Historian and biography writer (B. 1845, Istanbul- D. January 11, 1909,
Mehmed Süreyya Bey joined the editorial board
of “Ceride-i Havadis” which was the
first private Ottoman newspaper. After 1876, he began to publish his biographic
work titled “Nuhbetü’l-Vekâyi” as fascicules in this newspaper. Sultan
Abdulhamit the second appreciated his work and he was promoted to the
membership of Meclis-i Kebir-i Maarif
(High Education Council) by Sultan himself. In this duty, he was
promoted as “Ûlâ sınıf-ı sânîsi”. He got a disease and it continued for two
years and he passed away because of this disease in
Mehmed Süreyya Bey, spent almost his all time
beside his government duties, for preparing the biographies of the famous
people of Ottoman era. Although, he did
not indicate this clearly, he used archive documents, writings and published
works and tomb writings as his main sources. In biography category, Mehmed
Süreyya Bey was compared with Fındıklılı İsmet Efendi who was the writer of “Tekmiletü’ş-Şekâik” by İbnülemin Mahmut Kemal and was
compared with Şemseddin Sami who was the writer of “Kaamûsü’î-a’lâm” by Abdurrahman Şeref , and while the
first one appreciated his work the second one criticised cruelly. The most
important work of him was the “Sicill-i Osmanî” which also was known as “Tezkire-i Meşâhir-i Osmaniye”. This work was almost 3000 pages totally and
the first three volumes were published in
Although it partially refers to pre-Ottoman Turk-Islam and Islam elders, the main topic of “Sicill-i Osmanî” was the notables of the Ottoman era. This encyclopedic work contains the biographies of people from different occupations who lived between 1299, the date of the establishment of Ottoman Empire to the end of 1899 and it was one the reference books of Ottoman history researchers. Because it based mostly on archive documents, private and official veka-i name and other main sources and tomb writings which is incredibly important for the biography researchers makes this work unique. Another importance of “Sicill-i Osmanî” is that it refers to secondary, third and fourth place people whom it is hard to find information about. Although there are some mistakes, confusions and repeated typographical errors and irregularity, the importance of this historical source, which was prepared by a single person with huge efforts, is still incomparable. Although it’s writers pointed to some mistakes, he could not correct them because a second publishing could not be achieved, only a correction scale was added to the end of fourth volume.
In this work, it first refers to all male and female members of the Ottoman dynasty then according to the special names and dates of death alphabetically government officers, sheiks, intellectuals, historians, geographers, kurras (religious men who teach and read Koran orderly), calligraphers, engineers and mathematicians and other more than 20000 biographies were arranged in order.
In the pages of “Sicill-i Osmanî” after page 679 in volume four; the alphabetical order of famous families since the establishment; and from page 713 onwards we can see the lists of sultan sons-in-law, sultans' teachers, doctors and Imams. Then, the Silahdar Ağas, greatest ones of Darussaade and the consultants of ministry, the helpers named as "serkurena", the head clerks of Palace and great animal carers of Sultans are mentioned. Then, we see the lists of viziers, commanders, important figures from Ministries and Tanzimat, the janissary leaders, ministers of cannonball facilities, and the soldiers raised in Engineering, War and Navy school.
Then the work focuses on the class of clerks
and gives the list of prime ministry official clerks, ministers of foreign
affair, ministers of internal affairs, undersecretaries, protocol responsible,
chief accountants, finance ministers, tax officers, and ministers of Foundation
and so on. Final section mentions about
the rulers of
This work of Mehmed Süreyya contains only a small part of his notes he collected throughout his life and it is known that he wanted to do it better, correct some mistakes and added “Tekmile-i Sicill-i Osmanî ve Zeylü’z-zeyl” but he could not publish it. “Sicill-i Osmanî Zeyli” prepared by Mehmed Zeki Pakalin is an additonal nineteen volume work and it is located in Turkish Historical Foundation Library.
The first work of Mehmed Süreyya is called Nuhbetü’1-vekâyi” and it is about the dates of appointment, death and expel of some statesmen between the years 1831-1875 and its first volume until the end of 1853 was published. The main resources of the work are the newspapers of "Takvim-i Vekayi” and “Ceride-i Havadis”and he wanted to indicate the changes in Ottoman organizations and institutions. Work also includes some edicts of Sultans about the promotions. A copy of “Nuhbetü’î-vekâyi" is among the books provided to Institution of Turks Library of Osman Ferit Saglam. His most important work is Sicill-i Osmânî which is also known as Tezkire-i Meşâhîr-i Osmâniyye.
Mehmed Tahir from Bursa mentions some other
works of the author named “Târih-i Mehmed Süreyya” which is a history of 19th century of nine
volumes; “Mir’ât-ı Târih-i İslâm” which is an Islamic History of four
volumes; “Burhânü’ş-şeref “(Lûgat-ı Hamse) a seven volume dictionary
containing Arabic, Persian, Ottoman, Cagatay Turkish and other Turkish
dialects; four novels named “Hamiyet ve yahut Merak”, “Sefihler”, “Gece Kuşu” and “Çiftlik Âlemi” and some works about Islam and Qur'an. It is
also said that his unpublished works mentioned above and documents collected
RESEARCH: Sicill-i Osmânî (Tezkire-i Meşâhîr-i Osmâniye, 5 volumes, 1893; new edition, transferred of ottoman script by Seyit Ali Kahraman, prepared by Nuri Akbayar, 1996), Târîh-i Mehmed Süreyya, Mir’ât-ı Târîh-i İslâm.
DICTIONARY: Burhânü’ş-Şeref (Lugat-ı Hamse).
ROMAN: Hamiyet veyahud Merak, Sefihler, Gece Kuşu, Çiftlik.
REFERENCE: Abdurrahman Şeref / Tarih Musâhabeleri (1920), İbrahim Alâeddin Gövsa / Türk Meşhurları Ansiklopedisi (1946), Agâh Sırrı Levend / Türk Edebiyatı Tarihi (1973), Bursalı Mehmed Tahir / Osmanlı Müellifleri III (1975), Abdülkadir Özcan / TDV İslâm Ansiklopedisi (c. 28, 2003), İhsan Işık / Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (2006, gen. 2. bas. 2007) - Ünlü Bilim Adamları (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 2, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013).