Mehmed Süreyya

Biyografi Yazarı, Tarihçi

11 Ocak, 1909

Historian and biography writer (B.  1845, Istanbul- D. January 11, 1909, Istanbul). He was the second son of Hüsnü Mehmed Bey who was district governor in different places, commission member in Istanbul and wroked in different government duties.  Mehmed Süreyya was known with his work Sicill-i Osmanî” which was about famous peoples biographies of Ottoman era. He graduated from Darülmaarifi (first modern school at high school level) after his primary school education. At the same time he took Arabic, Persian and French lessons from private teachers. In 1863, he began to work in Bab-ı Ali (Government Centre) Translation Office and he got promotion and became ‘’Saniye’’ (second level management rank) there.  

Mehmed Süreyya Bey joined the editorial board of Ceride-i Havadiswhich was the first private Ottoman newspaper. After 1876, he began to publish his biographic work titled “Nuhbetül-Vekâyias 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 Istanbul, in January 11, 1909. He was buried in Karacaahmet Cemetery next to his fathers tomb.

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 Tekmiletüş-Şekâikby İbnülemin Mahmut Kemal and was compared with Şemseddin Sami who was the writer of Kaamûsüî-alâm”  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 Osmanîwhich also was known as Tezkire-i Meşâhir-i Osmaniye. This work was almost 3000 pages totally and the first three volumes were published in Istanbul between the years 1890-93 and the fourth volume was published undated, facsimile was published in Europe. Only the first volume was published with Osmanlı Devletinde Kim Kimdir?title by Gültekin Oransoy with new letters in 1969, The simplified version of the full work was published separately by History Foundation and Sebil Publishing in Istanbul, in 1996. Between 1965 and 1978 years, the index of the work was prepared as thesis in Istanbul University History Department in different time zones.

Although it partially refers to pre-Ottoman Turk-Islam and Islam elders, the main topic of Sicill-i Osmanîwas 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 Osmanîis 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 its 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 Osmanîafter 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 Crimea, Egypt and Hungarian governors and the leaders of religious orders; and the stories of people who died during the printing of the work is listed alphabetically. Also, the work focuses on the names of non-Muslims serving for the government and those known with their nicknames. Mehmed Süreyya mentioned the name, nickname, reputation or family bounds of the people he listed; then focused on their official life story, have brief information about their works, then mentioned the year of death, place of burial, and finally mentioned about the children and grandchildren of the person.

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 Zeylüz-zeylbut he could not publish it. Sicill-i Osmanî Zeyliprepared 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 Nuhbetü1-vekâyiand 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 Vekayiand Ceride-i Havadisand he wanted to indicate the changes in Ottoman organizations and institutions. Work also includes some edicts of Sultans about the promotions. A copy of Nuhbetüî-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 Süreyyawhich is a history of 19th century of nine volumes; Mirât-ı Târih-i İslâmwhich is an Islamic History of four volumes;  Burhânüş-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 Kuşuand Çiftlik Âlemiand some works about Islam and Qur'an. It is also said that his unpublished works mentioned above and documents collected from Istanbul cemeteries were destroyed in 1916 Cihangir fire.


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). 



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