[Available as a free PDF here.]

COMMENTS on this book are beginning to come in:

‘I can’t disembark at Southampton at the crack of dawn on Tuesday without telling you first what a boon companion your Grenville-Murray on my Kindle has been throughout the voyage and during rare moments of reading time in New York and Boston.  My enjoyment has been wonderfully enriched by the amazing parallels with another Murray – Craig, of course … You tell the G-M tale brilliantly and it cries out to be made into a film.  What a lively society it was then!  Your account puts the Oscar Wilde affair nicely into perspective’ (Brian Barder, QM2, 3 November, 2014). Since then, Brian has been kind enough to post a blog about the book. [24/11/2014]

‘Congratulations on your study of Murray. I’ve only just discovered him myself and I am so pleased there is a biography…. I’m reading the online version and enjoying it hugely. This superbly researched work is a model of the kind of study that is so badly needed to help provide the larger picture. There is too much writing on the well-known’ (Richard Grenville Clark, Apocalypse Press). [22/11/2014]

‘What an astonishing story: I sat up till half-past midnight last night finishing it. It is rare to find such a fund of real research contained in such a readable envelope’ (Robin Fairlie, sometime company managing director, marketing consultant, and author; now historian and collector of English verse epitaphs) [28/11/2014].

‘[T]hank you for the book. I greatly enjoyed reading it and revisiting the East in the 1850s and 1860s’ (Dr Laurence Guymer, Head of the Department of History, Winchester College, and Research Associate in the School of History, University of East Anglia; author of Curing the Sick Man: Sir Henry Bulwer and the Ottoman Empire, 1858-1865 (Republic of Letters, 2011) [29/1/2016].


Grenville-Murray (1823-81) was one of the greatest English satirists of the mid-Victorian era. He was also a diplomatist and, unfortunately for his career, the principal targets of his energetic pen were the senior men in his own service: the pompous and dull-witted aristocrats who populated it with their more remote cousins as well as their near kin. Notable among the members of this ‘cousinocracy’ were his chiefs of mission when he was a young attaché, the Earl of Westmorland at Vienna (the musical ‘Lord Fiddle-de-dee’) and Lord Stratford de Redcliffe at Constantinople (the cantankerous and combustible ‘Lord Loggerhead’, later ‘Sir Hector Stubble’). Others included the senior officials in the Foreign Office whom he believed responsible for siphoning off a significant portion of the salaries of men like himself and damaging the careers of those who refused to play the game. In short, he was a whistle-blower in the British diplomatic service. He was especially active in this role in the mid-1850s but survived until 1868, when he was finally prised out of his post as consul-general at Odessa – and out of the service as a whole – only by means of an unholy alliance between the Foreign Office and the governor of New Russia General Kotzebue, each with their different motives for getting rid of him. He kept his position for so long chiefly because he had the quiet support of Lord Palmerston, who was one of the numerous lovers of his mother (the actress Emma Murray). He also gained protection, ironically enough, from his own strong connection to the cousinocracy, for it was widely and accurately believed that he was the illegitimate son of a duke. In some respects Grenville-Murray was also good at his job and certainly took it very seriously – and he wrote anonymously at a time when this was much more common than it is now. His favoured pseudonym was ‘The Roving Englishman’, whose articles first appeared in Household Words, the popular weekly launched in 1850 by the famous novelist Charles Dickens. (With reservations, Dickens was a great admirer of Grenville-Murray’s work and was still publishing him in the 1860s, in All the Year Round.) He ended up as a fugitive from English justice and an exile in Paris.

I decided to investigate Grenville-Murray when I stumbled on a book published in 1855 called Embassies and Foreign Courts. A History of Diplomacy by ‘The Roving Englishman’ – and wondered who on earth this author was. Having been entertained as well instructed by his rather eccentric work, discovered the identity of the author, and learned that he had written many more books (see the Internet Archive), I was disappointed to find that the essay on him in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is replete with sins of commission as well as omission (forget the Wikipedia article altogether), and so resolved to try to improve on it. My first idea was to write a lengthy biographical essay and post it on the new Articles page on this site but it is now a full-length book. (I gave a lecture on the subject at the British International History Group‘s annual conference at De Montfort University in Leicester in early September and have actually put the text of this on the Articles page.) Here is the Contents list of the book



1    Powerful Patrons

2    ‘The Roving Englishman’

3    Revenge of the ‘Cousinocracy’

4    The Queen’s Messenger

5    A Literary Manufactory in Paris



Embassies in Armed Conflict

Reviewed in the LSE Review of Books

I formed the plan to write this book after reviewing Diplomats at War: British and Commonwealth diplomacy in wartime (2008), a collection of essays edited by Christopher Baxter and Andrew Stewart. I thought they had come up with a good idea and gathered in some valuable work, and that it now merited a more thematic treatment over a longer time period and a focus broadened to include embassies in all forms of international armed conflict. I was also able to proceed from the foothold I had already established in the subject by virtue of the chapter I had written on the Second World War experience of the British embassy in Turkey in my British Diplomacy in Turkey, 1583 to the present (2009). The manuscript was completed at the end of June 2011 and is now published in Continuum’s new series, ‘Key Issues in Diplomacy’. Here is the contents list:


  1. The Military Component
    Defence section
    Military advisers
    Intelligence officers
  2. Embassies in Enemy States
    Initial siege
    Prompt and dignified departures
    Internment pending exchange
    Preserving diplomatic relations
  3. Neutral Embassies to Belligerents
    Helping expatriates
    Reporting the war
    Commercial work
    Protecting foreign interests
  4. Belligerent Embassies to Neutrals Propaganda
    Espionage and special operations
    Evaders and escapers
    Placating the host
    Handling peace feelers
  5. Embassies to Frontline Allies
    In conventional warfare
    In low-intensity warfare
    The risk of militarization


You can read more about this here, as well as the title essay, which the publisher has generously provided as a sample chapter. This essay is actually a refreshed older one but the book also includes three which are based on new research: ‘Specific reciprocity and the 105 Soviet spies’, ‘Home or away?’ and ‘Wartime embassies’.

Reviewed in CornucopiaAmerican Diplomacy, Diplomacy & Statecraft, and the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

A brief description of this work, together with a lengthy preview via Google Book Search, can be found on the publisher’s website here.


Since publishing this book, a number of persons who served at the embassy but whom I either overlooked or whose significance I failed fully to appreciate have either been kindly drawn to my attention or occurred to me independently. Therefore, I add a little on these ‘missing persons’ below:

∙   Eustace Clare Grenville-Murray (1823-81), who was fifth paid attaché at the embassy in the mid-1850s, is perhaps my most glaring over-sight; so much so, in fact, that I have since written a full-length biography of him.  See Project 1 above..

•  A military attaché at the High Commission in the first years after World War II was Captain Harold Courtenay Armstrong, later famous for his biography of Kemal Atatürk. First published in 1932 under the title Grey Wolf, Mustapha Kemal: An intimate study of a dictator, this was banned in Turkey, although, according to The Times (15 Apr. 1962), it was “much enjoyed by Atatürk himself, who had it translated”. It was later reported by the same newspaper to be the favourite book of the Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdul Nasser (5 Sept. 1970). The ODNB has no article on Armstrong but there is a useful obituary in The Times, 28 Aug. 1943. I am grateful to Sinan Kuneralp for drawing Armstrong’s association with the British diplomatic mission in Turkey to my attention.

•  ‘R. Syme’, the assistant press attaché at Ankara whom I mention on pp. 195-6, was the Oxford scholar and famous Roman historian, Sir Ronald Syme (he was knighted in 1959). A brilliant linguist, according to the long essay on him in the ODNB he was “professor of classical philology in Istanbul” during WWII. “He did indeed teach classics; as to what other roles he played (as he certainly did),” the ODNB continues, “he never, to the end, gave the smallest hint”. Hmmm, well, that in itself seems a pretty big hint to me. I am grateful to Alan Henrikson for alerting me to Syme.

•   The Marshall of the Supreme Consular Court at Constantinople, 1919-24, was Joseph Bowman. Like Capt. Armstrong (see above), he was invisible to me because he was not prominent at the time and served during the ‘High Commission’ period when staffing was irregular and the FO List incomplete. He was born in Thrislington, a poor mining community near Durham, on 12 March 1866, not 30 March 1865, as recorded in the FO List. Orphaned young, Bowman lied about his age in order to be accepted into the Royal Marines, and – the fabrication then being on record – presumably found it prudent to live with it thereafter. He spent the first half of his career with the Royal Marines, seeing active service during the Boxer rebellion, when he gained a reputation for being fearless and intrepid. He was then Constable at the British Legation at Peking from 1901 until 1905, when Sir Ernest Satow – an iconic figure to students of diplomacy – was minister. After a period in the Royal Fleet Reserve, he was employed as Second Messenger and Gaoler at the Constantinople Consulate-General during the four year prior to the outbreak of war with Turkey in November 1914, although he did not leave until 9 December.

His evacuation document, which also covered his wife and three children and was provided by the US consulate-general (the Americans had assumed protection of British interests), can be seen opposite – click on the image to see larger version. During the war he was employed in the Passport Department of the FO until March 1919, whereupon he returned to Constantinople as Marshall. With the capitulations abolished by the Treaty of Lausanne and the consular court along with them, Bowman’s position met the same fate and in 1924 he returned to England, where he received the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) on 3 June. His descendants, notably his great-granddaughter, Mrs Pamela E. Button, have inherited many stories about Bowman’s adventures in Constantinople, particularly with Russian royalty, including the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrova, whom he at one stage accompanied to Princes Island in the Sea of Marmara. His son, Henry, was Chief Messenger at the consulate-general from 1925 until 1929 and Superintendant of the British Seamen’s Home in Constantinople. It is also interesting to learn that Pamela Button’s father, Bernard Bowman, Joseph’s grandson, went to school in Istanbul with Andrew Mango. Pamela Button < button858@btinternet.com>would be delighted to hear from anyone who has information about Joseph Bowman, and would be glad to grant access to the extensive family archives dealing with his life and times in her possession to any bona fide researcher.
Sources: FO List; Northern Echo, 7 Dec. 1900; Mrs Pamela Button.

(The Isis Press: Istanbul, 2008)

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 my recently published biography, 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. The first of these was that 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 that 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 or 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 that 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 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 a few 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); and 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.