Yellow banner with pen and letters

Author: Geoff Berridge

Tilkidom and the Ottoman Empire: The Letters of Gerald Fitzmaurice to George Lloyd, 1906-15


Gerald Henry Fitzmaurice was Chief Dragoman at the British Embassy in Constantinople before the First World War and George Ambrose Lloyd was a young Honorary Attaché based in the Embassy from the autumn of 1905 until the end of 1906. In Gerald Fitzmaurice (1865-1939), which leans heavily on the private letters that Fitzmaurice wrote to Lloyd between 1906 and 1915, I describe the ups and downs of the close friendship which developed between them. I also deal more or less fully with many of the subjects raised in the letters. Why, then, publish them separately?

I decided to bring out the letters separately for three reasons. First, I had found it necessary roughly to transcribe most of them for the purposes of writing the biography. Fitzmaurice often wrote in haste and seemed to feel the need for economy in notepaper. As a result, the handwriting in the letters is often difficult and is compounded by his tendency to join up words and also squeeze numerous postscripts into the margins and letterhead. Having transcribed them just to be able to understand them, I assumed – naively as it turned out – that it would be relatively straightforward to knock them into shape for publication. Secondly, it soon became obvious to me that – probably because of the difficulty of the letters and because Fitzmaurice had no previous biographer – they had been little used at all by previous historians. Thirdly, and most importantly, I concluded that other students of the last years of the Ottoman Empire, and particularly of Britain’s relations with it, would find them to be of immense value – and spot in them many points of significance that I had missed.

Fitzmaurice was a great writer of private letters, a form of diplomatic correspondence which became popular in Britain in the nineteenth century because it avoided the risk that their publication in a Blue Book might be required. But some ‘private letters’ were more ‘private’ than others! Those that Fitzmaurice wrote to the powerful William Tyrrell can be found in Foreign Office Private Office papers at The National Archives and an even larger number written from the Yemen frontier to Sir Nicholas O’Conor in 1902-5 are held in the O’Conor papers at the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge. Smaller collections can be found in the Herbert papers in the Somerset County Archives at Taunton, the Ryan papers in the Middle East Centre Archives at St. Antony’s College Oxford, and the Sykes papers in Hull University Archives. However, these were all tame and for the most part rather thin compared to the ones he wrote to George Lloyd. Indeed, there is no doubt whatever that it is this collection of almost 60 private letters that reveals most fully the workings of Fitzmaurice’s mind and his deepest and most private thoughts – as well as the greatest wealth of varied and colourful detail. It is also this collection that provides the most significant and authentic detail; for example, on the Embassy’s role in supporting Kiamil Pasha after the Young Turks’ revolution in July 1908. These letters are also held at the Churchill Archives Centre at Cambridge (GLLD 7/1-4 and 9/1/3), and are now published here for the first time.

How have I approached my task? In the interests of brevity, I describe myself on the title page of this book as its ‘Editor’. However, a more accurate description would probably be ‘transcriber and annotater’, for – except for italicizing the dates in order to highlight them – I have transcribed the text of the letters exactly as I found them. Using digital photographs of the originals, I have gone over them with a microscope and reproduced everything they contain: nothing at all of the text has been deleted. Furthermore, I have wittingly made no alterations to the punctuation or spelling, though I have occasionally added ‘[sic]’ after a word to indicate that an eccentric or anachronistic spelling is not a typo of my own and also used inserts in square brackets to add explanations of letters or words obviously omitted by Fitzmaurice by mistake. As a linguist with a classical education, he peppered the letters not only with Latin and Turkish phrases but with French and occasionally German, Italian and Arabic ones as well. He also loved lengthy and sometimes bizarre metaphors, and was fond of quoting Kipling without attribution. I have, therefore, offered translations where necessary and added a few footnotes to illuminate certain references. (To have provided background in the footnotes to all of the subjects dealt with in the letters would probably have doubled the length of the book. Such background can be found in my biography of Fitzmaurice. As a rule, I have only footnoted in The Letters subjects not dealt with in the biography.) As to the headings I have given to each of the letters under ‘Contents’ in these preliminary pages, they are quotations from the letters concerned that seem to capture their flavour or their most important theme.

I have added a ‘Glossary of Turkish words, abbreviations, and private words and phrases used in the letters and endmatter’ and a very long ‘List of persons mentioned in the letters’. In making sense of the many Turkish words and phrases used in the letters I have been assisted chiefly by Professor Dr. A. Nuri Yurdusev of the Dept. of International Relations at METU in Ankara and formerly Vice-President of the Turkish Academy of Sciences but also by the writer, David Barchard. I am, of course, most grateful to both of them.


It is inevitable that at odd points Fitzmaurice’s handwriting should have defeated me. This forced me to leave a query here and there ‘[?]’, and also to make mistakes of transcription where knowledge of Turkish and a better grasp of the context would have enabled me to deduce his meaning. Three readers have already picked up some of these and kindly sent them on. They are Christopher Young (CY), formerly Judge of the Crown Court in Leicester and in his retirement doing a Ph.D. on Harry Lynch at the Oriental Institute in Oxford; Peter Clark (PC) , formerly of Ace Cultural Tours; the late Andrew Mango (AM); and Mrs Pamela Button (PB), a freelance Home Office interpreter for Turkish and Greek, and great-granddaughter of Joseph Bowman, who was second messenger and gaoler at the British consulate-general in Constantinople for the last four years of Fitzmaurice’s time there as chief dragoman.  For the benefit of others, I note their corrections and comments in the following list. I also encourage anyone who spots any more to inform me so that I can add them to it:

p. 23, line 9, DARGIN: I suggest “angry” rather than “resentful” (PB).
p. 35:  ‘Senniyeh ‘, not ‘Servia [?]’. This was another name for the Ottoman line of steamers on the Tigris (CY).
p. 35 and subsequently:  ‘D’arcy’, not ‘Darey’. W. K. D’arcy was an Anglo-Australian oil prospector (CY)
p. 43, para 2, line 5, BALTA LIMAN: This merits explanation. A small village on a bay on the European side of the Bosphoros. It had a stream, fields and forests, also a coastal white palace with the same name, subsequently a hospital. A popular place for outings, meals out, relaxing. A place of great beauty in Fitzmaurice’s days. Joseph’s son, Henry, built a house there, the house in which I was born and grew up!  The Baltaliman Convention was signed in this Palace in the 19th Century (PB).
p. 43:  Yusuf Effendi was Yussuf Tatorian an Armenian Catholic from Mardin (CY)
p. 43 (line 2 up): trsl. of ‘Tamam’. ‘Well, that’s all’ is better than ‘Agreed’ (PC)
p. 46: ‘Chok chok shukur, I think, is really a thankyou to Lloyd for sending him the carpet, not Thank Goodness’ (PC).
p. 47, line 3, YAVRI PONY : “young pony”. “Yavri” is from the Constantinople Greek dialect, derived from the Turkish “Yavru”, meaning “the young of an animal”. “Yavri” is still commonly used colloquially by modern-day Istanbul Greeks as a term of endearment, including by my own parents. It is often used by a parent to a young child. It is an affectionate term for a “little one”. It can also be used between close adult friends, married or otherwise, typically by the older to the younger, where there is a significant age difference, as between Fitzmaurice and Lloyd. Fitzmaurice would have heard the word being regularly used within the (very much larger!) Greek-speaking Community in his day. There is no obviously equivalent word in English. … [It is] incidentally the only one of Ottoman Greek origin I have spotted so far used by Fitzmaurice (PB).
p. 47, para 1, line 16, KOUSH : “bird” (PB).
p. 48, par 1, line 1, also p. 65, line 7, also p.93, para 2, line 9 : GHIAOUR.
This is a slightly contemptuous Farsee word, and means “non-muslim”. If used metaphorically, can mean “merciless” or “cruel” (PB)
p. 51, para 3, line 3 : BAKSHEESH. Our generation generally fully aware means “TIP” or “BRIBE”, but younger students might not know the word (PB).
p. 51, para 4, line 7 : NASREDIN stories. Refers to Nasreddin Hoja, writer ot wit, wisdom and fables, who lived in Turkey in the 13th Century. I would suggest equivalent to Aesop in Western literature (PB).
p. 54, para 2, line 10: CONSOLOS BEY.  “Mr Consul” (PB)
p. 55: (line 9 down) ‘Mersina (Mersin)’, not ‘Messina’ (AM)
p. 57: ‘Hamdi Bey – Osman Hamdi – might have merited a footnote and a biographical note. He was a remarkable man – a painter and archaeologist, and founder of the Archaeological Museum. Some of his paintings are quite iconic in an “orientalist” tradition – he studied art in Paris. They can be seen in the Pera Museum, between the Pera Palas and the Grande Hotel de Londres. And I suspect Behek should be Bebek …’ (PC).
p. 72, line 13, SCALA : the second Greek word I have found. “Pier” is OK, but a bit more specific, namely “boat station”. These boat stations were the lifeline for the Bosphoros villages in the days before roads were built. Some were grand structures, others more basic, little more than piers. Turkish word is “iskele” (PB).
p. 73, line 11 : INGLIZ SERAI : “English Palace” (Embassy) (PB).
p. 81:  ‘Balin’ was the German-Jewish chairmam of the Hamburg Amerika Line (CY)
p. 82, para 2 : INFLUENZIJ : “without influence” – a multi-lingual hybrid word (PB).
p. 86, para 3, line 5 : YAVRI : “little one” or “baby” (PB).
p. 87: (line 13 up) ‘Khanakin’, not ‘Kharakin’ (AM)
p. 93:  The ‘Jewish deputy’ for Bagdad referred to here was, writes Christopher Young, “Haskiel Sassoon, usually known as Sassoon Effendi. He was a Young Turk of considerable influence, with connections to the British Sassoons. If there was one individual who was principally responsible for the failure of Lynch to obtain his monopoly on the river, it was he (see pp. 129-130). I find it strange that Fitzm doesn’t mention this, especially when one  recalls his anti-semitic views. After the Great War, Sassoon became financial advisor to King Feisal of Iraq, and was rewarded for his services with an honorary KBE from the British Government. More than anything poor old Fitzm ever got.”
p. 95, line 5: INTRIJA : “intrigue” – a multi-lingual hybrid word (PB).
p. 103, line 1, BAZARLIK : ” bargaining” (PB)
p. 132: ‘”Fueris” is future perfect, so the translation should read, “of which you will have played a great part”‘(PC).
p. 133, para 3, reference to “English School “. This is the English High School for Boys in Nisantas, Istanbul. Building Plans drawn up in 1910. Built in 1912. Closed in 1914 due to War and used as barracks. Re-opened 1920. Integrated into Turkish Educational Sysem in 1951 as “Ingiliz Lisesi”. Went co-educational in 1969. Now known as “Anadolu Lisesi”. This information from my personal School Yearbook for 1971 to 1972, Editor’s Letter. HM Queen Elizabeth 11 visited the School in 1971 whilst I was a pupil! (PB)
p. 134: ‘Elchi Bey’s brother was James Lowther, the Speaker of the House of Commons’ (PC).
p. 146: (line 16 down), ‘istim’, not ‘islim’ (AM)
p. 146, end of para 2, BIMBASHI. Turkish Military Officer (Captain) in charge of 1000 Men (PB)
p. 150, para 2, line 2 :  ROUM : “Byzantium”,  “Eastern Rome” or “Constantinople” (PB).

Additions to ‘GLOSSARY …[etc.]’
B.I.  British Indian Steam Navigation Company (CY)
H.A.  Hamburg Amerika Line (CY)

Socio-Linguistic Observations,
by Mrs Pamela Button (nee Bowman)

Fitzmaurice follows the Levantine trend of using metaphors, words and sentences etc of the “lingua franca”. He does so for dramatic effect, also to maintain element of secrecy. He also “borrows” from other languages, such as Italian, Arabic, Farsee. Not surprising, given he would have heard all those languages being spoken as part of the daily course.

100 years on, modern Turkish-speakers can still understand his fragments of Turkish, that despite Ataturk’s reforms  of the Turkish Language in 1928, when the Arabic alphabet was replaced, and in 1932, when Arabic and Farsee words were removed and replaced with Turkic words.

Using the English alphabet, he manages to get his Turkish words as close as phonetically possible to the originals, in some cases identical to the modern spelling. He was using the vernacular language and idioms, as he heard spoken around him every day. Such language is the very basis of modern Turkish, as spoken today.

First published by The Isis Press (Istanbul, 2008) and subsequently in Turkish translation by Kirmizi Kedi in Gerald H. Fitzmaurice: İngiliz Gizli Belgelerinde ‘Yahudi Dönmesi İttihatçılar’.

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Review by Geoff Berridge


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Unlike Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, the most well-known whistleblowers of the present day, Eustace Clare Grenville-Murray (1823-1881), the illegitimate son of an English duke and an actress who was also a lover of Lord Palmerston, did not make public highly classified documents. Instead, while serving as a diplomat behind the fragile shield of anonymity, he employed satire and ridicule in books, periodicals, and newspapers to attack the aspects of diplomacy he disliked.


Curing the Sick Man: Sir Henry Bulwer and the Ottoman Empire, 1858-1865

This is the first book of a very promising young historian. Laurence Guymer, who is head of the Department of History at Winchester College and a research associate in the School of History at the University of East Anglia, has produced a biography of Sir Henry Bulwer that successfully challenges the conventional account of this colourful mid-Victorian figure. It also raises the question of how ‘diplomatic success’ is judged.


Diplomacy in Ancient Greece


England and the Avignon Popes: The practice of diplomacy in late medieval Europe

In England and the Avignon Popes, Karsten Plöger, who is a Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute in London, has provided an invaluable book not only for students of medieval diplomatic method but for students of diplomacy in general. It is a work of immense and meticulous scholarship: exhaustively researched, well organized, carefully worded, penetrating, and beautifully written.


Diplomacy and Power: Studies in Modern Diplomatic Practice


Back Channel to Cuba: The hidden history of negotiations between Washington and Havana

This book went to press after the much-publicised handshake between US president Barack Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in December 2013 – but before their historic, simultaneous announcements a year later, assisted by a prisoner exchange and the good offices of the Vatican, that they were resolved to end their 50 years of estrangement and normalise relations.


Strategic Public Diplomacy: The Evolution of Influence


Twentieth Century Diplomacy: A case study of British practice, 1963-1976

Book review by Geoff Berridge What is so original about the book is that the author has asked himself: What are the major forms of diplomatic contact? And followed this with the question: How and to what effect were they each employed by one state over a period sufficiently short to make detailed research possible […]


The Diplomats, 1919-1939


Machiavelli’s Legations


In Confidence: Moscow’s Ambassador to Six Cold War Presidents


Lord Elgin and the Marbles


English Medieval Diplomacy


The Practice of Diplomacy: Its evolution, theory and administration

First published in 1995, the long-awaited second edition of this valuable textbook on the history of diplomacy has at last appeared. The first chapter has been expanded to include non-European traditions, and a wholly new chapter has been added to take account of developments over the last 15 years. It is for the main part a work of relaxed authority, clearly written, and – unusually for an introductory work – full of intriguing detail which it would be difficult if not impossible to find in other secondary sources.


International Diplomacy Volume III: The Pluralisation of Diplomacy


Under the Wire: How the telegraph changed diplomacy

Nickles, who is a State Department historian, has written what I believe is the first full-length study of this important and intriguing subject. Excluding an introduction and short conclusion, it has seven chapters presented in three parts ('Control', 'Speed', and 'The Medium'), each having a chapter devoted to a case study: the Anglo-American crisis of 1812, the further Anglo-American crisis of 1861 ('the Trent affair'), and the Zimmerman telegram of January 1917 - which of course also involved the United States.

U.S. Propaganda in the Middle East – The Early Cold War Version


The origins, use and development of hot line diplomacy


The Queen’s Ambassador to the Sultan: Memoirs of Sir Henry A. Layard’s Constantinople Embassy, 1877-1880

Once more students of Ottoman diplomatic history are in debt to the scholar-publisher, Sinan Kuneralp, for Sir Henry Layard was one of the most remarkable and controversial of British ambassadors to Turkey in the nineteenth century and served there during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8 – and yet the volumes of his memoirs dealing with this period have hitherto languished unpublished in the British Library, in part perhaps because of their size. (Layard admits himself to having been ‘somewhat minute, perhaps a great deal too much so’, p. 692.)They are here published almost in their entir...


The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present and Future of the United Nations


Just a Diplomat

Close students of the new, Conservative Party Mayor of London, the at once engaging and alarming Boris Johnson, will know that he has Turkish cousins. One of these is Sinan Kuneralp, a son of the late Zeki Kuneralp, probably the most distinguished and well liked Turkish diplomat of his generation. Sinan Kuneralp is a scholar-publisher and runs The Isis Press in Istanbul, a house at the forefront of publishing scholarly works and original documents on the Ottoman Empire, chiefly in English and French. The three works noticed here are all its products and reflect the publisher’s own special in...


The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and third president of the United States (1801-9), was one of the warmest and most influential American supporters of the French revolution. He had also been a diplomat. In fact, he had joined the American mission in France in 1784, and replaced Benjamin Franklin as minister in the following year. He witnessed the outbreak of the revolution in 1789 and was then appointed secretary of state by George Washington. This scintillating book by Conor Cruise O'Brien, himself a former diplomat, analyses the blossoming and slow - very sl...


Misunderstood: The IT manager’s lament

Communication between information technologists and their clients – including diplomats - does not work as well as it should. We know that information technology has become ubiquitous. We also know that diplomats rely extensively on web services, electronic mail and documents in electronic form. Yet when communication does not work well, technologists poorly understand the needs of the diplomatic community. As a result, technical solutions may not address the real needs of end-users. This paper is a study on inter-professional miscommunication.


Diplomacy with a Difference: The Commonwealth Office of High Commissioner, 1880-2006

Book review by Geoff Berridge


A History of the United Nations. Volume I: The Years of Western Domination 1945-1955


The Office of Ambassador in the Middle Ages


Summits: Six Meetings that Shaped the Twentieth Century


FDR’s Ambassadors and the Diplomacy of Crisis: From the rise of Hitler to the end of World War II

What effect did personality and circumstance have on US foreign policy during World War II? This incisive account of US envoys residing in the major belligerent countries – Japan, Germany, Italy, China, France, Great Britain, USSR – highlights the fascinating role played by such diplomats as Joseph Grew, William Dodd, William Bullitt, Joseph Kennedy and W. Averell Harriman. Between Hitler's 1933 ascent to power and the 1945 bombing of Nagasaki, US ambassadors sculpted formal policy – occasionally deliberately, other times inadvertently – giving shape and meaning not always intended by ...


International Diplomacy Volume IV: Public Diplomacy


The Secret History of Dayton: U.S. Diplomacy and the Bosnia Peace Process 1995


Documenting diplomacy, Evaluating documents: The case of the CSCE

Part of Language and Diplomacy (2001): Rather than individual documents, Dr Keith Hamilton looks at the process and purpose of compiling collections of documents. He focuses on his own experience as the editor of Documents on British Policy Overseas, and particularly on his work publishing a collection of documents concerning the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe from 1972 until 1975.


Diplomacy at the Highest Level: The Evolution of International Summitry


The Rise of Modern Diplomacy, 1450-1919


The Forgotten French


The Argentine seizure of the Malvinas [Falkland] Islands: History and Diplomacy


A Diplomat in Japan

The first portion of this book was written at intervals between 1885 and 1887, during my tenure of the post of Her Majesty's minister at Bangkok. I had but recently left Japan after a residence extending, with two seasons of home leave, from September 1862 to the last days of December 1882, and my recollection of what had occurred during any part of those twenty years was still quite fresh. A diary kept almost uninterruptedly from the day I quitted home in November 1861 constituted the foundation, while my memory enabled me to supply additional details. It had never been my purpose to...


Diplomacy and Secret Service

Intelligence officers working under diplomatic protection are rarely out of the news for long, and the last two years have been no exception. How did the relationship between diplomacy and secret intelligence come about? What was the impact on it of the bureaucratization of secret intelligence that began in the late nineteenth century? Is diplomatic immunity the only reason why intelligence officers still cluster in embassies and consulates today? What do their diplomatic landlords think about their secret tenants and how do the spooks repay the ambassadors for their lodgings? These are among ...


Foreign ministries and the management of the past

In his paper, Keith Hamilton looks at Foreign Ministries’ treatment of historical diplomacy, and specifically, the publication of diplomatic documents. Through his historical analyses, the author examines the various aims of these documents, such as, to shed light on past developments and help in current and future negotiations; to influence parliamentarians and a wider public; and to further international relations’ studies.