This is the story of two families, the As’ads who came from northern
Syria, and the Somervilles whose ancestors had arrived from Scotland
to Lebanon to live and work in the silk industry. Circumstances led to
the oldest daughter and son, of both families, one Syrian and the other
Scottish, meeting up and getting married. This marriage was the start
of a long journey for both families in Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine. As
the author shared much of their life, she was able to add her own
experiences to their records about the educational and political events
in the countries where they lived and worked.
Antonius As’ad, head of a family of eight, served as a lay Minister
frst in northern Syria with the American Board of Commissioners
for Foreign Missions, who were Congregationalist Presbyterians, and
then as an Anglican Minister with the Palestinian Anglican Church in
Mandate Palestine. During WWI he was drafted into the Ottoman army
as a medical orderly. Both he and his wife were strongly committed to
the education of women.
The Scottish family’s knowledge of Arabic from an early age was
instrumental in their employment prospects. After graduating from
the American University of Beirut with an MA in education, James
was appointed as a superintendent of education in the evolving Iraqi
educational system during British rule in Iraq in the 1920’s. Later, from
1932 to 1948 he was employed frst, during the British Mandate in
Palestine, as an assistant district commissioner in the Arab districts.
Later on he was promoted to Vice Consul and witnessed the British
withdrawal in 1948 from Haifa.
He shared in the tumultuous
events of those decisive years
in the history of Palestine.