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Thread: A special order Wilkinson, for a Prince of Egypt

  1. #1
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    A special order Wilkinson, for a Prince of Egypt

    Hi folks,
    I thought you might enjoy seeing a special sword I have recently acquired.

    According to the proof book record, this was ordered in 1882 by 'Larking' (I believe John Wingfield Larking) for 'Mahmoud Hamdy Pasha' - I believe Prince Mahmoud Hamdi, son on Ismail Pasha, the former Khedive of Egypt. I believe that Prince Mahmoud then gave the sword to an unnamed veteran officer with the initials CS, who had fought for the Ottomans and either the Egyptians or the British. John Wingfield Larking was the British Consul to Egypt. His son Cuthbert Larking was also ADC to the Khedive in 1884, but I think the proof book entry more likely refers to his father John.

    On the blade are the battle honours, in French, of Shipka Pass (1877-78), the Siege of Plevna (1877), Egypt 1882, the Sudan 1884-87 and Crete 1897.

    On the underside of the scroll guard is an applied brass monogram of the initials CS. Engraved on the backstrap are the initials CS again. Both appear quite French in style to me, though the banner with the battle honours looks more German to me.

    Both the Ottomans and Egyptians employed a lot of European officers, including French, British, Swiss, American, German and others. Despite the sword being British in origin, I suspect that the officer who finally carried this sword, and for whom the battles honours refer, was probably French, Swiss or German.

    The sword itself is wonderful, featuring a patent solid hilt, with wooden grips, a scroll guard and a 33 x 1 1/8 inch 'biconvex' blade which seems to have been manufactured ready sharp.










    More images: http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/antiqu...rticles/egypt/

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    I haven’t had a chance to read through everything so not sure if it fits, but this is what I received from the auction house on the day of the auction:

    “After asking the seller again for information concerning the blade lot 414,
    He told me he had found a service book with certificates in which appears the various posts and missions of this colonel.
    His exact name is Colonel W. Sidney Churchill Bey, he was in service from January 28, 1880 to June 1, 1910.
    He was appointed First Class Drogman in the Cyprus Regiment and Pioneer under Colonel Gordon from 28 January to 26 October 1880
    Attached to Colonel Leach, Chief Military Commissariat of the Egyptian Campaign from June 1, 1882 to October 7, 1882
    Appointed second lieutenant in Egypt and attached to Lieutenant Colonel Prescott, commander of the Cairo police, on January 2, 1883.
    Appointed lieutenant on August 11, 1883
    Appointed Captain June 28, 1884
    Appointed Adjutant Major Honorary and Police Inspector of Cairo August 15, 1887
    Leave the service of Egypt on January 1st, 1892
    Appointed Captain of the Cretan gendarmerie on 11 February 1897 under the command of Colonel Bor
    Appointed Commander of the gendarmerie and police of the duchy of Candié August 16, 1898
    Leaves Candié for Constantinople on October 18, 1898
    Appointed by Imperial Graduate in the Gendarmerie of Constantinople on March 30, 1899
    Appointed Major by Serman on May 11, 1899
    Appointed Colonel of the Gendarmerie of Constantinople on September 28, 1901
    Appointed Inspector General of Police and Gendarmerie of Pera December 5, 1908
    Leave the Police on July 14, 1909
    Leave the service of the gendarmerie on June 14, 1910”

  4. #4
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    Thanks Jordon, I had been searching down the Churchill clue from the auction house, but this was more info than I had!

    Looks like there is lots to read:
    http://www.academia.edu/34914929/The...capegoat..docx

  5. #5
    How can CS be SC?

  6. #6
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    It's a good question and I don't know the answer.
    My first thoughts are that names and initials are sometimes written with the surname first - Hungarians always do that. And it seems more than coincidence that this seemingly diverse range of battle honours does in fact match William Sidney Churchill's career, as he was an interpreter during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-80. There cannot have been many people who were in Turkish employ during 1877-80, Egyptian from 1880-1887 and then back in Turkish employ again and in Crete in 1897. It seems to match too well.

  7. #7
    The evidence seems to be contradictory; e.g., that he was not in the 1st Sudan War nor in the Russo-Turkish War in 1877-8, but in 1879-80. Anyway, except for Crete (about which I can't find any evidence thus far), if the initials were GS, a perfect match would be Col. George Conrad Sartorius Pasha, who was in all of the other conflicts and who signed his personal letters "GS". Would like to see a close-up shot of the initials. You're certain, though, that it's a "C"?
    Cheers!

  8. #8
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    Thanks, yes it is puzzling. I'm pretty sure the initials are CS, though I will ponder some more on them and post photos (of the initials, not of me pondering).
    George Sartorius is interesting indeed! A good thread about him over at Victorian Wars: http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=8694
    I don't think these initials are GS however and I'm reluctant to throw out the provenance provided by the seller, which seems to be fairly meaty, even if it does not seem to match on a few counts. Churchill was tortured to death by the Turks in 1919 according to newspaper accounts (contrary to what is written on some websites) for dabbling in Ottoman politics. His wife died many years later in Genoa, Italy - which may help explain how the sword came to be in an auction not so far away in Switzerland.
    There is always the possibility that CS relates to someone other than Churchill, but that Churchill still owned the sword. He could have been given it, or taken it. But then we come back to the question of Shipka Pass and the Siege of Plevna - was he at either? Though I suppose it is also possible that the battle honours relate to CS and Churchill acquired the sword after those had been added - perhaps during his time in the Gendarmerie in Crete, or afterwards.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    a perfect match would be Col. George Conrad Sartorius Pasha
    Sartorius served in Afghanistan 78-79 and Burma 86-88, so if it were him, I'd rather expect to see those major campaigns on the list! Also, he had nothing to do with Crete. But an interesting character for sure! Amusingly, I have a sword with the initials GS on it that I have never been able to attribute to anyone and the dates kind of match!

  10. #10
    Re Sartorius: "was with Baker Pasha through the greater part of the Russo-Turkish War" (Who's Who, 1903). Mentioned numerous times in Baker's "War in Bulgaria" (1879). "From assisting Colonel Valentine Baker in the war in Bulgaria, Major Sartorius rejoined his regiment in Afghanistan" (Centurions of a Century, 1911). But no matter.
    Last edited by L. Braden; 06-23-2018 at 11:56 AM.

  11. #11
    As the Khedive's agent, J. W. Larking sent Mahmoud Hamdy (or Mahmud Hamdi) to England at age 9 to be educated by a clergyman in Kent. (Trivia.)
    If the sword was ordered in 1882, why do the battle honours extend beyond that date? Who added them? Cuthbert Larking? (Larking Sr. died in 1891.) As far as I know, the prince wasn't a military man; but there was another Mahmud Hamdi Pasha who was. Also, a collateral relative of the Larkings was Capt. Rodney Charles Style of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regt., of which Cuthbert was lt. col. He served with the Soudan Frontier Field Force in 1885-6 (Medal, and Khedive's Star). He was known as "Charley Style". Trivia, or a connection?
    Another damned mystery!

    P.S. I know that presentation swords weren't given only to military men, but also to civilian officials and others.
    Last edited by L. Braden; 06-23-2018 at 11:58 AM.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the extra material, L.

    In fact when I first got the Wilkinson proof book record, the first Larking I found was Cuthbert and of course his appointment as ADC to the Khedive in 1884. But then after more searching found his father and I think it's more likely that his father John was the one who commissioned the sword from Wilkinson.

    Regarding the battle honours, these were definitely added later - they have all been etched at the same time and must therefore date to 1897 or later. The natural assumption is that the battle honours relate to CS, but that's not certainly the case. It's entirely possible that CS was not the same person who added the battle honours.

    Whoever added those battle honours must have been working for the Ottomans for a long time, but must have also been involved with both the Egyptians and the British, in my opinion. And of course the sword is a British-made sword in the British style: When we look at photos of Ottoman officers, they tend to be wearing Turkish swords. The Egyptian top officers tend to be wearing Mamluk or French style swords. But the battle honours are written in the French form, not English. So perhaps not someone who was entirely British. Though French was the lingua franca of the officers serving in Egypt apparently.

    Given the Egyptian emblem and initials MH on the blade, I don't feel any doubt that Larking bought this sword for Prince Mahmoud Hamdy. That part of the story is simple, I think. I don't think there is any possibility of this being the famous Ottoman officer Mahmud Hamdi, who did take part in the Turkish conflicts listed on the blade, but I believe had no involvement in Egypt or the Sudan.

    Prince Mahmoud did in fact hold a military rank in the Egyptian army and I believe he was commissioned in 1883. This could be why Larking was purchasing a sword for him in 1882. But whether that was the case or not, it seems clear that the Prince gave this sword to someone else - the CS person. Of course the battle honours later etched on the blade cannot relate to the Prince himself, as they range from 1877-1897, across campaigns that the Prince cannot have had any involvement in.

    So, even putting aside the matter of the Churchill lead, we're looking for someone who:
    Served alongside the Turks in 1877-79 and 1897
    Served alongside the British and/or Egyptians in 1882
    Served in the Sudan between 1884-87
    Was probably high-ranking
    Was probably in the infantry or engineers rather than cavalry (due to sword and scabbard details)
    Had some reason to have the battle honours written in French
    Was probably in favour with the Egyptian royalty

    Could it be Churchill? Maybe. I agree lots doesn't add up. I think it is more likely that Churchill ended up with the sword, but 'CS' owned it before him and is the person who the battle honours relate to.

    Regards,
    Matt
    Last edited by Matt Easton; 06-23-2018 at 12:36 PM.

  13. #13
    Great post, Matt, and I agree!
    The prince died on Sept. 16, 1921, at age 61; and according to an obit in The Near East of Sept. 29, he had "a short career" in the Military College at Abbassieh, near Cairo, which confirms what you mentioned.
    Last edited by L. Braden; 06-23-2018 at 01:18 PM.

  14. #14
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    I think a next step might be to look for any British officers with initials CS, who were employed by the Khedive in 1882-1887.

    Here is a document showing that French was the preferred language of the Khedive:
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  15. #15
    But what if the initials were added after 1887? And what person matches the battle honours, unless they are inaccurate?
    Anyway, here's some more genealogical info on Bimbashi (Major) or (according to other sources) Colonel William Sidney Churchill Bey of the Egyptian Army: Born in Constantinople (Istanbul) on Sept. 26, 1860; son of a newspaper editor and publisher of British descent; married Bianca Sereno, who presumably died, previous to 1887; married Elise Bensi (a.k.a Elisabeth Benci & Philomene Elisabeth Sophie Benci), on Aug. 29, 1887, who died in Istanbul (not Genoa) on Mar. 18, 1946; had 3 children, 2 girls and a boy; died in Constantinople on July 30, 1918. Contradictory accounts of his death.
    As for the sword ending up in Switzerland: Slatin Pasha, who preferred his middle name Carl, lived in Switzerland from 1918 to 1922, then Meran(o), South Tyrol, N. Italy. Just a coincidence, of course!
    Last edited by L. Braden; 06-24-2018 at 01:58 PM. Reason: additions

  16. #16
    P.S. If the initials were original to the sword, then they can't be those of a person, who in 1882 was the prince. They would have to represent something other than a person. But if they were added subsequently, presupposing that the sword no longer belonged to the prince, then they could be those of a person. It's as simple as that! However, why would the prince give the sword to someone else; and if he did so, was it after John Larking's death in 1891? He was reputedly a great friend of the British. And why would he give it to that notorious Churchill?
    Speaking of whom, he was only 17 in 1877 and working in the family macaroni and biscuit factory; so is it likely that he was in the Russo-Turkish War? There's no known military record for him at that time.
    Last edited by L. Braden; 06-25-2018 at 09:14 AM.

  17. #17
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    The battle honours definitely cannot be those of the Prince and they were definitely added after 1897.
    Were they added at the same time as the CS initials? No way to know, but it seems possible. Likely even.
    CS therefore would have to have been involved in all those campaigns.
    Why did the Prince give his sword to CS? Perhaps in he just had it lying around and thought it would make a good gift for CS.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for the extra info by the way. The contradictory details of Churchill's death are quite bewildering.
    I am not convinced that this was Churchill's sword anyway, although he was pictured wearing a sword and it still seems slightly possible.

  19. #19
    We may never know for sure!
    Glad to have been of limited help, anyway.
    Cheers!

  20. #20
    It just struck me! Since Churchill inherited his deceased mother's baking business in 1875, he could have supplied the Turkish Army and been present during the Russo-Turkish War. That might also explain how he got attached to the chief commissariat officer of the Egyptian campaign of 1882. And as for CS rather than SC: the official languages of the Near East were then French and Turkish. The Turks wrote from right to left, and the French emphasized surnames and rarely used first and middle names in documents, etc. (E.g., "M. le General Marbot" or simply "Marbot".) Churchill was always known as "Sidney Churchill", and evidently preferred that to "William".
    Last edited by L. Braden; 06-25-2018 at 05:00 PM. Reason: additions

  21. #21
    CS = Churchill Sagh (Major or Adjutant-Major) or Churchill Soubachi (in French) or Subashi/Soubashi/Subasi (Chief of Police). In the East, rank always followed name.

  22. #22
    In 1878, C. was awarded his grandfather's and father's Nishani Iftikhar or Order of Pride, the second highest decoration in the Ottoman Empire, conferred on foreigners for services to the Turkish State, presumably for supplying the Turkish Army with macaroni and peksimet (rusk; hard, dry biscuit or twice-baked bread; the Turkish equivalent of hardtack).
    Last edited by L. Braden; 06-27-2018 at 10:52 AM.

  23. #23
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    Thanks for all this! You are finding much more about Churchill than I have managed! I think it bring things back to the approach that sometimes the simplest answer is most likely to be the correct one.
    Perhaps the most difficult factor to deal with, in my view, is why the Prince should have given his own sword to a relatively low-ranking official. It must have been the Prince's, due to the Wilkinson entry and his own initials and the royal emblem of Egypt on the blade, I think. It's one thing to give a presentation sword to an official, but giving someone your own sword, when you're a Prince, seems rather unusual.

  24. #24
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    Matt,

    What's the first thing you do with your old kit once your get something new?

    Or perhaps realise your not going to need it any more?

    Pass it on to someone else?
    Last edited by james.elstob; 06-27-2018 at 03:52 PM.

  25. #25
    More titles: serkerdeh (colonel or major of gendarmerie), salisseh (major), sanieh (colonel), Stambouli (native of Constantinople) or "de Stamboul". But I'm not convinced that any of these proposed suffixes are valid. "Bey" would be more valid.
    The battle honours are evidently those of Churchill, but we still have to explain the "CS". Does it represent a person's initials, or something else? If something else, was it added to the sword in 1882 or subsequently? There should be a way of determining if it was part of the sword in 1882. My guess is that it was added either when the honours were added or thereabouts. But who did the work: a swordsmith in the Near East or in Europe?
    I should have added the word "deceased" before "grandfather's and father's", because their decoration would not have been officially passed on to their descendant during their lifetime.

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