Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

Jeddah

The following was selected, edited and transcribed by Peter Bullock.

 

Source: South Australian Register (Adelaide), 13 November 1858

THE MASSACRE AT JEDDAH.

Discussion of the problems of Indians making the Hadj: "He says that both Mecca and Jeddah abound with Indian beggars."

We fancy that in this fact, written only two or three years since, we have a clue to the dreadful tragedy which has recently been enacted at Jeddah.  The greater part of the commerce, such as it is, is carried on from this port, and Consuls from both England and France had residences.  In June last, the war steamer Cyclops, under the command of a gentleman known to many of our early colonials as a brief resident in South Australia, Captain Pullen, was engaged in making surveys of the Red Sea bed, with a view to telegraphic communication with India.  On that month, he took from Suez to Jeddah both the English and French Consuls, the latter accompanied by a wife and daughter.  If we rightly read, the accounts, they were both newly appointed and could therefore have given no cause of offence.  An Anglo-Indian vessel from Calcutta was also in the harbour, and it appeared that the owners who were on board had quarrelled, and that one had insisted on hoisting the Ottoman flag, and claiming his right as a citizen of Turkey.  The other, who was also master of the vessel, demurred.  The case was tried at a Consular Court, in the presence of captain Pullen, and the result was the establishment of the right of the master as a British subject; the Crescent was lowered and the Union Jack hoisted.

On the evening of this day, the 15th June, after Captain Pullen and his boat's crew had returned to the Cyclops, a fanatical and bloodthirsty mob attacked both Consulates, literally cut the British Consul (Mr. Page) to pieces, and killed both M. Eveillard and his lady, the daughter escaping after some courageous action to the harem of the Chief Magistrate of the city; who made some feeble attempts to stay the thirst for Christian blood awakened in the Moslem.  About twenty other persons of various nationalities were massacred; some few Greeks swam off to the Cyclops for refuge early in the morning, and made known the catastrophe.  Captain Pullen, with two boats well armed, proceeded to the shore, which was lined with infuriated pilgrims and others, of whom it was estimated there were not less than 40,000 in the place, besides Arabs and the ordinary population.  The boats were attacked, and Captain Pullen wisely withdrew to some distance.

He then communicated with the Kamaikan, or Governor, by letter.  In the afternoon he received an answer confirming the reports of the murder of Christians.  The town was fully in possession of the populace, and the Turkish soldiery, few in number, unable or unwilling to act.  Three days after the Pasha arrived from Mecca with troops.  He invited Captain Pullen ashore, who seems to have acted on this occasion with great fortitude and regard to the honour of his country.  Certain demands were made and complied with; the saved Christians were placed on board the Cyclops.  The Turkish Pasha, the Sheriff of Mecca, and the troops attended a funeral service read by the Chaplain of the frigate over the graves of the Consuls. 

Captain Pullen still required satisfaction, and demanded that the perpetrators of these crimes should be punished.  The Pasha excused himself on the ground that the power of life and death was with the Sultan.  The Cyclops steamed to Suez and telegraphed for orders.  Both the great countries whose officers had been assassinated as soon as the intelligence reached them took action.  The Court of Constantinople expressed its detestation of the crimes and promised redress, and Ismail Pasha was at once sent to Jeddah with a large body of troops.  France despatched a steam frigate from Toulon; and the Cyclops returned to demand justice.

It is to be regretted that the cavils and objections so often made in Parliament tie up the hands of naval officers, and prevent free and decisive justice on their part, when the flag is insulted or English subjects maltreated.  Fortified by superior authority, Captain Pullen again reached Jeddah on the 23rd July.  He sent a despatch to the Governor, in the absence of the Pasha, demanding redress, and stating that if no satisfactory answer were received in 36 hours he should proceed to extremities.  On the 25th, being without reply, he began bombarding the town with shot, shell, and rockets.  On the second day Naamik Pasha, the same officer who visited England about the Turkish loan some time ago, went on board the frigate, and stated that he was only awaiting instructions to execute the culprits. This was not enough - the bombardment continued, until the arrival of Ismail Pasha with a large body of troops.  Eleven of the leaders were instantly beheaded in presence of the vessels.  Many others are sent to Constantinople for trial.

The town, which is much injured by the fire of the ship, is deserted, and 15 native vessels burnt and destroyed.  Such is the present result of this gross outrage; it is in all probability one more fatal stroke which will recoil on the Mussulman power. [continues.]

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School