The first traceable male line ancestor of the Hedayat family of whom we know by now, is Mohammed Esmail Beg, who was killed in spring 1779 at Chahardeh Kalateh during the fights between the Zands and the Ghajars for the national supremacy over Iran.

It is his grandson, Mirza Reza Gholi Khan Hedayat, who serves us here as main source, as he gave a short account of the places' history, relating the tragical events of spring 1779 at the occasion of his passing by at that place, on his way back from his diplomatic mission to the Khanate of Khiva, in October 1851, (1) :

"This district, which is depending on Damghan and part of Hezar Jarib has played great prosperity during many years. The inhabitants have shown themselves devoted to the glorious dynasty of the Ghajars, since the time when Mohammed Hassan Khan Kishver Setan came into power, the son of Fath Ali Khan Ghajar-Ghovanlou. (i.e. in 1747, note of A. H. P.) (...)

My grandfather Mohammed Esmail Beyg, known by the name Esmail Kamal, was the chef of the notables from this district. He refused his submission to Zaki Khan Zand, cousin of Karim Khan Vakil. Forty-one notables and outstanding personnages of Chahardeh Kelateh sheltered in the residence of the governor which was solidely fortified, and they repulsed the attacks and assaults that were delivered to them.

Zaki Khan had brought a message to them: "Come down to me," he had them told, "I have sworn on the glorious Qoran not to kill one of you." The besieged condescended to place confidence in the perfidy of this oath, and they descended from the castle full of security. Zaki
Khan, in order to hold his hypocrite vow, gave one of these notables the liberty and had put to death the other forty men. Besides this, he ordered to erect a tower with their heads to perpetuate the souvenir of his action. Esmail Kamal, my paternal ancestor, said to him: "If you want to kill me and if you want to erect a tower with our heads, please have placed mine on the top, as I am the first and the chief of all these chieftains." Zaki Khan granted him this request.


I saw Kelateh after a great number of years (i.e. 72 years later, in October 1851, note of A. H. P.). I received visits from numerous relatives, men and women, but I knew none of them."

The leadership of Mohammed Esmail Beg might be doubtable as the historian Mirza Mohammed Abolhassan Ghaffari Kashani, who seems to have in addition better references than Reza Gholi Khan, mentions another leader of above event (a certain Haji Zaki Khan instead of Esmail Beg) (2).

If we are cautious with Reza Gholi Khan's designation of his own grandfather as 
ra'is-ol ravasiyan ("chief of chiefs") of Chahardeh Kalateh, what was then the social position and family background of our first ancestor ?

It is a striking circumstance, that all male family members from the late 18th century down to the first quarter of the 20th century appear in the sources in- and outside the family with the title "Khan" (respectively "Beg" for Esmail). There are other important Divani families of undoubtedly same rank and high reputation during the Ghajar era, such as the Ashtiani-Clan (with its sub-branches Mossadegh, Daftari, Meykadeh, Ghavam, Vossugh, etc.) as well as the Mostofi family and many others, whose members have never or only in very few cases used the title "Khan" for themselves, while other families such as the Amini, Nouri, Ghavami, Vaziri and other wellknown Divani families have used the title regularily. As an assumption, which verification would require more material and comparative genealogical study, the difference in use might hint to a different social, local and or cultural-ethnic origin; and in case of the Hedayats might indicate an ultimately feudal landowning offspring, perhaps being an early tribal offsplit that might have become sedentary in the 18th century - or even before.

Subject to all incertainty, from what we know by now, we may conclude that Esmail Beg belonged to the local settled people, probably a local landlord, one among the other above mentioned chieftains of the district.

His son, Reza Gholi Khan's father, styled "Agha Mohammed Hadi" or "Mohammed Hadi Khan", was part of the retinue of Ghajar tribal leaders in Mazandaran, and hereafter in charge of the internal management of the court and keeper of the personal chests of Agha Mohammed Khan Ghajar. After serving Fath Ali Shah for a short while in the same capacity, he had been appointed Treasurer of the province of Fars under the Governor Prince Hossein Ali Mirza, in which office he died at Shiraz in 1218 A.H. (=1803/04 A.D.) (3)

The spouse of Mohammed Hadi Khan, mother of Reza Gholi Khan, came from an aristocratic family from Sari and Barforush, Mazandaran. Her grandfather, Haj Mohammed Khan, had come with Nader Shah in the 1730's from Herat in Khorasan (which eastern part belongs today to Afghanistan), and was made Daryabegi (Admiral) of the Caspian Coast and shortly afterwards Daryabegi of the Persian Gulf (4)

(1) - Reza Gholi Khan Hedayat / Charles Schefer (Transl.), Relation de l'ambassade au Kharezm,
              Paris 1879, pp. 203-204

(2) - John R. Perry, Karim Khan Zand; A History of Iran, 1747-1779,
               Chicago and London 1979, p. 145

(3) - Mehdi Gholi Khan Hedayat (Mokhber-ol Saltaneh), Khatarat wa Khaterat,
              Tehran 1965, introduction

(4) - Reza Gholi Khan Hedayat, Tazkerah-ye Riyaz-ol Arefin,
              Tehran 1965, p. 443