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Egypt—Outrage On British Subjects—Question

Volume 221: debated on Friday 17 July 1874

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asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether his attention has been called to the attempt to murder an English gentleman named Clarke, one of the officials of the Telegraph Company in Egypt, and a Mr. Charles Edward Hamilton, another English gentleman who happened to be passing the place where the attack was made upon Mr. Clarke, and who, attracted by his cries and the sound of blows, went to his assistance; whether, if his attention has been called to the circumstance, he can state whether it is true that these two gentlemen were beaten with a Narbote and with sticks for two or three hours, and then were dragged by ropes the distance of a mile to the nearest tree, with the view of being hanged, but that the rope breaking they were dragged on to the village of Sherwida; whether it is true that the band of Arabs committing this outrage was headed by Osman Abassa, the first cousin of the Viceroy of Egypt, son of a Minister of Finance, and Governor of the Land of Goshen, one of the richest provinces in Egypt; whether he has heard that upon reaching the village, Osman Abassa set the whole population upon these two gentlemen, who, bound and almost insensible from blows, were exposed to every conceivable outrage until the arrival of Greek and French armed assistance; whether it is true that upon these gentlemen being conveyed by these armed rescuers to the town of Zagazig, the telegraph messages sent on 25th November, 1873, to General Stanton, Her Majesty's Consul General in Egypt at Cairo, a distance of only two hours by rail, remained unreplied to for three days, and that no messenger or visitor ever came from the Consulate at Cairo during the whole time (over three months) that Mr. Hamilton lay in an almost hopeless condition at Zagazig; and, whether any money compensation has been raised in the locality in which the outrage took place; and, if so, how much, and to whom has it been paid?

Sir, the attention of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has been called to this case, the facts of which are not, however, correctly represented in the Question. As the transaction in question is of some importance, I have had a statement relating to it drawn up, which I will read to the House. Mr. Clarke and Mr. Hamilton, who were staying with him, were out shooting together near Sher--wida, when the former fired at a squirrel in some maize. The shot wounded a girl, and some Arabs came up and maltreated them. They were taken to the village and there released. The attack was made by the peasantry, not by any relative of the Khedive. General Stanton, Her Majesty's Agent and Consul General, received a telegram the same evening at midnight stating what had occurred, and at 7.30 next morning telegraphed to the Acting Consul at Cairo to attend to the matter. He reported that the local authorities were inquiring into the case and three of the offenders had been arrested. M. Felice, the Acting British Vice Consul at Zagazig, being engaged in watching the proceedings. No time was, therefore lost by the British Consular authorities in seeing that justice was done. Subsequently, the offenders were tried. One was condemned to eight months' hard labour, two others to six months' hard labour, another to three months' imprisonment, another to two months' imprisonment, and the guards of the village to one month's imprisonment. No fine was imposed on the locality. Mr. Hamilton had expressed himself satisfied with the sentences, except with that of the chief offender, and, under the circumstances, Lord Derby informed him, on the 23rd of May last, that Her Majesty's Government cannot give their support to a claim which he has advanced against the Egyptian Government for compensation.