In 1845, the onset of the Great Irish Famine resulted in over a million deaths.
Ottoman Sultan Khaleefah Abdul-Mejid I declared his intention to send 10,000 sterling to Irish farmers but Queen Victoria requested that the Sultan send only 1,000 sterling, because she had sent only 2,000 sterling herself. The Sultan sent the 1,000 sterling but also secretly sent 3 ships full of food. The English courts tried to block the ships, but the food arrived in Drogheda harbor and was left there by Ottoman Sailors.
Due to this the Irish people, especially those in Drogheda, are friendly to the Turks.(Note, in 1845, the 10,000 pounds dedicated to the Irish from the Sultan would be worth approximately 800,000 pounds today, that is $1,683,280 US Dollars.
On the other hand, the Queen gave the equivilant of 160,000 pounds today or 336,656 US Dollars)The Osmanli Traveller blog has copied to text a writeup by a Christian Priest who wrote about the Sultan of the time in his travelogue. His account mentions this incident briefly.
What is interesting is that without knowing of the secret sending of the ships, the priest was already impressed with the character of the Sultan in his response to the Queen.On the Character of Sultan Abdul-Majid Khan, by the Rev. Henry Christmas M.A. (Christian Priest) written in 1853:‘One or two anecdotes will put his character in its true light.
During the year of famine in Ireland, the Sultan heard of the distress existing in that unhappy country; he immediately conveyed to the British ambassador his desire to aid in its relief, and tendered for that purpose a large sum of money.
It was intimated to him that it was thought right to limit the sum subscribed by the Queen, and a larger amount could not therefore be received from his highness. He at once acquiesced in the propriety of his resolution, and with many expressions of benevolent sympathy, sent the greatest admissible subscription.
It is well known that his own personal feeling dictated the noble reply of the divan to the threatening demands of Austria and Russia for the extradition of the Polish and Hungarian refugees.“I am not ignorant,” was his reply, “of the power of those empires, nor of the ulterior measures to which their intimations point; but I am compelled by my religion to observe the laws of hospitality; and I believe that the sense and good feeling of Europe will not allow my government to be drawn into a ruinous war, because I resolve strictly and solemnly to adhere to them.”
This is the true spirit of Christianity, and there is more it in the Mohammedan Sultan of Turkey, than in any or all of the Christian princes of Eastern Europe.’Reference: “The Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Medjid Khan: A Brief Memoir of His Life and Relign, with Notices of The Country, its Navy, & present Prospects” by the Rev. Henry Christmas, M.A., 1853
Also note, this generosity and compassion occurred during the time of the supposed ‘downfall’ of the Ottoman empire according to Western history books, and Sultan Abdul Majid in himself is not counted as one of the greatest of Ottoman Sultans.