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Marcus SimaikaFather of Coptic Archaeology$

Samir Simaika and Nevine Henein

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9789774168239

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774168239.001.0001

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Simaika and the British Administrators

Simaika and the British Administrators

(p.51) 6 Simaika and the British Administrators
Marcus Simaika

Samir Simaika

Nevine Henein

American University in Cairo Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses Marcus Simaika's relationship with several British administrators, from Lord Cromer to Lord Lloyd. The head of the British administration in Egypt was the British agent and consul general until 1914, when his title became High Commissioner for Egypt and Sudan. After the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, he became the British ambassador to Egypt and high commissioner for Sudan. Those administrators ran the country, first from the Turf Club, then from the British Residency in Qasr al-Dubara in Garden City. Among them were Sir Evelyn Baring (later the Earl of Cromer), Sir Eldon Gorst, Herbert Horatio Kitchener, Sir Arthur Henry McMahon, Sir Reginald Wingate, Lord Edmund Allenby, and George Lloyd. In his memoirs, Simaika recounted his impressions of the administrators he dealt with.

Keywords:   Marcus Simaika, British administrators, Egypt, Evelyn Baring, Eldon Gorst, Herbert Horatio Kitchener, Arthur Henry McMahon, Reginald Wingate, Edmund Allenby, George Lloyd

Throughout his career, Simaika had to deal with several British administrators, most of whom he came to know well.

The head of the British administration in Egypt was the British agent and consul general until 1914, when his title became High Commissioner for Egypt and Sudan. After the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, he became the British ambassador to Egypt and high commissioner for Sudan.

Those administrators ran the country, first from the Turf Club, then from the British Residency in Qasr al-Dubara in Garden City. Some of them were powerful, such as Lord Cromer, Lord Kitchener, Lord Allenby, and Lord Killearn. Others were weak, such as Sir Eldon Gorst and Sir Percy Lorraine. Sir Reginald Wingate’s term ended in failure because the 1919 Egyptian revolution broke out on his watch.

In his memoirs, Simaika recounted his impressions of the administrators he dealt with.

Lord Cromer (1883–1907)

Sir Evelyn Baring, later the Earl of Cromer (1841–1917), was a member of the famous Baring family of bankers, originally of German origin, whose ancestors immigrated to Britain in 1717. He attended the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, as did his successors, Lord Kitchener and Sir Reginald Wingate.

He initially came to Egypt in 1877 as the first British commissioner on the Caisse de la dette publique. He served until 1880, when he was (p.52) transferred to India, becoming the financial member of the viceroy of India’s council, the viceroy at that time being Lord Ripon. He had previously served in India as private secretary to his cousin, Lord Northbrook, who was viceroy at the time. He returned to Cairo as the British agent and consul general in 1883, succeeding Sir Edward Baldwin Malet (1879–83). It was Malet who played a crucial role in the decision of the Gladstone cabinet to invade Egypt, when he sent a telegram to the cabinet grossly exaggerating the instability of Khedive Tewfik’s rule in Egypt and advising the British government to militarily intimidate Urabi. Baring was made the Earl of Cromer in 1892.

Simaika developed a cordial working relationship with Cromer and gave him credit for successful restructuring of the whole Egyptian administration.

Of all the British representatives in Egypt, Lord Cromer was incontestably the greatest. He reorganized the whole Egyptian administration and was most fortunate in the choice of men he called to his assistance in this great work of reform; chiefly Sir Edgar Vinvent in the Finance, Sir Colin Scott-Moncrieff in the Public Works and Sir John Scott in the Ministry of Justice.36

Simaika was, however, critical of Cromer’s stance on education. While he gave Cromer credit for propagating education in general and encouraging school construction, he was deeply critical of Cromer’s purposeful neglect of higher education that would have enabled Egyptians to replace the various British ‘advisers’ who were in effect running the country.

In Simaika’s opinion, Cromer was instrumental in sowing discord between Muslims and Copts. Cromer’s annual report contained comparisons between Muslims and Copts in matters of education, distribution of wealth, and the number of officials in government service, especially in the Railways Administration and the provincial departments, where nearly all chief clerks (bashkatibs) were Copts. Simaika gave Cromer the benefit of the doubt as to his motive but believed that the damage he did was incontrovertible.

No doubt his intention was to rouse the Moslems to the necessity of giving their children a better education. This resulted unfortunately in the Moslems believing that the Copts trespassed on their rights.37

As Cromer grew older, he delegated authority to aides who were mediocre, and deterioration was soon evident in the administration, but it was (p.53) the Denshwai incident38 that ultimately earned Cromer the enmity of the Egyptian people.

It was the great blunder of the cruel treatment of the fellaheen at Denshwai, where some English officers who had accidentally shot some peasants while shooting pigeons in their fields, that afforded his rivals an opportunity to attack his policy in the Press and in Parliament that brought about his downfall.39

Comer’s farewell ceremony at the Opera House was boycotted by the khedivial family, with only Prince (later Sultan) Hussein Kamel and Prince Said Halim40 attending. Most Egyptian politicians and notables also boycotted the ceremony. Saad Pasha Zaghlul was one of the few politicians who attended the ceremony, and he was mentioned by Cromer in his patronizing and bitter farewell speech:

Unless I am much mistaken, a career of great public usefulness lies before the present Minister of Education, Saad Pasha Zaghloul. He possesses all the qualities necessary to serve his country. He is honest, he is capable, he has the courage of his convictions, and he has been abused by many of the less worthy of his own countrymen. These are high qualifications. He should go far.41

Two days later, Cromer left Egypt, driving to the station through silent streets lined with hostile crowds.

Sir Eldon Gorst (1907–11)

Born in New Zealand, Sir Eldon Gorst (1861–1911) was the son of Sir John Eldon Gorst, who had joined Lord Randolph Churchill (father of Sir Winston Churchill), Sir Henry Drummond-Wolff, and Arthur Balfour in the Fourth Party as advocates of Tory democracy. He first arrived in Egypt to join Lord Cromer’s staff as third secretary, and made for himself a brilliant career in the Egyptian civil service, rising to become the financial adviser to the Egyptian government. In this position, he was the de facto prime minister of the Cromer era, and he went on to succeed Cromer in 1907. As British agent and consul general, he was far less autocratic and far more diplomatic than Cromer, and was the only British high official to win the confidence of Khedive Abbas Hilmi II. He brought more Egyptians into responsible government positions, having been instructed by the liberal government in London to give the Egyptian government more say and more power.


Simaika and the British Administrators

The British Administrators

Gorst tried very hard to prevent the appointment in 1908 of Boutros Pasha Ghali to the post of prime minister on Mustafa Pasha Fahmi’s retirement. He pointed out to Khedive Abbas Hilmi II that appointing a Christian to this important position would be deeply unpopular in predominantly Muslim Egypt, as was the case when Nubar Pasha was prime minister. The khedive remained adamant, arguing that Nubar was born in Smyrna of Armenian origin, while Boutros Pasha was purely Egyptian.

Simaika blames Gorst for stoking the fires of animosity that led to the Coptic and Muslim Congresses and the subsequent ill-feeling, when he could have avoided the Coptic Congress by promising to redress the injustice that led to it.

The problem started in Cromer’s time. Mahmud Pasha Soliman, vice president of the Legislative Council, was on friendly terms with Lord Cromer, and it was on his advice that he sent his son Muhammad Mahmud, a future prime minister, to Oxford, where in due course he graduated with honors. On Muhammad Mahmud’s return home, Lord Cromer took him under his wing and appointed him secretary to the adviser of the Ministry of the Interior. In this post, he had the opportunity to learn much about the administration of the provinces, and was soon promoted governor of the Fayoum.

During the same period, Louis Fanous, later Senator Louis Fanous, son of Akhnoukh Fanous, the well-known lawyer from Asyut in Upper Egypt, and son-in-law of Wissa Buqtur, the Asyut millionaire, obtained the same degree at Oxford. Akhnoukh Fanous tried very hard to obtain for his son a post similar to that given to Muhammad Mahmud, and when he did not succeed, started a campaign of agitation against Lord Cromer, accusing him of favoring Muslims and depriving the Copts of what he considered their legitimate rights.

(p.55) He succeeded in enlisting the sympathy and support of the rich Copts of Asyut, and made strenuous efforts to drag the whole Coptic community into the fray. He conceived the idea of holding a Coptic congress at Asyut, which met on March 6, 1911. This was unfortunately attended by a very large number of Copts from all over Egypt. These delegates were very hospitably entertained at Asyut, the speeches were moderate, and the aim was to insist on admitting Copts to the higher administrative posts. There had been instances going back to the time of the Mamluks in which Copts of ability and high standing were appointed sub-governors, and in a few cases, governors of provinces. This policy continued during the reign of Muhammad Ali Pasha. Such examples include Rizq Agha Ghubrial, governor of the province of East Delta, as well as the grandfather of Abd al-Shahid Bey Boutros, who was governor of the province of Balyana. Both wielded a great deal of power. However, in general, high administrative posts were given to Muslims and high clerical posts to Copts, who were the bashkatibs or chief clerks of almost all the provinces, as well as most other public administrations in Egypt. According to Simaika, this status quo was readily accepted by the Copts.

All were quite contented till Akhnoukh Fanous began his agitation against the English accusing them of favoritism and injustice. Sir Eldon Gorst could have easily remedied this situation by promising to study the matter with a view of fair treatment to all as I personally suggested to him and as is known to Sir Ronald Storrs who was then Oriental Secretary to the British Agency.42

Gorst, however, raised tensions considerably by advising the Muslims to hold a counter-congress at the Heliopolis Palace Hotel in Cairo, under the presidency of Riad Pasha. This congress met on April 29, 1911, and was also attended by delegates from all parts of Egypt. At this congress, the speeches were virulent and resulted in sowing the first seeds of serious rancor, from which the Copts never fully recovered. Sir Eldon could have nipped this animosity in the bud; however, he elected to continue the British colonial policy in Egypt of divide and rule, which was first started by his predecessor, Lord Cromer.

This unwise policy did not prove of any advantage to him and he gained neither the affection of the Moslems not the esteem of the Copts.43

(p.56) On the whole, Gorst was an unprepossessing and egotistical man who lost the confidence of all: Muslims, Copts, and the British government. He was judged to have been a weak administrator compared to Lord Cromer and to his successor, Lord Kitchener, and was particularly disliked by the older colonial administrators in Egypt. According to Simaika, he realized the folly of his policies toward Copts near the end of his tenure in Egypt:

After the affair of the Suez Canal, he showed a disposition to consider more wisely some of the real grievances from which the Copts suffered, but he fell ill, went home and never returned to Egypt.44

Field Marshal Lord Kitchener (1911–14)

Herbert Horatio Kitchener (1850–1916) was born in Ireland and received a military education at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. He was commissioned in 1871 and was transferred to the Egyptian Army in 1882. He was promoted to commander in chief (sirdar45) of the Egyptian Army in 1892, and defeated the khalifa (caliph) at Omdurman in 1898 at the head of the Anglo-Egyptian Army, reoccupying Khartoum. Kitchener also forced a French expedition to withdraw from Fashoda in 1899, leading to the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale of 1904.

During the South African War, Kitchener was appointed as Lord Robert’s chief of staff in 1899, becoming commander in chief of the British forces in South Africa in 1900, and bringing the Boer War to an end in 1902. He subsequently became commander in chief of the British Army in India until 1909. Upon the outbreak of the First World War I in 1914, he was quickly appointed British secretary of state for war, a cabinet post. He drowned on his way to Russia, when his ship, the MS Hampshire, was sunk by a German mine on June 5, 1916, west of the Orkney Islands of Scotland.

In 1911, Lord Kitchener was named British agent and consul general in succession to Sir Eldon Gorst, who had retired due to ill health. One of his first acts was to order the dissolution of the Coptic and Muslim Congresses and to persuade the leaders of both factions to stop further agitation and devote the large sums of money collected by both sides for their propaganda to charitable institutions. The members of both congresses accepted Lord Kitchener’s request, but Simaika recounted that ill-feeling remained high.

He spoke to me several times on the subject promising solemnly that in future the rights of the minority would be respected by the government. Thereupon, I hastened to communicate his wishes to the members of the committee of the Coptic Congress and they (p.57) readily acceded to Lord Kitchener’s request. Although many years have since elapsed the ill-feeling resulting from this unfortunate movement remains till the present day.46

In Simaika’s view, Lord Kitchener was greatly respected in Egypt, particularly after the conquest of Sudan, and in turn, he loved the country, stating that he vastly preferred to be the British agent in Egypt than the viceroy of India. He had a profound sympathy with the fellaheen (peasants) and established the Post Office Savings Bank to aid them. He also proposed a law whereby individual agricultural property of less than five feddans (acres) could not be seized by creditors and sold in repayment of debts owed, but this law was opposed by the wealthy landowners. This law was suggested to him by Lieutenant General Ibrahim Pasha Fathy, one of his principal aides in the Egyptian War Office when Kitchener was sirdar of the Egyptian Army.

Although this law was much discussed, it proved in the end to be an unworkable dream. All the same it brought him momentarily an increase in that popularity he sought for so keenly.47

One of his most notable achievements was instituting the summary courts of justice, which were composed of notables and presided over by a judge of the Native Courts. Their task was to give swift judgment in minor cases, avoiding the usually complicated, lengthy, and costly proceedings of French law as applied in Egypt.

Kitchener cherished an affection and admiration for Muslims and their faith without, however, finding it necessary to make superficial and unfair comparisons to the disadvantage of his own faith. He also devoted considerable effort to embellishing the city of Cairo, particularly the Cairo Railway Station. He had intended to erect in the center of its square the colossal granite statue of Ramesses II that was lying at Mit Rahina (Memphis) near Badrashin. A rich American had offered LE10,000 toward expenses for the statue’s relocation; however, this project was abandoned when Kitchener became secretary of state for war in 1914. Simaika did not live to see the statue moved to the Cairo Railway Station Square—subsequently named Ramesses Square—after the 1952 revolution.

In the place fixed for that magnificent figure of the most remarkable man in the long history of Egypt, there stands an ugly despicable piece of work, which demonstrates that lack of taste in modern art.48

(p.58) Simaika clearly had dim views of modern art in general—“the ugly despicable piece of work” he refers to here is Nahdat Masr by the celebrated modern artist Mahmud Mukhtar—and digressed briefly from discussing Kitchener to rant about the poor quality of contemporaneous public sculpture (including several more by Mukhtar) in comparison to more classical pieces.

Although painful to my patriotic feeling, I cannot help comparing the ugly inartistic statues erected in honour of Saad Zaghloul and Mostafa Kamel49 with the magnificent ones erected under Khedive Ismail, such as the one in memory of the great Ibrahim Pasha which now adorns the Opera Square in Cairo, the statues of Mohamed Aly the Great at Alexandria, and in later times the statue of Nubar Pasha in Alexandria50 made by the celebrated French sculptor.51

In 1899, Kitchener was presented with a small island in the Nile at Aswan in gratitude for his services in the Sudan campaign (1896–98). This island was renamed Kitchener’s Island in his honor. Kitchener transformed its entire area of 750 square meters into a paradise of exotic trees and plants, and the island is now the site of the Aswan Botanical Gardens.

A hospital to honor Kitchener, the Kitchener Memorial Hospital, was built in Cairo in 1922, a committee having been set up under the chairmanship of Lieutenant General Ibrahim Pasha Fathy. The hospital treated poor women and children free of charge and also included a medical school for women as well as nursing and midwifery schools. Simaika was on the hospital’s board of directors from 1922, when the hospital was built, until his death in 1944.

Simaika recounts that unfortunately Kitchener also had failings that ultimately brought about his downfall.

For instance he led a life of grandeur, and, to heighten the effects of his position, his secretaries created so many difficulties in the way of easy access to him in order to impress people of the greatness of the man he was supposed to be.52

Kitchener also had a reputation for accepting gifts and “fell down like a wall of sand if somebody promised him a rare plate of Rhodes or any antiquity.”53 His defenders claimed that he gave nothing in return, but this still lost him the esteem of many. Simaika agreed.

(p.59) But this is not in his favour as some of his defenders think, for a man who accepts presents in his public capacity accepts them on a self understood basis of return. If he does not, it is simply because he cheats twice.54

Sir Henry McMahon (1914–17)

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Arthur Henry McMahon (1862–1949) was a British diplomat and an Indian army officer of Irish origin. His time as high commissioner for Egypt is best remembered for the McMahon–Hussein correspondence. This was a protracted exchange of letters (July 14, 1915 to January 30, 1916) between the Sharif of Mecca (Hussein ibn Ali) and the high commissioner, which was crucial to the success of the Arab revolt against the Ottomans in the First World War. He featured extensively in T.E. Lawrence’s book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Simaika met Sir Henry McMahon when he replaced Kitchener and asked him to plead the case of the necessity of appointing a Copt to the High Court of Appeal. He had already complained to Abd al-Khaliq Pasha Sarwat, the minister of justice, that no Copt had been appointed to succeed Mina Bey Ibrahim. Simaika argued that at one time there had been three Coptic judges on the High Court of Appeal, Hanna Pasha Nasrallah, Basili Pasha Tadrus and Ibrahim Bey al-Toukhi. Hanna Pasha and Ibrahim Bey had died, and Basili Pasha had been pensioned off on attaining the age limit. Sarwat Pasha said the matter was in the hands of the high commissioner.

Simaika then went to the Residency and asked Sir Ronald Storrs for an appointment to discuss this matter with Sir Henry McMahon. Storrs replied, “It is no use. You come too late. This question has been finally settled between the Sultan and Sir Henry.”55

Simaika insisted on meeting Sir Henry, who, when informed of Simaika’s desire, gave him an appointment for the following day. At the meeting, Simaika explained at length the tensions that remained between Muslims and Copts as a result of their respective congresses and that great ill-feeling prevailed. He told McMahon that the policy followed so far was that the various communities in the country were, as a rule, represented in the tribunals. He also pointed out that lately, on reaching the age limit, the Syrian judge of the High Court of Appeal had been allowed to remain two more years in the service, at the request of the Syrian community. On the same occasion, a Muslim member of the court had been pensioned off on attaining the age limit and had then been readmitted into the service. Simaika argued that while the Syrian community was undoubtedly an important one and the government had acted wisely in granting what they considered a legitimate demand, the Coptic community was (p.60) far more important and therefore ought to be represented by a member on the High Court of Appeal. Sir Henry answered, “But I am told there is no Copt at the present time possessing the necessary qualifications to be promoted to this important judiciary position.” Simaika replied, “Sir, this is adding insult to injury. For in the present High Court of Appeal, there are several members who do not possess judicial degrees; further, there are many Copts who possess the highest qualifications which even the present minister of justice does not possess.” After hearing Simaika’s explanations, Sir Henry advised him to see Sir Malcolm Macilwraith, the judicial adviser, and speak to him on this subject.56

Simaika next called on Sir Malcolm and told him of the conversation that had occurred between him and Sir Henry. Next, Simaika called on the prime minister, Rushdi Pasha, to plead his case.

I do not think, Pasha, that you will allow such a gross injustice to be done to the Copts during your Premiership—you who know them well and who are celebrated for your broad-mindedness and your love of justice.57

Within a few days of this meeting, Youssef Bey Soliman, a judge in the Mixed Courts, was appointed to the High Court of Appeal. As there was no vacancy at the time, he was temporarily given the post of an Englishman who was away on a prolonged leave of absence.

Sir Reginald Wingate (1917–19)

Sir Reginald Wingate58 (1861–1953) was born in Scotland and attended the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. He served in India and Aden, eventually joining the Egyptian Army. As director of military intelligence and a master of the Arabic language, he played a large part in the defeat of the caliph in 1898 at Omdurman. When Lord Kitchener was summoned to South Africa in December 1899 to participate in the Boer War, Wingate succeeded him as governor general of Sudan and sirdar of the Egyptian Army. During his stay in Sudan, and later on as high commissioner for Egypt and Sudan, Wingate would frequently consult Simaika on Coptic affairs in the latter’s capacity as vice president of the Coptic community council, knowing Simaika’s influence and his deep interest and involvement in the affairs of the Coptic community, both in Egypt and in Sudan. In 1910, Wingate invited Simaika and his wife as his personal guests to attend the consecration of the Anglican Cathedral in Khartoum.

In 1917, Wingate succeeded Sir Henry McMahon as high commissioner for Egypt and Sudan, a post he held until 1919. He was not a successful (p.61) administrator in the very difficult political climate of Egypt during this period and was made a scapegoat for the 1919 Egyptian Revolution. Angry at his treatment, he refused to resign, even after being officially replaced by Lord Allenby, thus embarrassing the British government. As a result, he was never awarded a peerage or any other public or military appointment.

Lord Allenby (1919–25)

Field Marshal Lord Edmund Allenby (1861–1936) was one of the most successful British military commanders in the Boer War, on the Western Front in Europe during the First World War, and during the Palestine campaigns of 1917–18. He was sent to Egypt as commander in chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in 1917, to replace Sir Archibald Murray. After a brilliant campaign, he defeated the Turks and entered Jerusalem. It will always be remembered that Allenby and his officers dismounted and entered the city of Jerusalem on foot through the Jaffa Gate, out of his great respect for the status of Jerusalem as a holy city important to Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. He succeeded Wingate as high commissioner for Egypt and Sudan in 1919 and was instrumental in the creation of a sovereign Egypt. A deeply religious man, he often consulted Simaika on Coptic affairs and Coptic grievances. He was a very cultured man, interested in poetry, ornithology, and archaeology, and together with his wife, Mabel, was a frequent visitor to the Coptic Museum, where he was guided by Simaika.

Lord Lloyd (1925–29)

George Lloyd, first Baron Lloyd (1879–1941), was a British conservative politician associated with the “diehard” wing of the party. He was a known anti-Semite and an ardent Catholic, an elitist, and a firm believer in the unique capability of the British upper classes to rule a colonial empire. He succeeded Lord Allenby in 1925 as high commissioner for Egypt and Sudan, but was forced to resign in 1929 by Arthur Henderson, the British foreign secretary in the new Labour government. With the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined Winston Churchill’s government as secretary of state for the colonies and leader of the House of Lords.

Like his predecessors, Lloyd and his wife Blanche were frequent visitors to the Coptic Museum, and he frequently consulted Simaika on Coptic affairs.

Simaika had largely retired from political life by the time Sir Percy Lorraine succeeded Lord Lloyd as high commissioner for Egypt and Sudan in 1929. Lorraine’s tenure in Egypt came to an end in 1933, when his policy of allowing King Fuad control of the government led to his removal. He was followed by Sir Miles Lampson (1880–1964), a British (p.62) politician born in Scotland. On assuming his post in Cairo, Lampson’s title was “British High Commissioner for Egypt and the Sudan,” but with the signing of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty in 1936, his title and that of his successors became “British Ambassador to Egypt and High Commissioner for the Sudan.” He was raised to the peerage as Baron Killearn in 1943.

After the death of his first wife, Rachel, in 1930, Lampson married Jacqueline,59 daughter of Sir Aldo Castellani, in 1934. Castellani was a famous Italian pathologist and bacteriologist who supported Italy against the Allies in the Second World War, becoming chief of the Italian army’s medical service. Due to the continuing British occupation of Egypt, many Egyptians, including King Farouk, were positively disposed toward the Germans and Italians. When Lampson reportedly asked Farouk to get rid of his Italian servants, the young king reportedly replied, “I will get rid of my Italians when you get rid of yours,” alluding to Lampson’s Italian wife.

During his period of service in Egypt, Lampson was perceived by most Egyptians as the actual ruler of Egypt and was resented for his arrogance, which culminated in his humiliation of the then deeply popular young King Farouk on February 4, 1942. On that day, Lampson arrived at Abdin Palace, the official royal residence, accompanied by General Stone, who had surrounded the palace with troops and tanks. He then gave the king an ultimatum: Farouk was either to dismiss his prime minister, Hussein Pasha Sirri, whom Lampson considered pro-Axis, and replace him with a Wafd or a Wafd-led coalition under Mustafa Pasha al-Nahhas, or to abdicate the throne in favor of his cousin, Crown Prince Muhammad Ali, the brother of Khedive Abbas Hilmi II. The abdication decree had already been drafted by Sir William Monckton, and as a result, the king was forced to accept Lampson’s demands.


(36) Simaika, “Reminscences,” 172.

(38) Five British officers accidentally wounded a woman and set fire to a pile of grain on a village threshing floor while shooting pigeons in the fields. In the ensuing melee, two British officers were wounded, one later dying of heatstroke. Five villagers were also badly wounded. Fifty-two members of the village were put on trial, thirty-two were found guilty of premeditated murder, most were flogged, and four were hanged. Questions were raised in the British Parliament, and Cromer was forced to retire in 1907.

(40) At the start of the First World War in 1914, Prince Said Halim was grand vizier of Turkey, but was a puppet bypassed by Enver Pasha, the minister of war, who in effect was in control of the Turkish government. The prince was later assassinated in Rome in 1921 by an Armenian terrorist.

(41) Ronald Storrs, The Memoirs of Sir Ronald Storrs (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1937), 52.

(45) Sirdar was a longstanding Indo-Aryan rank and was assigned to the British commander-in-chief of the British-controlled Egyptian Army in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The sirdar resided at the Sirdaria, a three-block-long property in Zamalek which was also home to British military intelligence in Egypt.

(49) Mukhtar carved two statues of Saad Zaghlul, one in Cairo and one in Alexandria. The statue of Mustafa Kamel was by the French sculptor Léopold Savine.

(50) The statue of Ibrahim Pasha in Cairo’s Opera Square was the work of Charles Cordier; Muhammad Ali’s statue in Alexandria was by Henri (p.186) Alfred Jacquemart; and the statue of Nubar Pasha, also in Alexandria, was the work of Denys Puech.

(58) Reginald Wingate’s cousin, Major General Orde Charles Wingate (1903–44), a British Army officer born in India, created the special military units in Palestine in the 1930s. He later formed the Chindits, which were airborne deep penetration troops trained to work behind enemy lines in the Far East campaign against the Japanese during the Second World War.

(59) Lady Lampson was a patient of Professor Naguib Pasha Mahfouz (the author’s maternal grandfather), who assisted her at the Anglo-American Hospital in Cairo in giving birth to a son, Victor, the third Baron Killearn, and a daughter, Jaquetta.