My husband's great grandfather, Thomas George Brown, worked on the Egyptian Railways as an Engineer Superintendent during the years 1864 to at least 1880.  At least 2 of his children were born at Boulac near Cairo.  Does anyone know if there are records of births of non-Egyptian nationalities available either through the Egyptian authorities or in the home country of the family. 

It has been passed down through the family folklore that he was working  on the railway during its construction period.  How would someone go  about trying to find out which companies were involved in the construction ? 

Also, would it have been usual practice for British/foreign families to have sent their children back to the home country for school ? 

Any information relating to the period would be very welcome Maureen Brown 



I read with interest Mrs. Maureen Brown‘s letter concerning her husband‘s great grandfather who worked for the Egyptian Railways in the nineteen century, and I think that I can answer some of her questions. 

I worked for the British Consulate in Cairo, from 1951 to 1968, and I can assure Maureen that all children, born to British Citizens had to be registered at the nearest British Consulate. Thomas George Brown‘s children, being born in Boulac, the nearest British Consulate would be in Kasr El Doubara (Cairo) where the actual British Embassy is located. The Consulate would issue the birth certificates and would advise the Foreign Office, in London. I believe that these registrations were kept in both Cairo and London. I would like to add that every British Subject living abroad had to register at the nearest Consulate. 

As far as the history of the Egyptian Railways is concerned, my Egyptian husband came to my rescue and stated the following: 

1- Egypt was one of the very first countries to build a railway network and was helped by Great Britain which was a pioneer in that field. 

2-The Egyptian Railways were then and now government owned and operated. The system was built by Egyptian workers supervised by (mostly) British Engineers on loan from the British Railways -- see the captioned below (BR) (which were then owned and operated by the British Government). My husband ‘s guess is that the late Thomas George Brown worked for the BR. 

On 12 July, 1851 Khedive `Abbas Hilmiy I (Muhammad `Aliy's  grandson) and Robert Stevenson (the son of George Stevenson, who invented the steam locomotive) signed the contract to establish Egypt's first railway line -- a mere three years after the end of Muhammad `Aliy's reign. Stevenson was appointed the chief engineer of the Egyptian Railway. Among the 18 British engineers appointed at the time was a Mr Sevry, who trained locomotive drivers -- and even Sa`iyd Pasha (who succeeded `Abbas) himself. 

3-As far as schools for foreign children are concerned, I would like to say that there has been, since the beginning of the 20th century, and still are now, excellent English schools such as the English School, Victoria College, English Mission School and St. Clare College to name a few. (Our two daughters were students at St. Clare before moving to Canada). I doubt that these schools existed during the late T. G. Brown ‘s time and, since foreigners were richly endowed, it was more convenient for both parents and children to send the kids’ home for their schooling. 

The first head of the Railway Authority was `Abd Allah Agha, popularly known as haj `Abd Allah the Englishman (his Christian name was Richard). A British officer who converted to Islam while serving in India, haj `Abd Allah is said to have gained the trust of `Abbas Pasha, who appointed him the general manager of the Railway Offices in September 1854.