A legacy worth around $7.3 million (TL 100 million) left behind by Ottoman Grand Vizier Mehmed Ferid Pasha is at the heart of a legal dispute between his descendants, according to a report published by the Sabah newspaper Thursday.
The statesperson, also known as Avlonyalı Mehmet Ferit Pasha (after the present-day Albanian city from where his family hailed) served under Sultan Abdülhamid II between 1903 and 1908. He had seven children but only two among them, Celalettin Pasha and Hatice Seniye Hanım, had their own children. Hatice Seniye Hanım, who died in 1941, has twin granddaughters A.Y. and E.S., identified only by their initials, listed as the successors to her father’s assets.
The two women agreed to a proposal by O.V., the only surviving descendant of Celalettin Pasha, who died in 1971, to jointly claim their inheritance in legal proceedings. When O.V. discovered Hatice Seniye Hanım was not officially registered as Ferid Pasha's child in the civic register, he filed a lawsuit to deprive the sisters of the inheritance. The sisters, in turn, filed a lawsuit in Istanbul for a revisal of the civic register to prove that Hatice Seniye Hanım was indeed the daughter of the grand vizier.
They presented evidence of their grandmother’s relation to the grand vizier to the court, including court records from earlier inheritance lawsuits and photos of Hatice Seniye Hanım with her family. The court found the evidence to be lacking and ordered the bodies of the grand vizier and his family to be exhumed to collect DNA samples. Samples taken from their graves at the family plot in Istanbul’s Aşiyan cemetery will now be analyzed by forensic experts.
Claiming inheritance stemming from Ottoman pashas has proven difficult in the past by a number of lengthy legal disputes. In 2019, some 1,000 plaintiffs had filed a lawsuit for their right to properties left by Mehmet Emin Ali Pasha, a 19th-century Ottoman statesperson known as the architect of Tanzimat reforms. Another lawsuit is underway for the legacy of Grand Vizier Hüseyin Avni Pasha, who served between 1874 and 1875, whose descendants are seeking to get back a vast plot of land on Istanbul's Asian side. Last year, a court awarded the descendants of another pasha a historic castle that once belonged to their ancestor in the northern province of Trabzon.