Extract from Henrietta's journal describing the Listons' return to Constantinople, 1817

'the diplomatic corps, though a little changed, is considerably increased'

Quill and handwritten journal page

After a period of 21 months' absence on official leave, the summer of 1817 saw the Listons return to the British Embassy in Constantinople on the instruction of the Foreign Secretary Lord Castlereagh. Beginning their journey in Scotland, they travelled from Edinburgh to Glasgow, then to London and next to Dover from where they journeyed to France, Malta and through the Mediterranean and Aegean seas to the Sublime Porte.

In 1817, before Robert received instruction from Castlereagh, he explained to his nephew Robert Ramage: 'I shall probably be sent abroad once more: not that that would be the case if I were to show the smallest disinclination to it, but I have not done so; on the contrary I have thought it my duty to say I am ready to return, and ready to retire, as it may suit the views of ministry' (National Library of Scotland reference: MS.5660, f.64v). In February 1817 year the news came that Robert was to resume his post. While Henrietta shared her husband's sense of duty, she writes of leaving her home in Scotland with 'infinite reluctance', uncertain when she would be able to return to it.

With characteristic patience, resolution and curiosity the Listons embarked on another long journey over land and sea. The first extract presented here from Henrietta's journal about the voyage was written in Dover on 8 May 1817. By the 20 June the Listons where in Malta, where the second extract commences. The close of this second extract details the beautiful view of Constantinople that greeted Henrietta on her arrival and gives an overview of the other European diplomats residing in the city.

'The good old knight and his lady'

Robert Liston was knighted at Carlton House in London on 21 October 1816. As Henrietta mentions in this journal, the Prince Regent afforded Robert 'the red-riband Grand Cross of the Bath'. The Order of the Bath, founded in 1399, is an order of knighthood with three classes, of which the Knight of the Grand Cross (GCB) is the highest. Robert and Henrietta, now 74 and 66 years of age respectively, returned to the Sublime Porte as Sir and Lady Liston.

'Diplomatic brethren' at Constantinople

Of the European diplomatic corps at Constantinople, Robert and Henrietta would be the most senior figures. With the exception of the Austrian diplomat Baron Ignaz Lorenz Freiherr von Stürmer (1750/2–1829), the French, Sicilian, Russian and Spanish ambassadors and their families were younger than the Listons. In this journal Henrietta remarks that while she has been away, 'society' at Constantinople has not 'lessened: on the contrary, the diplomatic corps, though a little changed, is considerably increased'. In addition to the diplomats of Pera, Grand Tourists, merchants, missionaries, archaeologists and artists made up the Listons' wider circle.

The manuscript

Small fragments of Henrietta's journal are missing due to environmental damage. Significant discolouration, including signs of damp, mould, dirt and water damage, are visible on the paper and make some parts of Liston's writing impossible to read.

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Manuscript page with quill pen and ink pot

Places mentioned in this journal

England, France, Malta, Tenedos, Turkey

Selected people named in this journal

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

Sir Frederick William Adam, 1784-1853

Scottish army officer. Adam commanded British troops stationed in the Mediterranean from 1817 to 1824.

Ali Pasha of Ioannina 1744–1822 ('Aly-Pasha at Yannina')

The semi-autonomous military governor of Ioannina, known as the 'Muslim Bonaparte' and 'the Aslan (Lion) of Ioannina', Ali Pasha was remarkable for establishing a principality in Albania and Greece. Involved in the political and military affairs of Europe and allying himself with different European powers, Ali Pasha was made famous by writers such as Byron who visited his splendid court. Ali Pasha's second wife, who is mentioned by Henrietta Liston, was Kyra Vassiliki. He was assassinated in 1822.

Count Antoine-François Andréossy, 1761-1828 ('Andreossi')

French Diplomat. French Ambassador to the Ottoman Porte from 1812 to 1814, Andréossy had been Ambassador to Great Britain from 1803 to 1805 and to the Austrian Empire from 1808 to 1809.

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, 1744-1818 ('Queen')

Charlotte married George III in 1761 and served as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland from then until the union of the two kingdoms in 1801, after which she was queen consort of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1818. She bore 15 children.

Sir John Thomas Duckworth, 1748–1817

British naval officer. In 1801 Duckworth was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Leeward Islands and that same year he and General Trigge took the Danish and Swedish islands in the Caribbean for the British. The Listons socialised with Duckworth in the Caribbean in 1801. Duckworth was unsuccessful in attempting to impose British demands on the Ottoman Empire during the Anglo-Turkish War (1807–1809).

Sir James Whitley Deans Dundas, 1785–1862 ('Captain Dundas')

British naval officer and politician. From 1815 to 1819 Dundas commanded the frigate 'Tagus' in the Mediterranean, and he was later MP for Greenwich.

Janet Dundas, died 1846

Janet was the wife of Sir James Whitley Deans Dundas and his first cousin.

Francis II, 1768-1835 ('Emperor of Austria')

Holy Roman Emperor from 1792 to 1806 and Emperor of Austria from 1804 to 1835.

Bartholomew Frere, 1776-1851

British diplomat. Appointed Secretary of the British Embassy at Constantinople in March 1811, Frere took up his post along 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.

George IV, 1762-1830 ('Prince Regent')

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.

Gunning, Sir Robert, 1731–1816

British diplomat. Robert Gunning's first appointment in the diplomatic service was to Copenhagen in 1766. His next appointment, in 1772, was as envoy-extraordinary and minister-plenipotentiary to Russia. Due to ill-health he returned to Britain in 1776 and in 1778 he was given a baronetcy in 1778.

Baron Johann Carl Christoph Wilhelm Joachim Haller von Hallerstein, 1774–1817 ('Baron Haller')

Bavarian aristocratic architect and archaeologist. Haller studied in Stuttgart and Berlin. In 1808 he went to Italy, studying the architecture of Rome, and in 1810, to Greece. With Charles Cockerell he excavated the sculptures of the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina, selling the pedimental sculptures to Ludwig I of Bavaria. They also excavated, plundered and sold sculptures from the Temple of Apollo at Bassae, and Haller excavated the Roman theatre on Milos, where the Listons had hoped but failed to meet him in July 1817. He died a few months later in the Vale of Tempe in Thessaly, where he had been commissioned by the Turkish Government to build a bridge.

Terrick Hamilton, 1781–1876

Hamilton accompanied the Liston on their 1812 voyage to the Sublime Porte. He served first as Oriental Secretary and then as Secretary at the British Embassy in Constantinople from 1820 to 1824. Hamilton was also an orientalist and translator of 'Antar: A Bedoueen Romance' (1819–1820).

María Guadalupe Hernández de Alba, ('Mme de Jabat' / 'the Jabats')

María Guadalupe was born in Havana, Cuba, the daughter of Lorenzo Hernandez de Alba. Married Juan Gabriel de Jabat y Aztal, the Spanish Envoy to the Ottoman Empire, in 1807. The Listons were friendly with the couple and their son Rafael became a diplomat and served in Britain 1834-1836. One of her letters written in French to Henrietta in the Liston Papers at the National Library.

Andrej Jakovlevitch Italinski, 1743-1827 ('Chevalier d'Italinski')

Russian Diplomat and scholar. Italinski was Russian Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1802 to 1816.

Juan Gabriel de Jabat y Aztal, 1768-1825 ('Javat' / 'Jabot')

Spanish naval officer and diplomat. Jabat served as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Ottoman Porte from 1809 to 1819. Robert Liston described him as ‘an enthusiastick patriot, and manly and honourable in his conduct. — He originally undertook, at a period of publick distress, to perform the duties of office without salary or emolument […] he at length succeeded in reestablishing the Spanish Mission at the Porte on a footing of respectability and improvement’ (National Library Reference MS.5635, f.42). Jabat was Plenipotentiary to Britain 1822–24. He was married was to María Guadalupe Hernández de Alba.

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.

Somerset Lorry-Corry, Second Earl Belmore, (1774–1841) [National Library reference: MS.5711, f.27v].

Somerset Lorry-Corry of Castle Coole, County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland was elected MP for Tyrone 1797. Between 1816 and 1820 he toured the Mediterranean, the Middle East, visiting Greece, Egypt, and Syria with his family in his American schooner, the 'Osprey', and collected antiquities. In 1828 he was appointed Governor, Vice Admiral and Lord Chancellor of Jamaica by the Duke of Wellington.

Count Guillaume Constantin Ludolf, 1759–1839

Sicilian diplomat. Guillaume was the son of Catherine Chabert and Count Wilhelm Moritz Ludolf, dragoman and Minister of the King of the Two Sicilies to the Ottoman Porte from 1793 to 1817. The Ludolf family had a grand family residence in the foreign diplomatic enclave of Büyükdere.

Count Joseph Constantin Ludolf, 1787–1875

Sicilian diplomat. Joseph was the son of Guillaume Contantin Ludolf; he became Ambassador for the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1817–1821, married Countess Thekla Weyssenhoff (1791–1869) and was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia 1824–1832.

Countess Thekla Ludolf, née Weyssenhoff, 1791?–1869

Of Polish and Lithuanian family, Thekla Weyssenhoff married Joseph Constantin Ludolf in 1816 and was painted that year in Naples by the German portrait painter Carl Christian Vogel von Vogelstein; 'Young Lady with Drawing Instrument', a work which is considered one of the artist's masterpieces.

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.

Sir Thomas Maitland, 1760–1824

British colonial official and army officer. Born in Scotland to an aristocratic family, Maitland's military career began in 1778. Maitland was Governor of Malta from 1813 to 1824. In December 1815 he was appointed as Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands (1815–1823) and Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, excluding Gibraltar.

Admiral Sir Charles Vinicombe Penrose, 1759-1830 ('Admiral Penrose')

British naval officer. Penrose entered the navy in 1776 and commanded the Mediterranean station from 1810 to 1813 as Commodore, and from 1816 to 1819. He authored several pamphlets including 'A Friendly Address to Seamen of the British Navy' (1820).

Charles François de Riffardeau, Marquis de Rivière, and then Duc de Rivière (1763–1828)

French diplomat, politician, and military officer. He was appointed the French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1815, and took up the appointment in 1816, retiring in 1819. In 1811 he married Marie Louise de La Ferté-Meung.

Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh and second Marquess of Londonderry, 1769–1822 ('Lord Castlereagh')

Statesman. Born in Dublin, Castlereagh was Foreign Secretary from 1812 until his suicide in 1822. He represented Britain at the Congress of Vienna 1814–1815. Robert Liston wrote regularly to Castlereagh.

Baron Grigorii-Alexandrovich Stroganov, 1770–1857 ('Baron de Stroganof')

Russian diplomat. Stroganov was a member of a wealthy, aristocratic family of landowners and public officials from Perm province. As a young man Stroganov served in the military, then entered government service as a diplomat in 1796. He served as Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain (1805–9) and Sweden (1812–16), and as ambassador to the Ottoman Porte (1816–21). He was made Privy Counsellor in 1821, and then Count of the Russian Empire and a member of the State Council in 1826, becoming Grand Chamberlain of the imperial court (1836). Stroganov was married to Princess Anna Sergeievna Trubetskaya (1765–1857). The friend of artists, poets and writers, and related by marriage to Pushkin, Stroganov owned a library of 22,000 volumes collected from all over Europe. The Stroganov family were also art collectors; the artist Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun's portraits of Stroganov and Baroness Stroganova are now in the State Hermitage Museum with much of the family's art collection.

Baron Ignaz Lorenz Freiherr von Stürmer, 1750/2–1829 ('Baron Stumner')

Austrian diplomat. Stürmer was the Austrian Internuncio in Constantinople from 1802 to 1818. He was married to Elisabetta Testa, daughter of Gaspard Testa, dragoman (interpretor) and diplomat. The Testas were a prominent Levantine family of dragomans and diplomats. Their eldest son Bartholomaüs (1787–1863) also became a diplomat and served as Internuncio in Constantinople.

Israel Ben Shabetay Taragano, born circa 1765 ('Consul at the Dardanelles')

Dragoman and British Consul at the Dardanelles 1789–1817. Robert Liston knew Israel from his first embassy to Constantinople in 1794 and in July 1812 mentioned in a letter to Lord Castlereagh that he 'has a very large family' and 'his salary is paid by the Levant Company' (National Library reference: MS.5627, f.5).

[Library reference for this journal: MS.5711]

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