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
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
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
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)
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
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.
interview date 2001