Levantine Heritage
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The Contributors
Rose Marie Caporal | Alessandro Pannuti | Ft Joe Buttigieg | Mary Lemma | Antoine ‘Toto’ Karakulak | Willie Buttigieg | Erika Lochner Hess | Maria Innes Filipuci | Catherine Filipuci | Harry Charnaud | Alfred A. Simes | Padre Stefano Negro | Giuseppe Herve Arcas | Filipu Faruggia | Mete Göktuğ | Graham Lee | Valerie Neild | Yolande Whittall | Robert Wilson | Osman Streater | Edward de Jongh | Daphne Manussis | Cynthia Hill | Chris Seaton | Andrew Mango | Robert C. Baker | Duncan Wallace QC | Dr Redvers ‘Red’ Cecil Warren | Nikolaos Karavias | Marianne Barker | Ümit Eser | Helen Lawrence | Alison Tubini Miner | Katherine Creon | Giovanni Scognamillo | Hakkı Sabancalı | Joyce Cully | Jeffrey Tucker | Yusuf Osman | Willem Daniels | Wendy Hilda James | Charles Blyth Holton | Andrew Malleson | Alex Baltazzi | Lorin Washburn | Tom Rees | Charlie Sarell | Müsemma Sabancıoğlu | Marie Anne Marandet | Hümeyra Birol Akkurt | Alain Giraud | Rev. Francis ‘Patrick’ Ashe | Fabio Tito | Pelin Böke | Antonio Cambi | Enrico Giustiniani | Chas Hill | Arthur ‘Mike’ Waring Roberts III | Angela Fry | Nadia Giraud | Roland Richichi | Joseph Murat | George Poulimenos | Bayne MacDougall | Mercia Mason-Fudim née Arcas | Eda Kaçar Özmutaf | Quentin Compton-Bishop | Elizabeth Knight | Charles F. Wilkinson | Antony Wynn | Anna Laysa Di Lernia | Pierino & Iolanda Braggiotti | Philip Mansel | Bernard d’Andria | Achilleas Chatziconstantinou | Enrichetta Micaleff | Enrico Aliotti Snr. | Patrick Grigsby | Anna Maria and Rinaldo Russo | Mehmet Yüce | Wallis Kidd | Jean-Pierre Giraud | Osman Öndeş | Jean François d’Andria | Betty McKernan | Frederick de Cramer | Emilio Levante | Jeanne Glennon LeComte | Jane Spooner | Richard Seivers | Frances Clegg
Former British Consul for Izmir 1973-2014

According to Consul Buttigieg who spent all of his life in Izmir, the Buca church according to the 1965 contract still belongs to the Anglican community and the Buca councils (especially the period of Işılay Saygın, 1973-1980) did not abide by the rules of the contract. As seen in the archives the church and cemetery were to be protected and converted to a Levantine history museum (the vision of council head Ertan Erdek in 1992). He believes the council still retain the Sultan’s firman for the church, original construction plans, with a wooden eagle shaped lectern and the church bell for the neighbouring seminary, at their basement. In the 1980s all registers and church files kept until then at the consulate were handed to the church and later the registry books were sent to London by Ft. Jack (1994-1996). Regrettably no copies of these were made at the time but there is the possibility of making copies for local use in paper or diskette format. The church files were kept at the consulate (old parsonage) in the 60-70s, but under the former minister Ft. G. Evans were removed, scattered and partially lost.

As a child living nearby at the time he remembers the mob attack on the church in August 1964. Using the pretext of Britain’s role during the Cyprus troubles, the crowd seriously damaged the church, but fortunately their attempt to completely burn down the church, by creating a heap of bibles and furniture for the fire whose flames still didn’t reach the roof, was unsuccessful. This lucky building also escaped the ravages of the 1922 fire as it was located beyond the fire site.

According to Mr Buttigieg there was a rivalry between the communities of Boudjah and Bornobat. The bulk of the communities of Boudjah were railway managers and merchants one run lower than those of Bornova. Bornova was the first address for the wealthy.

In times past in the area known as Caravan Bridge and know corresponding to the lower reaches of the Gürçesme road (one of the ways to Buca), many Christian cemeteries existed. Of these the German and Austrian ones were destroyed before 1970. The Anglican one around 1980 and the R. Catholic ones were removed in 1981. Only the nearby Jewish cemetery was able to escape the ravages of this mayor of the time, Ihsan Alyanak (1973-1980). Mr Buttigieg remembers just before the final clearance of the last cemetery seeing inside an opened sarcophagus type grave, the almost perfectly preserved body of a woman in her bridal dress. The best statues from these cemeteries were transported to the grounds of the Gürçesme retirement home and to the Agora site. The Greek Orthodox cemeteries were destroyed in the early years of the republic and the main one was situated where the Alsancak stadium now stands. Even today trench excavations for services in the area, bring to light the bones and Orthodox icons buried with the departed.

The Levantine migrations to Turkey were often done with intermediate steps and for many families the nearby Aegean island of Chios was a stepping stone. The island of Chios was also a major point of emigration for Greeks during the 19th century and many were employed as maids and nannies by the Levantines. This allowed for the learning of Greek by this community which until recently was known by the majority of its members, long after the departure of its parent population. The neighbourhoods of the various ethnic groups were sharply delineated with the Turks living mostly in the Konak/İkiçeşmelik area. The layout of the city has radically changed over time, the still standing Catholic St. Polycarp church now ½ km inland was built by the walls of a former crusader castle (St. Peter) guarding the inner harbour, both of which no longer exist.

 Note: The ruins of the castle and houses within were pulled down in 1872 p.145.

Similarly infilling over time meant the former British consulate bordering the bay was later was a block inland, yet the street in front continued to be referred as the English quay [İngiliz iskelesi].

The former British seaman’s hospital following its closure in the 1940s was rented out to the order of Italian sisters and operated as the Saint Antoine hospital. Later taken over by Turkish authorities it continues to serve as the Tourism Lycée School.

Most Levantines arrived in the 1800s, but some such as the Dutch Van der Zee and Dutilh families (the latter are still very much around) trace their migration to the 1600s.

The high stone building situated between Halkapınar and Alsancak stadium was once a flour mill. In 1982 the building was converted to its still present use, the state security courts [DGM]. The first public prosecutor of the time (Enver Ersan) found in the basement of this building a trunk containing old clothes and photograph albums. From the notes in the album it was obvious both the photos and the flour mill once belonged to the Barker family. I am continuing my endeavours to locate the now retired judge who is in poor health.

Consul Willie’s ancestry goes back to the island of Malta (Gozo), with his mother’s side arriving 1840, and his great-grand father, a boat builder arriving in 1870 with his wife, from the wealthy Faruggia family. In view of the difference of social status, at first the father of the bride would not give his consent, but his daughter upon falling seriously ill and the local doctor telling him of the only cure, he relinquished but not before the groom had his condition, never to bring her back! And he never did. The former Maltese colony in Izmir was clustered mostly behind the Santa Maria church.

Examining the 1898 dated Alsancak British Protestants list from the archives I presented, Mr Buttigieg made the following comments. Of the large British Levantine families nobody is left that carries those surnames. The Gout’s emigrated to France, UK and Australia, of the Maltass a lady married to an Italian (Stenno) lives in Karşıyaka and a Whittall married the owner of the Raks factory to become Valerie Önel. Of the Joly family a lady named Maggie still lives. Many of the names on the list he is not familiar with, but is aware E. Abbott was a rich miner but failed economically during the republic era. He believes the Gout’s operated the mercury mine whose ruins are still standing 5 km. from Karaburun near the Çesme road.

 Note: In reality this was a Whittall owned and run mine as revealed by book reference. Also the gentleman Valerie Anne Whittall married in 1970, Izmir was another Turk (WFT).

Of the British ladies married to foreign subjects he is able to detect many nationalities such as Plati (Greek), Schnell (German), Marcara (Armenian), Belhomme (French) and Manifico (Italian / Maltese). The last name included in the ‘Point radius list’ he knows lived in the area Greeks called ‘Mortaka’, meaning ‘down and outs’ a poorer mostly Greek populated district corresponding to area between Tepecik (Yenişehir) and Kahramanlar.

The Bornova based Wilkinson family now live in Istanbul.
The dual list also includes those of the ‘Old Hospital’, possibly corresponding to the predecessor of the British Seaman’s Hospital that is itself listed in the ‘Point’ radius, so probably the Crimean War period hospital. This was possibly in the vicinity of the Crimean cemetery whose location corresponds with the present Birth Hospital [Doğum hastanesi] of Konak. A cousin of Queen Victoria was buried in this cemetery and she wished for the remains to be brought home. Since the precise grave could not be ascertained, all remains in this cemetery were exhumed and re-interred in London mid 19th century. The plot of land was then sold to the state. The remainder of the British land holdings in the city, including the site of the former consulate were sold off in the 1960s. Remembering it as a child, the former British consulate was situated by ‘La Rue des Roses’ corresponding to the 2nd Kordon by the present Republic square (from the present Anıt apt. to the Red Crescent building).

 Notes: 1- There is an on-line listing of the ‘return of the medical officers appointed the civil hospital at Smyrna’, viewable here:
2- From the Whittall family tree we know that Richard Edward Wilkinson was himself the son of former consul at Izmir, Charles Wilkinson – however records here ‘disagree’, (and one of his brothers, Frederick Edgar – born 1891, was consul at Mukden, now Shenyang in Manchuria in Northern China and another, Richard was the governor of Sierra Leone), and who were all the sons of Richard Wilkinson, the former consul at Manila in the Phillipines, who married a Smyrna (Jane – 1842-1928) Whittall. Continuing the line one of Richard Edward’s sons, Charles Frederick (born 1933) having worked for the Istanbul Levantine firms Gilchrist & Walker and La Fontaine & Co. now runs this firm himself, renamed, Merkez deniz acentalığı TAŞ [central maritime agency].

It has been documented (‘Mübadele’ titled book) through the eye witness account of an Austrian fire chief and insurance company reports that the great fire of Izmir was started by the Armenians in their own district, 5 days after the departure of the Greek army, presumably out of spite. After the exchange of populations with Greece (Mübadele), Ataturk placing some of the new immigrants (mostly from Crete) in the vacated quarters of Izmir hoped this population would like the Greeks before, prove to be industrious, as they had lived amongst them. He was disappointed as, many were not only lazy but were apt to raid other vacant houses for possessions.

The history of the Levantines can be sourced from various official archives. These include the archives of the foreigners’ department of the Police, the Izmir chamber of commerce archives and deeds to the communal property recorded in Ottoman script in the Heritage [Vakıflar] department. Also apart from the official church registers, are the diaries of the Dominican and Capuchin monks kept by the Catholic church authorities.

 Notes: 1- Consul Buttigieg takes a keen interest in the Levantine heritage and regrets that the present consular files are limited. He also is keen to see the status of the Izmir British consulate raised further in the future to Consul-Generalship, as it was between 1900 and 1950s.
2- Consul Buttigieg’s interview with a Turkish newpaper in 2000 is still on-line, where he suggests positive measures to revive Izmir’s sagging tourism potential, and details of his family background.
3- There are web sites dealing with the great fire of Izmir, though mostly trying to apportion blame. One that is light on grinding axes is based on the impressions of an American industrial engineer, Mark Prentiss, viewable here
4- A web site dealing with the Buttigieg coat of arms, to which Mr Buttigieg has contributed here.

to top of page interview date 2001