Anna's Green Blog

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Milhem Shakoor Bey

Mansoor Shakoor was the brother of my maternal great grandfather, Milhem Shakoor Bey, of whom I have many photographs and a portrait (oil painting) which I had restored two years ago. The restoration of the painting rekindled my interest in family history. The picture restorer was very interested in the painting and particularly in the medals worn by Milhem. It was after this that I re-read the memoir and carried out an internet search. I also have a photograph of Mansoor and a photograph and painting of Hanna (or John) Shakoor, the father of Mansoor and Milhem. I had this painting restored at the same time.

Below are some notes that I made on Milhem two years ago.

Milhem (variously spelt Miltem, Melhim and Melham) was the younger brother of Mansoor Shakoor (see M.L. Whately A Memoir of Mansoor Shakoor of Lebanon, missionary in Syria and Egypt. Seeley, Jackson and Halliday, Fleet Street, London. MDCCCLXXIII / 1873). This book mentions another brother, Youssif, who taught at the missionary school in Cairo for a while with Mansoor. This Youssif, married a '‘lady from Dublin' before 1872 (i.e. before Mansoor'’s death).

Milhem was one of 6 children (3 m, 3 f). His eldest sister was Luceya, who died before 1872. His father was Hanna (John) Shakoor. The family were originally in the Syriac or Maronite Church (i.e. Christian) but Hanna Shakoor converted to Protestantism. (source M.L. Whately)

Milhem married Marian Chute of Chute Hall, Co Kerry,– possibly in the 1870s. They had two children: Trevor Mansoor Shakoor and Luceya Rose Shakoor (named after Milhem's late brother and sister). Both children were Irish citizens. Marian was the daughter of Richard Chute.

In the front page of the Memoir is a cutting of Milhem's obituary from the Egyptian Gazette newspaper. From this I know that he died on 5th June. As the cutting is dated only 'June 6th' the year is not clear, but I worked out that it was after 1896 (I can't recall how !). He was aged 61. The obituary describes Milhem as 'the prominent Syrian pioneer of the Sudan,' and says that he spent '‘the best time of his life in the Sudan Service.'’

I have a copy of a document which says that Milhem Shakoor Bey, then 'Arabic Secretary of the Sirdar'’ received the Knight'’s Cross of the order of His Majesty Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia and Apostolic King of Hongary [sic] on 1st September 1896. He is wearing this medal in the oil portrait.

As 'Arabic Secretary of the Sirdar' (i.e. the Commander-in-Chief) of the Egyptian Army, Milhem would have served under Sir Francis Grenfell and Alfred Lord Kitchener. Kitchener succeeded Grenfell in April 1892 (source:

Milhem took part in the Battle of Toski in 1889. I have a faded photograph showing him and 2 others standing by the Memorial to the Battle. I also have a silver-tipped cane which belonged to Milhem. The handle bears the star and crescent moon of Egypt, with 'Toski' inscribed beneath it. It also bears the following inscription: 'M.S. from the SIRDAR 1889'.

The great invasion planned by Wad-en-Nejumi [the Memorial gives his name as Abderrahaman Wad el Nejumi] in the spring of 1889 brought Kitchener into new prominence, and after the fight at Argin, when the Dervish power seemed threatening, it became necessary to supplement his force. Two Egyptian battalions, a mule battery, and some cavalry were despatched to him in haste at the front, and these forces, with a Sudanese battalion, were under his command in Sir Francis Grenfell's victory over the Dervishes at Toski, August 3. Handling his troops with great skill, he made a detour with his mounted troops, and cut off Nejumi's retreat, thus forcing the battle, in the decision of which, with much desperate fighting, he took a leading part. Nejumi was killed, and Mahdism received a blow from which it took years to recover. The brave Dervishes had, of course, little chance, for their fanatical courage was met by trained and disciplined troops, British, Egyptian, and Sudanese, directed by very skilful generalship. Kitchener rendered great services in the subsequent fighting, as well as in administrative work, and came to be recognized as the man of the future in Egypt. (source:

I now know the names of five of the six children of Hanna (John) Shakoor, and roughly the order they were born in:

  • Mansoor Elias Shakoor (m) -– missionary/teacher
  • Youssif Shakoor (m) - missionary/teacher
  • Miltem (or Milhem) Shakoor (m) - Soldier, 'Arabic Secretary to the Sirdar'’
  • Luceya (or Luciya) Shakoor (f) - missionary/teacher
  • Sikkar Shakoor (f) - missionary/teacher
  • X (f) b. 1853/4 (aged 7 at time of Syrian Massacre in April-June 1860 - source Whately)

Of their mother, the Memoir says:

like most Eastern women of the period [she] was entirely uneducated (p.16)

At the time of the 'terrible Syrian massacre' of 1860 the Shakoor family were not together. Hanna was in Sidon and his wife and youngest child (aged 7) at a village about a day's journey away. Mansoor was at the American Mission School in Deer el Kamr with the two elder daughters and a younger brother (presumably the other missionary, Youssef) and the 'other son' (Milhem?) was at the Mission Station of Latakia. Whately relates how it took the mother ten days to travel to Sidon - a journey which usually took seven hours. Fortunately she had manage to arm herself with a letter of protection from a prominent local Druse, but nonetheless she had to hide in caves and cross rivers carrying her seven-year-old daughter on her shoulders. She reached Sidon wearing only a thin gown, having given away her outer skirt to another woman who needed it more. (Source: Whately pp. 30-7).

Whately says that although the Shakoors escaped massacre (or as she puts it 'escaped the sword of the ferocious Druse and Moslem') the younger people - along with many others of their age - were so affected that they never had strong health again.

In 2001, I found a reference to Milhem's wife 'Mary Ann' Chute in the Chute family pages on rootsweb and wrote to the compiler of these pages, Jackie Chute (USA) to amend them. According to these pages Mary Ann (or Marian) had married an 'M. Thaha'. Jackie's amendment read as follows:
WEC reference in notes is marriage of Mary Ann (Marian) to an "M. Thaha". The response of Marian's great-grandaughter, Anna Lucyea [sic] Foster Green. "Richard Chute. Wife was Hon. Rose de Moleyns, daughter of Thomas Townsend Aremberg Mullins, 3rd Baron Ventry. He changed the 'Mullins' to 'de Moleyns': 'by royal license, 16 February 1841, he took the name of de Moleyns in lieu of that of Mullins for himself and other descendants of his grandfather' (source: Complete Peerage, 1959). His grandfather would have been the first Baron Ventry. My great grandmother's name was spelt as Marian in Debrett's (though pronounced Mary Ann, as I said). Marian definitely married Miltem (or Milhem) Shakoor - perhaps Thaha was another family name. I have photographs of them both, though separately: she astride a donkey, presumably in Egypt (he was in the Egyptian army or worked for the government). I also have a portrait of him. He has a very dashing moustache! My mother's maiden name was Shakoor."
The information on the de Moleyns family comes form an old copy of Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage which my mother passed on to me. I found out that the 'de Moleyns' was originally 'Mullins' from a book I once came across in the genealogy section of Huddersfield Library. I think that is so wonderfully pretentious to go from 'Mullins' to 'de Moleyns' to 'Eveleigh de Moleyns'!


  • I can give you the date when Milhem married Marian Chute, it was 11 November 1879 at Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, Ireland. There was a notice in the press about it. Marian Chute is my 5th cousin three times removed.

    By Blogger Teresa Stokes, at April 05, 2020  

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