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File:Ali pasha Sherif.jpg

Ali Pasha Sherif

Ali Pasha Sherif (1834 – February 26, 1897) (alt spelling, from French Ali Pacha Chérif) was an Egyptian government official and a renowned breeder of Arabian horses during the late 19th century.

Family Background[]

Born in Egypt, Ali Pasha Sherif was a son of El Sayed Muhammad Sherif Pasha El-Kebir (d. 1865),[1][2] who was a native of Kavala, Macedonia.[3] Muhammad was a brilliant student who caught the eye of his uncle, Muhammad Ali Pasha,[4] the future Wāli, or Governor-General of Egypt, who was also a native of Kavala. Muhammad Ali adopted Muhammad Sherif, and when the latter was 12 years old Muhammad Ali took him to Egypt and had him educated with his own sons in an elite boarding school known as the Princes' School, which was located at El-Khanka, a city 12 miles northeast of Cairo.[5][6] Muhammad Sherif married one of Muhammad Ali's daughters, making him both an adopted son and a son-in-law.[7] Muhammad Sherif went on to become an important administrator in Muhammed Ali's regime, eventually becoming Wali of "El Sham and Arabistan", or Governor-General of Syria and the Arab lands, from November 1832 to 1840.[8] He also served as Finance Minister of Egypt in 1844.

Early life[]

As a child, Ali Pasha Sherif developed a love of horses and horsemanship, and he later developed contacts with many desert Bedouin chieftains who were owners and breeders of Arabian horses. Also, as a child and young man, he was exposed to the Arabian horses collected by Muhammad Ali Pasha and his successor Abbas I of Egypt, also known as Abbas I Pasha, or Abbas Pasha.

In the first half of his life, Ali Pasha Sherif went by the name Ali Bey or Ali Bey Fahmy. As a teen, he attended the same elite boarding school at El-Khanka that his father had attended. His father next enrolled him in the École Militaire Égyptienne,[9] a school established by Muhammad Ali Pasha in 1844 in Paris to train men for effective service in the Egyptian military corps. After completing his studies at the École Militaire Égyptienne, Ali Bey continued his education at the School of Application for the Staff, located on the Rue de Grenelle, Paris, close to Les Invalides,[10] many graduates of which were selected to become staff officers in the French army. As a result of this training Ali Bey became an artillery colonel in Mohammed Ali's Egyptian Army.

Career achievements[]

Following the death of his father in 1865, Ali Bey was notified by the Ottoman authorities in Constantinople that he was now qualified to use the title "Ali Sherif Pasha". However, he usually wrote his new name and title as "Ali Pasha Sherif", or its French form, "Ali Pacha Chérif." In his new capacity he served Egypt throughout the reigns of Khedives Tewfik Pasha and Abbas Hilmi Pasha (aka Abbas II). Major posts he held included Foreign Minister of Egypt, and at one point in his career, he was awarded the title of Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India by Queen Victoria.

Breeder of Arabian Horses[]

Ali Bey first obtained a few Arabian horses while his father was governor of Syria, and he obtained others directly from the breeding program of Abbas I Pasha. When Abbas I was murdered in 1854, his Arabian horses were inherited by his eighteen-year-old son Ibrahim Ilhami Pasha (aka El Hami Pasha) who had little interest in them, giving away several. Upon Ibrahim's death, his estate was bankrupt, and the executors of his estate sold his remaining horses at auction in December 1860. Ali Pasha Sherif purchased approximately 30 horses of the original Abbas I Pasha stock, ultimately owning four hundred horses by 1873.

Ali Pasha Sherif was reputed to have kept extensive records and manuscripts about his stud, which were passed on to his son, Huseyn Bey Sherif, who lent them to King Fouad. These were never returned, and they are now considered lost.

In the late 1870s, a devastating epidemic of African horse sickness hit Egypt, killing thousands of horses, including many horses of prized bloodlines. Only the horses Ali Pasha Sherif had moved to upper Egypt were saved. As he aged, Ali Pasha Sherif's health failed and he encountered financial and political problems, leading to many problems for his stud farm, including a decline in the quality of his stock due to managers who bred to pedigree with no assessment of the ensuing livestock and often engaging in inbreeding.

In 1880 Ali Pasha Sherif made the acquaintance of Wilfred and Lady Anne Blunt. Though he was generally reluctant to sell horses to foreigners, he eventually sold them the stallion Mesaoud in 1889 as well as other horses. Ali Pasha Sherif died in 1897, and a month after his death his remaining horses went up for auction. At that time, Lady Anne Blunt was able to purchase many of the best for her Sheykh Obeyd stud, later exporting some to their Crabbet Arabian Stud in England.

See also[]

  • Arabian horse
  • Lady Anne Blunt
  • Crabbet Arabian Stud
  • Muhammad Ali Dynasty


  1. El Sayed Muhammad Sherif Pasha El-Kebir is referred to in most accounts under the abbreviated form of his name, which was Muhammad Sherif Pasha. However, he is not to be confused with Muhammad Sharif Pasha (1826-1887), also a native of Kavala, who served 3 times as Prime Minister of Egypt in the 1870s and 1880s.
  2. - Scroll down the page to view photos of Ali Pasha Sherif (1834-1897), his brother Khalil Sherif Pasha (see Halil Şerif Paşa) (June 20, 1831 - Jan. 12, 1879), and their father Muhammad Sherif Pasha (died Feb. 13, 1865). The caption under the photo of Khalil incorrectly gives his birthdate as 1832. See: - This article on Khalil is from a book titled Men of the Time: A Dictionary of Contemporaries (London and New York: G. Routledge and Sons, 9th edition, 1875), edited by Thomas Cooper. It is important to note that this article mentions that Muhammad Sherif Pasha (Khalil's father) died in 1865 (this confirms the date given in the caption to Muhammad's photo, referenced infra), and left Khalil a large fortune. It is unknown if Ali Pasha Sherif, Khalil's brother, was also left a large financial legacy by his father.
  3. Muhammad's father was an army officer who was killed in battle when Muhammad was only four months old.
  4. "Sherif Pasha El- Kebir Family". 2000-05-17. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  5. - This is an excerpt from a 2-vol. work titled Breeding of Pure Bred Arab Horses by Mohammed Ali Tewfik (1875-1955), who was a brother of Abbas II of Egypt (1874-1944). Please see: - For complete bibliographic informatioin on this work please click on this link:
  6. - This is an excerpt, dated August 1840, from Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, Comprising their Life and Work as Recorded in their Diaries from 1812 to 1883 (2 vols.) (Chicago: Belford-Clarke Co., 1890) (ed. by Dr. Louis Loewe), Vol. 1, p. 248.
  7. - Jonathan Frankel - The Damascus Affair: "Ritual Murder," Politics, and the Jews in 1840 (Cambridge, New York, and Melbourne: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1997), p. 60.
  8. - Scroll down to the list titled "Walis (Governors) of Damascus, then scroll down the list until you come to this entry: Nov. 1832-183. - Muhammad Sharif Pasha (Egyptian Governor)
  9. - Deniz Turker - The Oriental Flaneur: Khalil Bey and the Cosmopolitan Experience (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Masters Thesis, June 2007), pp. 15-21, 42. The information from Deniz Turker's thesis which is especially relevant is as follows: (1)(p. 15): Ali Bey had 2 brothers, Khalil Bey (later known as Khalil Sherif Pasha) and Osman, and all three were enrolled by their father in the École Militaire Égyptienne (2)(p.15): The École Militaire Égyptienne was in existence for only 5 years (1844-1849) (3)(p. 15): In 1844, at the time Khalil Bey was sent to the École Militaire Égyptienne, the brothers' father was Minister of Finance in Muhammad Ali Pasha's (1769-1849) administration (4)(p. 16): The name of the school the 3 brothers attended is given specifically as: the École Militaire Égyptienne (5)(p. 21): The École Militaire Égyptienne was closed down in May 1849 by Abbas I Pasha. Although Muhammad Ali Pasha didn't pass away until August 2, 1849, he had become very senile and Abbas I Pasha (who had been ruling Egypt as Regent since November 10, 1848) decided to close down the school (6)(p. 42): Deniz Turker mentions that Khalil Bey's father's name was Sherif Pasha.
  10. - "The School of Application for the Staff, at Paris," The American Journal of Education (ed. by Henry Barnard), No. XXVIII (New Seies, No. 3) (September, 1862), pp. 245-256.

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