Beyond Borders: Moroccans in Britain and America

Project Editor: Dr. Khalid BEKKAOUI

Moroccans in Britain

Early Ambassador to England, 1601

On the 8th of August, there arrived at Dover Mully Hamet Xarife, Secretary and Principal Ambassador from Abdola Wayhet Anowne King of Barbary, and with him in commission two merchants, to wit, Arealhadgel Messy, and Alhadg Hamet Mimon. These, with thirteen others, by Sir Thomas Gerard, Knight Marshall, divers Gentlemen, and the chief Barbary merchants, were brought to London the 15th of the same month, being carefully provided and lodged near the Royal Exchange, in Alderman Ratcliffes house. Within five days after that they delivered their letters, and had audience, the Court being then at Nonsuch. The tenth of September they received answer, the Court being then at Otelands. The 17th of November, being the Queen’s day, the Queen being then at Whitehall, a special place was built only for them near to the Park door, to behold that day’s triumph.

Notwithstanding all which kindness shewed them, together with their diet, and all other provision for six months space wholly at the Queen’s charges: yet such was their inveterate hate unto our Christian Religion and estate, as they could not endure to give any manner of alms, charity, or relief, either in money or broken meat, unto any English poor, but reserved their fragments, and sold the same unto such poor as would give most for them. They killed all their own meat within their house, as sheep, lambs, poultry, and such like, and they turn their faces eastward when they kill any thing: they use beads, and pray to saints.

And whereas the chief pretence of their Embassy was to require continuance of her Majesties favour towards their King, with like entreaty of her naval aid, for sundry especial uses, chiefly to secure his treasure from the parts of Guynea, &c. yet the English Merchants held it otherwise, by reason that during their half year’s abode in London, they used all subtitle and diligence to know the prises, weights, measures, and all kinds of differences of such commodities, as either their Country sent hither, or England transported thither: they carried with them all sorts of English weights, measures, and samples of commodities. And being returned, it was supposed they poisoned their Interpreter, being born in Granado, because he commended the estate and bounty of England: the like violence was thought to be done unto their reverend aged Pilgrim, least he also should manifest England’s honour to their disgrace. It was generally judged by their demeanours that they were rather espials then honourable Ambassadors; for they omitted nothing that might damnify the English Merchants.

Queen Elizabeth's for the Deportation of Moors from London, 1601

      After our hearty commendations; whereas the Queen’s Majesty, tendering the good and welfare of her own natural subjects greatly distressed in these times of dearth, is highly discontented to understand the great numbers of Negars and Blackammoors which (as she is informed) are crept into this realm since the troubles between Her Highness and the King of Spain, who are fostered and relieved here to the great annoyance of her own liege people and want relief which those people consume; as also for that the most of them are infidels, having no understanding of Christ or his Gospel, hath given especial commandment that the said kind of people should be with all speed avoided and discharged out of Her Majesty’s dominions.


List of Moroccan Captives in Britain, 1627

      The Names of Turks and Moores belonging to Tutuan and Sally in Barbary, taken the 21 of June 1627:

1. Hamet Reys sonne of Yaah of Tetuan seaman

2.Mahamet sonne of Usin of Tutuan sailor

3. Mahomet sonne Hussin of Tutuan saolor

4. Mahamet Hogy of Sally scruian

5.Mahamet sonne Achmet of Sally Tailor

6. Mussud soone of mahamet saylor

7. Abdarraman sonne of Ally Lasis sailor

8.Mahamet sonne of Mahomot: a boy

9. sa sonne of Ally cooke

10.Abderhman sonne of Syd sailor

11.Mahamet sonne of Hassan sailor

12.Abdalla sonne of Hassan shoemaker

13.Ally sonne of Mahamet sailor

14.Causin sonne of Hamet buttin maker

15. Umbarac sonne of Ally shipboy

16. Mahamet sonne of Achmet shipboy

17.Casmuch sonne of Useph shipp boye

18.Hamet sonne of Hussin of Tutuan soldier.

The Arrival and Entertainments of the Ambassador Alkaid Jaurar Ben Abdallah, 1637

The Ambassador is by birth a Portugall, a Gentleman borne in a Towne called Mondego, who was taken Captive in his Child-hood at the age of almost eight yeares; he was (as the misery and fortune of Captives is) bought and sold, and by command (as the manner of those barbarous Nations is) hee distesticled, or Eunuch'd, and as he grew in yeares hee by his acceptable services, was daily more and more in favour with the Emperor of Morocco, insomuch, that his Maiesty was pleased to take him into his especiall grace, making him his chiefest favorite, and trusty councellor of State, dignifi'd him with the high stile or title of Alkaid, or Lord, than which, there is not a degree higher under the Emperor; endowed with Lands and revenewes fit and correspondent for so eminent a calling, gave him the two most honourable places of Lord great Chamberlaine, and Lord Privy Seale, and to his prudent care and honourable mature wisedome was committed the maine charge and management of the most important affaires of his whole Empire, and in suffering him to make Lawes and Edicts: And he which is in an Office or place of command, and maketh Lawes for other men, ought [...] 8 appointment, Sir John Finnet Knight, Master of the Ceremonies, was sent downe to Gravesend, to conduct the Embassadors to London.

They had no sooner taken their Barges, and were launched, but an expression of LoveWelcome flew in thundering manner out of the mouths of the great Ordnance, from both the Block-houses of Gravesend, and on Essex side, and the Tyde being reasonable calme, they pleasantly past to Woolwich, where they saw his Maiesties new great Ship (the Eighth Wonder of the World) with pleasing and much contenting Admiration. After which they past to Greenewitch, where they landed, and stay'd at the Rose and Crowne foure Houres, because the Kings Barge with the Lord Kenwell,Greenewitch, to bring them to the Tower-wharfe in State as was fitting and honourable. 

So they tooke Barges at Greenewitch, almost an houre before Night, with their 9 Trumpets sounding before them all the way: And after an Houres Rowing they landed at the Tower, where they were attended by Thousands, and ten Thousands of Spectators, and welcomed and conveyed with his Maiesties Coach, and at the least 100. Coaches more, and the chiefest of the Cittizens, and Barbary-Merchants bravely mounted on Horsebacke, all richly apparrelled, every man having a Chaine of GoldSheriffes and Aldermen of London in their Scarlet Gownes, with such abundance of Torches and Links, that though it were Night, yet the Streetes were almost as light as Day. And in this brave and noble way the Embassador with his Associate Mr. Blake, were accompanied from the Tower-wharfe to their Lodgings in Wood-streete, at the House that was Sir Martin Lumley's, Knight, and Alderman of the Citty of London, and where he kept his Honourable Office of Maioralty in the yeare 1623.

The Alkaid, having reasonable, well recovered him of his Health, after 10 hee had taken rest fifteene or sixteene dayes, till Sunday the fift Day of November, our Kings Maiesties Physitians all this while (by his Maiesties Command) attending, and using their approved best skill, whose paines and industrious Knowledge tooke such good effect for his Health, that on the said fore-named Sunday, his Maiesty was graciously pleased to give them Audience, at his Palace or Mannour of White-Hall, and to that intent these preparations following were ordered for the Accommodation of so Royall and Honourable a Designe.

Arrival of Morocco Ambassador, 1682

IN my last I gave you an Imperfect Account of the Arrival of Ben Hadu the <i>&nbsp;</i>Morocco Embassador and his kind reception and noble Entertaiment here by our Governour Collonel Kirk. Since then by the Return of the Renegadoes Wife, we have had a more ample account of all passages since the Arrival of the Embassador at Court, and the Death of the Renegade her late Husband, which for the strangeness of the Manner, with what other Occurrences happn'd since, I thought fit to send you.

The Embassador attended out of Town with 200 of our Hors, (his own being all dead or kill'd at Sea) we marched with him as far as our Liberties Extend, where he was received by a Party of 300 of the Moors with great Shouts, and three Volleys of Shot being discharged on both sides he was Conducted to the Emperous Pallace. The next morning being sent for to Render an Account of his Embassy, he did it with a great deale of Satisfaction, where he Insisted much in the praise of England, Concluding every Period of his Discourse with the Greatness of the King, the Gallantry of the People, and the nobleness of his Entertainments, when having ended his discourse, Buzzy Ham, the other Ambassador there who was as Superintendant to Ben. Hadu the Principal Embassador said he had spake very kindly of England, as indeed it had well deserv'd, but he had forgot two things which merited his Commendation, viz, their Wine and Women, with whom he had been as familiar, and to whom he was as deeply engaged as the rest, this being seconded by the Secretary, which so enraged the Emperour, that immediately he order'd him to the Ballcove, the other two to other Prisons, till they made good their Information. The secretary being put to the Rack, confessed that he had joyned in a Confederacy against the Embassador on Shipboard, being put upon it by the Renegade, and for what he had said against his Master, was by Subornation of Buzzy Ham the other Embassador. Of all which when the Emperour was made sensible and that it proceeded rather from Malice then any other just grounds of Accusations, he ordered Buzzy Ham with the Secretary to be strangled, and the Embassador to be set at Liberty.

The Renegade who was brought to Morocco bound, having all things prov'd cleerly against him, was Committed to a deep Dungion of 100 Steps descent their to Continue a fortnight with a very small Allowance of Bread, and Water, to do penance for his Apostacy, and to attone for the affront put upon their grea[...] Prophet Mahome[...], whose Religion he had formerly Embraced. Afterwards being taken bu[...] as a contempt of Christianity and the Holy Unction, he was anointed all [...]ver with Sea Fish Oyl, and hung upon a Gibbet three days together Naked, Expos'd to the Wasps and Flys with all sort of Obnoctious Insects, sed at the same rate the third day being taken down yet alive he was thrown into a Cauldron of hot boyling Oyl, where he Expir'd an unlamented Martyr for his Apostacy, neither Christian nor Mahometan; his he[...]d b[...]ing sent to Tange[...], and Body throw [...] into the Sea as thinking it unworthy e[...]her of Christian or Pagan Bu[...]al.

Complaint was then made by the Embassador against three of his Retinue, who to keep their hand in u're by a slight of Ligerdemain wou[...]d turn Knives, Forks, Spoons, or any other moveable into Ale and Brandy or what other Creature they listed. This was lookt upon as so high an Abuse to the Dignity of the Embassador and Emperour, nay of Mahomet himself· that they were condemn'd without Benefit of Clergy· being order'd to be thrown into the Lyons Den, and there to be devoured alive, one only Escaped, who diving a little too deep into a Ladies placket palm'd away her Ladyships Oracle· which hung by a gold Chain, for whom a Certain great Countess Interceeding with his Exellency, obtained his promise for his Pardon· which accordingly he has performed.

Some were accus'd for drinking, others for whoring and mixing Pagan· Ru[...]s with Christian Giblets, whereof some of them that carryed with them the Tokens of their Mistresses kindnesses (which several its thought did to their sorrow) the foreman of the Jury giving in Verdict against them, their principle Evidence was cut off, which it is thought will spoil their whoring for the future.

This was all which happened during the stay of Mrs. Rowland, Wife to the late Jonas Rowland the English Renegade, who after she had seen the sad and Tragical End of her Husband, obtained leave to come hither in order to her return for England; where she will her self satisfy you more at large of the Truth of every particular, which I had from her self, and is as faithful delivered from

Ben Haddu’s Visit to Oxford University, 1682

      The embassador came from Windsore in one of the king's coaches of 6 horses, with another with him : put in at Sir Timothy Tirrill's at Shotover about 4 in the afternoon, where he had a banquet.—Afterwards came towards Oxford, and at the bottom of Shotover next to Oxon he was there met by at least 100 scholars on horsbacke. Dr. Yerbury saluted him in the University name in English, which he took by interpretation.—About 8 of the clocke at night came into Oxford, Hamet Ben Hamet Ben Haddu Ottur embassadour from the emperour of Morocco and put in at the Angell inn within East gate. Where being setled, the vicechancellor and Doctors in their scarlet with the bedells before them congratulated his arrivall;  and the orator spoke a little speech, and [Dr." (Edward) Pocock somthing in (A)rabick which made him laugh.]

      May 31, W., in the morning about 8 or 9, he went to Queen's College and saw the Chapel, Hall, and had a home of beere but did not drinke. Thence to the Physick Garden where Dr. (Robert) Morison harangued him. Then to Magd. Coll. where the president spake somthing to him ; went into the chappell, beheld the windowes and paintings ; thence round the cloyster.—And so to New Coll. where he saw the chappell while the organ played.—-Thence to St. John's.—Then to Wadham.— hence to Allsouls ; saw their chappell. —Thence to Univers. Coll.—And so home to the Angell. In the afternoon about 12 and 1 the sky was most prodigiously darkned. A great storme of wind came, which was so circular that it blew all the dust in the street up in the aire that you could not see any houses; afterwards followed a smart shore ^ of raine. A hurricane; this was never knowne in the memory of man. A prodigious hericane that broke bows and armes of trees; blew of thatch ; and did a great deal of harme in the country.

Moroccan Ambassador and British Women, 1682

       The Ambassador of the King of Fez and Morocco whose name is Ben Haddi Mor carries it with great breavery and Honour, Hee is a person of great extraction, a great Polititian and Souldier and emenently devout. Already Sainted for hee has Visited the Sepulchar of Mahomett, When some of our English Gentle men had too neare a Conversation with some Ladyes and urged him to receive a Whore into his bed. Hee said, to our great rebuke and shame, My Religion forbids whores does not yours Hee and his Country are Mahomitans though they are counted a sort of Puritan Mahomitans as the more sober or strict 〈of〉 Papists are called Puritan Papists. Hee said that when I come home, I that never yet was shall then be counted a lyer in my own Country for my Master will not believe me that so many Ladyes came open faced and with bare Brests to see me, and some of them tooke up the skirt of my Garment and looked upon my feete and Leggs. Hee delights very much in Musick having none in their own Country, and some what in Playes &c. But especially in Masculine exercises as Hunting, Shooting, killing any thing almost that flyes or runnes when his horse raines lye upon his neck, and hee rideing at full speed, if this brave man had fallen into the acquaintance of grave wise and religious persons, hee would either have given an honourable Character of the Christian Religion or become a Christian.

The Morocco Ambassador, Ahmed Ben Ahmed Cardenash's Speech to Her Majesty at His Audience of Leave at St James, April 29, 1707

Most Soveraign and August Lady,

We Approach Your Majesty with a Sense of the greatest Humility and Respect to acknowledge the unexpressible Kindness my Master  hath received in my Person from the greatest Empress in the World; may God Augment Your Glory and Success, and preserve Your Majesty in Your own, and the Prince His Royal Person.

 Words cannot found our sufficient Thankfulness for the Blessings we have enjoy'd from Your Majesties bountiful Goodness; The Favours from his Royal Highness; The frequent good Offices from the Right Noble, and Right Honourable Ministry, and also from Your Majesties Servants and Subjects. We implore Your Majesties Acceptance of our Truth and Sincerity to cultivate the good  Correspondence already begun, demonstrating our Gratitude by promoting Your Majesties Interest with that of our Masters; and doing all the good Offices for those Your Majesty shall be pleased to send to the Dominions of our Master, who  hath enquired after us; and in whose Royal Presence we shall appear, with God s Assistance, to declare the Greatness, the Goodness, the Power 'and Justice, of the happiest Empress in Heroic Generals, and an united Christian Nation. God bless and prosper Your Majesty and the Prince  with a Succession of Blessings; and we join our Wishes, with those, who sincerely pray for the Tranquillity of Your Majesty and the Prince, whom God preserve, Amen, Amen.

Moroccan Ambassador Under House Arrest in London, 1708

       In the month of July, an ambassador from the emperor of Fez and Morocco arrived in Great-Britain with a present of six lions for the queen ; but upon his coming to Hammersmith near London, he was put under an easy confinement by way of reprisal for the restraint put upon captain Delaval, the queen's envoy in that country, before he reached that court; w hich happened upon a false report, that some ill usage had been offered to Haiuet Ben Hamet Cardenas, the late Morocco ambassador here. But, upon better information, the captain was released, as was also the Morocco ambassador. However the British envoy did not think fit to go in person to the court of Morocco, and only sent thither, with her majesty's letter and present, Mr. Corbiere, his secretary, who was received with great demonstration of respect.

Moroccan Ambassador at the Theatre, 1756


      I RECIEVED so much pleasure, from this specimen of meer natural wild taste in his Excellency of Morocco, that I am determined never to miss a play at which he is to be present; and should be greatly pleased to see him a spectator of the action, of some of our best performers; I am certain from what I have seen of him, that he has great natural sensibility, and tho’ he knows but a little of our language, he may be a judge of the GRACEFULNESS if not the Propriety of Action; he may certainly be as competent judge of the last, as any meer English spectator of that of Mingatti.

      As I am jealous of the honor of my country in all respects, I would have this stranger leave it, with as high an opinion of our public entertainments as possible, and could with that at the Old –House, he might see Mr. Garrick in Richard, or some equally striking part, and that at the New, he may be present at plays, where rich dresses, magnificent show, graceful action and uncommon, personal perfections, in the principal performers, might contribute to give him a more  elevated idea of our stage, than he can have received from King Harry; I am therefore ardently desirous as an English woman, to see him at the representation of Alexander the Great, and some other play of the same Cast, where all the chief actors are concerned.   

                Old Maid (London, England), Saturday, May 8, 1756; Issue XXVI.            


Moroccan Ambassador to England, 1756

1756. Exeter, March 23 Last Wednesday arrived in this City, in his Way to London, an Ambassador from the Emperor of Morocco : His Dress, which was entirely that of his Country, drew together vast Numbers of Spectators; his Legs were bare, as were also his Arms to his Shoulders; he wore no Shirt, and a loose Garment of white Swanskin covered his Head and the Upper Part of his Body, beneath which a Kind of a Petticoat hung down from his Waist to his Knees. After taking some Refreshments, viewing our Cathedral, the Guildhall, the Castle, &c. he set forward on his Journey, accompanied by his Interpreter, conducted by two of his Majesty's Messengers, and attended by two Moorish Servants in the Morisco Habit.

A Letter supposed to be written by the Moorish Secretary in London to his Correspondent at Fez., 1760

          In my last I gave you some account of our reception here, of the houses, philosophy, and strange customs of this very strange people. I shall confine my present letter to their religion. The English profess their belief only in one supreme being, and pretend to pay their adoration to him alone; but this is nothing but pretence: for besides some living divinities, to whom they pay homage, there are a number of inanimate beings to which every night they devoutly sacrifice; and this I have from ocular proof in one of their assemblies where the celebration of a ceremony, called Lansquenet, was to be performed, and where I casually happened to enter. The first object that struck me, was a square altar covered with green velvet, lighted by tapers in the middle, and surrounded by several persons, who are seated in the same manner as the Negroes, our neighbours, when they sacrifice to the moon. Upon my entering this assembly, one of the members, who was apparently the sacrificing priest, flung down on the altar several leaves of a little book which he held in his hand, one leaf after the other. On each of these leaves were represented several figures, very ill painted, but which could be no other than the images of their divinities; and of this I was soon convinced; for as he distributed these pictures about, each of the assistants laid on an offering according to the warmth of his devotion. I could easily observe that these offerings were much greater than those given in their temples appointed for universal worship.

          After this part of  the ceremony, the High Priest holds the rest of the little book in his right hand, which seems to tremble, and remains some time as if struck with religious horror. All the assistants, attentive to what he is going to perform, seem suspended and motionless also, like him. Soon, however, he begins to turn the leaves, while the assistants seem to suffer alternately the most violent agitation in proportion as the spirit seems to have power over them. One displays his triumph with a roar of rapture; one fixes his eve upon the image before him, and gnashes his teeth with rage and indignation; a third sits in gloomy silence, with all the passions by turns taking possession of his face. In short, they all seem so frightfully distorted, and suffer such changes of countenance, that they no longer appear to be human creatures. But no sooner has the High Priest turned a certain leaf of the little book, than he himself becomes furious, tears the book, and sometimes eats it for vexation, overturns the altar, and curses the sacrifice. Nothing is heard but complaints, groans and imprecation. Upon seeing them so transported and so furious, I cannot forbear being of opinion, that the divinity they profess to adore is a jealous divinity, who, to punish them for sacrificing to another, gives them up each to a desperate Daemon, to be tormented and disposed of at pleasure.                    

                                                                                                I am, &c.

House of Morocco Ambassador Attacked, 1764

To the Printer of The ST. JAMES's CHRONICLE



The late insult on the House of the Morocco Ambassador is hardly to be equally in History, any more than the unparalleled Neglect shewn [sic] to his Excellency on this Occasion; for though Lord*******was acquainted with the Outrage, the night it happened, and waited on the next Morning by a Gentleman, who was in the Ambassador's House at the Time of the Riot, and gave full Information of the whole Affair; yet to the Time of writing this Letter, which is Saturday Night, no Message or Compliment has been sent to his Excellency on the Part of the Ministry. How such Treatment can be reconciled to the Rules of Humanity, Politeness, or good Policy, I am at a Loss to know. Lord*******has always been esteemed a Nobleman of great Good-Breeding and Humanity; and it is much to be lamented that his Lordship has in this case been deficient in both: For I write from certain knowledge, that his Excellency the Ambassador is more offended at, and more highly resents this contemptuous Disregard, than the Outrage committed by the Mob: The Consequences of which may be very fatal to every British Subject in the Dominions of the Emperor of Morocco: For should his Excellency write the State of the Case, as it now stands, to his Master, there is no Doubt, from the known Character of that Prince, but every Life would be sacrificed to his Revenge. This is a very alarming Consideration, and will, I hope, have its due Weight with those whose Province it is to treat with his Excellency on this very dangerous and disagreeable Affair.

                                                           Your very humble Servant,

      Feb. 18, 1764.                                                                             J. A 

Moroccan Jew Weds English Actress, 1797


 “Mr. Sumbel,” Mrs Betty Wells says, “was born in the capital of the dominions of the Emperor of Morocco, to whom his father had been prime minister upwards of thirty years, from whence he was sent to France for his education. The numerous remittances sent to him by his father being discovered by the emperor, the old man was thrown into prison, whence he contrived to make his escape to Gibraltar, to which garrison he sent considerable supplies from Mogadore, when it was defeated by the brave Eliott; this eventually occasioned his death, as he was afterwards poisoned by the intrigues of the emperor.

“ Mr. Sumbel being a Jew, his two brothers went over to France to him to claim their share of their paternal inheritance, which they were entitled to do by the Mosaic law; but, to avoid coming to a settlement, he went into Holland, and from thence came over into England, where one of them followed him. On his arrival in this country he waited on Lord William Bentinck, with whom he had been acquainted on the continent, and was by his lordship introduced to his brother, the Duke of Portland. Shortly after his coming to town he heard his brother had come over in pursuit of him; and to avoid such a disagreeable visitor he retired to the woods near Willesden- green, where he concealed himself by day, and at night got into some barn, or any place he could find, to sleep. He concealed India- bonds to the amount of five thousand pounds in the hollow of an old tree, which he was never after able to find out. The oddity of his appearance and the quantity of diamonds he had about him, which he often showed to the peasants to induce them to let him sleep in their cottages, at last created a suspicion in their minds that he must be the man who had robbed the Turkish ambassador. They accordingly determined to seize him, and give information of him at the Duke of Portland’s office, which, with the assistance of the constable of the parish, they did, and tied him to a post in a stable. In this situation he remained till the duke sent a Mr. Walsh with a chaise-and-four for him. He no sooner heard the description of him than it immediately struck him it must be the same Mr. Sumbel who had been introduced to him so lately by his brother.

“The duke could not extract one word from him in answer to all the questions that were put to him. He gave written answers. Nor did “he utter a syllable for three months, for some private reason which he never disclosed.

“The circumstance of his being at the duke’s office reached the ears of the person who had the chancellor’s writ against him, at the suit of his brother; he set off instantly, arrested him as he was coming out, and conveyed him to Wright’s lock-up house in Curey-street. He continued there about six weeks; nor could they, by any means, prevail on him to speak one word. The hearing before the chancellor at length took place, and the only answer he made to the many questions put to him by his lordship was, ‘ My lord, I wish you would send me to the Fleet, for that is one damned rascal’ (pointing to Wright). His lordship used every argument in his power to make him come to a settlement with his brothers; but finding he was determined to the contrary, committed him to the Fleet.

“I was in the prison at this time. He came in with all the pomp and splendour of an eastern monarch, attended by a number of Moorish servants. A report had run through the prison that some foreign ambassador had been committed for contempt of court; and as curiosity is not the most dormant passion in the female breast, mine (you must naturally suppose) must be gratified, or peace I could not have.”

Desdemona, accompanied by a lady—a fellow-prisoner—lost no time in placing herself in the way of the Moor as he walked along the gallery. The result may be anticipated. “On the following Saturday,” says Desdemona, “being his Sabbath, he sent a polite invitation for me to dine with him, and bring with me any ladies I thought proper.” The invitation was accepted. “On our entering the room,” she continues, “which was fancifully hung with pink satin, we found there several of the Turkish ambassador’s suite, and several gentlemen of that nation. One old man, of the name of Abbo, took a fancy to me, and made formal proposals of marriage; but I rejected them with disdain, which afterwards nearly cost Mr. Sumbel and me our lives, as the old wretch actually returned to the prison to assassinate us; but timely notice enabled us to frustrate his design, and he was never afterwards permitted to enter the gates.”

Deserted as Mrs. Wells-Sumbel delights to picture herself, she appears to have had many friends, particularly of the male sex; anil oue gentleman at this period offered to pay all her debts and release her from prison. This circumstance came, or was purposely brought, to the knowledge of Mr. Sumbel, the unhappy Moor, and it hurried him into a proposal of marriage, which was, of course, accepted. An insolvent Act, which was passed about this time, gave Desdemona her liberty; but she remained in the Fleet, to wed the Moor. “An obstacle,” she says, “however, still stood between us, which was requisite to be got over before we could be lawfully united. My former husband, Mr. Wells, I had reason to suppose was still living, although I had neither seen nor heard from him for upwards of twenty years. Every advice was taken; and it was at last decided I must turn Jewess, which I accordingly did, and wo were married agreeably to the rites of the Jewish church.”

We have Desdemona’s assertion for it that j the Moor was haughty, irascible, and jealous j in the extreme—bad qualities, which were counterbalanced by his youth, wealth, and of handsome appearance. Ho was fond of display; and Desdemona, who was equally fond of it, tells us with secret pride that the marriage ceremony, though performed in a prison, was conducted with all the profusion of eastern magnificence. “It took place,” she says, “in the week of the great Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, and lasted throughout the festival. The genteel prisoners were invited to partake of the fare; and the poor were not forgotten. Four rooms were lighted up on the occasion, and a large lustre was placed in the middle of the long gallery, which cost twenty-five pounds. The sum total of the extraordinaries for that week alone came to five hundred pounds.”

Desdemona, according to her own showing, prevailed upon the Moor to heal all differences with his brother by giving him twenty thousand pounds, and then to live in a style which she thought suitable to his wealth and position. They began housekeeping in Orchard Street, Portmau Square, to be near the Turkish ambassador; but soon removed to Pall Mall, to a larger mansion, next door to the Duke of Gloucester’s. Desdemoua was not happy, in spite of her splendour. The Moor would not ‘allow her to sleep in the diamonds of immense value which she wors on state-days and bonfire nights, but would insist upon locking them up in an iron chest. This was one grievance. Another was that he objected to allow her that excessive freedom of action which she had always been accustomed to. This she considered unkind; and as she could not plunge unfettered into all the gaieties of London, she thought she would indulge her maternal feelings by visiting her children—the Topham- Wells children, as we must call them for the sake of distinction—in the Wolda of Yorkshire. Though the unhappy Moor could hardly be expected to feel much interest in these tender beings, he consented to accompany her in this journey to the Wolds. “The incidents,” says Desdemona, “that occurred in that short period are so numerous, I hope I shall be excused entering into the different minutira of them. If there be any comfort on this earth, it is to relate our griefs to a friend, which a generous public has ever been to me.

“We set out in an elegant vehicle, commonly called a one-horse chaise, without a servant; but my bosom beat with maternal feeling and hope, while it presented their imago, and wholly obliterated every sensation of timidity and every conscious blush for my humiliating appearance.

“Though wedded to a man whose wealth was estimated at nearly half a million—a man for whom I changed my religion, and with all the forms and solemnities of that which I adopted, in conformity to his will, because the received and accepted partner of his fortune—I was obliged to commence my journey without even the attendants which were necessary to my safety, and which my state of health at that period demanded.

“We lived for some time previous to our setting out in a small cottage near the Hyde, in Middlesex, in order to screen my illustrious husband from the penalty of a prosecution, which had been given against him for having assaulted a citizen. This cottage had been hired by a respectable lady, through friendship for me, and we resided with her under the denomination of lodgers. From thence I departed, accompanied by my husband. The irritability of his temper became evident before we had proceeded ten miles on our journey. The consciousness that he had none of his usual pompous attendants—no turbaned lacqueys to watch his eyes and tremble at his frown—rendered him so peevishly insupportable, that I began to anticipate the unpleasing circumstances which but too rapidly followed. T found him sullen, restless, impatient, and wavering in his determinations; for constancy was not one of his perfections.

“At the first inn where we stopped, his manner spread dismay through the bosoms of all those that witnessed it. The graces of his person were not visible in the European habits. This circumstance augmented his chagrin; and he did not recover any portion of his placidity till he sat cross-legged in all the magnificence of his Moorish paraphernalia. For this important metamorphosis his trunks were at every stage unpacked; and I had the supreme felicity of seeing my illustrious partner, once during every twelve hours, decked in the splendours of a second Othello. Even ‘his Moorish habit did not tranquillise his mind; domestics were still wanting. He therefore informed me that he would proceed no further, but return to town, and recommence his journey like himself. This promise did not exhilarate my hopes, or enliven my prospects; for to travel like himself afforded me no chance of credit or consolation.

“After much persuasion he consented to drop the incognito, and, by paying the penalty of his lawsuit, resume his native character. This thought delighted me; for it has ever been repugnant to my feelings to appear mean or degraded. Unhappily, my gratification was the source of his instability. Again he changed his mind, and we proceeded in demi-pomp on this journey of disasters. My Moorish lord proposed driving the one-horsed car in all his Turkish magnificence; but as there would have been some difficulty in sitting cross-legged on the narrow seat, and as an idea might have suggested itself that he would have been mistaken for the renowned Flockton, of puppet- show memory, the plan was not adopted. The forty pounds, likewise, preponderated in the scale of reflection; and he knew that he must pay the penalty of his lawsuit by an attempt to assert the dignity of his character.

“On we went, half the twenty-four hours in British simplicity, the other half in African grandeur. One hour I fancied myself the once-

A man who carried a ridiculous puppet-show round the country. His people were dressed in Turkish habits.

happy ‘ Cowslip,’ and the next I knew, to my inexpressible sorrow, that I was the wife of a Moorish nobleman. At the second inn where we rested, if rest may be supposed to have attended our progress, an unlucky tear, which maternal tenderness extracted from my heart, so ruffled the serenity of my noble spouse that he instantly demanded to know the cause of its appearance. This tear did not long offend him, for his tone of voice so startled me that it fell from my cheek and became invisible. But the memory of it did not so easily evaporate. He deemed it an insult to his ideas of wedded love to entertain the feelings of a mother; to be worthy of so rich a prize, he thought it necessary that I should abjure all the sensibilities of nature.

“He knew that my heart panted to embrace my children. He therefore kindly proposed remaining some time at a pleasant inn on our journey. Again his passion for parade suggested the idea of sending for his turbaned attendants; till I—rather mal-apropos—reminded him, with all duo respect, that he had humanely driven them from their post of dignity, and that they were at that moment selling rhubarb about the streets of the metropolis. Nor was the Moorish consequence a little degraded by their exhibiting the very liveries in which they had borne the MoroccoSt. Paul’s cathedral.” standard when his most Gracious Majesty went in state to

Desdemona’s real or fancied troubles continued, according to her own statement, all the way to Stamford. A landlord, whom she calls an honest Boniface, handed her out of her carriage, at which the impetuous Moor was highly enraged; and when she seemed to be ill at an inn, and the hostess suggested that a doctor should be scut for, the sable tyrant refused his consent, and ordered a chaise and four. As Desdemona elegantly puts it— “the car of wedded love, which Cupid had now abandoned, was to be led home, and the once- honoured reins consigned to plebeian hands.”

The Moor went to sleep on the journey, which afforded Desdemona a temporary relief from her troubles; but when he woke up he accused her of robbing him. When he found that his strong box was safe, like one of the bad genii in the fairy tales, he asked his victim to sing, to amuse him, in her old professional style. She complied with the request, but complained of her audience. He next accused her of witchcraft, and said she had used some potent charm to win a heart of such inestimable vahie. At a village on the borders of Lincolnshire ho inquired for a stage-coach to convey him back to London, while the deserted Desdemona—obstinately bent upon going on to drop a tear over her Topbam children—accepted a place in the stage-coach, given her on credit by the landlord of the inn, as she was without money. “The vehicle,” she says, “had no other passengers; therefore, with the Moor’s concurrence, after tearing from my shoulders a shawl which he called his property, I was permitted to depart. The joy of escaping from this watchful lynx—whose eyes, like those of the basilisk, never ceased to annoy me—is not to be described.”

Her unprotected situation, and probably her levity, encouraged the coachman to patronise her in too friendly a manner; but she repulsed his offer of brandy-and-water by threatening him with the Moor’s vengeance. “On my commanding him to proceed,” she says, “ he drove on six miles farther, frequently honouring me with a familiar knock at the window, with ‘ How are you now ?’ at the same time knowingly pressing his finger on his nose, and desiring me not to be unhappy.”

After some little difficulties, which are made the most of in the memoir, she arrived at Stilton, driven by the same coachman, and found that the Moor had arrived by some other conveyance. The quarrel was made up, and they journeyed together from this point to Stamford, visiting some friends at Gretford, on the way, where the Moor was induced to buy a horse, to travel handsomely with.

At Stamford the Moor hired lodgings, and said that he would send for Desdemona’s mother and children. “limited,” says the lady, “that he should send a draft to pay the expenses of their journey; but this unlucky proposition proved a new source of irritability. He refused to comply, and upbraided me for the expenses already incurred on our adventurous journey.

“At Stamford the splendours of Moorish decoration were again exhibited. The whole town was roused to consternation. A great prince—a grand Turk!—supposed by some to be insane, by others considered as only ridiculous.”

At a banquet given to many of Desdemona’s friends in that part of the country, a young lady appeared, who strikingly resembled the eldest of the Topham-Wells children. The resemblance revived all the motherly feelings of Desdemona, and she tried to prevail upon the Moor to allow her to depart for Yorkshire immediately. Failing to gain his consent, she started clandestinely, to travel one hundred and thirty miles, with two guineas in her pocket. She had hardly proceeded one stage when her determination to light the journey out on this sum broke down, and she wrote to the Moor for more money. She received no answer to

this request, owing to the miscarriage of the letters; and her further progress was consequently attended by nearly all the mishaps which usually afflict people who travel without money. Her theatrical instinct, however, appears to have led her to seek the right people, and, like Romeo, she was befriended by au apothecary. After seeing the Topham children, and Major Topham also, for the matter of that, she returned to the Moor at Stamford. During her absence he had exhibited more Eastern magnificence, and had grown a little more jealous and excited.

“We met a poor shepherd,” she says, “our journey back to Stamford. The honest fellow bowed as he passed me. My husband called to him, and demanded, ‘How long have you known my wife?’ The shepherd, rather surprised at the question, hesitatingly, and with simple honesty, replied, ‘About five years ago madam was on a visit here.’ ‘I’ll sell her to you for twopence!’ vociferated my husband. The shepherd looked aghast. My daughter burst into tears, and begged the groom to take her back to grandmamma. I now foresaw all that would happen; while the honest countryman wisely took advantage of the confusion, and bade us ‘good night!’”

They removed to London together, and the Moor seems to have pined after his native land. Desdemona’s narrative still continues:—

“As his father always intended that he should succeed him in his situation as premier to the emperor, he determined to go to Morocco and present himself at Court; and to make his visit the more acceptable he laid out large sums of money in presents, among the items of which there was twenty thousand pounds’ worth of brass cannon. It had long been his darling theme that I should go with him, and, in person, supplicate the young emperor to receive him, as they had been boys together. The necessary forms to be observed on the occasion were regularly rehearsed at our house in Pall Mall, under the direction of my husband, and several Moors and Turks who attended for the purpose, himself always filling the imperial chair.”

They went on board a vessel lying in the river, bound for Mogadore; but when Desdemona found that ho had engaged the whole ship her fears were excited, and she escaped in a boat. The Moor followed her to Pall Mall, where he appears to have acted Othello, to the extent of tiring off a pistol over his wife’s head in their bedchamber. Of course he was taken to Bow Street in the most prosaic manner, and bound over with two substantial sureties to keep the peace. Badgered and defeated on all sides, he fled to Denmark about the beginning of 1799.

Letters from a Moroccan Jew in London to His English Wife, 1797

 My Dear Madam,

                  I am very sorry to see, by your letter, that “ you will come( only) the moment is over”, and that you prefer to satisfy your pure curiosity then to quite my mind agitedet, and that you “long more to see how Mr. Pitt come of” then to see me. I expected, you will scarify your love me. If you have, then, the least attachement or humanity, come to tranquilise my spirit, and retune after, and go where you plaise, with ( altho’without) Mrs. Hunter and Mrs, Martin( for whom I begs you will do my best compliments).

      I long to see you, but I can not come to you. If you long to see me. You can come to me.—Come then, my dear, and prove me that you are libre and that you are loving.

                                                                             Your truly friend,

                                                                                                                                                                                                J. Sumbel.






My dear Madam,

             I received tow letters from you, one directed at Connor, and the anther post-office, of the 12inst. To give you evry satisfaction, I set off now for London. I wish only that you keep up your spirit. Writ me evry particular to tranquilise me, and sending your letter to the post-office, St. Neots, Huntingtonshire. In the mean time settle with the dogs, or with that wounon, as you thinkpropre. Be cautiuous, however, in your letters, as they may be lost. I have not any news from York-shire-no letter. I wish you evry happiness, and am, dear madam,

                                                                           Yours, &c.






My dear wife,

        I was going to the country, but I experience many vexation. I was obliged to come in town, and I am now obliged to get out of it. What I regretted is, that I am near you without having time to seen you. But I shall come bake again, or at least wright to you. What I am very inquiet of is, you are may be wanted of some thing, and I do not how to send you it, as I can not send it to you in this letter. But I suppose that you are not exactly in that case. Beside I think if you go to Mr. Poole, he will advance you some few pounds, as I have send him lately ten. I shall wright to you as soon as possible, and remain,

                                                                 Yours truly


                                            My compliments to Miss Hemet.


                                                       Monday, June 4.





         I have received your kind letter, my dear wife, at two o’clock this morning. It was very sort indeed.   The porter told me you kept him half hour.

         I have the pleasure to wright you by this same porter to inform you, I have slipt this night at Piaza coffee-house; but my bett was very damp bett indeed; and I am so ill. My solder is so painfyl of the rhumatisme of the dampe. They did not aire the bett., and could not make fire in the room.   I am going to wash it with warm rum of brandy.   I can not go out from here, or appear decently with my linen, which is not indeed very clean, not nowing yesterday that I sould slept in twon. Be so good, my dear, to send me a complet set of linen, consisting of one superfin  shirt, two niclos ditto, and two hankerchif, and one wite wiscot, &c. with the porter, as quick as possible. I shall be at the turkey coffee-house about at twelve o’ck; and after I have done, I shall have the plaisure to see you, and tell you and prove you how much I love and estime you. Adieu—be good and keep up your spirit.  Adieu—think on your husband,


My best compliments to Miss Hemed, our friend.





My dear,

  I yell never for any expense for you. But your humour is byond expression since 2 days and 2 night. I will do any think for yu, if you will be agreeable humour. Come, my darling, I know that you love me, and you know that I love you better then my self. If you have the least regard, come as quike as possible: take a coche and for to come soner, that I have the plaisir to kiss you upon yourswet leps, and that you embrasse.

                                                       Your truly friend and husband,


             Tuesday morning.

                  My best compliments to Miss Hemed, and my kisses to your little boy.




My dear,

    Pray d’not tortree my heart: come as quike as you can, and prove me that you have the true love for me.  I will prove you that mine is constant, and will do for you evry thing to meke you happy.  Come, my dear angel; come kiss your faithful loving friend and husband,

                                                                                               J. Sumbel

     I have many thing to tell you.

The Morocco Arabs at the Victoria Theatre, 1843

   EAPING, vaulting , and posturing, and other dangerous exhibitions of this kind, have usurped the regular-built drama at the Victoria Theatre, where a troop of Morocco Arabs are now performing, whose feats are nightly received with shouts of surprised delight. The performers are twelve in number, “chequered in bulk 88 in brains,” from maturity to boyhood: the majority are stoutly framed, but two or three are slightly made; and all have extraordinary suppleness of frame and limb. Their feats include leaps akin to flying, national dances, and evolutions of the “impossible” order. They vault over a line of twelve persons with as much facility as Gulliver cleared the bills of Lilliput; and their double summersets are apparently as easy as those of the shafts of a windmill: indeed, they resemble so many “serial machines”. But, probably, their most surprising feat is that of forming a column or pyramid of four piled up,as in the engraving, the stoutest and the tallest occupying the place of the base; besides which, he bears another Arab around his waist, and one upon each shoulder, whilst the topmost figure can touch the proscenium curtain. We assure the reader that their entire performences are worthy the attention of all who woo the wanderful.

      Previously to their arrival in this country, this troop performed for some time at the Cirque-Olympique, at Paris; and a French journalist observes of their pyramid feat: “ They have built pyramids of stone, of granite, of marble, and I know not what; but it was reserved for our age to build pyramids of human flesh and blood. The base, as you see, consists of feet in flesh and bone, the entresol has the shoulders for its reel; and so on, the second, and the third story; the Cirque-Olympique alone arresting the height of the building.”

Physician to the Emperor of Morocco, January, 1846

      The Physician of the Emperor of Morocco, who is at present in England, supplying himself with European medicines, has, through the kind offices of a Correspondent, supplied us with some interesting information respecting Morocco and its Emperor, which we hasten to communicate to our readers.

      The Physician, who is about 50 years of age, is a man of much intelligence, and is well acquainted with the resources of European science; having cultivated the friendship of all the distinguished Europeans who visited Barbary, and from whom he has received information touching new discoveries and improvements. On many occasions he has saved the lives of shipwrecked Europeans, who would otherwise have been put to death by the fanatic Moors; and, to his friendly offices, most of the European travelers in the empire of Morocco stand indebted. The information he gives respecting some of the remedial resources of Africa are full of interest, and contains facts, which, if widely promulgated, would have an important influence on medical science. Some of his most effectual remedies he has derived from the Philistines of Mount Atlas, and the roving tribes of Sahara; and, in certain maladies, the mode of treatment prescribed by them is successful when the European methods fall. This, however, will cease to excite astonishment, when it is remembered that the most precious European medicines of the present day have been derived from the information given by savages.

      The Virginian Snakeroot, the Peruvian Bark, and many others which could be mentioned, come under this category; while a large proportion of the rest have been originally secret medicines, among which may be mentioned James’s Fever Powder, Iodine, Colchicum, Griffith’s Mixture, and many others.

Ambassador Tahar al Fassi in London 1860

      We have already briefly noticed the arrival and departure of an accredited Ambassador, accompanied by a numerous suite, from the Court of Morocco to the Court of St. James’s.

      As this illustrious personage has now left our shores, we think it due to such a visitation- which has not happened since the days of Charles II.- to give to our readers some description of this Embassy.

      Without further preface we proceed with our description.

      On the 14th of June two missions from the Court of Morocco simultaneously embarked at Tangier, the one proceeding to England, the other to France.

       On the 20th of the same month the Embassy for England arrived at Portsmouth in the screw frigate Melpomene, Captain Ewart. The Embassy was accompanied from Tangier by Mr. James de Visme Drummond Hay, C.B.; late Vice-Consul at Tetuan, but now paid Attaché to his brother, Mr. John Drummond Hay, C.B., our energetic Minister Resident at Tangier. It is well known that the C.B. has been deservedly conferred upon these brothers for the diplomatic services of one and the gallant services of the other. The moors were overjoyed in being placed during the voyage under the protection of one whom they knew to be their friend, and who, they were well assured, would protect them in a strange land. Nothing particular transpired during the voyage but the difficulty of teaching these good people the use of a knife and fork. In their first attempt they held on violently by the knife, while they divided the meat with their fork. Having accomplished this, they employed a large tablespoon to perform the final duty of conveying the morsels into the mouth.

      But we must record the names and titles of the different members of the Embassy.

       The Ambassador rejoices in the name of Seed Mohamed Slamee, being about 30 years of age, with a pallid complexion and of a rather melancholy cast of countenance. He is a man of wealth and influence in the Court of Morocco, and Treasurer of the Empire, apparently slothful in mind and body.

      Then comes the Plenipotentiary, Abderrahman Agle, about 60 years of age, Councillor to the Sultan. As the Ambassador is the head man, so is the Plenipotentiary the man with a head, being of the two by far the more intelligent, and taking the lead in all matters connected with the Embassy.

     Their Excellencies envelope themselves in fine white and purple drapery, surmounted by a white haik of large dimensions, which forms a hood closely tied round the head and neck; while on their feet they wear plain yellow slippers, well done at the heel.

      The next in rank is a fine, tall old man, nearly 80, one of the first Generals in the moorish army. His dress is peculiar- a high-peaked red fez cap, surrounded by a huge white turban of many folds, with a streak of yellow in it to denote the rank of a General, strongly contrasting with his fine swarthy features, which are edged with a scanty supply of white whiskers; a white haik is thrown gracefully over the left shoulder. He is armed with a short dagger, in an elaborately embossed silver sheath, and a long sabre in a red scabbard. He belongs to the Bokhari, or Imperial Guard.

      The Bokhari Guard are the descendants of prisoners taken in war from the interior of Africa by Sultan Mulai Ismael about 200 years ago, and were formed by him into troops, and married to Moorish white women; they are called slaves of the Sultan, though they receive pay as soldiers. Four of these soldiers accompany the General, and are very good samples of the Black Guard-- taken in the sense of two separate words, and not in one word of two syllables.

      A very intelligent fat little man, with a quick, penetrating eye, is the next personage in the suite. He is priest and secretary to the Embassy; his dress is similar to that of the Ambassador and plenipotentiary. There are also two Attachés. The distinguishing dress of these young gentlemen is a turban and a coat of many colours, one of them is a relative to the Ambassador.

      Three slaves attend the Embassy, one of them as cook, with slit ears, caused by his earrings being wanted in a hurry. Their thickened lips and depressed noses betoken them to be denizens of an African clime. Great is their attachment to their masters, from whom, throughout Morocco, they receive the kindest treatment.

      There is but one more person to be mentioned, and he may often have been seen, during the stay of the Embassy, chattering with the domestics at Claridge’s street-door, in Brook-street, and smoking his cigarette with much complaisance. His dress is a fez cap, blue jacket with yellow facings, blue loose breeches, while his legs and feet are incarcerated in Manchester cotton stockings and London laced boots. This intelligent young man has been for many years a servant in the family of Mr. Hay, at Tangier, where he has learnt a little English and imbibed many European ideas, such as having no objection to a glass of wine or beer, accompanied by a pipe or cigar. We may here mention that Moors, as a general rule, indulge neither in the one nor the other.

      Upon the arrival of the Embassy at Portsmouth they at once proceeded by train to London, and were received at the Waterloo terminus by Captain Lynch, C.B., an officer of the Indian navy, distinguished for his services in Persia and the East, having been employed by the British Government in many a dangerous diplomatic mission that required much discretion and endurance. This officer was selected by Her Majesty’s Government to attend upon the Moorish Embassy during its stay in this country. Every arrangement had been made by Captain Lynch for the reception of the Embassy at Claridge’s Hotel, whither they were accordingly taken.

      Mr. Claridge has throughout their stay at his hotel been most indefatigable in his exertions to minister to their comfort and requirements, a kitchen and slaughterhouse being set apart for their use; for, strict Mohamedans, they will not touch meat of any kind that has not been killed after their own fashion.

      Very soon after their arrival they were honoured with an audience by Her Majesty, to whom they were presented by Lord John Russell, and in the evening attended Her Majesty’s State Ball. They were present at the Volunteer Review in Hyde Park, and were touched by the considerate kindness of Her Majesty in causing them to be rescued from a crowded stand and placed beside the Royal carriage.

      They have been overwhelmed by visits and invitations from many of the leading members of the fashionable world, and have attended some few of the parties of the season. At the Lord Mayor’s Ministerial dinner it was curious to witness their aptitude for imitation in passing the loving cup. It should here be stated that they presented the Lord Mayer With 200£. towards the charities of the city. We also understand that the Moorish Ambassador to the French Court has given 400£. for the suffering christian community in Syria.

      They were taken to the Opera and theatres, the Crystal Palace, at which an incident occurred significant of their veneration for anything of a sacred character: they observed that the tiles with which the Alhambra Court is paved bore the inscription in Arabic, “There is no strength but in God,” and would not therefore walk on them. Their presence in Alhambra Court was picturesque in the extreme, and they looked as if they were part and parcel of that faithful model of the ancient Moorish building in Granada. They have visited Woolwich, the Queen’s stables, the Kensington Museum, the Zoological Gardens, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower, the Thames Tunnel, the Docks, the Bank, and the private gardens of Buckingham Palace. They shun publicity and covet privacy, and are not easily incited to the fatigue of sight-seeing; they appear to lack the spirit of curiosity. That which seemed to be a real pleasure to them was to drive to Mr. Claridge’s private farm at Hendon, where a tent was pitched for their accommodation, in which dinner and tea after the Moorish fashion were provided. The black soldiers were highly amused in kicking about a football, and sometimes, after a violent kick, their slippers would accompany the ball. They shot with bows and arrows at a target (which, by the by, they never hit) until all the arrows were broken. Their idea of playing at cricket was that of throwing the bats at the heads of one another. It was pleasant to witness the active enjoyment of these black soldiers, while the Ambassador himself fell fast asleep on the haycock, and on waking exclaimed, “ if you want to know what I like, it is this.” They more than once repeated their visit to Hendon.

      It is to be hoped that the Embassy have returned to Morocco well satisfied with their hospitable reception in this country.

      John Bull is like a rich man ever suspecting a visit from his poor relations, to have for its object the negotiation of a loan. Some of our readers may entertain this idea of the visit of the Moorish Embassy, both to this country and to France,-- a supposition very natural at the present moment, when we know that the evacuation of Tetuan by the Spaniards depends on the payment of a large sum of money to them by the Moorish Government.

      We have no hesitation, however, in affirming, upon the highest authority, that such is not the object of their mission, and that the services of Rothschild will certainly not be required on the present occasion. We firmly believe that these missions have no ulterior object beyond announcing the elevation of the present Sultan to the throne of his ancestors, and seeking the countenance and protection of the two great European Powers, England and France.

Moroccans of Manchester, 1860s

Early in the sixties as you passed along the business streets of the City, you would suddenly come in sight of some white turbaned individual, whose gay Eastern dress appeared in such strong contrast to the sombre of the attire of all those about him. At first the sight of one of these men in Moorish grab was a very uncommon occurrence, and people would stand and smile as one of them passed along. But now they have ceased to be a wonder, and so they go to and fro and do their business in their usual quiet way, and make their purchases at the shops without more than perhaps a casual glance from the passers by.

 When these Moorish pioneers first appeared as the precursors of those who afterwards settled amongst us, their numbers might have been counted almost on the fingers of one hand; but after the first plunge had been taken, they steadily increased in numbers, until at their full strength they formed quite a compact little business community.

 My connection with them commenced with the first arrivals, as they were purchasers of my class of goods, and for this reason I became very friendly with them all. When a new arrival came upon the scene he was always easily distinguishable from the rest, as he would be seen shod with Oriental slippers, to which he had been accustomed in his own footwear was not serviceable in a climate like ours, where a wet day would play sad havoc with those gay-looking slippers without any heels; so one of the first lessons to be learned by a new arrival was to get his feet encased in boots with more understanding in their nature.

 Most of these Moors seemed to learn English almost as quickly as they changed their footgear; or at any rate they were soon quite capable of making a bargain, and able to buy their goods at the cheapest possible prices, in fact bargaining seemed their English grammar, and excellent use they made of it. If for a short time you did succeed in petting a trifle more margin on your sales to a newcomer, he very soon posted himself up in matters, and you found out that, however limited his knowledge of English might be, he always knew enough to be able to beat you down in price.

I think the first English house to introduce these Morocco Moors in any number to the Manchester marked was Thomas Forshaw, who then had his place of business to in Norfolk Street. Here, if you had any business to transact with any of these clients of his, you would usually find them congregated in his entrance lobby, where there were benches lining the sides, on which they would be seated, as it were, in general council. It was quite an Oriental picture to see them grouped around in their quaint picturesque attire, surmounted by the white turban or the red fez. I believe they were not entitled to wear the full white turban unless they had made at least one pilgrimage to Mecca. If you had any communication to make to any of their number you were often obliged to make it in the presence and hearing of the entire conclave; and as a rule there was disposition to keep their transactions secret from each other, and at times they would consult amongst themselves before the one in treaty with you would make up his mind as to placing an order. At times this was somewhat embarrassing to the seller, but their manner of doing business was pleasant and easy enough when you hade once been admitted to their general friendship. They first of all required to have confidence in you mode of doing business, but having once had the “open sesame” pronounced in your favour you could go in and out among them and get along with them very comfortably.

As the years went by, and their friends in Morocco found out that their countrymen were doing so well at this side, the numbers increased; but Thomas Forshaw gradually lost his hold upon them, for the Moors discovered by degrees that they could go into the market and buy in their own names, thus saving the commission with which he charged them. I afraid credit was granted them too freely, ad were thus encouraged to trade beyond their means. However, the consequences of this appeared later on, and in the meantime the number of white turbans to be seen in the streets of Manchester steadily and perceptibly increased.

One of the first of these Moors to establish himself in business on his own account was a ma n of the name of Bengelun. He was a handsome man, although somewhat short of stature, but for his height he was one of the fattest men I had then come across. He seemed to carry a very mountain of adipose matter in front of him as he came paddling along the street, and swaying about from side and to side; and you could not but sympathise with him as you saw him panting for breath as he slowly mounted the stairs to his office. After the first established council broke up little by little at Thomas Forshaw’s, it seemed to naturally transfer itself ton the offices of Mr. Bengelun; so that if you could not find your man at his own place of business you would nearly always be safe in looking for and finding him at Mr. Bengelun’s, where the bulk of them would be congregated together, filling the rooms to over the rooms to overflowing, some sitting, some reclining, whilst others would be squatted about Eastern fashion, with their others would be squatted about Eastern fashion with their legs doubled up underneath them, and here they would hold their midday palaver. These Moors came from various quarters; Tangiers, Mogadore, Larache, Casablanca, Fez, etc., and when they all got talking more or less together, with their various intonations, accents and gesticulations, it was really quite Entertaining to be in their midst. Associated with these Morocco Moors were some of their co-religionists from Cairo and Alexandria. Amongst the latter was a Mr. Benani, a very clever, intelligent, capable man of business. He also took quite a lead amongst them, and after the death of Mr. Bengelun, the daily meetings used to be held at his offices.

Taken as a whole, these Moors were a thoughtful, peaceable, kindly and sociable set of men. Mohammedans by faith, one could not but admire and respect them for their strict observance of all that their religion enjoined. Of course, these are black sheep in every fold, but as a body of men they set an example to many Christians of sobriety and religious zeal, with which those who cam closely in contact with them could not but be struck. During their long fast of Ramadan, the most of them neither ate, drank or smoked during the day. In their own country this was not such a serious matter as it is with us, as in Morocco the days and nights are more nearly equal in the summer months, when this fast takes place, than is the case in England. Here they required to fast from about three in the morning until about eight in the evening, which constituted a great strain upon the system for many weeks. This fast commenced with the new moon, and so strict were they that they should not err as to the time for starting the fast, that rather than make any mistake about the exact time of the new moon in their own country, they would begin fasting the day before.

Many of the Moors who flourished here in the past have altogether disappeared, many are dead, other have left the country. Their names, too, would sound strange to English ears, such as Luarzazi, Elofer, Benquiran, Lehluh, Benabsolam, Dris and Benassi Benani. Benani and Tassi were two of the most usual names amongst them and, I presume, answered to Smith, Jones, and Robinson in this country. Then there were such names as Gueasus, Lushi, Meecoe, Bomar Larashe, Benabdislam, and Benmassoud. The Bens were profile as the sons of many ancestors. Where there were several of the same surname they were recognized by some personal peculiarity. For instance, one man was called Big Tassi, on account of his almost gigantic proportions; and yet although he was large physically, he was particularly mild and gentle-looking in appearance, but he was not so soft-hearted that he could not drive a very keen bargain. There was also Black Tassi, so called from his swarthy complexion. He was as keen as a knife and as sharp as a needle, but I am afraid his heart partook of the nature of his complexion, for there came a day when he suddenly vanished to the tune of “the debts I left behind me.”

Meecce, bright and cheery in nature and disposition, came with a long purse, and with the impression that his purchasing power was unlimited. For a short period he was quite the darling of the Manchester Market. He bought, and bought; and we sold, and sold, and sold, just as dear old Manchester loves to do. And we should all have continued happy if, after the long purse became empty, we had not wanted payment for his more than liberal purchases. Waiting for those proverbial “remittances from the other side” is at the best a dreary and unsatisfactory business. Yet our friend seemed quite cheerful and happy, and if reiterated promises and offers of fresh orders for goods could have only satisfied creditors all might hover been well. When these at length failed to give comfort and contentment, our dear friend betook himself to Morocco, so that he might he might try and hurry them up on the other aide, but unfortunately his people abroad declined to be hurried up, and so his departure was followed by further delay, disappointment and so his departure was followed by further delay, disappointment and eventually losa. His long purse had not proved long enough for its purpose, and Mr. Meecoe’s light-hearted pleasantries could not convert themselves into bank notes, or even dollars, which with wool was the usual mode of remittance, and so the creditors had to whistle for their money (in vulgar parlance), and that was the end of it.

There was another man amongst these Moors so diminutive in height that he might almost have passed for a dwarf. He had a sallow complexioned face and shifting eyes, and was not altogether attractive in appearance. He could be very oily and sweet when be wished to get his own way in some matter of business, but a very firebrand when anything went wrong. The greater his passion the yellower he became probably he was of a bilious nature, which may have accounted for his extreme irritability. I remember on one occasion when I had to insist upon him doing what was right in some transaction between us, the oily smile with which he first tried to have his own way gradually disappeared as be found he could make no impression upon me; a gloomy scowl was succeeded by such a fit of rage that he actually foamed at the mouth. When he had arrived at this stage, the only thing of which he seemed capable, was to point his finger at his tongue and cry out: “Look at my tongue, look at my tongue. Why I should do so I cannot say; the whole scene was very comical ad would have made a splendid photograph. Slowly he cooled down and eventually retired, but there was no look of love in those shifting eyes as he passed out of my office.

Such an incident was of quite an exceptional nature, and for many of these Moors I had a very sincere respect, doing their business as they did, in a quiet, almost placid kind of manner. Some of this white-turbaned fraternity are still to be found here, but their numbers have considerably diminished. Bad government, coupled with the demonetization of silver have well-nigh killed this once prospering and promising trade. They were, and are, a class of men who, if circumstances had favoured them, were capable of developing a satisfactory business; but the government of the Sultan of Morocco was so wretchedly bad that it was impossible for them to make any headway. At times official intimation would be received by one of their number that he must return to act in the capacity of a tax gatherer in his own country, a position very abhorrent to most of them, as to make an existence in such a calling, after paying the Government the sum for which the taxes had been farmed to such an one, extortion, cruelty and robbery were a necessity. When these calls were made upon them they tried to get appointed as nominal agents for English firms, so that they might claim the support and protection of the English Consul abroad.

Moroccan Ambassador Gives a Donation for Charitable Purposes, 1860

        On Saturday the Lord Mayor announced that the munificent sum of £ 200 had been placed in his hands by the Moorish Ambassador, Said Mohammed Shamce, for charitable purposes. The Lord Mayor said he felt much indebted for this proof of his Excellency’s confidence, and

would take care that the money should be distributed in such a manner as to meet the benevolent intentions of the donor.

Aaron Afriat Applies for British Citizenship, 1874

       I Aaron Afriat of N: 9 Catherine Court seething Lane in the city of London Merchant do solemnly and sincerely declare that I am a native of Morocco and a subject of the Emperor of Morocco. That I am Twenty Seven years of age and have been a resident in this kingdom continually for the last Seven years and intend to reside permanently in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. That I am unmarried – That I am a Merchant and have resided and been engaged in the aforesaid business for the last Six years first at N: 3 Bury Street Saint Mary axe in the City of London for three years there at 56 Great Preseott Street Goodmans Fields afterwards at 31 Great Preseott Street Goodmans Fields both in the Country of Middlex for Two years afterwards at N: 2 King Street Kensburg in the Country of Middlex and at N: 2 Henery Lane Bevis Marks in the City of London for one year. That I am … held to the English Nation and am there for anymore proofs all rights privileges and … of a British Boam subject and am glorious of pure having property in the United Kingdom – That I am a person of great Loyalty and well affected (friends?). Her Majesty the Queen and Her government. And I … this solemn Declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of an Act made and passed in the Passion of Parliament of the fifth and sixth years of the reign of the late Majesty King William the Fourth instituted an Act to repeat an Act of present Passion of Parliament instituted An Act for the more effectual abolition of Oaths and Affirmations later and made in various departments of the State and to substitute Declarations in lieu thereof and for the more entire suppression of voluntary and extra judicial Oatha and (Affidarits?) and to make other provisions for the abolition of unnecessary Oaths.

Moroccan Military Students in Victorian England, 1875

[30 نونمبر1875]

الحمدلله وحده


محبنا الكبلير، اللبيب المحترم ، المنسطر بلين بوطن شر لسلطانة أكرت ابرطن ، سارجان هي درمنض هي، لا زال السؤال عنك، نطلب الله أن تكون بخير وعافية .


وبعد، فاعلم أيه المحب أننا قد طالعنا علم سيدنا أيده الله، بالكتاب الوارد علينا منكم بإذن دولتكم الفخيمة، في شأن الشبان المسلمين الذين هم بصدد التوجه إلى بلدكم بقصد التعلم، وعلمنا صدور الموافقة من دولتكم المحبة بقبولهم في مدرسة العسكرية.


وقد أمرني سيدنا نصره الله، أن نطلب منكم التوسط في مجازات دولتكم على اعتنائها بقبول مطلوب سيادته المعتزة بالله. وقد نشط أيده الله بهاذه الإمارة الجديدة، المؤسسة على المحبة الكائنة القديمة المتزايدة إلى الآن من دولتكم مع سيدنا نصره الله ومع أسلافه المقدسين. كما نجازيك بالخير الكثير في اسم سيدنا أعزه الله على حسن توسطك كما هي عادتك .


وكذلك نخبرك بأن هؤلاء الشبان المذكورين، قد جعلناهم هنا في تعلم لسان النجليزوغيره، وحين يعرفون الكتابة والقراءة يتوجهون إلى بلدكم بحول الله .


وأما ما أشرت به على التعلم الذي أوله في مدرسة العسكرية، وبعدها في مدرسة ولويش، نحبك أن تعلم دولتكم الفخيمة، بأن مراد سيدنا أعزه الله هو ان يكون ما أشارت به الدولة المحبة.


ونطلب منك عن أمر سيدنا دامت سعادته، أن تجازي الدولة المحبة المعظمة مجازات الخير التام، كما أني مأمور بأن نجازيك بالخير على حسن توسطك.


وعلى المحبة السلام[*]

في 2 قعدة الحرام عام 1292.

                                                                                  خديم المقام العالى بالله

                                                                               محمد برقش لطف الله به.


      On 15 July 1875 Hay wrote to the Foreign Secretary to say that Moulay Hassan wished to send three young Moroccans to study at Sandhurst and Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. Lord Derby again showed himself very sympathetic towards the young Sultan’s evident desire to modernise Morocco, and he replied to Hay on 20 September 1875 that the young Moroccans would be made very welcome in England.

      In sponsoring Moulay Hassan’s proposal Hay had written, understandingly:

      The young Sultan is evidently desirous of introducing reforms and improvements in his dominions; but he has a very difficult task as he is surrounded by ignorant and fanatical advisers. The only knowledge he has of European civilisation is what he has heard from the foreign representatives who have visited his Court, as there are no newspapers circulated in Morocco… I trust that every reasonable facility may be afforded by Her Majesty’s Government to the young Sovereign, to aid him in moving forward in the path of reform.

                                                         from Rogers, Anglo-Moroccan Relations

Moroccan Sufi Sheikh visits Britain with his British Bride, 1876

Nothing of note occurred on our journey to England. The arrangements were all most conducive to our comfort and ease. The Channel crossing was not too rough. DoverConduit Street, where the British Government had retained quarters for us. The season was at an end, and the Court and every one of note out of town. Lord Derby received the Shareef, and return visits were made by proxy. Royal carriages were placed at our disposal, and the sights of London were duly visited. Manchester, Macclesfield, and Birmingham invited us, but no time was at our disposal for the journeys. The Mayor of Brighton offered us a luncheon, but afterwards my cousin’s husband, a medical man in that town, took the entertainment on his hands, and we had tea with the authorities at the Aquarium instead. We travelled to BrightonAlexandra Palace invited us to be their guests, and here the amusements were very varied. A young elephant was christened Shareef during his performance in the arena, to the great amusement of my husband. A recherché dinner was served in a private room, and the guests were numerous. A splendid display of fireworks finished up a charming but most tiring day. and then Victoria Station were reached in due time. At the latter a member of the Foreign Office met us, Dr. Leared (since dead), and a few personal friends, and escorted us to in a saloon placed at our disposal by the L.B. and S.R.C, Mr. John Shaw con­tributing much to ensure our comfort both going and returning. The Directors of the

I attended a service at my parish church, St. Mary’s, Newington, to which the Shareef accompanied me, and went into the choir while at my devotions. He uncovered in the church, and did the same on visiting Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. On the whole, the Shareef was glad to have seen London; but at the same time he confessed that nothing would induce him to live there for any length of time, the climate, to his idea, being depressing, and people looked so sad. I do not think I agreed with him entirely, though London is certainly not exhilarating in the month of August, especially with a high temperature.

The Surrey County Gaol, of which my father was at that time governor, impressed the Shareef very much. He visited the whole establishment, and in the kitchen took a small quantity of the food, which I think was oatmeal porridge, familiarly called skilly. As a child, I often went in to the cook with basin for some, and ate it sweetened with molasses. At that time Morocco prisons were at their worst; today the Tangier prison is almost luxurious in comparison to thirty-five years ago, thanks to Europeans who have interested themselves of late years to provide a little comfort and cleanliness for the unfortunate prisoners.

At the end of a fortnight we left London. The only incident in our journey was the overturning of one of our luggage cabs, which almost caused us to lose the train. No one was hurt, but the servants inside were much terrified for the time being.

Hadj Ali Ben Mohammed Hires English Boys to Perform in His Circus, 1882

A Word for the Acrobats

To the Editor of the Era


Sir— A has gone the rounds of the newspapers, creating interest and sympathy. I cannot understand how such wretchedness could exist in so celebrated a troupe as the Beni Zoug Zoug  Arabs, a troupe that have performed in all parts of the world, before many crowned heads, and at the principal theatres of the capitals of every nation to crowded and delighted audience. “One story is good until another is told,” and I think Hadjali Ben Mohamet or his business-manager should give some explanation.

The hundreds of thousands who have witnessed the wonderful evolutions of this famous troupe on the stage, if they reflect a moment, must know that nothing but careful training, proper nourishment, and rest could sustain such strength and agility as they exhibit. They must have noticed that they were clean, and exhibited emulations and spirit. Many must have noticed their quaint, if not handsome, embroidered costumes in the public streets. It does not seem probable that such a troupe could enter the Sultan’s palace “clad solely in a pair of baggy Turkish trousers, and a man’s old filthy shirt.” It is possible the Sultan might have entertained such an entry. But I am sure the managers of the many grand theatres and opera houses this troupe have performed in would require something different. A surprise visit to the homes of thousands of our English performers could dispel much of the illusion and fascination of the fairy scenes of our pantomimes.

The writer says, “No other Christian nation seems to have produced any such degraded parents to the hand of Hadjali  Ben Mohamet.” Possibly he is not aware that England is the only country where the law of apprenticeship exists. It is one of England’s oldest institutions, but probably never intended to be applied to such a trade, nor did he, perhaps, consider that the passport question is a bar to taking boys from other countries. No doubt these circumstances and the fact that no nation produces boys of such pluck and stamina as England induced Mohamet to enlist our London street Arabs, Had the Consul suggested a certain regimen and diet and a resident schoolmaster to this troupe of fourteen English boys, I have no doubt that Mohamet would have willingly guaranteed it. The public require amusement. It is a matter of opinion what is a“miserable trade.” We are not all born with a silver spoon in our mouths. Professional athletes have existed in all ages, and the most wonderful and expert are those who have begun almost in infancy.  No artist will undertake to teach a boy unless he has some security that he can at least accomplish the task he has taken in hand. It is at best an unthankful office, as all who have tried it no doubt know. Apprentice boys, like schoolboys, are always anxious for their liberty, and ready to avail themselves of any pretext to escape.

The public have an erroneous and absurd notion that acrobats, gymnasts, and contortionists have to undergo in their youth some secret, diabolical, and unnatural course of training that their backbones and hip joints have to be dislocated, or that they are double jointed, that they have to be rubbed with oils and sleep in greasy blankets. There is no doubt that this idea has been propagated and encouraged by some of the lower class of the profession to scare others from experimenting and to make their business appear more extraordinary. It may be interesting to some of your readers to learn that nothing unnatural or painful is required. A very slight knowledge of anatomy will convince any person that all the positions of the so-called contortionist, India-rubber man, and legmania artist are perfectly natural, and can be acquired with the greatest ease by practice of half-an-hour twice daily, and if commenced in childhood actually becomes sport to them. The whole frame and muscular force becomes immensely developed, healthy, and improved. There is neither difficulty nor danger in learning what may appear to the unitiated feats of reckless daring or agonizing strain when under the tuition of an experienced tutor. Accidents happen in most trades, and if some few gymnasts have come to grief it has generally occurred from carelessness in fixing their apparatus or from drink. I have had forty years’ experience, have taught thousands of amateur pupils in the various gymnasiums I have established in the large towns of England and at scholastic institutions; have since traveled twice around the world directing and exhibiting every description of gymnastic performances. Some of the greatest gymnast now on the Continent were many apprentices, but never met with the slightest accident or mishap. Examine any fourteen boys you may find in our crowded back street, you will not only find them with scars and bruises, but proud of them; and, if you desire to know how they get them, put fourteen of them into a room, and give them toys and games, and examine them again, after an hour or two. “Boys will be boys,” especially English boys. The habits of the Arab differ much from ours; and it is only natural to expect that, while in Mohammedan nation they should adhere more strictly to their customs. I have travelled four years in Turkey and Egypt; have eaten at the table of the Khedive and at many of the palaces of the Pashas. Knives, forks, and plates are not used; you sit around a large round Japanned tray, about four feet in diameter, placed on a stool two feet high. Everyone is supplied with a flat round cake of unleavened bread and a table napkin. The first course consists of a kind of white soup with pieces of veal in it about the size of a tumbler. You all dip in the same dish with a wooden or bone spoon, and “the solid parts you tear to pieces with the fingers.” Next comes a roast turkey, kid, lamb, or, perhaps, a quarter of a calf. No knife is used to carve them; they are pulled to pieces with the fingers; and it is a great compliment when a high dignitary hands you a part of what he has torn off, or tears off a choice morsel and offers it to you. Then come, probably, twenty courses; meats and vegetable chopped up in various flavoured sauces; sweets and jellies that would puzzle the most expert cook to discover how they were made. These dishes are placed in the centre of the table one after the other; now savoury, now sweets; then savoury, without order, or bill of fare. You break off a piece of your bread, which is something like a muffin, but not so thick and larger round, and all dip into the same dish. Water is handed when called for to drink. When you have finished, a large brass basin is brought to you, and water poured on your hand from a brass ewer. After rinsing the hands, you allow them to be filled with water, to wash out the mouth, and use your table napkin to dry. The Arabs are most particular at washing the hands and mouth before and after eating. It is a religious obligation. The meal finished, you retire to a divan and drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. They are not allowed to touch wine, spirits, or beer. The lower classes sit on the ground with the dish, or pot, in the middle. I need not say they are content with one dish, which is not always made from meat; more often beans (the common horse-beans)—dates when in season—or a kind of pickle well seasoned with cayenne. All classes are particular in washing their hands and mouth. The Arabs have beautiful white even teeth. They are light-hearted, fond of amusement, curse, blaspheme, rob, are wonderfully attentive to the forms of their religious duties and ceremonies, and can have as many wives as they can keep, who all live happily together, without much jealousy and quarrelling. They all dress the same, as, I suppose, Mr and Mrs Noah did. No French woman can throw on her shawl with such grace as do these bright-eyed Arab women. The men are well formed, broad chested, and can indure any amount of fatigue. Private carriages have one or two runners in front to shout and clear the way. I have known these men run twelve miles in the hour. I tried to bring two of them to England to astonish our pedestrians; but Arabs are not allowed to leave their country; or, no doubt, Hadjali Ben Mohamet would have taken them instead of English boys. They are lithe and supple, and can bend themselves in every known position with little or no practice. The Beni Zoug Zoug are a tribe from Algeria, who can migrate.

I have not made the above remarks with any intention of disparaging the humane intentions of the gentlemen who have brought this case before the public. Your readers may draw their own conclusions. I am one of the caterers of public amusement; one of the thousands earning their bread by what they writer of that article designates a “miserable trade.” This is an unfeeling slur, cast not only on the profession, but on the millions that support it.

Your obedient servant,    J. C. Gregory

Aissawa at St. Jame’s Hall, 1889



            By special invitation a small audience assembled in St. James's Hall, Piccadilly, on Wednesday night, to witness a remarkable orgie, a repetition of which can easily be dispensed with. The performers were a band of Moors, belonging, it was stated, to a religious sect called the Aissaouas. Some three centuries ago, according to the handbill, they were cursed by a reverend father, and ever since have been compelled to eat reptiles and stones, and such unconsidered trifles. They have been turning this eccentricity in account by exhibiting themselves at the Paris Exhibition, where they created much enthusiasm. The British public, however, is of a different type, and will view the performance with disgust rather than admiration. The eight fanatical conjurors, in picturesque Arab costume, squatted in a semicircle on the stage, and beat enormous tambourines for half an hour at a time, singing and praying in a strident manner. Occasionally one of them took a fit, and raved about the platform in a repulsive manner, concluding his unattractive performance by an atrocity of self-torture. One pats a red-hot shovel with his hands, and stands on the edge of a yataghan and lies on it with his bare stomach, while another man jumps on him. A second man eats live scorpions like shrimps, howling like a maniac as he does it; a third eats live snakes like macaroni, tearing them asunder with his teeth; a fourth transfixes himself with skewers, and a fifth hammers an awl into his stomach. A curse may compel these men to do all this for cash, but no curse compels the public to go there, especially since there is a good deal of trickery in the feats.

Ben Tahar at London Police Court for Assulting Ben Yussef, 1890

       Ali Ben Tahar, a member of the “Wild East,” performing at the French exhibition, was brought up on Saturday last, at the West London police-court, on remand, charged with violently assaulting one of his compatriots, named Yondine Ben Yousseff, who was unable to appear on the first occasion in consequence of the injuries he had received to his face. The men were dressed in the costume of their country, and their appearance in court excited considerable interest. The evidence was first interpreted into French, and afterwards into English, owing to the interpreter of the company not understanding one of the languages. The complainant, who spoke in Arabic, said on Sunday night he was at supper, and spoke bad words to the prisoner, who took up his plate and threw it at him. Mr Curtis-Bennett-- who first used the bad words? The complainant— Ali used them first. The plate fell on his face and cut it. He wished to fight him, and felt “his face full of blood.” Mr Curtis-Bennett— Did he strike the other man? The complainant— Yes; he fought with him. Mr Curtis-Bennett—How long? The complainant said “he had much blood upon his face and fell down.” The prisoner said there was not any animosity between them, as they were friends. The complainant said that was true. Dr. Bateman, who attended to the complainant, said the wounds were progressing satisfactorily, there not being any danger. The prisoner asked for pardon, and said he was very sorry. The manager of the Wild East, who acted as one of the interpreters, said the men were good friends. The prisoner had been drinking, but the complainant was very drunk. Mr Curtis-Bennett wished it to be explained to the prisoner that he was liable to be sent to prison for two months with hard labour, but he intended to deal leniently with him, taking into consideration that he had been in custody for some days, and that the complainant was drunk. He fined him 40s., or fourteen days. The money was immediately paid.

Manchester Moroccans Who Naturalized British 1891- 1935

Name and occupation

Date of taking

Oath of Allegiance.

Place of Residence

Nation, Abraham

6th October, 1891

York Cottage, York-place, Oxfordroad, Manchester

Laredo, Solomon Joseph

25th September, 1894


23, Broughton-street, Cheetham, Manchester

Lazarac, Taleb

1st October, 1894

40, Parkfield-street, Moss-lane East, Manchester

Guessus, Mohammed

5th May, 1897

5, Parkfield-street,

Moss-lane East, Manchester

Abensur, Joshua

7th November, 1905

" Therfield," Leicester-road,

Broughton Park, Manchester

Cohen, Samuel Jouda

10th November, 1908

Manchester, 40, Palatine-road, Withington

Benabdellah, Dris

29th September, 1909

10, Parkfield-street,

Moss Side, Manchester

Cohen, Jacques Jouda

(known as Jacques Cohen)

24th March, 1911

Manchester, 16, Clotborn Roady Didsbury

Mesrié  Ezra


28 April, 1933

111, Clyde Road, West Didsbury, Manchester

Bengelun, Elarbi



23 June, 1933

42, Granville Road, Fallowfield, Manchester

Boayed, Hamed

Cotton Merchant


27 March, 1935

7, Sherwood Avenue, Fallowfield, Manchester

Boayed Abelouhab. Child of Hamed Boayed

27 March, 1935

7, Sherwood Avenue, Fallowfield, Manchester

Tahar and the Moorish Camp in London, 1897

       SHEIK HADJI TAHAR writes from London, Eng., under date of July 29, as follows: ‘The Moorish Camp’ is a favourite resort of the elegant people who desire a few moments of relaxation, gentlemen especially enjoying their cigars, and the ladies who accompany them complimenting the management on the beauty, variety and novelty of the entertainment, and of the grace and beauty of the performers. The Duke of Cambridge, his sons and the ladies of this ducal household, the ladies in waiting of the Duchess of York’s family, the Crown Prince of Greece, the popular American Duchess of Marlborough, and the clergy by acores, are among those honoring our performances with their presence. We have opened another theatre, ‘the Orient’ in the section next our ‘Moorish Camp.’ Nuhar Hassan, the well-known Oriental performer, so won the public that he was presented with a superb silken and silver inwrought table cloth. While ‘Cleopatra’, queen of serpent charmers, charms everyone with her extraordinary beauty; the mysterious veiled dancer ‘Abbas’ excites wonder and admiration, but suffice it to say that in the ‘Orient’ we give living Oriental pictures of the most refined character. ‘Lols’ the ‘Butterfly of Morocco’, is the favorite with our ‘Moorish Camp’ guests. The new section was exquisitely draped Oriental fabrics, costing an immense sum. Just on the eve of opening the County Council ordered the delicate silken decorations removed and woolen substituted. We compiled. You have heard of the explosion at the exhibition—one death only- a half hour earlier or later and the place where the accident occurred would have been crowded and a worse tale would have had to be told. Someone tried the name of ‘Cody’ at Alexandra Palace, but met with complete failure. Notwithstanding the wet, windy, chilly weather business is fairly good, and we all expect Aug. 1, Bank Holliday, to prove our bonanza. Hadji sends cordial greetings to all friends.”

Moorish Camp in London, 1898

       The Moorish Camp, consisting of a theatre and an encampment, in close proximity to the Great Wheel, is very curious. The members of the Moorish troupe give frequent performances of scenes from “Arabian Nights’ Entertainments,” and are supported by jugglers, sword dancers, and gun spinners. In the camp, Moorish artisans work at their respective trades in tents. The representation of a Moorish wedding by the troupe leads up to the introduction of a sham bull-fight, in which a realistic property bull dies nobly after a spirited combat with his tormentors. Some Oriental dances and acrobatic contortions are also gone through. This show is under the auspices of Sheik Hadji Tahar and Mohamed Ben Akli, Mr Alfred Brady being the business-manager. 

The Moorish Embassy, 1901

      For the first time since the reign of Charles II., a Moorish Embassy has waited upon the British Sovereign. The mission, which has been sent by the Sultan of Morocco to congratulate King Edward on his accession, arrived at Portsmouth on June 6. The chief members of the mission, the Grand Vizier and Kaid Maclean, commander-in-chief, with a retinue of twenty-seven persons, sailed on board the Diadem, placed at their disposal by the British Government. In their splendid robes and richly ornamented yataghans, the gentlemen of the party lent unusual picturesqueness to the commonplace surroundings of a railway platform. The ladies, too, were probably no whit behind them in this particular, but owing to the rigour of Oriental etiquette, no eye of man was permitted to gaze upon them. The platform had to be cleared before they alighted from the train. It is known, however, that they wore sweeping black-hooded robes, over which fell the white yashmak. On June 10, the Embassy attended at St. James's Palace, where the members were received by the King. Shortly after twelve o'clock the Ambassador and his suite arrived, and were received by the Hon. Sir W.J. Colville. In the Throne-Room the Ambassador, (Cid-el-Mehedi el Menebhi, read the address of congratulations from the Sultan of Morocco, Kaid Maclean acting as interpreter. King Edward replied reciprocating the sentiments of personal friendship which the Sultan of Morocco had expressed through his Ambassador, and wishing that the relations between Great Britain and Morocco should continue cordial and intimate.

Ben Abdessadik in London, 1902

       Much has been made of the remark attributed to one KAID ABDERRAHMAN BEN ABDER-SADIK, the delegate of the Emperor of Morocco at the deferred coronation of King  EDWARD VII, when permitted to return home, to the effect that “England is a great country, but I am glad to be going back to civilization again”.  Whether as a remark it was wise or foolish depends a great deal upon the point of view. No doubt it was perfectly sincere, and represented the real feelings of one bored to the point of exhaustion by the whirl and struggle of the phase of life which a social lion in London would be most likely to see. It might have been made with equal sincerity by one detained beyond his pleasure in the unfamiliar and uncongenial environment of fez, and forced to submit to the customs and ceremonies of the semi-barbaric life of Mr. Abder-Sadik’s capital. The governor of fez probably saw of what we are pleased to call civilization only the savage or semi savage side. He could not very well fail to be made conscious of the fact that among those ambitious of social advancement and recognition the struggle is as unending and as cruel as that which characterizes “the peace of nature”– a peace in which the strong overcome and devour the weak, and they in turn those still weaker, until what probably began among the mastodons and megalosaurians is continued beyond the vision of the microscope, among the microbes and monads. In his own palace Mr. Abder-Sadik is no doubt what in the vernacular is described as ‘‘it‘‘. No question of precedence troubles him, for he precedes. He is society incarnate, and at home it is probable he is quite outside the turmoil and competition which in London or New York one escapes only by comfortable obscurity. Perhaps, however, if the self-satisfied governor of fez, who thinks his environment civilization, could bring himself to wander incognito like good Haroun AL Rachid, among the common people, to learn what they are thinking about and doing, he would find that the difference between London and Fez is rather one of degree than of kind, and that to pass from the shadow of his own minarets to the comparative calm of a well-appointed oasis out of the path of caravans would be as desirable for most of those he governs as for him to quit London for  his own capital.

       Civilization is relative. It represents for each community the best it is capable of providing for itself, or of enjoying if provided for it. It is the resultant of infinitely complex forces acting on communities through individuals. And the outward expressions of these forces are food, climate, temperament, environment, and so on through a list too long for enumeration. The Eskimo brought to New York by a returning artic explorer would probably long very quickly environment of icebergs and a diet of train oil. The Central African savage transplanted to Fez would find its artificiality intolerable and would probably die of ennui if there were no way of getting back to his jungles - and civilization.

       Imaginative writers have done the best they could to draw from the perfectly natural and quite intelligible remark of Mr. Abder-Sadik a subtle moral, when it contains none. The civilization of Fez, such as it is, suits the speaker much better than the civilization of London, such as it is. For the same reason, the civilization of London would probably suit the average Englishman better than that of Fez. The wise Englishman who goes to Morocco consults his comfort and conserves his happiness by doing as nearly as possible as do those native and to the manner born; the wise Moroccan in England would do the same. But that it would be easier for the Englishman to let down his standards than for the Moroccan to raise his, assuming the civilization of England to be higher than that of Morocco is due to the fact that it is always easier to slide down a hill than to climb it. But whether descending or ascending, when he reaches the normal level of his environment he has found “civilization”, or so much of it as that environment permits.  

Miss Clara Casey Coverts and Weds Mohammed Ben Belcassim , 1905



There was a striking scene at Liverpool in a Mosque, when a young English bride renounced Christianity for Islam on her marriage to a Mahometan. The parties were Mohammed Ben Bilcassim and Miss Clara Casey, both of whom are members of the Achmet music Hall troupe.



            Miss Clara Casey, the English girl whose marriage with a Moor named Mohammed Ben Bilcassim attracted some attention in the press, arrived at Plymouth, says the “Times”, on 10th June, from Gibraltar on board the “P” and “O”, steamer Victoria. She stated that her husband took her to Morocco by her desire. She did not like the country, however, and after a quarrel with her husband, she wrote that he was ill-using her and that she wished she was back in England. The result was the intervention of the British Consul and a threat by Mohammed to shoot that official, though the revolver which he produced was not loaded. She expected that when he was released from prison, he would again come to England. It was not true that there was anything like kidnapping in connection with her journey to Tangier.




     TANGIER, June 4th – An extraordinary matrimonial dispute affecting an English woman has arisen here.

     A Moorish acrobat from the Sus district some time ago married a Manchester girl aged 17 and brought her here to his harem. The bride’s friends, on learning that he was already the husband of several women, requested the British consular authorities here to send her back to England.

     To-day the acting consul, Mr. Mitchell, called the Moor to his office and told him that he must send the girl home and pay the necessary expenses. On the man refusing to do so, Mitchell threatened to hand him over to the Moorish authorities.

     Thereupon the Moor suddenly drew a revolver on the acting consul but was prevented from firing by Mr. Morillo, the consular clerk, who pluckily seized him. A fierce struggle ensued in the Consul’s office, and Mr. Morello was assaulted with the butt of the revolver. The Moor finally escaped and took refuge in the sanctuary.

     Subsequently the Moor was arrested and taken to the castle. The girl’s parents now claim her custody, asserting that the marriage was a runaway one.

     It was ascertained that the ceremony took place in a Liverpool mosque, the certificate being signed “Quilliam”.

     The marriage was performed according to the Mohammedan ceremony, and the register was signed by a sheikh. The girl, who was only 17 years of age, is alleged to have been terrorized by the Moor.

Picturesque Moroccan Colony Leaves Manchester, 1936


Picturesque Moroccan Colony Leaves Manchester

Special Wives Bought in Slave Markets Wore Red Fez; Always Had Umbrellas; Never in Court

“City News” Special

     The complete loss to Japan by Manchester of the Moroccan trade has now resulted in the final evacuation of the picturesque little Moroccan colony which has existed for over sixty years in Rusholme.

     Apart from considerable material loss to the city, Manchester has lost a body of good citizens who, while retaining all their Oriental customs and attributes, built up for themselves a reputation second to none for honest dealing and clean living.

     A Manchester merchant who had close connection with the Colony for over forty years told the “City News” this week that they had all been sorry to go, and had left only because forced to by the fact that Japanese competition had cut the business from under their feet. 

    He gave some interesting details of the Moroccans, who conducted all their business foreign correspondence from their homes, in Arabic.

   “This community was well known in the locality by the wearing of the red Fez, with which was worn a huge overcast which covered the native dress and invariably also was carried an umbrella,” he said.


    “The womenfolk—mostly black women, some of whom had been previously purchased in the slave market, married and brought to England, as it was considered infra dig to bring one of the real white wives to England, in a short time mastered the language, much quicker than their lords and masters.

   “Having borne a large family, many of the children born in Manchester enjoy British nationality, and although returned to their native city of Fez (Morocco), other generations born in Morocco claim by right British nationality, of which they are very proud and value it’s privileges although they may never probably see the country, which through accident of birth they claim, and which be enjoyed for generations to come. The British consul at Fez has records of these numerous British subjects. These privileges are unfortunately lost to the female sax when they marry.


   “The habits of this Moroccan colony in Manchester were not usual, except that one of the gentlemen undertook to see that the meat was provided in accordance with Mohammedan rights, A butcher in Rusholme had the monopoly of supplying welsh lamb, having in his yard a small abbatoir, and each morning this gentleman proceeded with the killing of the required number of sheep.

    “This same gentleman also led them to prayers every Friday, the service of which was held in a house in Parkfield-street.

     “Their offices in the city were mostly in the building known as Chepstow House, at 32 Oxford Street, and many readers will no doubt remember the following names: Canoon, Elhadjwy, Madani Tazi, Lazarak, Guesus, Benabdellah, Benchocron, Benquiran and Boayed.”




   These Moroccans enjoyed a name second to none for honesty and good citizenship, he added. One of its members, well remembered for his perfect speaking of English, was looked upon as their chief adviser, and was the means of settling many differences which arose in business. When any merchant had recourse to legal advice, there was an old- established firm in king-street (Messrs. Atkinson, Saunders and Co.) who can be termed to have been the official solicitors for the Moroccan merchants, and the late Mr. Seville, a partner of the firm, always managed to keep the Moroccan merchants out of court. Despite the enormous business they did in the city, it is not within memory that they ever had recourse to the Assizes. “I feel that I have lost some

friends,” the speaker told the “City News” “I remember many times the kind of hospitality which I enjoyed. Luncheon consisted of many highly spiced dishes, followed by Oriental sweets and a quantity of fruits. Green tea served with mint helped to digest the unusually heavy meal. Of course, food was only served to the men, the womenfolk having their meals separately; and what appeared

most odd was that the dishes that went back were those intended for the women


Benjelloun Remembers his Childhood in Manchester

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List of Moroccan Ambassadors to Britain

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