Extract from Henrietta's journal describing the Listons' departure from Constantinople, 1820

'Before our departure the Sultan sent Sir Robert a box handsomely set with diamonds'

Quill and handwritten journal page

In the summer of 1820, the Foreign Secretary Lord Castlereagh allowed Robert Liston, who was then almost 79 years old, to resign his ambassadorial post and return to Britain. After almost eight years in Constantinople, including a period of leave in 1816, the Listons went home.

The first entry of this 1820 journal, dated 7 July, describes Henrietta and Robert's departure. Henrietta recounts the gift-giving and formal leaving-taking of Ottoman officials as well as her feelings on leaving 'the never to be forgotten beautiful Bophorus.'

From Constantinople the Listons voyaged to France via Genoa, where they were in quarantine for a month due to the risk of plague. The Listons then travelled through Switzerland and toured the south of France, finally returning to Scotland in early 1821.

After the Listons had left Turkey, Bartolomeo Pisani, the first dragoman (interpreter) at the British Embassy, wrote to Robert about the impact he and Henrietta had during their Constantinople residency:

'To assure your Excellency of the infinite regret and grief which your departure has given me would be nothing new or extraordinary; for, not only all the Inhabitants, but even the very pavements on both sides of the City have felt sorry at your & Lady Liston's leaving the Country. As to the Ministers of the Porte rarely a day passes, but they mention your Excellency's name with true admiration and friendship. It is a great triumph, as it must be a subject of peculiar gratification to your Excellency, to have left so high a respect & so deep regret behind you.' (National Library of Scotland reference: MS.5657, f.177).
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Selected people named in this journal

Names in brackets are how Henrietta Liston refers to that person or spells their name in her journal.

Bartholomew Frere, 1776-1851

British diplomat. Appointed Secretary of the British Embassy at Constantinople in March 1811, Frere took up his post along Ambassador Robert Liston, in June 1812. Frere served as Minister Plenipotentiary from 1815 to 1817 while Robert was on leave, and again from late 1820 until 1821 until Percy Smythe, Viscount Strangford, became Ambassador.

William Campbell, 1793–1821

William Campbell, who Henrietta describes as an 'English gentleman of fortune', was the wealthy brother of Mary Hamilton Campbell, Lady Ruthven (1789-1885). He was in fact Scottish. William travelled around Greece and Turkey with the artist William Page.

John Cartwright

British Consul General in the Levant from 1799 to 1830.

George IV, 1762-1830 ('King of Great Britain')

British monarch. George was Prince Regent from 1811 to 1820, the period during which his father, George III was unfit to rule. Becoming King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on his father's death, he reigned until 1830.

Ispartalı Seyyid Ali Pasha, died 1827 ('Grand Vizier')

Ispartalı Seyyid was Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire (the Sultan's deputy who presided over civil and military matters) from 5 January 1820 to 29 March 1821.

Sir Robert Liston, 1742-1836 ('Mr Liston')

British Diplomat. Born in Kirkliston, Scotland, Robert Liston became an influential diplomat and was the second person to serve as British Minister to the United States, 1796-1801. Robert's service coincided with a highly significant period in British-American relations. In 1796 he married Henrietta Marchant. In 1811 he was appointed British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire and took up the post in 1812.

Louis XVIII, 1755–1824 ('Louis the Eighteenth')

French monarch. Louis became titular regent in 1795 and in 1814 declared himself king on the death of Louis XVII. He reigned until 1824, except for the period known as the Hundred Days when Napoleon returned from Elba. In 1814 Louis adopted the Charte Constitutionnelle (the Constitutional Charter) and introduced a form of parliamentary government. However, Parliament was dissolved in September 1816.

Mahmud II, 1785-1839 ('Grand Signor' / 'Sultan')

Ottoman sultan. Mahmud II, the son of Abdulhamid I, was the 30th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and reigned from 1808 to 1839. He introduced a series of social and administrative reforms and abolished the Janissaries in 1826.

William Page, 1794–1872

Page was an English artist who painted landscapes, architecture and costume studies in Greece and Asia Minor. He travelled to Turkey with William Campbell, the brother of Mary Hamilton Campbell, Lady Ruthven, Page's patron. Collections of Page's drawings and watercolours are in the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum. Page and Campbell were at the British Embassy with the Listons in Constantinople in 1819 and in 1820.

Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia, 1759-1824 ('King of Sardinia')

Victor Emmanuel was King of Sardinia between 1802 and 1821.

Sir Fleetwood Broughton Reynolds Pellew, 1789–1861 ('Honble Captain Feeltwood Pillew')

British naval officer. Pellew entered the navy 1799. In 1816 he married Lady Harriet Frances Webster (1794–1849). From August 1818 to June 1822 he commanded the Révolutionnaire (a French prize taken by the British Navy in 1794) in the Mediterranean.

[Library reference for this journal: MS.5720]

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