History of the British colony at Smyrna
by Hyde Clarke
Presented to the British museum by the author June 1862

At the request of several of our Smyrna subscribers [Levant Herald] we print the following report of the very interesting historical lecture recently delivered by Mr Hyde Clarke at the Literary and Scientific Institution in that town.

The English factory of Smyrna may be considered as taking its origin in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, by whom the first capitulations in favour of the English were obtained, placing them on the footing of the other privileged native and European communities. These privileges gave free trade and intercourse by sea and land, exemption from tribute, the decision of their own disputes amongst themselves, and permission to establish consuls in Smyrna, Scio, and other enumerated towns. Scio, it may be observed, was early a site of English trade. To Queen Elizabeth the first twenty articles of the capitulations were accorded, and these were extended and confirmed at the request of several embassies sent by James I, Charles I, and Charles II, the capitulations were not varied during the eighteenth century. In the seventeenth century we have various glimpses of the Smyrna factory and community, and particularly in the works of its literary and antiquarian consul Paul [Rycaut]. As however, little of that material is connected with our present subject, I shall content myself with a few reminiscences. The factory had a fair mercantile body, a church and chaplain. Of the mercantile body I may record the first Abbott, the father of that now great tribe in the Levant, who was a merchant in Smyrna for twenty years, from about 1660 to 1680, and was then a merchant in Constantinople for other twenty years, there dying, - and lies buried in the English cemetery at Feri-keui – commemorated in Knolles, “History of the Turks” – and where his tomb may still be seen in good order. The Turkey merchants of that day was – and many are now – a gentleman of good blood, and his tomb is emblazoned with a coat of arms and records his pedigree, in as much dignity as Latin can give.

The chief monument we have of the Smyrna factory of that age is the following inscription in the Armenian churchyard, on a large tombstone near the wall:-


In that century as afterwards one source of occasional occupation to the members of the factory was the visits of learned travellers. One of the earliest expeditions stripped Smyrna of its antiquities to supply the famous collection of Arundelian marbles. After Prideaux, amongst others we have Tavernier in 1630, D’Arnieux in 1653, Smith 1669, Spon and Wheler 1675, Lebruyn 1677, and De la Mottraye in 1699. By the end of the century we find that the English carried on a considerable trade, and had their country residences at Sevde-keui and Nare-keui, the former place having now been occupied by the English for about two centuries. Smyrna was very much improved in the seventeenth century, in the time of Sir Paul Ricaut by one of the famous Viziers, Achmet Keuprulu Oglou, who seeing the capacities of Smyrna, erected the Bezesteen, the Vizier Khan (for which he pulled down the theatre in 1675, as the remains of antiquity in the Khan will show) and the Custom house; and he restored the aqueduct in St. Anne’s valley and opened 83 fountains. The population of Smyrna in that century and the past was commonly supposed to be 100,000, including 15,000 to 20,000 Greeks, 5,000 Armenians, 6,000 to 10,000 Jews, and a large Frank body.

We get some notion of the Smyrna community at the beginning of the last century from Chishull’s Travels, which I have presented to the library. Among the names of the English there, we find Mr. Raye, Consul, Mr. Benjamin Jones and wife, Mr. Whalley, Mr. Dunster, Mr. Coventry, Mr. Ashe, Mr. Turner, Mr. Clotterbooke, Mr. Frye. The chaplain was the learned and renowned Edmund Chishull, Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, who sailed from the Downs, Sept. 12, 1690, arriving in Smyrna November 19, and residing there till February 10, 1702. During his residence, he made with several members of the factory his famous visit to Ephesus and the interior. The Consul had a house in town, a Greek inscription on which is commemorated, one at Sevdekeui. Smyrna was a domain of the Valideh Sultana, and was thereby particularly privileged. It was administered for her by a Mutesellim, the Governor general commonly living in Aidin.

The English community was virtually under the government of the Worshipful the Levant Company of London, the governing body of which was the Governor, Deputy governor, Treasurer, and Assistants, the latter eighteen in number. The general and local government was in reality dependant on the freemen or members of the company. The freeman was admitted by the general court of assistants in London, paying a certain fine, and taking an oath to obey the laws of the Company. As the freedom could only be obtained in England, the sons of members of this factory were in the habit of going to England to take up their freedom, and the date of admission into the Company is that of a visit to England, but afterwards the law was altered, so that Englishmen residing in the Levant could take the oath before the authorities of the Company, paying the fee of twenty pounds. The original members of the Company were all Englishmen; but, after the beginning of the eighteenth century, British subjects were admitted to the same privileges. Widows of members succeeded to their privileges.

From the time of his admission the member of the Company became a privileged person, particularly here and elsewhere in the Levant. The Lord Ambassador was appointed or removed under the influence of the body, which was in direct communication with the Secretary of State; and indeed the Governor was commonly an eminent and influential statesman. The Company appointed the Consuls, Vice Consuls, Treasurers, Cancelleries and other officers of the factories, commonly under the instigation of the local members acting upon their home connections. The members of the factory in Smyrna were commonly about a dozen in number. At Constantinople there were about half a dozen, at Salonica two or three, at Aleppo, latterly two or three. Besides members there were at Smyrna about half a dozen persons licensed to trade, but these were not members of the factory or factors as they were sometimes called. They were the sons or apprentices of freemen. Apprentices could not be bound beyond the seas, they were to be bound at home, and if so bound they had some limited privileges of trading. The English community consisted of these, of some officials, of some of the nonprivileged sons, of clerks, of stray wayfarers, and officers and seamen of the navy and trading ships in the season. The might person amongst these was the factor and member of the Company. He alone was qualified to be Consul or Treasurer of the factory. To be Treasurer of Smyrna he was required to be a factor of years standing, and he served only for two years. His salary was £100 in the beginning of the century, and £50 towards the end by depreciation of money. He made the presents on account of the Company to the authorities and received the Company’s dues or Consulages on all goods.

In the general of national assemblies, however, of the English, not only the factors but their sons or apprentices could sit provided they had resided six months. The general assemblies were called by the Consul, or by any two or more constituents, having at least twenty four hour’s notice. The Cancellier, who was a salaried officer, and was not permitted to trade, was the clerk of the General Assembly and kept his minutes which were likewise transmitted to London. As these were really and truly national assemblies, the Consul had no arbitrary power, but was only the presiding officer. He was not even allowed to vote, unless in the case of an equality of votes, “and no assembly”, says the law, shall be broke up or adjoined with the consent of the majority of such as shall be present at the same. Indeed the great object was that the English community should govern itself and as the Consul was responsible to the members of the company in London. It was difficult for him to transgress his duty. Indeed, the officials were so far under the dominion of the factory that at the request of the majority, on cause assigned, any cancellier, dragoman, giovane di lingua, or chaoush was suspended from his office or employment.

In order to avoid litigation, the factories were in the practice of “pattulating”, or excommunication from trade, any foreigners or natives who dealt fraudulently or refused to do justice. The factory protected the members of various nations and particularly, after the Declaration of Independence, the ships and citizens of the United States. Each year two auditors were elected to audit the account of the company. The dragomans were at the service of the factor in all ordinary cases without reference to the Consul, but in case of application to the Turkish authorities to act under the Consul’s instruction. The Consul was a factor of standing who had commonly been Treasurer of the factory, and was appointed after a hard canvass by the company at home. The Chaplain of the Factory was a man holding a good position in the Church, and Smyrna has been fortunate in that respect. Mr. Chishull has been already spoken of. To the Rev. Charles Williamson we are indeed indebted for the foundation of that library of the Factory, which, by the liberality of our present Chaplain and Vice-President, the Rev. W.B. Lewis, has been deposited in our Literary and Scientific Institution. The Rev. F.V.J. Arundell in this century wrote a standard work on the “Seven Churches”, which is a valuable contribution.

The travellers who visited Smyrna in the last century included Tournefort in 1701, Paul Lucas in 1715, von Egmont 1726, Thompsonin 1733, Pococke in 1739, Niebuhr 1767, Peysonuel in 1750, Riedesel in 1768, Choiseul Gouffier in 1776, Chandler in 1764, Stuart in 1788, Dallaway in 1794.

Of the houses in the latter part of the century I shall begin with that of Isaac Morier. He was admitted a member of the Company in 1773 and was then in London. In 1776, if no earlier, he formed the house of Morier and Franel. On 3rd June 1785, he united with Samuel Hicks Gribble and formed he house of Morier and Gribble. In that year Gribble went to England. On 22nd June 1787, Isaac Morier went to England, via Toulon. In 1789 he formed a new house of Morier and Wilkinson with Robert Wilkinson, who was admitted into the Levant Company on 17 October 1789, was the progenitor of the Wilkinsons, Wilkins, and so many Smyrna families. Isaac Morier went to England in October 1789, by the Mohawk, Captain Moring. He was connected by marriage with the Van Lenneps, and thereby with the Radstock family, and was the progenitor of a diplomatic and consular family, of which D.M. Morier, the oriental novelist, is a well-known member. Isaac Morier retired from the Smyrna house in September 1796; having left Smyrna, he recommenced his trade in London, where he was a member of the Court of the Company. He suspended payment in September 1803. My father, who knew him, told me that Isaac Morier attributed the proficiency of his sons as Orientalists, to his having bought at Smyrna seven slaves, each speaking a different language, and who were brought up with his family. In 1804, Isaac Morier was appointed Consul-general of the Company at Constantinople. John Philip Morier entered the Smyrna house on 2nd June 1797. In 1799, being then in London, he became a member of the company. Robert Wilkinson joined James Morier as Wilkinson and Morier. This house liquidated on 20 September 1806. In June 1809 Richard Wilkinson who died in 1861 was admitted to the Company. In June 1809 Richard and Frederick Wilkinson were taken in as partners, and a house was formed at Malta as Moore and Wilkinson. James Lafontaine seems to have been in Smyrna previous to 1790. In that year he was sent to look after the cargo of a stranded vessel on account of his capacity, and his having previously executed a like mission. In that year, he went to England by the Crescent. Messrss. Morier wrote on the 31st of August, “Mr. Lafontaine above-mentioned is gone to London to take up his freedom of the company, when he will return here to be a partner in our house. He is nephew to our Mr. Morier, who will have the pleasure of introducing him to you, therefore any further recommendation is superfluous.”

 Note: Another son of the above named Isaac Morier was James Justinian (1780?-1849) a traveller and an author, detailed here:
James Morrier’s life and works is viewable on this online book segment here:

Mr. J. Lafontaine was admitted a member of the Company May 3, 1791, and immediately returned to Smyrna, for the firm writes:-
“Mr Lafontaine returned a few days since (end of July) and is now a partner in our house”. The beginning of the house of Lee I cannot state. In 1776 Richard Lee was head of the firm of Lee and Maltass. In 1789, Richard Lee jun., was admitted into the firm, and in 1790 as a member of the Company. In 1786 and 1787, Richard Lee sen?, was Treasurer of the Factory. On 1st of Jan, 1794, the well-known John Lee, who is referred to by the travellers of this century, was admitted as a member of the Company, and on 13th January 1796 as a member of the firm. In 1797, Peter Lee of Smyrna was admitted as a member of the company. There was a firm of Richard and William Lee of London. James Lee of London was admitted a member of the company, 27th October, 1791, Thomas Hucknell Lee, 1790, William Lee, 1795, Edward Lee, 1798. Peter Lee was Consul at Alexandria in 1815. Richard and Edward Lee members of the court of Assistants in the Worshipful Company in 1803. In the great fire of 15th March, 1797, the house of Lees was burnt, and a temporary pressure brought on, so that they were obliged to ask the sympathy of their friends. Lee, however, had a stone warehouse, and thereby many goods were saved, on which a contribution was levied to pay the expense of watching. Edward Herbert Lee was admitted a member of the Company in 1818, and Edward Lee, June in 1822.

The house of Anthony Hayes existed at any rate in 1780. In 1783 was formed the house of Messrs Anthony and Frederick Hayes. Anthony Hayes, Jun., was a member in 1786. Frederick Hayes, left Smyrna, 20th January, 1789, and arrived at Marseilles after a seventy-six days voyage. He visited London, and returned to Smyrna in March, 1790. Anthony Hayes, Sen., was acting Consul in February 1788, and was Treasurer in 1788 and 1789. In 1790 and 1791 Anthony Hayes, Jun., was in England, when he was admitted a member of the Company on 20th September, 1791. In May, 1796 was formed the firm of Anthony and Edward Hayes and Co. and Anthony Hayes went to England. Samuel James and Edward Hayes of Smyrna received licences to trade on 22nd May, 1795. In 1791-2, Anthony and Frederick Hayes were engaged, in a negotiation for importing false money into Turkey, namely 80 and 100 para pieces, 60 para pieces, a few dollars and some gold coins. On 23rd July, 1794, Mr. Consul Anthony Hayes died. Francis Werry and Richard Wilkinson offered themselves as candidates and canvassed the London merchants. The family of the Hayes long continued members of the Company, and in 1818, Edward Hayes of Smyrna was admitted to the freedom. As a specimen of Smyrna living a few extracts from the private correspondence of Frederick Hayes may be welcome. In 1785 he sends for a service of queensware, twelve pairs of shoes, and one pair of boots, doubtless top-boots for which dandies were then wild. The dishes were to be small, as they had no great joints of meat as in England. On 16th July of that year, he sends for a ticket in the Irish State Lottery for a friend, directing that the number shall be early communicated. He afterwards requests two mahogany bureaus, and that the drawers should be fitted with wine glasses. This was done, for he acknowledges the receipt of 47 dozen. In 1786, he orders a piano. Joseph Francis formerly partner with Isaac Morier remained in Smyrna. In 1794 he recommended Francis Werry as candidate for the Consulship, in the place of Anthony Hayes deceased.

William Barker of Smyrna was admitted a member of the Company, Oct 2nd 1759. There are also Thomas John Barker admitted 30 Sept. 1785. John Barker of Aleppo, Edward Barker of Maesa admitted Oct. 21 1812. Samuel Barker of Smyrna was admitted in 1818, and Frederick Barker of Smyrna in 1822. On the 31st Jan 1792 Peter Emanuel Duveluz being then in London was admitted a member of the Co. He arrived in Nov. 1793 at Salonica via Belgrade with, Peter Chasseaud, after a tedious and dangerous journey and in 1794 was in business in Smyrna. George Boddington was admitted a member of the Company 30 Jan. 1789. He was married and had a son of the same name. Joseph W. Boddington of London was admitted 16 June 1804. John Charnaud was licensed to trade at Smyrna on the 28 Nov. 1798. He became a member of the Co. on the 30 Nov. 1804 and removed to Salonica where his brother Francis was Consul. In 1817 John Charnaud of Smyrna was admitted into the Co. Benjamin Boddington of Smyrna in 1818. George Perkins was admitted a member of the Co. 7 May 1782 and was in trade at Smyrna at least in 1786. In 1819 George Perkins of Smyrna was admitted. There was a John Perkins of 44 Snow Hill, London admitted a member of the Co. in 1785. On the 10th March 1778 Francis Werry was admitted a member of the Company. As we well know he died Consul of Smyrna. Nathaniel W. Werry was admitted a member of the Co. in 1804 and Francis Peter Werry in 1809 and in 1820 John James A. Werry. John Maltass, son of the Maltass in Morier’s house received license to trade on the 31st Oct. 1788. In 1804 W. Maltass was admitted a member of the Co. and in 1810 Stephen Maltass was Consul at Alexandria. In 1813 Benjamin Maltass was admitted a member of the Co. In 1819 William Maltass of Alexandria was admitted a member.

In 1820 on the 20th Jan. James Frederick Hanson, of Smyrna was admitted. It appears that John Hanson of London was admitted on the 13th Feb 1781, John Oliver Hanson in 1813, George Hanson in 1816 and Edward Hanson in 1819. On the 30 July 1796 John A.A. Gout was licensed to trade at Smyrna. He does not appear to have visited England or taken up his freedom. James Louis Gout, a merchant of Malta, was admitted a member 12 Oct. 1803. R.S. Willes was licensed on the 14 Sept. 1800.

In 1802 John Schoolbred, son of John Schoolbred, of Mark Lane, was admitted a member of the Company, and proceeded to Smyrna. To continue the list, I shall proceed with more modern entries. In 1800 Thomas Jackson was admitted a member of the Company and proceeded to Smyrna. He was the brother of John Jackson of Constantinople. In 1803, Robert Thomson was admitted a member of the Company and proceeded to Smyrna. On the 23rd Nov. Atkinson Wilkins was admitted a member of Company. In 1812, Charlton Whittall was admitted a member of the Worshipful Company, and proceeded to Smyrna. In 1813, James Brant, afterwards Consul, was admitted. In 1812, Joseph Henderson was admitted. In 1815, James Purdie was admitted. In 1811, Edward Woodmass was admitted. In 1818, Wm. Gardiner Browning was admitted. In 1817, Jasper Chasseaud was admitted and, in the same year, Donald Sandison.

It may be interesting to give the entries relating to members of the families connected with Smyrna who were not resident. This is exclusive of those at Constantinople, Salonica, and Aleppo. John Blunt of 15 New Broad Street admitted a member of the company 1808 and Richard Tyllier Blunt in 1818. Wm. Hadkinson of Liverpool admitted 26 June 1799. John Henry Borell admitted 1805 and in 1819 H.P. Borell. John Routh and Wm. Eppes Routh admitted 1808. Messrs. Kaye and Freshfield were solicitors to the Company early in the century. In Aug. 1793 there was a severe commercial crisis among the native merchants. The house of Carlo de Steffani one of great credit failed. Its debts were 153,000p.; its assets 173,000p. Its fall was caused by that of the house of Dascuffi and Reggio of Adrianople which owed it 136,000p. and of which the debts were 221,000p. and assets 204,000p. In April 1795 the house of Steffani had its final dividend making 64½pl. In reference to Greek competition with the English houses, it existed then as now, and Smyrna is not much altered. In 1794 a merchant house writes – “Black fruit will be dear of account of the furious purchases of the Greeks for Italy, the Black Sea and Holland. Again it is said the Greeks of Scio are very active”, and another time – “The Greek ran up Cottons last market day at Cassaba,” and were it appears speculating largely in cotton. There was however comfort for on the 17th Sept. 1796 we hear as to cotton – “On account of the unhappy situation of Italy numerous bills of exchange are coming back protested to the Greeks by every post, which will put it out of the power of those formidable competitors to do much harm.” In Feb. 1797 there were many bankruptcies among the Greeks.

The beginning of the American trade with Smyrna seems to have been in June 1797 when an American vessel arrived direct from Tranquebar in India with a small cargo of coffee, sugar, pepper and indigo.

On the 4th Nov. 1793 four French frigates came in, and were at anchor in the gulf. The Georgiana had the good fortune to pass them in night and arrive safely. They blockaded the port till the 2nd April 1794 and the English awaited a squadron to get out. In Feb. 1794 the French captured the Daphne from Barcelona and was bought by Joseph Formel. The French departed on the 23rd April but as two French privateers were seen lying about only one English ship strangely enough got out. [During?] that war however seven Dutch ships sailed for Holland under convoy of a Dutch man of war. In June of that year the Romney and three frigates arrived with the French commodore’s frigate – the Sybil of 50 guns which had been captured by Romney in the road of Mikoni after a warm action one hour and a quarter, and in which the French frigate out of 160 men lost 150 killed and wounded and the Romney out of 356 had 38 disabled. Two French frigates got into [?] and one into Smyrna. On the 1st August 1794 nine English ships sailed under convoy of the Doris of 36 guns, the Leda of 36, the Romney of 50, and the Tartar of 28. In Sept. 1794 French frigates were cruising in the gulf and the London, a trader, therefore stopped at Scio. On the 12th Dec. 1794 Capt. Samuel Hosel arrived with the Aigle and Nemesis frigates and the Tisiphone sloop. There was a French frigate in Smyrna, and a large one in Chesme. Hood went and blocked Chesme and brought in the London ship. The English squadron was stationed at Smyrna some timeand writes a merchant - “The parade of the French is at an end and indeed it is high time it was.” The French however came back again and retired from Smyrna in Jan. 1796 after having blockaded the English trade for two years and a half. The French captured the Nemesis frigate in neutral waters. The English tried to send a Ragusan vessel to Hamburgh, but in reality under orders for London. The French however discovered her and captured her. In 1797 the French frigates were again stationed at Smyrna but only for a time. In Sept. 1798 however the French factory and property were put under civil arrest by the Sultan and on the 1st Oct. they were sequestered and the French imprisoned. Then came the news of Nelson’s victory at Aboukir and the English trade was free.

On the 17 March 1797, a letter of Morier’s and Wilkinson’s states in the postscript: - “P.S. a rebellion and fire have since writing spread desolation over the whole town. The French quarter has entirely been destroyed. We are, thanks to God, no sufferers. Time permit does not give further details of this horrid catastrophe. Mr. Morier will communicate them. Only four European houses escaped, which was by the care of a few faithful janissaries. These houses were however attacked, as likewise several warehouses were broken into and pillaged during and after the fire. As already stated Lee’s house was destroyed but his warehouse escaped. In May 1797 we hear, “Tranquillity is restored by the arrival of three officers from Constantinople, who have minutely examined into the cause of this horrid catastrophe of the 15th March. They have imprisoned many Turks among whom is the chief promoter and they have sent their report to the Sultan. They say they are expecting the return of the messenger, when many of the guilty will be executed, and others exiled. A new form of governing the city will be established on such a solid basis as to assure all future security here.”