Home Memoirs Story of an Irish family who lived and thrived in Punjab

Story of an Irish family who lived and thrived in Punjab

Story of an Irish family who lived and thrived in Punjab
Writer's Grandfather William A Hogan, and Grandmother Norah Muriel Hogan - Sindh Courier

Garrett Hogan’s sons had established successful pharmacy and ‘Tonga’ business in North West Frontier, which at that time was part of Punjab  

By Stanley Hogan

Hi, my name is Stanley Garrett Hogan. This is the start of my story, and narrative of my Hogan family ancestors, and their lives in India, and more importantly their lives in the Punjab. I have also shared some Hogan family Memorabilia dating back to 1898. Their life in the Punjab of course goes back much earlier. This memorabilia comes from the extremely successful Pharmacy and Tonga businesses that they established and run. The copies of pictures are not that clear as I had to take photographs of the records.


I will try as best I can, to start the Hogan family history, back at its beginning in Ireland. And explain as best I can with what little information, I have been able to find and uncover from various sources.

It starts in Ireland in the very late 1700’s; it is claimed that Garrett Hogan, our first forbear to live in India, was born and bred in County Wicklow, in May 1799 or there about. It’s claimed Garrett Hogan was born on the 4th, 9th or 31st of May 1799 – his place of birth or where he and his family lived in Ireland has never been able to be confirmed or fully established or substantiated. The story goes – as a very young man Garrett Hogan went to the local markets one day, to sell some pigs; he had sold his pigs and was returning home when he was “press-ganged”, “kidnapped”, caught hold of, grabbed by a gang of men and put on a ship, and somehow finished up in India, and then, the East India Company Army.

This is where the story becomes even sketchier. He rose through the ranks in the Army and at some time married the widow of the Sargent Major from his regiment. Her married surname was Filby. We are not sure how many children she had, from her previous relationship/marriage with the Sargent Major Filby (we think 2 children – a boy and a girl, and we think this girl went on to marry a chap by the name of Brown). Elizabeth Hogan (nee Filby) went on to have 8 children with my Great-Great Grandfather Garrett Hogan – 4 boys, and 4 girls. The 4 boys, one of which was my Great grandfather, all went on to become Pharmacists and also Doctors. My great grandfather Dr. James Alexander Hogan was the youngest of these 8 children.

There is little knowledge of Garrett Hogan’s rank and/or his actual time and life in the Army. They claim his Regiment was the 1st Company, 1st Battalion of the East India Company. There is also some confusion regarding the date of his marriage, around 1825 or 1826. It is claimed he married Mrs. Filby not long after the death of her husband, Sergeant Major Filby – this could be checked and confirmed through some of the old Army records, one would presume. It is further claimed that Garrett Hogan retired from the Army in 1840 and was given some sort of appointment as a high-ranking officer in the Punjab somewhere near Gujrater Surbaee, if there is such a place? It is stated that Garrett Hogan received some private information of some Army advance, and he informed Lord Gough, who it appears, was the Commander-in-chief of the British Army. The British Army was resting after a long march and they were not ready for action. But Garrett Hogan rode the leading horse in the gun team, and brought three guns into action one after the other and supposedly saved the British Army. (None of this has been confirmed or substantiated – it could well be, just “hear say” and/or fabricated family legend – it seems he did this, dressed in civilian clothing). The story continues and it is further claimed that Garrett Hogan’s son, James’s Hogan was born during this battle and was delivered by the Doctor of the regiment who was also attending to the wounded and the dead, and that the dead officers were laid out on Garrett Hogan’s dining room table; it was said they were from an infantry regiment.

Garrett Hogan returned to Calcutta and died of Cholera in Fort William 1841. He was very high in the Free Masons movement and his body was carried by the Free Masons with full Masonic Honors to the Dum Dum cemetery where he was buried on 15th September 1841. The other oral family information, which we have been given concerning Garrett Hogan and his family, is that his father’s name in Ireland was Michael Hogan; this has never been able to be confirmed or substantiated – Sadly most of the early Irish Birth, Death, and Marriage records were destroyed by the British, during their occupation of Ireland.

It is further claimed that Garrett’s father had thought Garrett Hogan had run away from home and had gone to Australia in 1818-1819.  Why would anyone want to go to Australia at that time – it was basically an English Penal Colony at that time, full of convicts – perhaps there were some members of his family or his extended family who had been deported to Australia as convicts?

Business Empire Built and Lost

Documentary evidence of Hogan business-1
Documentary evidence of Hogan business- Sindh Courier

My father and his family came from around the North West Frontier of India – the Punjab. He and his siblings were all born in and around Peshawar, Murree, Rawalpindi, which is now part of Pakistan. Their father William Alexander Hogan was an Apothecary, a Pharmacist/Chemist, the same profession as his father Dr. James. A. Hogan. James. A. Hogan was also a Doctor as were his 3 brothers. William. A Hogan (my Grandfather) married Nora Muriel O’Brien (the family originally from County Clare in Ireland) and they had 5 boys, William A Hogan (the same name as his father), Hubert. S. Hogan (my father), Melville Hogan, Cecil Hogan, and Norman St James Hogan (Norman never reached adulthood). Their father, my Grandfather inherited a very prosperous Manufacturing Pharmacy Business, which included a number of Shop-front outlets, and a Transport Business (A “Tonga business” I think is the Indian expression used to describe this Transport Business). This was all inherited from his father Dr. James Alexander Hogan, who was also an Apothecary. They had Pharmacy shops and outlets in Rawalpindi, Murree, and Peshawar. It was a Manufacturing Pharmacy, a Retail Pharmacy, and a Distributing Pharmacy (See some of the pictures and label details from some of their products, etc.) A number of different relatives relayed and confirmed many interesting stories, concerning the Hogan family and their lives in India/Pakistan – the Punjab. Some of these stories include some of the sad family history and also some of their extravagant lives and lifestyles in India/Pakistan. Some of these stories regarding the Hogan family history in India, relates tales of a number of sad and even tragic events and occurrences; it also shows that they built up and established extremely prosperous family business and a significant amount of wealth, and how it was somehow lost and/or squandered. There are many stories of money being delivered to the family home in carriages, and of it being transferred into the family home, by the bucket loads, and of a new car being left beside the road with a flat tyre, to be stripped bare, because they had broken down and/or they could not be bothered having it fixed or repaired. There was one classic well-known story, of my Grandfather and his sons attending a wedding, and the new car they were driving got a flat tyre along the way. They proceeded to the wedding with the flat tyre, and after the wedding, they found other means of transport home, they just left their new car at the side of the road, never to be seen again – to rot and to be stripped and vandalized. They could not be bothered organizing for the puncture to be repaired, or for the tyre to be changed. Needless to say at this rate the family fortune and wealth did not last long. My Grandfather became sick not long after his wife died and passed on the running and control of the Business Empire to a long-serving, trusted employee. This employee cooked the books, built up huge debts and gambled all the money and assets away – he found he had some sort of terminal illness, and finished his days enjoying the good life at the expense of the Hogan family’s fortune.

Moving to Calcutta

Documentary evidence of Hogan business-2
Documentary evidence of Hogan business- Sindh Courier

So once the Pharmacy and Tonga Businesses were lost the family, picked up what few belongings they had left, and left the Punjab, and moved to Calcutta – the father(my Grandfather) and the four boys (one of these boys was my Dad). Their mother had previously died, and the boys had all finally reached the point in their lives where they all had to find some form of work and/or find some kind of full-time employment? My Grandfather by this time was semi-retired, but carried on with some form of part-time work, working from home manufacturing a number of his Pharmacy products, but on a very much smaller subsistence scale. All the boys found some sort of full-time employment. I have a copy of a letter, which was written not that long after the whole Business collapsed. This letter is about 100 years old (it, unfortunately, has a few pages missing) but it was written to my Grandfather by one of his brothers, who were living in Calcutta at the time. He admonishes my Grandfather and all the other family members, for their carefree existence and their extravagant lifestyles etc. He goes on to explain how he was the only family member who was strong or brave enough to move away from the family fortune and business, and make something of himself and his life, purely by his own means and on his own merits, and not of the shirttails or free handouts from inherited family business and wealth etc., – like the rest of the family members. The business by now was just about all lost and gone – and what now of the “Hogan family, their name and their reputations in the Punjab” etc.? It seems after the family business failed and the money dried up, there was some decent and disagreement amongst some of the family members (the brothers), regarding the ownership of some of the shops and some of the shelf stock left in the Pharmacies and the warehouses etc. – this seemed to include all the stock items in the shops and more importantly the secret recipes and formula’s etc., for all the, medications, concoctions, tonics and remedies etc. all of which still had very good names, and still had a large following and substantial sales potential and markets in the length and breadth of India/Pakistan. There was talk in the letter of being careful, and of protecting these “secret recipes and formulas etc.” for all these medical concoctions and treatments, and not to dispose of these if possible, and if they had to be sold, do not to sell them “too cheaply”, as they would be worth a lot of money in the right hands. This particular Uncle was also trying to negotiate the sale of one or more of these formulas/recipes for himself – of course at the right price. I got the impression from the tone of this letter, it was in answer to a very sad and despondent earlier letter from my Grandfather complaining about, the loss of the business, and what was the whole family was going through and what were they going to do now. This uncle more or less said that they had all brought it upon themselves, through their excesses and their extravagant, carefree lifestyles. He only seemed to be concerned and/or worried about one of the brothers, Wedgebury Earnest Hogan – which makes me think he may have been sick, or he may have had some sort of serious medical problem, illness and/or physical or mental impairment.

My birth

Author Stanley Hogan and his wife - Sindh Courier
Author Stanley Hogan and his wife – Sindh Courier

I was born in Calcutta, India in 1946. I was the third child born to my mother and father. The eldest child a girl, Gloria died in early infancy at the tender age of 6 months, in an air raid shelter during the bombing of Calcutta by the Japanese during the 2nd World War. Then there was my older brother Geoffrey James Hogan who was born in Calcutta, in 1945. We were the fourth generation of Hogan’s to be born in India/Pakistan. I had a third brother Kenneth William Hogan, who was born in Australia. My father was Hubert “Sinclair” Hogan (it should have been “St Clare” but the priest got it wrong on his Baptismal Certificate). Anyway he married my mother Margaret Helen (Mary) Mott. “Mary” was her selected Baptismal name, my mother adopted it and then used it as her middle name, when she converted to Catholicism and married my father – they were married in Calcutta in 1938. My father was one of five boys. However, only 4 went on to reach adulthood. My father was a Marine Engineer who worked for the Port Commissioners, in the Port of Calcutta. We lived in rented accommodation in a flat, 1/6 Remount Road. Alipore, Calcutta. Dad’s youngest brother Cecil Hogan joined the department of Customs and went on to become the Chief Inspector of Customs for the Port of Calcutta and retained this position right up to the time he retired. He never married; he stayed on and died on the 25th August 1974, and was buried in St John’s Cemetery, Sealdah Calcutta, India.

More about Hogan family  

Dr. Garrett Hogan made his home in Allahabad. He was well known, and well-respected business identity in Allahabad as well as being a Dr. He was a Director of the Allahabad Bank and also a Director of the “Railway Store” (not sure what this enterprise is or was?)

Anyway finally getting to my point and my question, I don’t believe there would be documents around to verify any of these claims – I would be interested if there are? But my main interest is where Dr. Garrett Hogan lived. It is claimed that his address at the time he lived in Allahabad with his family, was 19 Cawnpore Rd, Allahabad. Is there anyone out there who knows whether this address existed and/or if the house still exists today? When he passed away he left this house and a large amount of money to one of his married sisters. His eldest brother Dr. John Hogan had by this moved to Simla and was a bit down on his luck and was annoyed at his brother and his sister for not helping some of the other family members, who were not that well off financially – it seems like he had a lot of money. He refused to leave any of his wealth and/or his money to his children, as he was of the opinion that they were all well off financially. Is there anyone out there that has any knowledge of 19 Cawnpore Road, Allahabad?

There is no word or evidence that I can find regarding the Birth and/or Baptism of Dr. James Alexander Hogan. But I have discovered information about “Garrett Hogan’s” 3 other sons. There is however documented evidence of James Hogan’s service record, of him becoming an apprentice Apothecary and his progress up through the ranks to a full-fledge Grade 1 Apothecary, he and his 3 brothers all then went on to study and become Doctors.

Documentary evidence of Hogan business-3
Documentary evidence of Hogan business

James Alexander Hogan my grandfather married Charlotte Maria Jacobi at Fort William on 13th July 1863. Charlotte was said to have been born in Jhansi on the 19th of February 1846. She was the daughter of Fredrick Ernest Jacobi and Sophia Matilda Jacobi. Fredrick was a Coach Builder and had a Coach Building Business and was one of the well-known and respected Merchant of Cawnpore. He had a Brother Henry Jacobi who was a Watch Maker and Jeweler, also a respected Merchant of Cawnpore. James Hogan’s wife Charlotte Maria Jacobi was an orphan, she lost her entire family when she was about 11 or 12 years old, her mother and father, her brothers, and sisters, and all her relatives in Cawnpore, died in the Cawnpore uprising and massacre of 1857. All her immediate family and all her relatives living there perished. They all died and/or were murdered, during this uprising, a number were savagely knifed, butchered, and murdered, and then thrown down a well. These innocent people were not soldiers; these were just town folk, civilian, merchants, innocent men, women, and defenseless children. They were murdered because of nothing else, but the color of their skin – and from all reports, it might not have necessarily been entirely “that white”?

There is well-documented evidence and narrative in Andrew Ward’s book – “Our Bones Are Scattered”, on the Cawnpore Massacre and Indian Mutiny of 1857. This book vividly depicts how each one of Charlotte’s parents and siblings died and also how her Uncle, Aunty, and cousins all died, many were shot others were hacked and butchered to death during this Massacre and Mutiny. The book also has a photograph of my great-grandmother Charlotte Hogan (nee Charlotte Jacobi) as a young girl – about 11 or 12 years old. Her life was spared as she had been sent to Calcutta, Fort William, with her Ayer for medical treatment, as she was very sick. There is some family talk that Charlotte was then brought up by the Wesley family in India, who were related to the Duke of Wellington. Another source suggests it was the famous Wedgwood or Wedgebury family, the pottery family- none of this information regarding and concerning Charlotte’s life growing up as an orphan has been able to be substantiated and/or confirmed.

Last Post

This is my 7th and last post on my family and their lives in India and Pakistan – 4 Generation. I hope I have not bored too many readers regarding our family’s lives in the Punjab and subsequently in India. But we inherited a rich culture and an ongoing interest in India and Pakistan and as I have stated before, my Ethnic Origin according to my DNA test results, indicates that I’m 30% Indian and about 55% Irish, and a low % of English and other Ethnicities. I hope I have not hurt anyone’s thoughts or feelings. I clearly understand the fact we were colonial interlopers. But I feel many of our family members gave back to the communities that they lived in and/or practiced in as Doctors and Pharmacists.

Charlotte and Dr. James A Hogan went on and produced a large family some 13 children in all – I think 10 survived to adulthood. They also established an extremely successful Pharmacy and Transport Business, which was then left and taken over by their children, which would have specifically included my Grandfather William Alexander Hogan, who like his father Dr. James Hogan was also an Apothecary i.e. A Chemist, a Pharmacist, he was also the eldest son.

The following tries to cover the children of James and Charlotte Hogan. This is a difficult task as families move away from each other, plus the girls marry and then change their names. But I have tried my best to be, as comprehensive as possible with what sources and details I have been able to gain from different family members to date. But I would love to hear from others if there are things that are wrong and things they can add to. This is hopefully a work in progress, an ongoing story, and a family narrative.

This is a list of what is thought to have been the names of the children of James A Hogan and Charlotte Maria Hogan (nee Jacobi), following their marriage on the 13th July 1863. This list has been compiled by word of mouth from the relatives of different families who were descendants of some of these children listed below. There is no known order to their births, or that this list of names is completely true or accurate.

I hope all this makes sense. I hope this story and narrative does not upset and/or offend any of those people out there. It is only a family story as I know it, from family documents, family memorabilia, and family members.

Now for the record, I had a very isolated, difficult and unhappy family life as a child growing up here in Australia. Our father became terminally ill, then died, leaving my mother to bring up her 3 young sons solely on her own. We had no help or family support. All our family and extended family members and relatives at the time lived overseas. We were left poor and destitute, we grew up with no grandparents, uncles, aunts, or cousins, our lives were tough and difficult. But we survived and despite the poverty and hardships, we experienced as children growing up, we 3 brothers all went on to have very successful lives and careers. So, I am not complaining, just stating the facts. I will be 75 in June; I’m retired, happily married with a wife and 4 grown-up children, and 7 grandchildren. I have had a wonderful life and have been fortunate enough to have traveled and toured the world. I consider myself a very lucky man. But I strongly believe, “the harder you work the luckier you get”.

I will attach two photos to this posting- the first is a picture is my Grandfather William A Hogan, and my Grandmother Norah Muriel Hogan (nee O’Brien). The next picture is of my wife and me – we managed to get ourselves on the front page of one of the daily newspapers in India, on one of our many visits. We got caught up in a public demonstration. (You can only see the backs of our heads)

The names of the children of Dr. James A Hogan – Charlotte Maria Hogan (nee Jacobi)

(1) Mary Hogan

(2) Alexandria Hogan (possibly the eldest child)

(3) William A. Hogan (possibly second eldest child) and my Grandfather

(4) Charles Hogan

(5) James (Barney) Hogan (the family historian)

(6) Michael Hogan

(7) Ida Hogan

(8) Aileen Hogan

(9) Wedgebury Hogan

(10) Helen, Nelly Hogan (possibly the youngest)

(11) & (12) two children died as infants?


Stanley Hogan is based in Australia. He shared his memories through some Facebook posts a few months back. Sindh Courier had contacted Mr. Hogan and acquired rights to publish his memories.