This chapter describes Marcus Simaika's early years. Marcus was born in the reign of Ismaʻil Pasha on February 28, 1864, to one of the oldest Coptic families in Cairo. The Simaikas were wealthy notables from Old Cairo whose ancestry can be traced to the middle of the seventeenth century through records and manuscripts in the Muʻallaqa Church and the Coptic Museum. They were mostly magistrates who prospered in the service of the state and the Church. Marcus was born in the house of his maternal grandfather, Hajj Boutros al-Birmawy, a Coptic notable who had accompanied Ibrahim Pasha on his Syrian campaign in the aftermath of Muhammad Ali Pasha, viceroy of Egypt's ill-fated Greek campaign. The house consisted of three stories surrounded by a big courtyard. Upon his grandfather's death, Marcus recounted how the house fell into deep mourning according to Coptic tradition.
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