Ahmed Urabi and his Associates: the Arrangements of the Pre-exile to Ceylon

Document Type : Original Article



The British force led by Garnet Wolseley defeated the Egyptian Army under the leadership of Ahmed Urabi at Tel-el-Kebir on 13 September 1882. Urabi surrendered and was imprisoned waiting for his trial. He was tried in November 1882 in front of an Egyptian court ‘but it was a judicial artifice manipulated by London’. He was accused of being guilty of rebellion and refusal to disband his army at the command of the Khedive Tawfik and was sentenced to death; that sentence was commuted by the Khedive to perpetual exile from Egypt.
The focus of this work is to expose in detail the measures which were arranged by the Egyptian and the British governments when the trial of Urabi and his associates was finished and before their exile to Ceylon, beginning with the selection of the residence of exile and ending with the procedures of their transfer to Ceylon. The arrangements included what allowance should be given them for their maintenance, whether they should be allowed to select their own residence in the exile or reside in one provided by the local authorities of Ceylon, whether their correspondence would pass through the hands of the governor or not, what amount of surveillance should be exercised over them by the police of Ceylon.
This paper seeks to unearth data and stories specific to these arrangements mainly from the primary sources represented in the documents of the British Colonial Office, the correspondence of Lord Dufferin, the letters of the Governor of Ceylon and other related documents which are archived in the National Archives of the United Kingdom in London, in addition to the reports and the news which covered the trial and the exile of Urabi and his companions in different newspapers. It appears that these documents have not been previously consulted to tell the story of Urabi and his associates covering the period between the end of their trial and their arrival to Ceylon on 11 January 1882.


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