Tth Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin




XXVIII. 1771-1775.

[Emin joins his corps at Dinapore - To Shahabad with troops under Sir Robert Barker - To Benares, then Calcutta, where Warren Hastings arrives, succeeding Cartier 1772 - Troops discharged - Letter from the Duke of Northumberland - Emin unable, being a foreigner, to serve in the army - Hastings grants him leave of absence to try his fortune once more in Armenia. ]

Copy of document from Imperial Record Department.

[Goes to Madras - Armenians wish to support him - Bishop Ovanes interferes and puts an end to everything - Ovanes’ later history as Patriarch of Constantinople - To Bombay by land - Mr. Randall - Plague at Basra - Moore and others arrive at Bombay - After nine months they return and Emin with them - Spring, 1774 - To Bagdad from Basra - Danger for Emin from Turks - Returns to Basra - Persian Suduk Khan comes to lay siege to Basra - Two small cruising vessels - Captain Twisleton’s action against Arab vessels - Turks defend the place - Emin volunteers and is appointed to the Success - 500 British soldiers and sailors - Arrival of Persian armed vessels and 3000 troops - An action - Enemy sticks in the mud - Moore’s plans defeated by H. E. I. Co. - Chance of gaining command of river and control of the Persian Gulf lost by the British 143 years ago!]

After this, Emin was ordered to go and join his corps, then at Dinapoor, or the first troop of Turkswars mentioned before, commanded by Mr. Baillie. He staid there doing but very little, and about a year after marched, and advanced with part of the army commanded by Sir Robert Barker to the assistance of Sujah Dowlah at Shahabad, or the Rohillas country. Still nothing was to be seen, nor any real service to be done, in two years and an half; so that he marched down again to Benaris, and the rainy season being over, was ordered to return to Calcutta, where Mr. Hastings, the late governor-general, arrived a few days after, and succeeded Mr. Cartier. The three troops were then discharged, and Emin was left to his half-pay and batta, thus losing 300 rupees a month, which sum he used to receive as resuldar to the first troop.

Emin, before he was favoured by Mr. Cartier with the post of an ensign by brevet, wrote to the duke of Northumberland for his consent to go to England, and thence into the Russian service; and if that was not possible, then to be naturalized, so as to be able to obtain a commission in the Honourable the East India Company’s service. The substance of his letter was as follows:

After many Asiatic compliments, he acquainted the duke, that if his Grace had no objection, he with a good will would return to London, as the war between the Russians and Turks was not yet over; and even if it was, it would break out again, so that he might go and enter into their army, to try if he could be of service to his own headless country. Adding, that his father had promised him to advance a sum of money to bear his charges all the way, so as not to trouble his Grace. His answer happened to come just at the time when the troops were dismissed. The following is the copy of it. Although very affectionate in its terms, it was discouraging in the highest degree to the grateful mind of one who had rung the name of Northumberland, like the great bell of Moscow, in the ears of people in Turkey, Persia, Armenia, and Georgia, who never had heard of it before in their lives.

"Northumberland-house, London.

May 17th, 1771.

My dear Emin,

I received the favour of your letter dated Calcutta, September 5th, and as you have always my best wishes for your health and welfare, it gave me very particular pleasure to hear you were well. I have considered your letter with the utmost attention, and as your sincere friend I beg leave to observe, with regard to your desire of coming once more to Europe, that you have already done every thing that could be desired or expected from a brave man; and though your generous attempts in behalf of your countrymen were not attended with the succcess you deserved, yet you have sufficiently gained the applause and admiration of all judges of real merit; and therefore may now sit down contentedly, and pass the rest of your life in honourable ease and tranquillity among your family, and friends. On this account, I can by no means wish you to think of running the same dangers a second time, especially as the war between the Russians and the Turks is now believed to be so near a conclusion, that in all probability peace will be restored before this letter gets to India, or at least long before you could arrive in Russia. And as to applying for any post under the East India Company, it must be done in Bengal, for by a late regulation, no employment can be obtained here for a foreigner. I am sorry therefore I cannot entertain any hopes of seeing you, but I shall always be happy to hear of your prosperity, and beg you will be assured that I am with constant regard,

My dear Emin,

your very sincere friend

and faithful servant,

Northumberland. "

His Grace judged of Emin’s constitution by the delicacy of his own, and though he had been a thousand times told that it was hard and robust, yet he could not be made sensible of it. From the first he had always shewn himself more like an affectionate father, than a strict commander; not resembling Peter the First of Russia, Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, or the late Frederick king of Prussia, who would have advanced him by severe duties, and encouraged the ardour of his disposition, so that he being inured from his earliest days to hardship and fatigue, might either by this time have fallen with honour in some action, or become in some degree considerable in the eyes of the world. But any one, without a proper support from some liberal hand to animate him, must sink under the weight of misfortunes, and fail of success in his honest ambition, after all his hardships, grasping at last a shadow instead of a substance. In twenty years more, when he and all his good friends, who knew his accounts to be true, shall be dead and gone, he will be looked upon as a mere romancer.

When he was protected by the late duke of Cumberland, and was sent to the Royal Academy at Woolwich, Mr. Muller, the late professor of fortification, advised him to beg of his Grace that he might be naturalized, as many foreigners were in the army; and when he did so, it was of no effect. He might certainly have reaped some advantage from it, since he was in the king’s army some years without any emolument, and has been eighteen full years on the Honourable East India Company’s establishment as a brevet ensign, and is now sixty-one years of age. He might have checked his pen on this head (and he writes with reluctance, ) had not his Grace mentioned in his letter, after all his pains to support him, "that a foreigner was not to obtain any post, by a new regulation. " It is to be hoped that the candid reader will excuse him for speaking the truth, which is the beauty of biography, and does no injury to the sentiment of gratitude; for he will always acknowledge as long as he exists, that if the duke of Northumberland had not by mere chance found him out, he might like other Armenians have been sunk in the deepest oblivion, or not have lived to write his own history. Though he is not great nor rich, yet he trusts he is honest, and with a good assurance can say, that he is as happy and contented as princes are great; and may God preserve and prosper them, for the sake of the poor eastern Christians, that they may be made free from slavery, and that their imaginary comfort may be changed into reality! The Armenians firmly believe that the Christian kings of Europe will, one day or other, come and rescue them from subjection to unbelievers.

Emin, finding by the purport of the duke’s letter, that he was not to advance higher in the army, took it into his head to try once more his fortune, having saved out of his pay about 3000 rupees. He went therefore to Mr. Hastings (then governor), laid his case before him, and begged leave of absence, which he, without limitation of time, very readily granted; he also gave him a commission to buy some horses at Bosra, and promised, that if Emin should not meet with success, and should return to Bengal, he should have his rank.



By the Hon’ble Warren Hastings Esqr.

President & Governor of Fort William, &ca. &ca. &ca.,

This is to certify, that the Bearer hereof Mr.

Joseph Emin, Ensign in the Hon’ble Company’s 1st Brigade

of Troops on the Bengal Establishment has Liberty to

proceed from hence to Bussorah, on Furlough, without

Molestation; He conducting Himself, in a proper &

becoming Manner.

Given under my Hand and Seal at Fort William,

this 31st Day of December I772.

SD/-Warren Hastings.

By Command of the Governor

(Sign’d) James Brown


(Copy of Document in the Record Department of the Government of India, kindly supplied by the Officer in charge. )

Sir Archibald Campbell, at that time chief engineer of Fort William, was going home in an Indiaman commanded by captain Elphinstone. Emin took his passage in the same ship, which was to touch at Madras, at which port she arrived in eighteen days. He went on shore, and was introduced by Sir Archibald to the late governor, Mr. Wynch, who received him most politely. Mahomed Aly Khan offered to give him a command in his cavalry. The Armenians at Madras are possessed of a little more virtue than those of Calcutta, particularly Mr. Shahamar, whom he had not seen before, and who distinguished himself among a thousand Armenians. He took Emin into his house, and entertained him three days; after which Emin hired a small house, but dined and supped at Mr. Shahamar’s; and by the interposition of this singular active gentleman, all the other Armenian merchants joined to advance 12, 000 rupees a-year, to be remitted to him in Armenia, so as to maintain a few troops; they being well assured that he, who with 2000 rupees and good management had commanded thousands before at their own charge, and maintained himself eight years in that country, would in all probability establish himself there on a good footing. One of them, named Gregor Michael, who is now dead, said, that besides his own share in the 12, 000 rupees, he would bestow the best part of his fortune (which then amounted to some lacks of pagodas, and he had but one relation in the world) in promoting that laudable design, upon condition that the late Simon Catholicus, the Father in God of all Armenia, would concur with Emin; and he added, that he would give him a letter of credit to Etzmiatzin, to receive of his holiness 12, 000 rupees, provided the holy father Simon should approve of his plan. They were near resolved to draw an agreement, or write a joint letter, when Ovanes, one of the bishops of Jerusalem, hearing of this union, stept in with his diabolical cunning, and spoiled the whole system, making them all fly from their words, so as to be frightened at the very sight of Emin. This man, void of conscience, without any principle of Christian faith, bishop Ovanes, son of Fative, was a native of Hamadan, and a distant relation of Emin. At the age of sixteen years he strolled away from place to place, till he arrived at the monastery of Liman, in an island in a salt lake near the city of Van, in the north-west of Armenia, where he studied chiefly priestcraft instead of divinity. When he was about thirty-five years old, he moved hence to Jerusalem, and after remaining there five years, received an order from the patriarch of the holy city to come to India, and collect alms from the Armenians at Surat, Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, and Sydabad. In each of those towns, whenever he presented himself, in a week’s time he set all the people against one another, and made them ready to cut each others throats. In Calcutta, the late Petrus, with many more, signed a petition to the governor and council, complaining of his enormous conduct, which would have brought on him a severe prosecution, if Hovsep, Emin’s father, had not interposed, and stopped their proceedings. Emin could very easily penetrate into Ovanes, and seeing that he was only shrunk for a time, like the frozen snake in the fable, advised his father to have nothing to say either good or bad in their quarrels; but Ovanes, with his sweet insinuating double tongue, deceived Hovsep, whose paternal persuasion not only affected Emin, but induced him to join to get a passage for the bishop in the same ship to Madras, where he proved himself not only a priest, but an inveterate enemy to all the Armenian nation. If this bishop Ovanes had staid behind in Calcutta two or three months longer, Emin in all probability would have carried his point with the Armenians at Madras. His poor father, hearing of Ovanes’s ungrateful behaviour, was very much vexed, and wrote to Emin the following lines:

"My dear son Emin,

God has given you more sense than myself; you saw through the monk Ovanes. I wish I had not interfered in his quarrels, and used my interest to save him from being prosecuted justly by the poor Armenians, who gave him above 20, 000 rupees to obtain peace and blessing, but obtained only contest and confusion. A dozen years will come before they will be friends again. I agree with you in sentiments, and shall never entertain a good opinion of the ecclesiastics as long as I live. As you observe, they have been the sole ruin of the Armenian sovereignty; but as for the monk Ovanes, he excelled them all in villany. I pray God to preserve you from their hatred, craft, and jealousy, and to prosper you in all your undertakings, that you may crush the head of serpents and walk in the jaws of lions. Go on, my dear son! If you should not succeed in your honest and dangerous undertakings, yet be sure nothing will hurt you in the way. I remain, with my blessings on you, and subscribe myself your affectionate father, Hovsep. "

After receiving the letter, Emin kept it to himself; for all the Armenians deserted him by means of their holy father Ovanes. Mr. Shahamar alone pretended to be his friend, and to despise the monk and all his weak-hearted followers. He was seemingly sorry for their ignorance in being enticed away by an artful low-minded person, whose chief study was breeding mischief by falsehood, and ruining his countrymen. After some years, this very monk happened to be elected patriarch of Constantinople, and contrived to set all the Armenians by the ears; thus exciting animosities, which cost both parties twenty lacks of piasters, paid down to the Turkish grand vizier or other high officers, many poor creatures being falsely accused of disloyalty in sending to the emperor of Germany and the Russians intelligence of all the transactions of the Ottoman court, so that many of them were unjustly sent to the Turkish gallies for their lives. Luckily his office of patriarch lasted but six months; otherwise he might have made them all miserable. Both parties, after squandering away such great sums of money, united and drove him out of Constantinople. This very monk Ovanes, who did every thing in his power to hurt Emin’s interest, exacted most cunningly a great sum of money, besides valuable presents. The enthusiastic women in particular gave away great part of their jewels, chiefly rings of diamonds and rubies, golden crosses and large silver eucharists. Among the rest Gregor Michael and Mackertum Mirzam, who are now both dead, gave each a massy gold censer for burning frankincense in the church of the holy city of Jerusalem. After having hardened their minds against Emin by false rhetoric, and by working on their ignorance, he began preaching openly and most ignorantly, that the Grand Signor of the Turks is the only king of the Armenians, who are to continue his slaves as long as the world lasts; that they are the little beloved flock of Christ the sovereign lord of the Armenians, for whom alone is prepared the kingdom of heaven; but that as to Christian kings, whose glory is only in this vain world, they, like the heathens, are to be condemned eternally. In this manner he finished his priestcraft, and set out by land for Surat. Shahamar was the only man that cared nothing for him: but, to be sociable with the rest, considering his immense fortune, gave him about 1000 rupees, though aware of his artfulness in making fools of them.

Emin, then leaving Madras, went to Bombay, to which place he travelled by land in a common hakry before the fall of the rains. In passing through Hydarabad and Ovrangabad, the nabobs of both places offered him very great commands and tempting encouragements; but refusing them with becoming fortitude, he marched thence to Poona in the Mahratta country, and refreshed himself there three days in the house of the English resident: if he is not mistaken, the gentleman’s name was Mr. Manson, who not only treated him hospitably, but greatly admired his motives, and offered him presents, which he, being provided with necessaries, would not accept. In four days more about eight o’clock in the evening, he came to the side of the river that divides the island of Bombay from the continent; he hailed the boat, which came and took him to the other side. About forty yards from the water he found Mr. Randall in his great bangla with several gentlemen. Oh! how eagerly did he feel his heart leaping for joy on finding himself among the countrymen of his good English friends! Mr. Randall received him with politeness, and at Emin’s desire hired a hakry; in which he was hardly gone a mile, when, upon running after him, and calling him back, Mr. Randall made an apology for letting him go without inviting him to supper. One captain Brooke in the army, who was there also, about eleven o’clock took Emin in his carriage to his house at Bombay town. The next day the rains began to pour down. It was fortunate for him that he was not caught in travelling almost forty days. Having breakfasted with captain Brooke and his agreeable lady, he went and took an upper-roomed house at thirty rupees per month, and hired a servant, expecting some vessels in which he might get his passage to Bosra. The late Mr. Moore arriving with the rest of the gentlemen from that place on account of the plague, he was obliged to remain in Bombay, where he made many new acquaintance. Colonel Egerton was his old acquaintance in England, (he was the brother of the late bishop of York), and Mr. Daniel Draper, next to governor Hornby, was most particular in his kindness and hospitality, treated him as one of his own family, and invited him to dine and sup with him constantly.

Nine months passed before the letters of health came from Bosra. As the plague was over, the Company’s ship Revenge was made ready to accommodate Mr. Moore and his retinue: a snow joined her by order, and in that Emin took his passage. In two months, at the latter end of winter, he arrived at Bosra, where it was the beginning of the spring; thence he went in an Arab vessel with many others to Hella; and travelling with a caravan reached the town of Bagdad, then almost depopulated by the late plague. After staying nine months, and waiting for a caravan that was preparing to set out for Curdistan, his relations and friends gave him to understand that the Turks had been informed of his intentions by some Jews, and perhaps by some Armenians. They said, that the governor, Omar Pasha, would infallibly apprehend him, and that he would run a risque of being cut off. Markar the Armenian, Mr. Moore’s vakeel, nominally the agent of the Company, but employed to carry on a trade partly for the gentlemen of Bosra and mostly for the Jews, having orders from Moore to repair to Bosra, Emin thought it prudent to go back with him, and in the caravan he had the pleasure of enjoying the agreeable company of colonel Knudson, at that time a major, and there was another Englishman, but not quite so sociable; both had come by land from Aleppo.

After some troubles by land and water through the rebellious Arabs, in about thirty-one days they arrived at Bosra, where Emin, still in the same resolution, thought how to find a way of going to Armenia. As there was no conveyance immediately to be found, he remained at Bosra four months. The fatal news concerning the army of Carim Khan, the late king of Persia, was brought in that interval: it was commanded by his own brother Suduk Khan who came to lay siege to Bosra. In about a month, the intelligence was confirmed, and in a few days more the army arrived at the other side the river. The governor Sulaman, who is now the pasha of Bagdad, was gathering Arab troops, and mending the paultry walls of that extensive town. As there were two small cruising vessels in the river lying at anchor over against the Minavy creek, they were ordered by Mr. Moore to be watchful of the Arab vessels or galavats, of which, thirteen belonging to Chaab were seen at a distance sailing with the tide and a fair southerly wind up to Sualy to succour Suduk Khan, and to assist in throwing up a bridge of boats. Captain Twisleton bravely cut the cable of his ship’s anchor, and firing grape-shot killed about fifty of them and took two of the galavats, which were burnt: after chasing the rest about three miles up, the water not being deep enough to be navigable, he was obliged to put about and come to his former station. This little success was of great service to the Turks in the town, and encouraged them to defend the place with more steadiness and resolution. Emin, a few days before, had offered to serve as a volunteer, and received the under-written order from Mr. Moore.

"To Mr. Joseph Emin.


As the Success is in want of an officer, and as you have offered your services as a volunteer, the agent and council have accepted them, and have given you the provisional command of it.

Bosra. By order of Henry Moore, Esq.

23rd March 1775. agent, &c. council of Bosra.

William Digges Latouche, secretary. "

Emin receiving the above commission, went on board the Success snow, commanded by the brave captain Twisleton before-mentioned, where taking the charge of thirty-two stout European soldiers, he continued three weeks in that station doing but very little duty, except observing the busy Arabs on the other side of the river. During one or two of the nights the people of the town, men, women, and children, made a terrible noise, occasioned by an alarm from the Janizaries, as if the Persians who besieged the place were going to scale the walls. This frightened the council and the gentlemen of the factory, who hastened early in the morning on board these two vessels, taking with them only their wearing apparel; and about sun-rise they discovered down the river a great many Persian armed vessels, of which they had intelligence that Shiah Nasir the governor of Bushir had the command. Mr. Moore made a signal to the cruisers to hoist anchor; but as there was no sort of wind, they only floated down the current. In the evening they lowered their sails and drew near the bank on the left, and stood at the mouth of the river Haffar. About one in the afternoon the cruisers let go their anchors, and a ridiculous action began first by the enemy at the distance of almost two miles: the cruisers returned the compliment. The cannonading continued till about nine at night. The enemy, who were no fewer than 3, 000 fighting men, if they had had but the courage of Europeans might have come to close quarters and taken the vessels with great ease: on the contrary, the next morning they were all stuck fast in the mud, and the men bustling with their things on shore. The sailors and the soldiers of the two cruisers amounting hardly to 500 men, animated by the dastardly conduct of the enemy, were ready to go in boats and set their vessels on fire; but a north- wester springing up, Mr. Moore, then on board the other vessel, made a signal to weigh and set sail. About sun-set they came to and anchored at Maidan Aly. The next day they sailed for Bushir, and in about twenty-four hours arrived at that place, where Mr. Moore waited three weeks on board for an answer from the government of Bombay, and in expectation of a Maskat fleet which he might join and go back to the defence of Bosra; but, contrary to his wishes, Mr. Gardiner arrived in a Bombay grab, with an order from the council not to interfere in any shape in the quarrels of the Persians and Turks: - this put an end to Mr. Moore’s scheme: - had he succeeded in it, he would have joined the Maskat armament which came some weeks after, and in all probability would have raised the siege of Bosra and saved them from falling into the hands of the villanous Persians, and thus established the English factory on a stronger footing there. He might have thrown up a small fortification in Minavy at the end of the creek to be secure from either of the Musulman nations, and he would have had the command of the whole river, and even have given law to the Persian gulph as far as Maskat: it was a very proper opportunity to reap a considerable advantage. The daily decay of the Turkish power and the neglect of their deplorable government, would have compelled them to seek the protection of the English against their enemy in all times of need; and of course they would have cheerfully consented to Mr. Moore’s wise measures, if the honourable Company had but encouraged him to proceed with his laudable plan, which was formed in a very masterly way.



Extract from Report on the I. O. Records relating to Persia and the Persian Gulf. By F. C. Danvers, 1891.

( Communicated by Mr. William Foster, India Office, through Ven. Archdeacon Firminger. )

Page 42. Early in 1773 the plague broke out at Bassora, whereupon the Agent and Council of the Factory left the place for Bombay; they were, however, not permitted to land, and were sent back by the same vessel in which they arrived, with instructions to remain on one of the islands in the Gulf until the plague should subside. [This does not agree with Emin’s account, as he distinctly says nine months elapsed before letters of health came, when the Revenge (the same boat the commander of which refused him hospitality at Basra) was fitted out for their return, and he himself went in the "Snow" that accompanied her. ] On leaving Bussora the Tyger, with Messrs. Beaumont and Green on board, was taken by some Persian vessels and carried into Bunder Reig.

In April, 1774 . . . . the Agent at Bussora [the name of Henry Moore is given in a footnote and the date of his appointment, 1767] was ordered not to enter into any treaty with Karim Khan until he should have released Messrs. Beaumont and Green.

From the Proceedings of the Bombay Government for February, 1775, it appears that the bad terms on which the Company’s servants had for a long time been with Karim Khan, were attributed by that Government to the unaccountable antipathy which the Agent [Moore] at Bussora seemed to have conceived against the Khan. The latter refused to liberate Mr. Beaumont unless the Company re-established a Factory at Bushire, and consequently, notwithstanding the Court’s order to the contrary (in August 1770), the Bombay Government directed that this should be done in order to obtain his release. Accordingly, in this year four ships were sent to Bushire to re-open trade there. In consequence of the investment of Bussora by the Khan, the Agent and Council retired from thence to Bushire; but they appear to have returned shortly afterwards. On the 15th April, 1776, the Persians got possession of Bussora, after a siege of thirteen months, the Governor of that place having been compelled to surrender for want of provisions. In the following month, at the invitation of the Persian General, the Agent and Council returned from Bushire to Bussora, and re-opened the Factory at the latter place.


Emin mentions Mr. Beaumont, p. 427, as one of those who showed him hospitality, also Mr. Livius. Mr. Livius was, later, the keeper of the Military Stores, Calcutta. In his "Notes on Old Calcutta, " Archdeacon Firminger says there is a house with over a biggah of land attached to it (apparently at the corner of Wheller Place, near Corkscrew Lane) which had been bought by Thomas Adams (and sold to William Harding in 1784 for Sa. Rupees 32, 000), from that "bosom friend of Philip Francis and mortal foe of Warren Hastings, George Livius. " In another chapter of the "Notes, " the Archdeacon mentions Mr. Livius’ Gardens as "the residence of the Collector of the 24-Parganahs at Alipore. " Colonel Henry Watson, in July, 1784, recommended a site for a "Military Buryal Ground" at a place near the corner of the esplanade contiguous to the Bridge leading to Mr. Livius’ Gardens, " - well known to all residents of Calcutta. Dr. Busteed ( Echoes of Old Calcutta, p. 196) says, "Amongst the satellites who most assiduously revolved around this luminary for whom also Hicky had nicknames, were a Mr. Livius ("Idea George" or "Titus"), he was a protégé and intimate friend of Francis, who had got him made military store-keeper; a barrister named Davis, " etc. etc. - and then on p. 212, Dr. Busteed has a footnote - "Hastings used to say that Bristow, Livius, Shee, and Ducarel were ‘the lees of Mr. Francis. ’"