Events around date of publication of this item.
Show later events
11-day blockade of South African cargo in the Port of San Francisco
Jan 1984
Yona Avrushmi is arrested and charged with killing Emil Gruenzweig
Tue, 27 Dec 1983
After a secret trial, Israeli military tribunal sentences two Palestinian citizens of Israel to death by hanging
Wed, 14 Dec 1983
USS New Jersey bombs villages in the Shouf mountains, Lebanon
Sun, 4 Dec 1983
US Air Force bombs Syrian missiles in Bekaa Valley
Thu, 24 Nov 1983
Prisoner exchange/swap: about 5,000 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners exchanged for six Israeli soldiers held captive by the Palestinians
Nov 1983
NATO exercise - Able Archer 83
Sun, 23 Oct 1983
Suicide truck attack on US marines in Beirut
58 French troops killed in attack on Drakkar building in Beirut
Sun, 16 Oct 1983
Israeli troops kills Shia worshippers in religious procession
Mon, 10 Oct 1983
Menachem Begin resigns as Israeli prime minister, being succeeded by Yitzhak Shamir
Oct 1983
US naval bombardment of Lebanese villages in the Chouf mountains
Mon, 19 Sep 1983
US navy bombards Druze militiamen in Chouf mountains of Lebanon
Sun, 21 Aug 1983
Mossad murders Mamoun Meraish in Athens
Sun, 14 Aug 1983
end of Attack by South Africa and Unita on Cangamba
late Jul 1983
start of Attack by South Africa and Unita on Cangamba
Jul 1983
Jewish Underground terrorists attack Islamic College in Hebron
Wed, 1 Jun 1983
cut-off date for West Banker entitlement to full Jordanian citizenship

Show earlier events

Merchants and migrants in nineteenth-century Beirut

Article/book #: 152780
Title: Merchants and migrants in nineteenth-century Beirut
By: Leila Tarazi Fawaz  
Date of issue: 1983
ISBN: 0674569253

People/entities mentioned in this item:


Page 92

International creditors and the Khedive tried, the first to pressure and the second to resist, until finally the British and French governments pushed the Ottomans to depose Isma′il, as he found out when he received a telegram addressed to the "ex-Khedive Isma′il Pasha" in 1879.23 Isma′il was out of power, but not before the Sursocks had acquired sharesin the Suez Canal Company. If local rumor is true, the Sursocks, who were close friends of both viceroy Sa′id and Khedive Isma′il as well as their bankers, refused to support British and French creditors when they tried to pressure Isma′il into paying his debts. In gratitude the Khedive paid back what he owed them in shares of Suez stock. Whether the Sursocks acquired those shares because of their loyalty to the Khedive Isma′il or because of their loans to him, their connections with him were certainly important to their successes in Egypt.

Beirut remained their base of operations, however, and they returned from Egypt in the 1860s to build elaborate homes in the Ashra- fiyya suburb east of Beirut. The family of Musa Sursock returned at the

Page 93

urging of Musa′s wife, who did not want her daughters to marry and settle in Egypt. Other considerations no doubt also played a part, but in any case success breeds success, and in Beirut the Sursock′s fortunes continued to grow through investments in trade, banking, real estate, and silk manufacture. In 1872, when the Russian Grand Duke Nicolas visited Beirut, he was tkaen to visit Nicolas Sursock. DA Skalon, who accompanied the grand duke, refers to Nicolas Sursock in his account of the trip as a "rich Syrian" and adds: "We were told his annual income amounted to 60, 000."24 Between 1887, when Musa Sursock died, and 1890, when his will went into effect, hiss hare of the Sursock fortune was divided among his partners (brothers still living and nephews replacing deceased ones), his wife, his sons George, Michel, and Alfred, and his daughters Malvina, Labiba, Rosa, Mariam, and Isabelle. Musa′s inheritance included extensive real estate - residences, warehouses, shops, and vacant land in and around Beirut, in Mersine, Tarsus, and elsewhere in southern Turkey, and in Alexandria. It also included extensive rural holdings, including whole villages, in Egypt and Palestine. In addition, the family owned property in Mount Lebanon, including the house they had built in 1880-81 in Suq al-Gharb, and land in Sofar that became, in the first decades of the twentieth century, a fashionable resort for the cream of Beiruti society and for tourists.

The Sursocks′ success was measured by their admission to the highest circles of both Ottoman and European high society XThey were intimate with officials in Istanbul; people often approached them to intercede on their behalf with the Ottoman government. One sign of their closeness to the sources of Ottoman power was the appointment of Alfred (Musa′s son) to the post of secretary at the Ottoman embassy in Paris in 1905. Alfred moved in the titled circles of Eruope and married Maria Serra di Cassano, from an old Italian princely family. Their daughter Yvonne eventually became Lady Cochrane. Alfred′s first cousin Nicolas married Alfred′s sister-in-law; Nicolas′ eldest sister married Marchese Alberto Theodoli, and his youngest married the head of the Colonna family. The Sursocks were part of an international set that that circulated amid Alexandria, Istanbul, Beirut, and Paris, Rome, and other European capitals. Their wealth and sophistication were also reflected in their residences, equal in elegance to any Italian palazzo.

To be truly successful as a socialite, however, one must also be recognized at home. The Sursocks were, moving into the highest circles, close to Ottoman and European representatives in Beirut, and intimates ...

Previous Next