A BRITISH MERCHANT IN TURKEY: FREEMAN OF THE LEVANT COMPANY AND CONSUL, DONALD SANDISON AT BURSA, 1795–1868

Emine Zeytinli, Dr., University of Leicester School of History
2019 Tarih Dergisi  
Great Britain was effective in influencing the Ottoman Empire with commercial interests. Anglo-Ottoman commercial practices strengthened diplomatic relations and early British merchants carried diplomatic mission as well through the British Levant Company. This ended by the 1820s with the abolishing of the Levant Company. British merchants operating in the Ottoman dominions increased after the second decade of the nineteenth century and Anglo-Ottoman Commercial Agreement of 1838 made a positive
more » ... 838 made a positive contribution to this increase in coming decades. Moreover, diplomatic missions extended to the inland trade and production centres. Donald Sandison was one of the British/Scottish merchants settled in Constantinople, the capital of Ottoman Empire and operated his commercial activities from the early nineteenth century. He established business partnership and provided protection to some local Christian and Armenians through the British Embassy. He was initially a representative of the British East India Company and later admitted to be a member of the British Levant Company in 1817 and therefore, he was one of the privileged freemen of the company prior to his consular post. Sandison was appointed salaried consul for Bursa with the liberty to trade after operating as a merchant for more than two decades. He acted as the first consul to Bursa, one of the earliest industrial city, between 1838 and 1868. Sandison's consular post were very significant as Bursa was a caravan terminal for the silk trade route and a silk cultivation centre that provided domestic and international demand of raw silk and silk fabric. British existence at Bursa was important during the period of Sandison as reeling silk industry developed due to the demand from European weavers and appreciation of British silk textile products in Ottoman market. Sandison also was one of the foreign merchants provided technology and for the industry to local weavers and carried out trade between British and Ottoman market. British foreign policy to the Ottoman Empire was largely economic within the Commercial Convention of 1838 after 1840s shaped by the information of consuls in a certain city or region, it aimed to keep the post for long years to have reliable and continuous information. The role of consuls in the Levant was mainly observing commercial potential and agricultural production of the region or the city. They were both diplomatic and commercial agents providing these information for shaping commercial strategy of Britain for a particular region. Therefore, reports were essential for British manufacturing seeking raw materials from the Ottoman market or aiming to penetrate the Ottoman market with semi-finished or finished goods. This bibliographic study focuses on an oversea British community member at Constantinople as a merchant by the first quarter of the nineteenth century and then a prestigious position, consul of Bursa for the commercial interest of Great Britain by the second quarter. Therefore, his life history and professional career is analysed in two periods; the first period covers Sandison's commercial operations as a merchant of the Levant Company in Constantinople after the second decade of the nineteenth century. His business was closely related with the economic and political fluctuations of the Ottoman Empire as well as operations of the British Levant Company. Dissolution of the Levant Company in 1825 and uprising and later abolition of military units called Janissaries in 1826 necessitated him to reshape and re-establish his business at the end of 1820s.
doi:10.26650/turkjhist.2018.426566 fatcat:j636exn5tjdzlakimu6hdzyioe