Author: ÖZDIS HAMDI
When we look at notes regarding Sırrı Paşa’s curriculum vitae we come across the profile of a greatly competent bureaucrat. Sırrı Paşa, who was born in 1844 in Candia in Crete, could speak the language of his birthplace (Greek) and he was also capable of literary writing in Turkish. He finished his elementary education in Crete and took lessons from scholars of Candia and Chania. His father, the sheikh Hacı Ali Efendi was a famous scholar. [i] His wife as well was one of the period’s famous female poets, Leyla Saz hanım and she was, like Sırrı Paşa a poet, a composer and writer. [ii]
At the age of 17 (in 1860), he became a clerical employee at the pious foundations of Chania, worked as a secretary at the sharia court and rose fast in the bureaucracy. We see that Sırrı Paşa, who served as a high-officer at the Danube province and in many Balkan cities like Prizren, began his employment in the administrative structure as a mutasarrıf in İzbornik and then continued in Vidin and Karasi as a sub-district mutasarrıf. [iii] After his term as vali of Trabzon, [iv] Sırrı Paşa became the vali of Kastamonu, Ankara, Sivas, Adana, Diyarbekir and Baghdad. [v] During his service as vali, he wrote many texts on the problems of the local notables, banditry, the economy and the administration and gathered them in a few volumes called The Letters of Sırrı Paşa (Mektubat-ı Sırrı Paşa). [vi] We should also note that he wrote articles for the newspaper Trabzon Vilayet Gazetesi. Therefore, apart from his literary personality, he had noteworthy thoughts on the administrative structure and the above-mentioned problems.
Politically, because he represented the central authority in the countryside, he frequently fought with the local notables, their leaders as well as with bandits, but he did not find support from sultan Abdülhamid II. In this respect, his clash with the leader of the Georgians Çürüksulu Ali Paşa is worth mentioning. [vii] Biliotti, the English consul at the time, details how the Pasha’s resistance and motivation were broken because of the release of some arrested bandits who had been taken to court and because his criticisms on the administrative structure (corruption, nepotism and bribery) were ignored. [viii]
Sırrı Paşa who reached the rank of the Rumeli Beylerbeyi (vizier) and was decorated with many state medals, gave, during his office as vali, importance to education and constructed schools in Trabzon and Ankara. He had other development projects too, such as the construction of small and big roads (the Sivas-Ordu road was completed during his time). [ix] Apart from his works related to administration and politics, Sırrı Paşa, who was a poet, modernist and intellectual vali wrote many works on Islamic thought. Sırrı Paşa, whose texts and books on the explanation of the Quranic verses are still the subject of researchers, passed away on October 19, 1900. [x]
[i] Semih Müfit Baylan, “Trabzon Valisi Sırrı Pasa”, Trabzon, Sayı 7, 1993.
[ii] Leyla Saz, The Imperial Harem of The Sultans Daily Life at The Çırağan Palace During the 19th. Century, Hil Yayınları: İstanbul, 2001; Mahmut Goloğlu, Trabzon Tarihi, Ankara, 1975.
[iii]Prime-ministerial Ottoman Archive/ Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (BOA) DH. Said-0004-50.
[iv] Sırrı Paşa served as vali of Trabzon on two different periods. His first term was in the year 1879.
[v] See, Gökhan Çetinkaya, Ottoman Administration of Iraq, 1890-1908, London and New York: Routledge, 2006 p. 52-53.
[vi] Sırrı Paşa, Mektubat-ı Sırrı Paşa, İstanbul, 1303.
[vii] Oktay Özel, “Çürüksulu Ali Pasa ve Ailesi Üzerine Biyografik Notlar”, Kebikeç, Sayı 16, 2003; “Migration and Power Politics: the Settlement of Georgian Immigrants in Turkey (1878-1908)” Middle Eastern Studies, 46/4 (2010), 477-496.See another study Hamdi Özdiş, “Power Struggle in the Province of Trabzon under Abdulhamid II: Notables, Politics and State (1876- 1909)”, PhD Dissertation, Ankara, 2008. Hacettepe Ünv. p. 202.
[viii] FO 424/140, From Consul Biliotti to Mr. Wyndham, May 10, 1883.
[ix]Meşhur Adamlar Ansiklopedisi, Alaeddin Gövsa, (ed.) “Sırrı Paşa”, p. 1457
[x]Prime-ministerial Ottoman Archive (BOA) DH. Said-0004-50.
Appendix: Sırrı Paşa- Meşhur Adamlar Ansiklopedisi [Encyclopedia of Famous Men], Alaeddin Gövsa, (edit. Sedat Simavi), İstanbul, 1933-36, “Sırrı Paşa”, pp.1457.
The National Archives, Foreign Office (FO)
Foreign Office (FO) 424/140
Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (BOA)/Prime-ministerial Ottoman Archive
Baylan, Semih Müfit “Trabzon Valisi Sırrı Paşa [The vali of Trabzon Sırrı Paşa]”, Trabzon, Sayı 7, 1993.
Çetinkaya, Gökhan; Ottoman Administration of Iraq, 1890-1908, London and New York: Routledge 2006, pp. 52-53.
Goloğlu, Mahmut; Trabzon Tarihi [History of Trabzon], Ankara, 1975.
Meşhur Adamlar Ansiklopedisi, Alaeddin Gövsa, (edit. Sedat Simavi), İstanbul, 1933-36, “Sırrı Paşa”, pp.1457.
Özdiş, Hamdi; “Power Struggle in the Province of Trabzon under Abdulhamid II: Notables, Politics and State (1876- 1909)”, (PhD Dissertation, Ankara, 2008. Hacettepe Üniversity)
Özel, Oktay; “Çürüksulu Ali Paşa ve Ailesi Üzerine Biyografik Notlar [Biographical Notes on Çürüksulu Ali Paşa and his Family]”, Kebikeç, Sayı 16, 2003; “Migration and Power Politics: the Settlement of Georgian Immigrants in Turkey (1878-1908)” Middle Eastern Studies, 46/4 (2010), 477-496.
Saz, Leyla ; The Imperial Harem of The Sultans Daily Life at The Çırağan Palace During the 19th. Century, Hil Yayınları: İstanbul, 2001.
Sırrı Paşa, Mektubat-ı Sırrı Paşa [The Letters of Sırrı Paşa], İstanbul, 1303.