The Casdagli family of Cairo and Manchester

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 12th, 2012 in Egypt

Old Egyptian Arabian horse records have preserved the trace of a Mr. Kasdughli, who owned Arabian horses which he obtained from Lady Anne Blunt during her last years at Sheykh Obeyd near Cairo and from Prince Kemal El Din Hussein of the Egyptian Royal family, and perhaps other sources as well.

Here’s on the Dahmah Shahwaniyah mare Durra of LAB in the Al Khamsa Roster (I use it because it’s online and easily accessible, in addition to being a precise source):

Durra (BLT), 1917 bm 1.36 RAS; Breeder: Lady Anne Blunt; A Dahmah Shahwaniyah bred at Sheykh Obeyd Stud. Purchased by the Royal Agricultural Society from Mr. Kasdoughli in 1924. Died 1930. NOTES: The above information is from the RAS History, p36. Durra was probably purchased by Mr. Kasdoughli from Prince Kamal al-Din, who purchased the horses (including several pregnant mares) left at Sheykh Obeyd after Lady Anne’s death, and re-sold some of them. 

Another reference to him is in the Al Khamsa Roster entry for the horse Aid, to whom Durra was bred to produce Bint Durra, bred by Mr. Kasdughli:

Eid (RAS), 1920 _s RASp-*Bint Bint Durra; Breeder: A Dahman owned by Mr. Kasdughli in Egypt. NOTES: The above information is from the 1932 pedigree for *Bint Bint Durra from the Royal Agricultural Society, certified by its Director, A.E. Branch. 

Here is the name again from the RAS History (EAO Volume I) book, with the alternative spelling Kasdugli without the H:

“15. – DURRA: Dahman Shawania, bought from Mr. Kasdugli on 19-6-1924.” At the time of her purchase, Durras was in foal to Eid ca. 1920 stallion. Also, later, under Bint Durra “Sire: Eid, a race-horse belonging to Mr. Kasdugli” .

And here ‘s the same person in RJ Cadranell’s article, “The Blunts and Crabbet Stud”, with the spelling Casdugli with a C, as spelled by Judith Wentworth:

“After Lady Anne died, Blunt gave the Public Trustee permission to sell the Sheykh Obeyd horses. Lady Wentworth records that most of them went to Captain Trouncer, acting on behalf of the Egyptian Horsebreeding Commisssion, while the rest went to a Greek by the name of Casdugli.” 

Of course, in Egyptian Arabian horses, the line of Bint Durra bred by Mr. Kasdugli is that of Daaldan, Fa Daalim, Daal Aba, Ibn Saafaddan, and other horses prized by breeders of Egyptian horses. I too, have leased two Daaldan grand-daughters.

So, the other day, during my last trip to Cairo, I was on my way for a meeting near Simon Bolivar Square (formerly known as Midan Qasr Al Doubara) in downtown Cairo, when I asked the driver about a nice but run-down villa (photo below) just on the square. “It’s the Kasdughli Palace”, he said. Being the horse pedigree freak that I am, this rang a bell, or a series of bells (Kasdughli/Casdugli — Cairo — Sheykh Obeyd — Horses), and I was soon on a quest for more.

In the beginning was Google. Experimenting with a variety of ways to pronounce the name, I fell upon this under “Casdagli Palace” (click on the link): “Villa Casdagli, now a decaying relic of the past, was built during the first decade of the 20th century by Austrian architect Edward Matasek (1867-1912) reportedly for account of Emanuel Casdagli, a British educated Levantine family dealing in the lucrative Manchester trade.

It turned out the Villa Casdagli, a girl’s school that is soon to become Egypt’s new Institute of Museology after it is renovated thanks to a grant by USAID, was the seat of the US embassy during WWII.

More interesting are the comments by readers, like this one, but the genealogical tree at the end of the article is wrong:

“My great grandfather Emanuel Casdagli bought the villa at No 1 Midan Kasr el Doubara in the early 1900’s, probably about 1911. This villa had been the British Agency and was occupied by Lord Cromer and then Sir Eldon Gorst. The Casdagli family did not build the villa. I quote from my uncle’s book. 

“I arrived in Cairo in the early autumn of 1927 and joined my father, who was living more or less permanently in Egypt, and my uncle Demetrius, at the family home at 1 Midan Kasrel Doubara. In the early 1900’s this house had been the home of the British High Commissioner Sir Eldon Gorst and when he moved to an even more stately home. The Residency” not very far away my grandfather had been able to buy the house. Kasrel Doubara, as we called it, after the Midan which it faced, with the Khedivah Mothers Palace gates on the opposite side, which was built of large blocks of sand coloured stone and with its large wrought iron gates was a most imposing site.” [Note from author of above article (Samir Raafat): Sir Eldon Gorst succeeded Lord Cromer in 1907 and like his predecessor, lived in the British residence where the British Embassy is today. The title of British High Commissioner did not come into effect except after 1914. Heretofore, the title of consul-general was in use.]

In 1931 my grandfather Theodore Casdagli lived there for sometime. I also lived there for a time with my parents and brother. During the Second World War it was let to the U.S. government to use as their embassy. The Casdagli family sold it in 1942.

I have recently returned from a visit to Cairo where we were welcomed into Kasr el Doubara. I remember the house well from my childhood and was sad to see it in such a poor state of repair. I was informed that there are plans to close the school and refurbish the house. Is this so? Naturally the family, now all in the U.K would be most interested to learn of any future plans for the house.

Yours sincerely 
Valissa Gordon (nee Casdagli)

Mr. Emmanuel Casdagli purchased the house in 1909 or 1911 according to different accounts. Part of the Sheykh Obeyd Stud went to the family of same name in 1917, and Durra made her way to the RAS in 1924.  I feel it is fair to assume at this stage that Emmanuel Casdagli/Casdugli or one of his sons is the person who obtained the horses from Lady Anne Blunt’s estate or from Prince Kemal El Dine. The proximity of his house to those of Egyptian royals is an additional argument in this regard: from the article of Samir Raafat: “Although Kasr al-Dubara is today mainly an hotel, office and banking district, it was once one of Cairo’s top drawer residential quarters and home to several members of the Egyptian royal family who built their palaces there, hence the names Kasr al-Nil, Kasr al-Aali, Kasr al-Dubara, etc. (Kasr meaning palace)”.

Next steps: find the Casdagli book mentioned above, and try to learn whether the family has kept archives or old personal correspondence, in which more could perhaps be learnt about its relations with Lady Anne Blunt, the Egyptian royal family, and the world of Arabian horses. And (I am dreaming) a pedigree for Aid as a cherry on the cake.

17 Responses to “The Casdagli family of Cairo and Manchester”

  1. How thrilling! I am surprised your car seat did not hit “eject.” (Grin)

  2. ok, the book is “God Save the King and Fuck Hitler” by Alexis Casdagli, a POW in WWII.

    Also, more information here, as I find more:

    Emmanuel Casdagli:
    Occupation: merchant. E. Casdagli appeared in Manchester as early as 1863. His sons Theodore and Xenophon continued in business as Emmanuel Casdagli & Sons.
    Business, Manchester, England: 1863, 102 Cross St.; 1877, 1879, 1886, 104 Albert Square, Cross Street; 1886, 11 Albert Square, Cross St.; 1895, 12 St. Peter’s Chambers, St. Peter’s Square.
    Residence, Manchester, England: 1863, 2 Devonshire St., Higher Broughton; 1886, ‘Kersal Hill’, Park Cottages, Singleton Road (south side).
    Emm. Kasdaglis is listed as a warden for the Greek Church of Manchester, 1884-1885. [2]
    Origin: Russia, according to son’s baptism entry, 1871.
    UK Naturalisation: Emmanuel Casdagli, Russia; certificate A152. [3]

  3. Turns out the family are orginally Greeks from what was Russia and what might be Odessa or Crimea today.. large greek community there until XXth century..

  4. A Personal History of the Greek Community of Manchester and Its Church, 1843-1900., Sophocles Chr. Andreades, (Manchester, 2000, ISBN 0-9504097-2-3).

  5. “Mr Kasdugli” of LAB/RAS records is either Emmanuel or his son Theodore (baptized in 1871) or Xenophon born 1880 and aged 37 in 1917.

  6. On the son Xenophon

    Occupation: Merchant. He and his brother Theodore continued their father’s business as Emmanuel Casdagli & Sons, ‘Egypt and Mediterranean Ports and Morocco, all classes of goods’.
    Residence, England: 32 Oxford St, Manchester; 1909, 1911, Kersal Hill, Singleton Rd, Higher Broughton, Manchester; 1911-1916, ‘Springfield’ ([500] Bury New Road, at Cavendish Rd), Kersal, Manchester; 1932, 27 Westbourne Road, Birkdale, Southport, Lancs.
    His brother Theodore is a spouse on the Negroponte-Agelasto bloodline.
    As a tennis player he won one silver and one bronze medal in the 1906 Olympics, playing for Greece. His brother Dimitrios Kasdaglis was also an Olympian. Data come from a sports website, Olympics at which gives his name as Xenofon Kasdaglis/Casdagli, originally ??????? ?????????. It notes: “Educated in England and France it was whilst studying in Paris that he partnered Vacherot to a French national doubles title in 1898. Kasdaglis, whose name was anglicized as Casdagli, won three North of England doubles titles and was twice a singles finalist at the same event. He also partnered Charlotte Cooper to victory in the All-England mixed doubles championships in 1907, before the event became part of the official Wimbledon program. Kasdaglis became a British citizen before 1901 although it is possible that he also held Greek citizenship.” “The Manchester and Lancashire players, X.E. and E.T. Casdagli, uncle and nephew, were not entered [in Cairo tournament], the one having only recently recovered from a serious operation, while the other was also indisposed. This is unfortunate, since ‘X.E.’ is still able to hold his own in doubles with the best of Egyptian players.” (Manchester Guardian, 15 Mar 1932, p 4).
    Business, Manchester, England: 1903, 6 Oxford St; 1909-1911, 4 Chepstow St.
    1901 England census: household in Kersal Hill, Singleton Road, Bury New Road, Broughton, Salford (nr Manchester) headed by Theodore Casdagli, 29, shipping merchant, employer, b. Manchester; wife Catina, 29, b. Marseille; unmarried brothers Emmanuel E, 26, shipping merchant, employer, b. Manchester; and Xenophon, 21, clerk in shipping office, worker, b. Alexandria; & 4 domestic servants.
    Mr. X. Casdagli, 52, merchant; wife Mrs. L, 47; and daughter Miss O, 20, living at 27 Westbourne Road, Birkdale, Lancashire, arrived Southampton, [from Port Said], 26 May 1932, aboard the Orama.
    Mr. X. Casdagli, 54, merchant; wife Mrs. L, 49, both 27 Westbourne Road, Birkdale, Lancs; and Mrs. E.P. Casdagli, 20, home duties, residence Egypt, bound for High Dyke Farm, Wellingere, Lincoln, arrived Southampton, from Port Said, 6 Jun 1934, aboard the Orama.
    Xenophon Kasdaglis is listed as a warden for the Greek Church of Manchester, 1920-1921. [4]
    Xenophon Casdagli & Theodore E. Casdagli appear in the 1910 Manchester area phone directory: ‘Springfield’, Kersal Hill, Higher Broughton. Also listed: Emmanuel Casdagli & Sons, Shipping Merchants, 4 Chepstow St. Firm’s address, 1921, 1922 directory: 32 Oxford St.

  7. a legal case involving one family member

  8. One family member in the cricket tournaments including the Gezira Sporting Club in Cairo:

    Ok, if this family played tennis and cricket at a professional level, then it must have been involved in that other upper class activity: horse racing.

    The Gezira Club where he played cricket, in the island of Zamalek, is where horse racing takes place..

  9. It would fill a gap to know more about this family and its apparently brief involvement with Arabian horses in Egypt. The snippet from my article had as its source the book by Rosemary Archer and Colin Pearson.

  10. Joe, who has a copy of the racing records for Egypt in the first part of the XXth century, would be able to tell us about the length of their involvement in the racing world, at least.

  11. Here is another shot taken in Feb. 2009, by Sarah Casdagli of the UK:

  12. xenophon casdagli the tennis champion

  13. This is exciting to watch in real time… I would suggest we ask Joe Ferriss and Caryn Rogosky to check their Egyptian Jockey Club records. I’ll drop Caryn a note.

  14. All very exciting to read and looking forward to reading more about Durra and the refurbishing of the Kasdugli residence.

  15. Thank you for sharing this welcome vignette about Durra and her owner’s history. Every bit of information we can learn about her and Eid is most welcome! *Bint Bint Durra is, in my opinion, one of the most important and least understood mares imported from Egypt.

  16. I agree Elizabeth. I feel Bint Bint Durra was misunderstood not only in pedigree but in her potential within the Babson breeding group and many of her descendants had high quality and good legs. As for racing records, the reality is that Caryn has the Egyptian Jockey Club records, I do not. I have only seen portions of them and expect in the future to assemble most of them from various sources but that work is ongoing. We are very grateful to Edouard for pulling together this interesting research. To me, this reminds us that we must keep an open mind about various elite in Egypt in past times so that we can more objectively assess the elements that comprise the Egyptian horse heritage. Some of the biggest mysteries are in some of the Khedive’s acquisitions, which I have faith in, but am wanting for more information about some of the horses such as Halabia who is common to all living Egyptian horses today but about whom we know nothing more at this point in time.

  17. I believe chances are great this Eid sire of Bint Durra is Aid of Lady Anne Blunt (Jamil x Aida). Nothing concrete for now, but a number of reasonable assumptions.

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