Archived Queries

Queries from Bulletin 37

37-1: Who were the travellers at Cosseir in 1825?

Anne Katherine Elwood, one of the most delightful of the travellers through Egypt, was en route to India with her husband, an officer in the East India Company, in 1825. Cosseir was busy with passing travellers of many nations. One day Mrs Elwood was sitting ‘in the verandah’ by herself when suddenly the servant stood before her with a man beside him. ‘I had’, she wrote, ‘been so long among turbans and flowing robes, that the sight of a stranger in Frank costume almost frightened me.’

The man proved to be a Frenchman – perhaps once ‘a military follower of Napoleon’. He had become separated from his companions in the desert, and hearing of some ‘Franks’ at the house came in hopes of rejoining his friends. After some refreshment he went off to seek his friends, and next day brought them to ‘call’.

‘They were two Germans – literary adventurers, who were travelling in these remote countries, ultimately intending to find their way into Abyssinia, of which enterprising undertaking they spoke with as much sang froid as if they were arranging a trip from London to Brighton or Cheltenham. Like a true Frenchman, our first acquaintance was carrying a beautiful little poodle about with him.’

Does anyone know who these three men might have been and what happened to them? Please reply to the Editor.

37-2: Does anyone know of Herberts or McClures in Egypt?

A visitor to ASTENE’s website is researching Mrs Mary Louisa McClure, nee Herbert (c. 1843–1918). She was a member of the Egypt Exploration Society. Her younger sister Hilda married the novelist Maurice Hewlett and became a pioneer aviator, eventually writing an
unpublished autobiography. She visited Egypt with her parents around 1883, and Mary was probably also on the trip, since she later translated from the French a number of works on archaeology and history, and collaborated on a translation of the Pilgrimage of Etheria. Their father was the Reverend George Herbert, vicar of St Peter’s, Vauxhall. Mary married the Reverend Edmund McClure, Editorial Secretary of SPCK from 1875 to 1915. He is described in an SPCK history as having friends inarchaeological circles, whose work he published.

Has anyone come across references to these Herberts, or the McClures, especially visiting or writing about Egypt? Please reply to the Editor.

Queries from Bulletin 36

36-1: John Henry Middleton, 1846-1896

Called ‘Archaeologist and Art Historian’ by the Dictionary of National Biography, – I would be most grateful to hear if anyone has come across any notes or documents for Middleton’s study of the Acropolis at Athens. An American colleague is working on stray architectural remains from the Acropolis and is searching for the Middleton notes.

It is said that some were given to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (of which he was Director), but they have no current knowledge of any and a MSS of Middleton’s once in the Classics Library has gone missing. There may however be others. We have obviously checked the DNB source list but further help is badly needed.

Please reply to the Editor.

36-2: Travellers, tourists and cruises

In the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century ‘cruising’ became fashionable for the well-to-do traveller. In 1932 this advertisement appeared in the London Times :


Easter in Palestine 28 days From 39 guineas*
April – Four cruises in Mediterranean
May – 18 to 21 days, from 25 guineas
June – Cruises to Norway and Northern Capitals
July – 12 to 24 days from 21 guineas
Write for illustrated programme.

* A guinea was 21 shillings (no pence), £1.1.0

Is anyone researching the record of this form of travel experience – as our Czech members have done ? Please reply to the Editor.

Queries from Bulletin 35

35-1: Charles Perry MD (d.1780)

Brian Taylor writes: I would be grateful for any information on the following:

i. Date of birth: an often-cited 1698 date belongs to another Dr Charles Perry.
ii. Date of death and burial: usually quoted as 1780 and the east end of the nave of Norwich Cathedral. However, there is no obituary notice for him in the Mercury for 1780 and there is no reference to him in the cathedral’s register of burials. Perhaps a worn gravestone is the only clue.
iii. Was he ever in the employ of the Levant Company? and if so where and when? However, no register of Levant Company medical Officers seems to have survived.
iv. Was the above-mentioned Dr Charles Perry (d. 1780) the same one known to be in Constantinople in 1736?
v. When abroad, did Dr Perry (who dedicates his book to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich) ever meet and/or travel with the Earl? And if so, when and where to?

Please reply to the Editor.

35-2: Who hired out the dahabeeyahs in 1846?

Who was “the old American merchant” who hired out boats at Bulak to travellers, including Harriet Martineau in 1846 – who reported that his finger “was graced by a magnificent diamond ring”?

Please reply to the Editor.

35-3: Things Seen In Egypt

Deb Manley writes: Mrs E.L. Butcher, wife of the Dean of the Anglican Cathedral, Cairo published with Seeley Service, London in 1914 a book in the series of Things Seen in …. a book about Egypt, where she had lived and travelled for several years. She is the only person I have read who records the great opium poppies grown along the Nile in Upper Egypt at that time:

‘As they lift their heads upon the bank, and the strong sunlight strikes upon them, they are like coloured flames against the deep blue of the sky. The whole country for miles along the river is radiant with them – great chalices of sleep, rose-coloured and lilac and pure white… But even at this stage their beauty is baneful; it is not wise to gather them, and their drowsy influence steals through the air even across the river. Well may the Egyptian call the flower “the father of sleep”.’ (pp. 216-7)

Has any reader seen other comment on these poppies?
Please reply to the Editor.

35-4: Osman Effendi

Briony Llewellyn has sent the following section from one of David Roberts’s letters:

‘… having taken up my residence in a house of an Old Renagade Scotchman called Osman Effendi – what his Scottish name was I have not been able to learn. The poor old fellow died about a year ago and with the exception of his being a Mahomedan, he bore a most excellent character as every Scotchman ought was the confidential

servant and interpreter to The late Consul Mr Salt and the intimate friend of the celebrated traveller Burckhardt, another renagade.’

The letter was written by David Roberts to D.R. Hay, from Cairo, January 4th 1839; it is in the National Library of Scotland.

Queries from Bulletin 34

34-1. January 2008: The Mysterious Madame D’Orbiney (1803/4-1893)

Patricia Usick introduced Madame D’Orbiney to those who went to the British Museum with ASTENE, but she wonders if other readers (particularly those from the countries she visited) have any further information.

Born Elizabeth Fearnley, she died in New York, dubbed by the New York Times “The Mysterious Madame D’Aubigney”. Family legend has it that she was governess at the French court of Louis Philippe (reigned 1830-48) and then became the King’s mistress. There seems to be no evidence for this, but her claim to have travelled ‘among the Arabs’ appears to be true.

Her correspondence in the British Museum documents the 1857 negotiations for the sale of a papyrus, now known as the D’Orbiney Papyrus, which she is said to have acquired in Italy. Her letters mention Mount Lebanon and the late Lady Hester Stanhope (so perhaps after 1839), Jerusalem, Sinope (a city on the Black Sea) and possibly Algeria, and now it is known, also Egypt. She signs herself, on occasion, ‘Hadji Isabey’.

In 1851 Madame appears to be writing on crested paper from Woburn (Woburn Abbey is home to the Dukes of Bedford). Her other English contacts include ‘Northumberland’ (formerly Lord Prudhoe to whom she offered the papyrus in 1857). In Paris the Duc D’Albert de Luywers, (a collector) and E. de Rouge, papyrologist at the Louvre, and in Italy the Cardinal Mezzofanti, Vatican Librarian and Giovanni Pietro Campana, who was exiled by the Pope for an inability to distinguish between Vatican funds and his own when collecting antiquities.

Short of cash in 1857, Madame died with money in the bank.

Has anybody out there met her on her travels?
Please reply to the Bulletin Editor.

Queries from Bulletin 33

33-1. November 2007: Insinger’s House at Luxor

LuxorPalace Patricia Usick asks about a house at LuxorIn the late 19th-early 20th century Jan Herman Insinger (1864-1918) had built a house at Luxor. He was a dealer in antiquities and also had a private money-lending business. He was resident in Luxor from 1879, and, according to Who was Who in Egyptology? was closely associated with the French Egyptologist, Gaston Maspero, taking many photographs for him. He was notable for collecting for the Dutch museums, particularly in Leiden (where much correspondence is preserved.The house must have existed at least until c. 1923 when, after his death in Cairo, his wife and children left for Switzerland and later America. Presumably the house was then occupied by local figures. According to the Baedeker guide of 1913, the first you saw when approaching Luxor by boat from the north was the Winter Palace and “the palace-like residence of a strange Dutchman”.
We show here a (not very good) photograph of the ‘palace-like residence’ and its interior – less ‘palace-like. This is reproduced from the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden archive, Leiden. Does anyone know anything further about this building?

33-2. November 2007: Ambassador Tecco Melchiorre

Gertrud Seidmann asks about a 19th century dealer in antiquities.
Can anyone throw light on Baron Tecco Melchiorre (the name may have been noted inaccurately) a mysterious gentleman I have been pursuing fruitlessly so far? He was supposedly Sardinian Ambassador to the Porte, a collector of engraved gems. He was encountered by Greville Chester in Beirut some time between 1864 and 1891.

Please reply to and the Bulletin Editor.

33-3. November 2007: Who was Mr Hadfield?

Deborah Manley would like to know about this gentleman.
A Mr Hadfield, in his thirties (so born c. 1790), of Old Hall, Cheshire, travelled to Cairo in late 1818/early 1819 and then sailed on from Damietta to Jaffa where he stayed with the British Consul, Mr Damiani, in late April. He was met there and elsewhere by the party of Archibald Edmonstone and his companions. Does anyone know of him? (He is not known to be related to our member of this name).

33-4. November 2007: Any news of Francis Levett?

Olga Nefedova, who works at the Museum of Islamic Art in Qata, is researching Mr Francis Levett (? – c. 1764) who was a representative of the Levant Company in Constantinople at least from 1737 to 1750.
If you can help her, please reply to and to the Bulletin Editor.

33-5. November 2007: Where are Rudolf Swoboda’s paintings?

New member Angela Blascheck of Vienna is interested in the Austrian orientalist painter Rudolf Swoboda (1859-1914) – she is especially interested in his Egyptian paintings. Most of his paintings are in Great Britain. Can anyone tell Angela where she will find them?

Please reply to the Bulletin Editor.

Queries from Bulletin 32

32-1. August 2007: Is there a portrait of Robert Pashley?

Dudley Moore is looking for an image: drawing, painting or any type of picture of the traveller to Crete Robert Pashley (1805-1859).- apart from the possible self-portrait in his own book.

Can anyone help? Please email him on and also send your reply to the Editor of the Bulletin.

Queries from Bulletin 31

31-1. April 2007: Who was Mr Anderson of Keneh?

What do we know from the travellers about the French-speaking Mr Anderson who lived at Keneh on the Nile in 1819 and had lived in Upper Egypt since about 1806, and acted partly as agent to Consul General Henry Salt?

Please reply to the Bulletin Editor.

31-2. April 2007: Did the hippo reach Vienna?

On Friday October 30, 1818 the young architect Charles Barry, in Rosetta on his way to Cairo, noted in his diary; “Heard of a remarkably large hippopotamus being shot by the Arabs near the 2nd Cataract. It was now going by ship to Rosetta, as a gift to the Emperor of Austria from the Pasha.”

Did the large hippopotamus reach Vienna – and was it dead or alive? Reply to the Bulletin Editor.

Queries from Bulletin 30

30-1. January 2007: ASTENE AND TREE RINGS

At a conference this autumn at Cornell entitled “Tree-Rings: Kings and Old World Archaeology and Environment” which was held in honour of an old colleague of mine from when we both worked in Turkey, I met two scholars who would be grateful for our famous ASTENE input.
1. Dr Cemal Pulak, Institute of National Archaeology, Texas A & M University [] is researching the Imperial Ottoman Barge preserved in the Naval Museum in Istanbul. There is some doubt concerning which Sultan commissioned her and the exact form of the original. He has found one early artist’s impression of this vessel but would welcome further references and illustrations.
2. Dr Ramzi Touchan, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona [rtouchan] is working on the evidence for climatology in the Near East and eastern Mediterranean region. He would be interested in adding to his files of recorded data concerning unusual climatic conditions, particularly in Jordan.
Both would be glad to be in contact with anyone with potential sources of information.

Lisa French


Many of us are familiar with the topographical works on the Near East of W.H. Bartlett and Reverend Samuel Manning. Recently I came across reference to a French artist-traveller, one Adolphe Rouargue. The Bodleian Library (and therefore Oxford University) does not seem to possess a copy of his Notes of Travel in Jerusalem and the Holy Land (1841).

What do readers know of Rouargue’s work and travels? Please reply to the Bulletin Editor.


We offer apologies to Andrea Tonnini is, he points out, a man. “Andrea is in Italian,” as he says, “not a name for ladies” as we indicated in Bulletin 29 (p.9). We apologise and now welcome him as an ASTENE member. Andrea is urgently searching for the 16th century original of the report in Italian relating to horses sent to Henry VIII.

Can any reader help him? His e-mail is

30-4. January 2007: Cassandra Vivian emailed from Egypt where she is working on a revision of her book on the Western Desert.

She would like answers to her query urgently if possible.
She has come across a 19th century controversy about Lake Qarum and Lake Moeris in the Fayoum – that they are in fact two separate lakes. This belief raised much discussion with European countries taking sides: French and German on one side, English on another, and a lone American voice believing Moeris spilled into Wadt Raiyan. Wallis Budge was on the one lake side and won the argument.

Who, Cassandra asks, were the other Brits? And how have we ended up ignoring this incredible argument? Or does anyone know of any research on this question?
She is aware of the work of Mr Cope Whitehouse and Dr Schweinfurth’s comment on his researches.

Please email your reply to Cassandra on and the editor.

Queries from Bulletin 29

29-1. October 2006: WHO WAS THE MUMMY SNATCHER?

The Egyptological Electronic Forum referred S.J. Wolfe to us. She asks if anyone can identify an Alexander Grant travelling in Egypt and ‘excavating’ (the word used in her document is ‘ransacking’) the ruins of Thebes some time before 1824. Grant had travelled to South America before going to Egypt. He recovered at least one mummy and various artefacts which he sold to a Captain Larkin Thorndike Lee in Livorno (Leghorn) around April 1824. Lee took the artefacts back to America and exhibited the mummy. In the related brochure Grant is described as “the celebrated traveller, Alexander Grant”. Ms Wolfe is writing a history of the Egyptian mummies in 19th century America.

Does any reader know anything further of Alexander Grant? Please reply to the Bulletin Editor.


We had not heard the sound of any European voice but for our own for nearly two months, when, turning into one of these sepulchres, we met a large party exploring like ourselves. We invited them to ‘our tomb’, where Mahmoud was preparing coffee, and, as their commissariat had been neglected , they were too happy to be our guests. Mahmoud was startled at first, at the unexpected increase of our party, but soon set himself vigorously about preparing dinner for nine out of a luncheon for two. Our new acquaintances consisted of a handsome young Russian Prince, an antiquary, who was residing at Thebes, named Castellari*, a German traveller, two Italians, and two Frenchmen … Prince K’s wolf-skin, added to our carpets, afforded sitting room for the whole party, who now gathered round in a circle, comparing their various impressions in as many different languages: German, French, Russian, Italian, Arabic, and English, Babelled our sentiments in that singular conversazione. (Eliot Warburton, The Crescent and the Cross, Vol. 1, p. 362, 1845.)

* Andrea Castellari (d. c. 1848) was also mentioned in Bulletin 28, p.15, by that strange coincidence that so often occurs in research. He is in the invaluable Who was Who in Egyptology edited by Morris Bierbrier, Egypt Exploration Society, 1995. He was an Italian dealer in antiquities, well known in Luxor, who lived in a hut on top of Luxor temple; his researches would appear to have been of a more commercially-based nature than Warburton seems to have realised.

Can anyone identify any of the other guests? Please reply to Peta Ree or the Bulletin Editor.


Dr Andrea Tonni ( says, “I am an Italian passionate researcher about the early history of the Thoroughbred horse.” The Italian Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association have asked her to track down the 16th century original of the Neapolitan Prospero Osma’s report in Italian relating to horses sent by the Dukes of Mantua to Henry VIII in England and about the studs at Tutbury and Malmesbury. The report was dedicated to Robert Dudley. “It is, perhaps,” she writes, “the first important document of the Thoroughbred’s history.” Dr Tonni has read the English translation of this document in Charles Matthew Prior’s Royal Studs of the 16th and 17th Centuries and knows the Italian original was sold at auction in New York in about 1945 by its then American owner Alfred Maclay. After that nothing is known of it….

Does anyone know the present whereabouts of this document and how Dr Tonni may access it?

Please reply to her and to the Bulletin Editor.

This very important point of East-West contact is new to ASTENE and we look forward to learning more.

Queries from Bulletin 28


In 1846 the writer and political economist, Harriet Martineau, was journeying in the East. One night at Luxor, she and two companions strolled to the ruins of the temple. A man accosted them, pointing up some steps, and saying apparently something about a castle. They had no interpreter, but he spoke to them in French, and they followed him. And found “an elderly gentleman on his daween enjoying his chibbouque. They took coffee with him, and when they departed Mr E. said to Miss Martineau, “Well, now, who is this that we have been seeing?”

They discovered he was Signor Castellare ( Who was who in Egyptology records him as Castellari and that he was Italian and died in 1848). Miss Martineau had heard of him “as having settled himself at Thebes, to discover antiquities … and to sell specimens to such as have money enough to pay his very high prices for them. It is,” reported Miss Martineau, “only by connivance that he does these things, for the Pasha’s pleasure is that none of the antiquities shall leave the country.” (Eastern Life, Present and Past, Philadelphia, 1848, pp. 159)

Who was who in Egyptology records A. Harris, J. Arden and I. Romer as mentioning him. Is anything else known of him?

Please reply to the Bulletin Editor.

29-2. July 2006: WHAT CREATURE IS THIS?

The Swedish scientist and student of Linnaeus, Frederick Hasselquist, spent the years 1749 until his early death in 1752 in the Levant, Cyprus and Egypt, recording the flora and fauna of the region in great detail. Having described one creature scientifically, he went on to say:
If one should follow the method of the ancients in describing the animal, we might say it had a head like a Hare, whiskers like a Squirrel, the snout of a Hog, a body, ears and forelegs like a Mouse, hind legs like a Bird, with the tail of a Lion.

What a monstrous animal this seems to be! And had it been delineated 2000 years ago, it would at this day have been accounted a monster. To this manner of describing do most monstrous animals owe their origin, as Griffons, Unicorns, etc. For instance, when the parts of a new-discovered animal are compared to those of other animals already well known, painters, from this method of describing, receive an idea of a form of nature, which they always draw out of character.

This matter, Hasselquist concluded, certainly merits a farther enquiry. What animal was described by this ‘ancient’ account?

For the answer, click here.( Frederick Hasselquist, Voyages and Travels in the Levant 1749-52: Observations of Natural History, Physick, Agriculture and Commerce, English translation 1746.)

28-3. July 2006: WHO WAS MAHMOUD?

Peta Ree would like to know who was Lord Prudhoe’s dragoman who accompanied him on both his tours up the Nile in the late 1820s (“into the interior of Africa”). She had always thought he was probably Giovanni Finati (known as ‘Mahomet’). However, Eliot Warburton in about 1840 employed this man who he calls Mahmoud and describes as “very intelligent, handsome and known to everybody up and down the Nile from Cairo to the Sudan.” (The Crescent and the Cross)
He was definitely Prudhoe’s dragoman – but was he Finati?

Please reply direct to Peta Ree or to the Bulletin Editor.


Christopher Young would like information on Henry Finnis Bloss Lynch, a traveller in Armenia.

Please reply to the Bulletin Editor.


In March 1844 Mr Lutfullah, an Indian Muslim of good family, was asked to accompany the nawab of Surat, Mir Jafir Ali Khan, as interpreter in a case to be taken up in London. He wrote an account of his travels with a refreshingly new view of all he saw including ‘Bahr I Kulzum’ – “by the English called the Red Sea”, being laughed at by his Muslim companions for suggesting that, “by the mariner’s compass,…the Kaba…began to incline to the East”, and being surprised at discovering that in Cairo “donkey-riding is considered no disgrace here.” When Mir Ali Jafir Khan met the Pasha, Mehemet Ali, “three heads and tongues were employed to interpret” – into English, into French and then to Turkish, and back again. He commented, “The fact is that the more you proceed on towards England, the more you find the English people endowed with politeness and civility.” (p.398, Autobiography of Lutfullah, a Mohammedan Gentleman and his Transactions with his Fellow-Creatures edited by E.B. Eastwick., London, 1857).

Does anyone know of any reports of how these travellers were received in England? Please let the Bulletin Editor know.


Marina Gervasini is a student at the Catholic University of Milan. She is studying a collection of books about journeys and travels to Italy and Malta. The Vittorio Foassati-Bellani collection is preserved in the Ambrosiana Library of Milan. It has over 5000 monographs of travels. She found within it four 16-17th century books about Venice and Rome, written in Italian but bound with fragments of parchment manuscripts in Arabic.

She asks if any member or reader has heard or read about similar examples of Arabic manuscripts recycled as wrap-round book bindings and what they can tell her about them. Please respond to the Bulletin Editor. We referred her query to two members of ASTENE expert in Arabic manuscripts and will report further in the next Bulletin, but we also welcome contributions from others.

28-7. July 2006: EARLY GUIDE BOOKS

Paul Robertson asks: When did Western guide books start to appear in Egypt? What kind of information did they present? How was it presented on a typical page? And in what European languages were these early guide books available?

The reason for Paul Robertson’s question is that he is trying to work out whether Western guide book literature might have had any impact on the way 19th century Egyptian pilgrims to Mecca wrote and published their hajj accounts. He has found at least one instance where the writer of a pilgrim account also wrote an account of a separate journey to Istanbul (probably between 1880 and 1890), presenting it in the guise of a tourist trip, and the unusual use of the word ‘tourism’ ( Ar. siyahah) in the title suggests some Western influence on the way it and possibly other kinds of journey were concerned.

Please reply to the Bulletin Editor or Paul Robertson.


Henry Keown-Boyd remembers flying to Cairo with his brother by flying boat in 1946 or ’47. He thinks it was a Short Sunderland (much used by Coastal Command during the war) operated by QANTAS.

We left London by bus at dawn and stopped for breakfast at the Hog’s Back Hotel. I suppose we left Poole Harbour at about mid-day and remember spending the first night in an extremely grotty hotel – more an inn really – at a place called Biscarrosse south of Bordeaux. Next day we flew to Augusta in Sicily and landed on the Nile at Cairo on the third day, which was either Christmas Eve or Christmas itself. That evening there was a party at our house in Zamalek to which the entire QANTAS crew were invited. Next day they continued their journey to Sydney.

Henry Keown-Boyd wonders if anybody knows the route they took. Aden, Karachi, Colombo, Singapore, Darwin perhaps? Do any of our Australian contacts know of people flying from Sydney to Cairo by flying boat at this time?

Queries from Bulletin 27

27-1.April 2006: SOPHIE PALMER AT PETRA, 1882

Robert Munson of San Diego, California found ASTENE’s website and asked for help. He is interested in 19th century lady travellers and would like information about Sophie M. Palmer who apparently visited Petra in 1882. He found reference to her in an article from the 1888 Century Magazine (This appears to be Macmillan’s Magazine, February, 1883).
Please reply to the Bulletin Editor and also to Robert W. Munson, 3803-4R Marquette Place, San Diego, California 92106, USA or to his email:

27-2. April 2006: MISS DANIELL AT CAIRO

On 14 December 1861 the Irish artist, Lady Tobin, had tea in Cairo at Mrs Lieder’s (wife of the Reverend Lieder) and admired “the valuable collection of Egyptian curiosities” belonging to her and her friend Miss Daniell. Then Miss Daniell read extracts from her manuscript journal of a tour in the Sinaitic Peninsula (where Catherine Tobin travelled twice). Who was Miss Daniell and has her journal survived?

Please reply to the Bulletin Editor.

27-3. April 2006: REVEREND RICHARD POCOCKE (1704-65) AND MR PASHLEY (1805-59) IN CRETE

I am at present researching these two characters for a DPhil at Sussex University and am searching for material on their early schooling and their travels in Crete. Pococke was born in Southampton, educated at Corpus Christi, Oxford, and was in Cyprus in the 1730s; Pashley was at Trinity, Cambridge and in Crete in the 1830s. Their colleges have not been able to supply much information. I am aware of Pococke’s journals and manuscripts at the British Library, but little else and even less on Pashley. Can anyone suggest where I might find this information? Dudley Moore.

Please reply to Editor

27-4. April 2006: TRAVELLER IN ARMENIA

Christopher Young would like information on Henry Finnis Bloss Lynch, a traveller in Armenia.

Please reply to the Bulletin Editor.

Queries from Bulletin 26

26-1. December 2005: THE SCENE AT PETRA

Norman Lewis would very much like to know if anyone recognised where this wonderfully bad print of Petra used on the cover of the last Bulletin (25) originated. It was a print I purchased at a book fair with no other evidence except that printed on it. The main title was in French and W.H.Lazars could be French, but he thinks the book from which this particular print came was an English publication – the illustration was complete with an English translation of the original French title and a good old text (finishing lamely with ?) from Jeremiah. He would guess it was from the 1840s.

Please reply to Norman Lewis and to the Bulletin Editor.

26-2. December 2005: TRAVELLERS IN IRAQ

As some members who were at Manchester know, Bart Ooghe is doing doctoral research on European travellers in the region of present day Iraq ca. 1300-1900. More particularly he is dealing with the ways in which the human and natural landscape was represented and how and to what extent it would be reconstructed through these travel accounts. He has collected quite a range from Anglo-Saxon and French travellers, but at present German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese travellers are under-represented.
If you can suggest accounts, please contact Bart at or write to him: Ghent University, Department of Languages and Culture of the Near East, St Petersplein 6, B-9000, Ghent, Belgium, and to the Bulletin Editor.

26-3. December 2005 : SIR JOHN MAXWELL (1791-1865)

Can anyone report for the ASTENE Journal Project on the two-volume travel journals covering Europe and Egypt (1813-1816) of Sir John Maxwell which are lodged in Strathclyde Regional Archives as T-PM 117,129.

Please reply to the Editor.


26-4. December 2005: ANTONIO MONDAINI alias NAMINDIO

Dr Rita Severis writes: I am searching for biographical notes on Antonio Mondaini alias Namindio. He was an 18th century traveller and writer. He lived in Syria and Cyprus, and was a friend of Giovanni Mariti to whose books he contributed chapters. He retired to La Manon in Provence. He published the following books:
Favole anedotti e novella composta da Namindio, 1798, Ancona; Istoria della Guerra accessa nella Sotia I 1771; Dalle armi di Ali Bey dell’ Egitto e continovazione del successo a ditto Ali Bey fino a quest’anno 1772, Florence; Della Robbia sua cultivazione e suoi usi (Giovanni Mariti) scritta dal Signor Antonio Mondaini, 1776, Florence; La vita di Epicteto filosofo: considerate da Namindio e didacta ai sui amici, 1797, Ancona;
In many libraries these titles come under the name of Giovanni Mariti. In Italy these are also found under Mondaini. Probably the two collaborated.

I would be very grateful for any information as I am publishing one of Namindio’s manuscripts and have nothing on the man, not even his birth and death dates!
Please write to Dr Rita C. Severis, Email:


Does anyone have information about this couple who took Florence Nightingale to Egypt and Greece in 1849-50 and were with her in Rome in 1848? Selena was an artist and painted in Egypt, Greece and the Holy Land as they travelled. Some of her works are in the Birmingham Art Gallery. The Bracebridges later accompanied Miss Nightingale to the Crimea and is they who stand beside her in the famous painting.

Please reply to and to the Bulletin Editor.


Natascha Scott-Stokes is completing a biography of the butterfly collector Margaret Fountaine (1862-1940). Her partner for over 25 years was a Syrian called Khalil Neimy (or Neimi), Natascha would dearly love to trace his descendants to get their side of the story. She has a number of questions to answer.

He died in Damascus around 7th July, 1928. She has no idea where he is buried – but would love to know. Does anyone know of any records that might help her or a researcher in Damascus who would know how to find Neimy’s grave? He had a wife and children in Damascus; his mother was A. Neimy, his sister Poling Neimy, and his nephew Fares Neimy.
Khalil Neimy was a Christian of the Greek Orthodox Church, born of Greek parents in Cairo on 15 July 1877. There was a Bishop Neimy in Damascus in the 1920’s, who was his uncle. Apparently he granted Khalil a divorce in 1924. Would there be records? Where? She has an address for the nephew in 1928 in Rue de Minchie, Place Merje, Damascus. What is this street address called now?

Please reply to and mark for attention of Natascha Scott-Stokes, and also to the Bulletin Editor.

Queries from Bulletin 25


Aidan Dodson is interested in verifying the identity of the ‘Egyptian Minister of War’ who was responsible for the discovery of a number of antiquities in the late 1820s. In particular, a sarcophagus that ultimately passed into the hands of the 10th Duke of Hamilton (and in which he was ultimately buried!) was found by him in 1828, and admired by Champollion, who bought the sarcophagus of Djedhor, now in the Louvre (D9-N.345), from the Minister.

Champollion calls the Minister ?Mahmoud-Bey?. However, this presents certain problems, as according to Khaled Fahmy, All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali, his army and the making of Modern Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), Mehmed Bey Lazoglu had died in 1827, and while Champollion was negotiating during 1828/9, the Director of Mohammed Ali’s War Department, was his successor, Ahmed Pasha Yegin (d. 1855).

Any reader who can help resolve this paradox is invited to e-mail, or write to him at the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol, 43 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 100 – not forgetting to send a copy of their reply to the Editor of the Bulletin to share with other readers.

25-2. September 2005: AND OTHER MILITARY MEN

Does anyone know anything of Jules Planat, a staff officer in Mehemet Ali’s army, whose letters from Egypt were published as Histoire de la Regeneration de l’Egypte in 1830? Please reply to Edwin Aiken and to the Bulletin Editor.

What is known of the Scotsman, Wilson, who, like the American, George Bethune English, joined the Egyptian army, served in Senaar and then lived out a wretched existence on the edges of the Frank community in Cairo and met and was helped by John Carne in 1821-22?

Please reply to

25-3. September 2005: THE CURTIS LETTERS

The Archivist at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, Jean Bray, asks for the following information.
Who was Mr Curtis – the Arab-speaking gentleman who was employed in the summer of 1884, during the siege of Khartoum, to carry letters, newspaper articles and documents through the Mahdi’s lines to General Gordon? A few of the photographically shrunken letters which he carried are kept in the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King’s College London and others, together with transcripts, are included in the Gordon/Brocklehurst Papers, but little is known of Mr Curtis himself.

I am currently writing a biography of General Gordon’s friend, Captain John Brocklehurst, who organised the Curtis courier service and would be grateful for any information about Mr Curtis and his mission. If anyone can help, please could they contact Jean Bray, Archivist, Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe. Cheltenham, Glos GL54 5HU. Tel: 01242 602308. Fax: 01242 602959; e-mail: .

25-4. September 2005: NAIRN LINE TO BAGHDAD

What is known of Nairn Line, created by two New Zealanders – Gerry and Norman Nairn – in 1923 as a motorised cross-country link between Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad? In 1926 they carried 1600 passengers, two years later 2500. In the 1930s the completion of the Orient and Tarsus Express was completed, and put the Nairns out of business. There are, I understand, accounts of travellers who went via the Nairn Line. What do readers know?


Haim Goren is looking for any information concerning the following travellers between 1834 and 1837.

Robert Pierce – no further details known.
Charles Kirwan – Irish, travelled with G.H. Moore to Persia, and perhaps later in the Middle East.
Lieutenant Charles (?) Webber Smith, in Beirut in 1835, later in Greece

Please reply to and the Editor.

childs dream

25-6. September 2005: A CHILD’S DREAM

We have had a rather unusual query from Professor Ruth Kark of the Department of Geography, Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She writes:

Many years ago I purchased a 19th century travel book at Hay-on-Wye (to those who don’t know, this is a small Herefordshire town whose business is second-hand bookshops!). Stuck in the book was an unusual illustrated letter from a Royal Air Force officer to his daughter on the occasion of her fifth birthday. I wrote to the address in Scotland over 15 years ago, but was unable to locate the family. Heather Cottage had become a holiday let cottage and her respondent said “it would never again be used as a permanent home.”

Any help in finding the daughter (or the father who must be in his eighties if still alive) would be much appreciated.
If you can suggest how Ruth might contact members of the Young family, please reply to her at and let the Bulletin Editor know.

Ruth sent a copy of the original letter with its illustration. The letter reads:Miss Jennifer Young, Heather Cottage, Rockcliffe, Dalbattie, Scotland – 5th May 1943This is the House that Daddy is planning to build Mummy, Chris and Pete and you when he comes back.
I have sent you a New Testament from Nazareth and a handbag from Cairo, for your birthday.
Many Happy Returns DaddyThen there is a tiny sketch of a birthday cake with five candles and the number 5. Here is the illustration of the planned house.
Queries from Bulletin 24


ASTENE member Barnaby Rogerson is also Co-Publisher at Eland. They are currently looking at compiling a collection of travel accounts and extracts of history from the Dalmatian Coast. The aim is to entertain, amuse and educate the modern reading public that is increasingly being drawn on holidays to the Croatian coast.

Any thoughts, suggestions, photocopies and snippets would be gratefully received. If the project floats off into a book, this assistance will be formally acknowledged with free copies awarded for ‘useful’ contributions.

Barnaby Rogerson, Dalmatian Coast Project, Eland, 61 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QL,
Tel: 020-7833-0762; Fax: 020-7833-4434;

24-2. June 2005: CAN FINATI FANS HELP?

Sean Bermingham in Singapore asks if any members have information as to what eventually happened to this amazing adventurer. The last evidence in his Narrative, in the Editor’s Preface added in 1828, is a reference to Finati being engaged as an interpreter in Egypt by Lord Prudhoe. According to Patricia Usick’s biography of Bankes, Adventures in Egypt and Nubia, p. 200), Finati was left in Alexandria, following his tour with Prudhoe, on 19 November 1826. After that the trail dried up. Does anyone know anything of what happened to Finati after this? Is there any record of where – or when – or how he died?

Sean Bermingham’s email is seanbermingham @hotmail.complease also send a copy of your reply to the Editor.


Andrekos Varnava of the Department of History, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3070, Australia ( or is looking for information about three men.

* Samuel Brown, one of the foremost engineers of the 19th century, supervised construction of the Grand Harbour in Alexandria, became Chief Government Engineer in Cyprus in 1880. He later served in Hong Kong. Andrekos knows much about his life in Cyprus; little before that, save for his work in Alexandria. He would like to know more about his career and reputation.

* Claude Delavel Cobham, District Commissioner, Larnaca for nearly 30 years from 1879 – a Greek scholar who published a number of works on Cyprus and the Near East. Again Andrekos wants information on Cobham’s life before Cyprus and why he came to that island.

* Roland Michell, District Commissioner Limassol at much the same time.

Andrekos is also seeking information on sanatoria used by Europeans in the Near East, especially in Lebanon. Please reply to him, but also to the Bulletin Editor for sharing with other members.


Unfortunately Huw Owen-Jones’ email address and mobile number were given wrongly . They should be and 07810517125. Huw has been getting on with his researches both at the Palestine Exploration Fund and in Cambridge, and is giving a paper at the conference in Manchester.


David Reubeni (hereafter Reuveni) was a Jewish adventurer who travelled to Sennar and met King ‘Amara (Dungas?) ruler of the Funj Sultanate, in 1523. His visit to the Sultan was in itself remark-able since this remote and rather unruly African kingdom was not in the limelight of European and other travellers.

My note traces his travels to the Arabian Peninsula, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. On his return trip he had an audience with the Pope and asked for his support in raising a Jewish army (in Ethiopia?) so as to liberate the Holy Land from the Ottomans. He was later deported from Portugal to Spain where he was executed by the Spanish Inquisition.

David Ha-Reuveni has to be viewed as a product of his generation. As such he fitted into a pattern of Jewish hope pertaining at that time, regarding the coming of the Messiah who would lead the Jews back to their historic homeland and bring about their salvation.

Has any reader come across this traveller in their researches?

Gaby Warburg


Christina Grand Porter of Ohio has been trying to gather information about Victorian mummy unwrapping, particularly – not the public performances conducted ‘professionally’ by people such as Dr Pettigrew – but those hosted by people in their own parlours. Edgar Allen Poe wrote a short story – “Some words with a Mummy” – which satirizes these parties, but offers no vision of the actual activities.

Does anyone know of descriptions of such parties? Who did the unwrapping – the host or an unfortunate servant? How were the mummies – or parts of mummies – acquired? How long did the process take? Were hankies with perfume on them handed round to fight any odours?

Please send any help you can give to her (e-mail ) and/or to the Bulletin Editor.

24-7. June 2005: A QUERY FROM SIWA

Eng. Khaled Shabody of Siwa Oasis ( is looking for any information or references about Siwa, its history and old travellers there. References which are available on the internet would be especially useful.

Queries from Bulletin 23

23-1. April 2005: POSTCARDS FROM EGYPT

Through the Association of Maltese in Egypt, Lewis Said was introduced to ASTENE. He is working on a series of Postcard Books on Egypt (1882-1956), which he would like to draw to the attention of our members.

Mr Said’s life is part of the very fabric of travel in Egypt. His great-great-grandfather went to Port Said after the opening of the Suez Canal and started the first ship water supply company in the Canal Zone. Mr Said was born in Port Said in 1936, grew up in Egypt, worked in Port Said and Fanara. In the 1950s he settled in England, married and had a family. Nostalgia and a wish to show ‘his’ Egypt to his family started him collecting postcards and other memorabilia of Egypt (books and newspapers dating going back to 1846). He is planning a series of books on Egypt using this collection. He is creating a website to promote these books.

Lewis Said can be contacted by Fax on 01869-822544 or


Dorothy Anderson asked for information for a friend’s researches on her great-uncle, Williamson Wallace (1860-1932), who came of a family involved in teaching and developing agriculture. He was Director of the College of Agriculture in Egypt until 1910. Articles from the Dumfries and Galloway Standard, July, 1893 give some background.

Rejoicings at Kelton
The village of Kelton was a scene of unusual gaiety and excitement on Thursday on the occasion of Miss Cameron’s marriage. From every house in the village flags were displayed. Conspicuous amongst the British flags waved the Egyptian colours, with its crescent-shaped moon in the centre, put up by Mrs Captain Richardson in honour of the gallant bridegroom. Punctually at three o’clock the village bell was rung by Mr Cameron’s coachman, and all the villagers assembled together in the village inn to drink Mr and Mrs Wallace’s health …

The Bridegroom
Mr Williamson Wallace, director of the Egyptian College of Agriculture, Cairo … was selected in 1889 as agricultural expert to the Egyptian Government … Within twelve months … Mr Wallace organised the Egyptian College of Agriculture, an institution which is endowed by an annual Government grant of over £5000.

The staff of the College, which is half European and half Egyptian, includes among its professors three graduates of Edinburgh University – William Mackenzie D. Sc., (chemistry); John Bayne MA, BSc. (Agriculture); John Mitchell BSc (biology).

Attached to the College is an experimental farm of 300 acres of rich alluvial soil, capable of producing two crops yearly, and worth an annual rental of £7 per acre. Modern European implements and machinery, which are considered suitable to Egyptian conditions, are there seen at work by the agricultural community.

After their wedding Wallace and his bride returned to Cairo. While in Cairo Rosina fell ill, was in hospital, recovered and made a generous bequest to the hospital reported in the Dumfries and Galloway Standard on 27 March 1895 quoting from the Egyptian Gazette

A Handsome Gift
A most generous donation of £1200 has been made by (Miss) Rosina Cameron of Kelton, Dumfries, Scotland, now staying at Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo to the Victoria Hospital for the foundation and maintenance of a free bed for poor women of any nationality or creed.

Does any reader know about the College or some later Institute which originated from the College? or know of the Victoria Hospital – perhaps now under a different name.

Please reply to either the Bulletin Editor or the ASTENE office by e-mail.

23-3. April 2005: NAPOLEON’S MAMALUKE

When Sir Miles Nightingall travelled through Egypt in 1819 his party was accompanied by a Mamaluke as interpreter. He spoke French like a native of the country. He told James Hanson, recorder of the journey, that he had served Napoleon Bonaparte for sixteen years, and “if the French nation had been half as faithful to him as his Mamaluke guard, he would still have been sovereign of Europe.” This man was a Christian, born at Cairo, and a remarkably handsome fellow.

If any more is known of him, please let the Editor know.


In Jerusalem in 1866 the Christian missionary Edward Blyden of Liberia (1832-1912) passed by the “mosque of the West Africans, where I saw natives of Senegambia at prayers…It is no uncommon thing for Mohammedans from the west coast of Africa to find their way across the continent to Egypt, Arabia and Syria on pilgrimage. I met Mandingoes at the mosque of Mehemet Ali in Cairo…” (p. 180, West Africa to Palestine, 1873) He travelled via Britain to Egypt and Palestine and wrote a fascinating account of the experience.
Are there any other records of travel from west or other parts of Africa?

23-5. April 2005: WHO WAS MATILDA PLUMLEY?

The name is so idyllically Victorian that I turned to her Days and Nights in the East with interest. Who was she? The preface, dated May 19th, 1845 gives a small clue: “For these notes I am indebted to another, but for the remarks, reflection or opinions … I alone am responsible…”

Was it Miss Plumley who shared a boat along the ‘Mamhoudie’ Canal with a Colonel X; who was an eager shot at anything from a pigeon to a crocodile (and “astonished the natives by shooting their pigeons” p.31); who entered a mosque in Cairo and went into and up the pyramids one morning; was entertained by dancing girls; rode astride a donkey; and then went into the hammam at Siout, undressed, and had “a sturdy young fellow take me in hand…scrub me well with a rough glove… and then lead me, still naked, to the dressing room where the Count and V. were rolled up like mummies, and my attendant soon relieved me of my wet drapery…”(p.64)? Was it Miss Plumley who ran from her bed into the Red Sea? (p.99) If not Miss Plumley, who was it?

Please let the Editor know!

23-6. April 2005: MY ANCESTOR, CAPTAIN S.C. PLANT (1866-1921) IN IRAQ

Michael Gillam is looking for information about his forebear and the his life with the Euphrates and Tigris Steam Navigation Company. Briefly the facts are:
In April 1891, a 25-year-old Englishman, Samuel Cornell Plant, was given command of a stern-wheel paddle steamer, the Shushun, and instructed to set up a passenger and freight service in south west Iran. He and his engineer, Stanley Webber, were employed by the Euphrates and Tigris Steam Navigation Company in its service between Basra and Baghdad. The company had been asked to assist the Mackinnon Group in establishing a trade route between the Gulf Ports and the Persian plateau by providing a steamer service to be linked to a light railway to Isphahan. The two young men established the river service, but the light railway never came to fruition. The Sushun, originally built for the Nile expedition to Khartoum, continued to steam the rivers leading to Shatt al Arab until 1915 when she was commandeered by the British forces in Mesopotamia. She took part in the battle of Ctesiphon, was lost to the Turks and probably sunk.

Back in England, in 1898 Cornell Plant wrote an account of his adventures. His handwritten manuscript is kept in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, London. His description of the River Diz is still included in the current edition of the Admiralty Pilot of the Persian Gulf.

This experience prepared him for the task for which he is best known: the introduction and development of steam navigation through the Upper Yangtze. He died in Hong Kong in 1921 and his life is marked by a granite memorial on the banks of the Yangtze.

Michael Gillam would like to know about life in the Euphrates and Tigris Navigation Company 1885-1895 – What were Plant’s duties? – For how long did the Ahwaz Shuster service run? – Any information about his personal life and his wife Alice Peters who he married in Banda Bushire in 1898.

Please send any information to the Bulletin Editor or to          

 23-7. April 2005: WHO HELPED LUCY PERKINS?

Arielle Kozloff of Cleveland, Ohio is interested in Lucy Olcott Perkins, an American (sometimes mistaken for British) in Egypt 1900-12, before being interned in an insane asylum in Britain 1912-13, and sent back to the US. Who put her in hospital in London – possibly a private hospital? Who paid for her, as she had no money of her own? She may have been sent there from Cairo.

Please reply to the Bulletin Editor.


General Mustapha, alias Campbell, was according to Dr William Wittman, surgeon to the British Military Mission in the Grand Vizier’s army, “a Scotchman who lived for upwards of fifty years in Turkey, had embraced the Mahomedan religion and attained the rank of Cumbaragi Bashy. By 1800 he was general of bombardiers in the Turkish army. He had been entrusted with the construction of military works in the Turkish empire. Wittman met him in February, 1800 near Jaffa. He was then between seventy and eighty years of age, “appeared well informed, and to have received a polished education.” (p. 251, Travels in Turkey, etc)
What more is known of him?


The Association of Maltese Communities of Egypt (founded Alexandria 1854), the Association of Greeks from Egypt and Aide Associatione Italini d’Egitto are researching the history of the various (foreign) people who lived in Egypt and memories of their historical voyages. The information will be shared through their newsletters. Should you have any information or family history and records which could be of interest to them.

Please write to:
AMCOE, Mr Herbert Magri-Overend, 34 Mills Road, Melksham, Wilts SN12 7DT
AGE, Mr Nicholas Nikitaridis, Drosini 11, 11141, Athens, Greece
AAIE, Mr Mario Palmerini, Via Quarticciolo11, 00010 S. Angelo Romano, RM, Italy

Queries from Bulletin 22

22-1. January 2005: WHO WAS WILLIAM WRIGHT?

J. Rady asks: A friend is researching her ancestor’s travels in Syria. Have there been any sightings of him in the literature?

Please reply to the Bulletin Editor.

The answer: Mus Jaculus or the Jumping Mouse