Gerald Henry Fitzmaurice, C.B., C.M.G.
(15 Jul 1865 — 23 Mar 1939)

Gerald Henry Fitzmaurice is said to have had great influence on the relationship between Turkey and Britain in the decade before World War I. He is best remembered today for his report on the massacres in Armenia and for his opposition to the "Young Turks" who led the revolution of 1908.

This page lists the raw data that I have received concerning this skillful diplomat. Any viewer with additional information or comments is requested to contact
John A. FitzMaurice.


 Contents of this Page



Comments from Historians

Some Adverse Criticism

Related Hyperlinks


 Timeline for the Life of Gerald Henry Fitzmaurice
The initial information in this timeline came from Foreign Office List 1922, with pension date added from Foreign Office List 1924.226 Additional information is being added as it becomes available.
1865 Jul 15 Born in Ireland on 15 Jul 1865 according to the Foreign Office List. reports that a Jerald Patrick FITZMAURICE was born in County Dublin on 15 July 1865. His father was Henry FITZMAURICE. It seems probable that "Jerald Patrick, son of Henry" evolved into "Gerald Henry", perhaps at the time of his Baptism or Confirmation.
circa 1887 Became a B.A. of the Royal University of Ireland, an examining body established by Act of Parliament in 1881. (GHF had attended Blackrock College, a Catholic college located in Blackrock, County Dublin, Ireland.)
1888 Mar 12 Passed a competitive examination
1888 Jun 30 Appointed a Student Interpreter in the Levant Consular Service.
1890 May 1 Promoted to be an Assistant.
1891 and 1892 Acting Vice-Consul at Van (Turkey).
1892 and 1893 Acting Consul at Erzeroum (Turkey).
1893 Acting Consul at Trebizond (Turkey).
1894 Aug
to 1896 Mar
(Massacres of Armenians in Turkey)
1894 Oct 31 to 1895 Mar 21. Acting 3rd Dragoman in the Embassy at Constantinople (Turkey).
1895 Feb 21 Promoted to be H.M. Vice-Consul at Smyrna (Turkey).
1895 and 1896 Acting Consul-General at Smyrna (Turkey).
1896 Acting Vice-Consul at Adana (Turkey).
1896 Feb 12 to May 15 Served as British delegate on the Commission of Inquiry at Birejik on the subject of Armenian Conversions to Islam.
1896 May 30 to Oct 25 Was employed in connection with the Sultan's Commission to reconvert to Christianity the forced Armenian converts to Islam at Birejik (Turkey), etc.
1897 Jan 1 Appointed 3rd Dragoman at the Embassy at Constantinople.
1897 Jun 22 Made a C.M.G. (Companion of the Order of St. Michael & St. George)
1900 Aug 20 to 1901 Jan 5 Acting Consul-General at Salonica (Greece).
1902 Acting Vice-Consul at the Dardanelles.
1902 Dec 8 to 1905 May 7 A British Commissioner for the Aden Frontier Delimitation. This related to the boundary between India and Turkey.
1904 (Entente Cordiale signed by Britain and France)
1905 Jun 30 Made a C.B. (Companion of the Order of the Bath)
1905 Aug 31 Given a Commission as one of H.M. Consuls at Constantinople.
1906 Jul 1 Promoted to be Second Dragoman at the Embassy at Constantinople.
1907 Oct 9 Promoted to be Chief Dragoman at the Embassy at Constantinople.
1908 May 1 GHF given the local rank of a lst Secretary in the Diplomatic Service.
1908 Jul (Revolution led by the "Young Turks".)
1911 Sep 11 to
1912 Oct 18
 (Italo-Turkish War.)
Control of Libya was a major issue.
1912 Jan 1 to
1912 Jun 8
Acting Consul-General in Tripoli (Libya).
1912 Oct 8 to
1913 May 30
(First Balkan War. Montenegro and Serbia opposed Turkey.)
1913 Jun 29/30
to 1913 Aug 10
(Second Balkan War.)
1914 Feb 26 GHF left Constantinople for England on Sick Leave.
1914  Nov 5 (War declared by Great Britain on Turkey)
1914 Nov 8 GHF wrote to Foreign Office saying that he needed no more Sick Leave and was fit to return to duty. GHF had resided at 2 Pont Street SW in London during at least part of his stay in England.
1914 Dec and 1915 Jan Employed on special service at Paris. (Perhaps226 to coordinate with the French to encourage an Arab revolt against the Turks in Syria.)
1915 (Massacres of Armenians in Turkey.)
1915 Feb 23 Attached to the Legation at Sofia (Bulgaria), with
local rank of lst Secretary. Involved in attempt to bribe Bulgarian Government to attack Turkey.226
1915 Apr 25 to 1916 Jan 9 (Battle of Gallipolli and the Dardenelles)
1915 Oct 15 (War declared by Great Britain on Bulgaria.)
1915 Nov to 1919 May Attached to the Intelligence Division in the Admiralty. (It has been asserted that GHF was located in the Balkans and was plotting to arrange a pro-Entente Cordiale coup d'etat in Constantinople.)
1919 Nov 21 until retired. Employed in the Foreign Office .
1921  Jan Retired on a pension.
1939 Mar 23 Died at 29 Devonshire Street in the London
Metropolitan Borough of St. Marylebone,
Sub-district of All Souls.
Residence: 7 Vicarage Gate, Kensington W8
Cause of death:
(a) Cerebral thrombosis, (b) Arterio Sclerosis.


Obituary by Professor Harold Temperley
for The Times of 30 Mar 1939

The late Mr G. H. Fitzmaurice was a man of the most penetrating insight into the affairs of Near and Middle East and of most remarkable influence. His power of inspiring awe was most remarkable. I remember seeing a small town in Albania plastered with notices denouncing him; and a distinguished American diplomat once discussed with me, with some alarm, in New York, what the British government really meant by dispatching him to Tripoli as Consul-General during the Italo-Turkish War. What I think most people will regret is that he always refused to write his memoirs and preserved a more than official discretion as to his own deeds. Happily Dr. Gooch and myself were able, in Volume 5 of "British Documents on the Origins of the War", to publish to the world some of his official reports and private letters dealing with the Young Turk revolution, on which he was a supreme expert. But I believe that a report, largely written and wholly inspired by him, on the Ottoman Empire in 1908, also published in that volume, will prove of even higher permanent value. It contains a general survey of the Empire and its institutions just before the fall of Abdul Hamid, and may be said to embody, as much as any one document could, the conclusions of his life on a subject of which he was admittedly a great master.

Note: Temperley's obit reflects a common view of GHF's stature.226 


Comments from Historians226

from Pears, FORTY YEARS IN CONSTANTINOPLE (London, 1916)

p. 344:
'Now let me digress to speak of a somewhat delicate subject. The British Ambassador, Sir Louis Mallet, whose appointment dated from June, 1913, laboured under a series of disadvantages to which his German colleague was not subjected. Baron von Wangenheim had extremely competent interpreters or Dragomans. Nine months before the outbreak of the war we had at the British Embassy a Dragoman, Mr. Fitzmaurice, whose general intelligence, knowledge of Turkey, of its Ministers and people, and especially of the Turkish language, was, to say the least, equal to that of the best Dragoman which Germany ever possessed. His health had run down, and he had been given a holiday but when, I think in the month of February, 1914, Sir Louis Mallet returned to Constantinople, Mr. Fitzmaurice did not return with him, and was never in Constantinople until after the outbreak of war with England. It is said that he did not return because the Turkish Ambassador in London made a request to that effect. I do not know whether the statement is true or not. I think it probable that if such a request were made it was because Mr. Fitzmaurice did not conceal his dislike of the policy which the Young Turks were pursuing. In this respect he and I often differed, and have spent hours in discussing the policy of the Young Turks. But as his ability and loyalty to his chief is beyond question, and as he possesses a quite exceptional knowledge of the Turkish Empire, and had proved himself a most useful public servant, both in his investigation of the massacres in Armenia, at Urfa and other places, and at a later period in acting with the representative of the Indian Government in settling the boundary of the Aden district, it was nothing short of a national misfortune that he did not return with Sir Louis Mallet.
[continues on p. 345]

Though differing in opinion from Mr. Fitzmaurice, I invariably found him reasonable and well-informed; I had formed the highest opinion of his value as a Dragoman. It goes without saying that he would carry out any instructions which his chief gave him. It was therefore a matter of profound regret to everyone in Constantinople who knew that he had recovered from his illness, to learn that he was not permitted to return. For now, what was the condition of our Embassy when it had to strive against Baron von Wangenheim with his superbly equipped staff ? Sir Louis Mallet, so far as I know, had never had experience in Turkey. He did not know a word of Turkish. He had under him three Secretaries. Mr. Beaumont, the Counsellor, especially during the days in August before his chief returned from a visit to England, was busy almost night and day on the shipping cases, many of which passed through my hands. He also knows nothing of Turkish and had never had experience in Turkey. Mr. Ovey, the First Secretary, also had never been in Turkey, and knew nothing of Turkish. Unfortunately also he was taken somewhat seriously ill. The next Secretary was Lord Gerald Wellesley, a young man who will probably be a brilliant and distinguished diplomatist twenty years hence, but, like his colleagues, had no experience in Turkey. The situation of our Embassy under the circumstances was lamentable. The ever active Germans, arming Turkey as rapidly as they could, bringing in munitions of war and distributing them throughout the empire, defying international rules and treating the Porte almost as a negligible quantity, refusing to land the crews of the two famous ships; all under a strenuous Ambassador and a fully equipped staff of Turkish scholars to help him. The contrast between the two Embassies was all too marked.'

From G. R. Berridge:226

Apart from his personal qualities (he was also an unmarried workaholic), his influence derived from the special position in which European diplomats found themselves at C'nople: helpless in the face of a strange language and an even stranger 'oriental' bureaucracy. GHF's spoken Turkish was so good that he sounded like a native-speaker. He made his reputation by the success he achieved at Birecik in 1896 in the midst of the Armenian massacres (where he also demonstrated exceptional personal bravery) and in the Yemen after the turn of the century.


 Some Adverse Criticism226

(Moorehead, Gallipoli, Arrow. 1959 edition, p. 19)

There was one other man who was extremely influential in the Allied camp. This was Fitzmaurice, the Dragoman of the British Embassy.  T. E. Lawrence had met Fitzmaurice in Constantinople before the war and wrote [to Liddell Hart] the following note about him:

"The Ambassadors were Lowther (an utter dud) and Louis Mallet who was pretty good and gave fair warning of the trend of feeling. I blame much of our ineffectiveness upon Fitzmaurice, the Dragoman, an eagle-mind and a personality of iron vigour [high praise from 'Lawrence of Arabia'!]. Fitzmaurice had lived half a lifetime and was the Embassy's official go-between and native authority. He knew everything and was feared from end to end of Turkey. Unfortunately, he was a rabid R.C. and hated Freemasons and Jews with a religious hatred. The Young Turk movement was fifty per cent crypto-Jew and ninety-five per cent Freemason [on this, see the article by Kedourie]. So he regarded it as the devil and threw the whole influence of England over to the unfashionable Sultan and his effete palace clique. Fitzm. was really rabid ... and his prejudices completely blinded his judgment. His prestige, however, was enormous and our Ambassadors and the F.O. staff went down before him like nine-pins. Thanks to him, we rebuffed every friendly advance the Young Turks made."

Note:  The letter quoted above is the only adverse criticism that I have found concerning the long term influence of Gerald Henry Fitzmaurice. Use of the phrase "rabid R.C." tells us more about T. E. Lawrence than it does about G. H. Fitzmaurice. I would expect the Foreign Office, circa 1908, to quickly recognize religious bias in an Irish Catholic and to take such bias into account when evaluating recommendations.

I have found no support for the accusation of anti-Semitism. There was much less anti-Semitism among Irish Catholics than among Catholics in other European countries.

I shall continue my search for well-reasoned disagreement with the views of GHF.


 Related links

The Gertrude Bell Project
Robert John, Behind the Balfour Declaration

G.R. Berridge: Current Research
Gallipolli & the Dardenelles

Genocide Chronology


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