One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A torch-bearer. In later use also: a household servant. Also Nautical: a member of a South Asian ship's crew who looks after the lamps.
Early 17th century. From Urdu mašʿalčī torch-bearer, a servant in the household of Europeans, or its etymon Persian mašʿalčī torch-bearer from mašʿal + -čī, agent suffix (from Turkish -çi, -ci).
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