Mrs Michael Zarifi
27 March 1861
Volume 3, page 11, sitting number 2741.
Born at Smyrna (modern day Izmir in Turkey) in or about 1838, Fanny Kessissoglu was the daughter of Theodore Kessissoglu.
On 15 February 1855 she married Michael Zarifi, a wealthy Greek merchant of Finsbury Circus, who was born at Constantinople in or about 1822. Their marriage took place at 49 Inverness Terrace, Bayswater, the residence of Xenophon Balli, another Greek merchant.
The couple appear on the 1871 census living at 25 Pembridge Square, Bayswater. Also present on the night of the census were their four children: John Michael Zarifi (15) Theodore Michael Zarifi (13), Helen Zarifi (10) and Calliope Zarifi (6).
In October 1883 Mr and Mrs Zarifi became aware that their marriage, conducted in a private residence by Archimandrite Narcissus Morphinus according to the rites and ceremonies of the Greek Church, had not been valid under English law and that their children were therefore illegitimate. The following year the Greek Marriages Act was passed by Parliament, at the instigation of London’s prosperous and influential community of Greek merchants and bankers.
‘It appears that marriages have, from time to time, chiefly between the years 1836 and 1857, been solemnised between members of the Greek Church in the Greek Chapel, at 9, Finsbury-circus, in London, and afterwards at London-wall. Some of these marriages have taken place at the residence of one of the contracting parties; but all have been solemnised in conformity with the rites and ceremonies of the Greek Church by a priest of that Church, and register books have been kept, and it was believed that the law of England was complied with’ (Aldershot Military Gazette, 23 February 1884). According to the London Evening Standard (15 March 1884): ‘the number of these marriage was about thirty.’
In 1885 Michael and Fanny Zarifi became the first couple to take advantage of the new Act’s provisions when they filed a petition for the validation of their marriage. ‘In the London Divorce Court yesterday, Mr Justice Butt had before him the case of Zarifi and Zarifi v. the Attorney-General. […] Madame Zarifi, wife of the last witness, gave corroborative testimony. There was no opposition to the petition, and Mr Justice Butt declared the marriage to have been valid according to the statute’ (Edinburgh Evening News, 13 August 1885).
On 24 September 1891 Michael Zarifi ‘late of 21 Great Winchester-street in the City of London and of 25 Pembridge-square in the County of London’ died at 2 Third Avenue, Hove. He left an estate valued at £474,956.
Mrs Zarifi appears on the 1911 census living at 29 Porchester Terrace in Bayswater, the home of her widowed daughter Helen Vlasto.
Mrs Fanny Michael Zarifi died, aged 74, on 12 December 1911 at 29 Porchester Terrace, Bayswater. She left an estate valued at £106,467.