Zorab (in India) was named "Kars" after James Ernest Napoleon Zohrab.

Other evidence that links between various branches of the family were kept up is the fact that Lt.-Col. Dr Johannes Manuk Zorab was a Civil Surgeon and Superintendant at Brussa Medical School. The only known "Brussa" (Bursa) is in Turkey, and there is no known documentation as to whether he ever even went to Turkey. However, his distant relative, Lady Fanny Blunt, mentions in Chapter One of her book, "My Reminiscences," that her father, the British Consul in Brussa, initiated a plan by the Turkish Sultan in about 1840 to build a hospital in Brussa. Fanny's uncles, Dr. Paul Zohrab and John Zohrab, and her cousin Edward Zohrab also had links to Brussa, so it is quite possible that it was the family connection which got Johannes a medical job in Turkey.

Some of these Zohrabs were very active as British diplomats . See also the webpage http://www.muslimedia.com/archives/features98/saud1.htm, Karpat, Kemal H. 2001.  Peter Paul John Zohrab's second-oldest son, Edward John Paul Zohrab, was a British diplomat and Constantine's oldest son, Edward was an Ottoman Turkish diplomat. "Kelly's Handbook" 1909 says on its last page (p. 1798) that Fanny's son, James Napoleon Zohrab, was the nephew of the late admiral of the fleet, sir Fairfax Moresby. This is because sir Fairfax Moresby was married to Fanny's sister, Eliza Louisa Williams. This connection may have been the reason for at least some of the Zohrab family entering the British military ( e.g. General Sir Edward Henry Zohrab Pasha, K.C.M.G., C.B., James Napoleon Zohrab and Edward John Paul Zohrab) or the civil service (e.g. James Napoleon Zohrab and Edward John Paul Zohrab, as well as Peter Paul John Zohrab, their father).

An interesting aspect of the Zohrab family (which may be quite common) is the number of pairs of siblings who married each other:

  1. William Holmes married Adela Zohrab and William's sister Emily Holmes married James Zohrab, Adela's brother.

  2. Edward ("Fort") Zohrab married Blanche Mabin, and Fort's sister Nura Zohrab married Blanche's brother Francis Mabin.

  3. Fort's son Edward ("Ted") Zohrab married Margaret Miller, and Ted's brother Balfour ("Doug") Zohrab married Margaret's sister, Rosemary Miller.

For convenience, the descendants of Peter are divided as follows:









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Craig Zorab

Latest Update

2 March 2017