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The Melbourne Socialite & The Turkish Diplomat

December 9, 2021 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm


The Melbourne Socialite & The Turkish Diplomat

Presented in partnership with the National Archives of Australia and the Genealogical Society of Victoria

Presented by Patrick Ferry and Janan Greer

London, 1913: A wealthy young woman from a stately country home falls in love with and secretly marries a handsome young diplomat from the Turkish Embassy. It sounds like a plot line from the hit British period drama Downton Abbey … but it is the real-life story of Melbourne socialite Florence Winter-Irving. Florence’s story is told through records held by the National Archives of Australia, contemporary newspapers and treasured family memorabilia and traditions. Her story is set against the backdrop of patriarchal nationality laws which stripped women of their own nationality when they married ‘aliens’ – i.e., foreign men who were not British subjects.

Florence came from one of Victoria’s wealthiest squatter families. Their country seat, Noorilim, near Murchison, is regarded as one of the finest mansions ever built in Victoria.

When Florence met and married Turkish aristocrat and diplomat Chefik Bey Muftyzade it created a sensation in the Australian press, which even speculated that Florence was about to enter a ‘harem’.

Patrick Ferry is the State Manager, Victoria for the National Archives of Australia. He is a professional archivist, local historian and author. Patrick’s most recent book Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: Remembering the Pakenham District’s WW2 service personnel, 1939 – 1945, won the 2020 Victorian Community History Award for Best Local History Project.

Janan Greer is the great-granddaughter of Florence Winter-Irving. Janan works in marketing and communications and has a passion for family history and storytelling. She is the custodian of many family photographs, letters and documents relating to her paternal family lineage.


Photo courtesy of the National Archives of Australia


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December 9, 2021
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category:


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
03 9326 9288


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