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The Zorabs in India

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It seems likely that the first Zorab to move to India was Manook Zorab, a younger brother of Mackertich Zorabian, who moved to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1815, according to Hans Zorab.  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.  They were presumably living in Persia at the time of their move. 

According to Mirzaian (1966) (page 195), Manook Zorab, in 1845, was instrumental in the foundation, in Calcutta, of the Araratian Society, for the purpose of publishing books etc. in the Armenian language. Its organ was "Azgaser Araratian" ("Patriot of Ararat").

Tomb of Manook Zorab in Armenian churchyard of St. Gregory's, Kolkata, India.

Lt.-Col. Dr Johannes Manuk Zorab, son of Manook, and grandson of Zohrab II, was a Lt. Colonel in the British Imperial Medical Service in India and a Civil Surgeon.  After joining the Indian Medical Service, he was posted to Orissa and attended the Governor’s family and the Government officials at Cuttack.  At some stage, he became Superintendant at Brussa Medical School. The only known "Brussa" 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 John Zohrab and Dr. Paul Zohrab, as well as her cousin General Sir Edward Zohrab Pasha, also had links to Brussa, so it is quite possible that it was the family connection which got Johannes a medical job in Turkey.

This is confirmed by the following proposed solution to the mystery of why he gave middle names to his two oldest children which referred back to close relatives of Fanny Blunt:

  1. Leonard Kars Zorab, named after James Ernest Napoleon Zohrab, who was decorated by the Turkish Sultan for his contribution to the Battle of Kars;

  2. Major Dr. Arthur Batoum Zorab, named after Lady Adela Holmes (nee Zohrab) and/or her husband, Sir William Holmes, who had once served as British Consul in Batoum

Possibly, Mary Sandison (nee Zohrab) had died by the time Dr. Zorab's eldest son was born in 1878, and her husband had died in 1869, so he named his sons after surviving members of that branch of the family, in gratitude for their help. Another example of "gratitude-naming" in the Zohrab family is the naming of Peter Thomas Henry Gordon Zohrab after the benefactor of Dr. Paul Zohrab.

Dr. Johannes Zorab left a substantial fortune, which was shared by his five sons and two daughters. He also founded a "dynasty" of medical people, which started in British India and later moved to Britain.  One of his sons, Major Dr. Arthur Batoum Zorab, qualified as a doctor, distinguished himself as an eye specialist in Southampton, England and invented a glaucoma operation, which was named the “Zorab-Operation”, although operations for glaucoma are apparently no longer in favour, at time of writing.    Arthur, in turn, had five sons, four of whom were doctors (William, Edward, Phillip and John) and one of whom (Robert) was a dentist.  Edward Crew Zorab was also an ophthalmic surgeon.


King's Eye Doctor Called to Envoy (news clipping)


Arthur's son Phillip Arthur Zorab has a symposium series named after him: http://www.ndos.ox.ac.uk/pzs/Index.htmlDr.John Zorab was an Anaesthetist, Lecturer at the University of Bristol, Vice-President of Association of Anaesthetists, and President of World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists.

Anne Basil's book mentions (on page 160) that a Hugh Zorab operated on the Calcutta Stock Exchange (i.e. as a broker), that (page 267) a Miss G. Zorab taught needlework at the Davidian Girls' School, and (page 231) that a Dr. S. Zorab won several local tennis tournaments in India (Calcutta?). This may have been the same Zorab who Dr. John Zorab said had once competed at Wimbledon. On page 124, the same book mentions that "a kind gentleman named Zorab" assisted the founder of the Davidian Girls' School, David Aviet David, when he was living in an Armenian alms-house in Calcutta.

Other evidence that links between various branches of the family were kept up is the fact that Maddocks (1989) says so, and states that Leonard Kars Zorab was named "Kars" after James Ernest Napoleon Zohrab's association with that town. If that is the case, one wonders who his brother, Major Dr. Arthur Batoum Zorab, was named after, as far as "Batoum" is concerned. The town of Batoum (Batumi) is now in Georgia.

Anna Dulcie Zorab, who was previously married to Lt. Colonel John Manuk Zorab, is mentioned on the page http://users.rootsweb.com/~indwgw/Bengal/BM7496D.htm as having married Wm. Dorman in Bengal in 1896.

For Leonard Kars Zorab, see here.

Oswald Zorab, b. 1893, d. 1930, was a mechanical engineer and married Marie.  His Calcutta tombstone can be seen here.

Manook (Manuk) Zorab b. 1865, d.1928, was a barrister.  He was born in Calcutta, educated at St. Xavier’s College and after graduating went to England and was called to the Bar. On his return to Calcutta he practiced at the High Court mainly on the Original Side and specialised in Common Law.  However, he also conducted some important criminal cases successfully.  His Calcutta tombstone can also be seen here

See also: Descendants of Zohrab's Son, Basil.








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11 October 2015