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Koehler: Notebooks and sketchbooks of George Frederick Koehler (1758-1800), soldier, engineer and artist

Reference Code: GBR/3437/KHLR


  • Creation: 1799 - 1800


Biographical / Historical

George Frederick Koehler (1758-1800), a British subject of German descent, was a veteran of the Siege of Gibralter (1782-1783). As a soldier with the Royal Artillery, he invented a gun carriage, the Koehler Depressing Carriage, which formed a key part of the defense of the steep terrain of Gibralter. He travelled to Turkey, with his wife Ann, in 1799 to provide British military support to the Ottoman Empire in the wake of Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt. (He was the commanding officer of William Martin Leake at the outset of the latter’s military career.) The couple died of plague, childless and intestate, in the army camp at Jaffa in 1800.


14 volume(s) (5 large sketch books, 9 small notebooks) : paper

Language of Materials


Custodial History

These sketch books and notebooks were acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge in 1864, when the museum purchased Col. W. M. Leake's collection of ancient Greek and Roman coins, gems, vases and bronzes, together with his books and papers . Koehler had been Leake's commanding officer in the Royal Artillery while stationed at Istanbul in 1799, and therefore this may be how his personal drawings and notes were subsumed into Leake's own papers.
Upon the formation of the Museum of Classcial Archaeology (MOCA) in 1884, which at that juncture separated from the Fitzwilliam, the Leake papers were physically retained by the former. The Leake (and thereby also the Koehler) papers are now on long term loan to MOCA, inventory reference MOCA 2019:1. The collection's custodial care and cataolgue is provided by the Faculty of Classics Archives which has assigned reference codes in common with other archival holdings in the repository, in order to facilitate intellectual access to the material.


Wittman, W. (1803). Travels in Turkey, Asia-Minor, Syria, and across the desert into Egypt : During the years 1799, 1800, and 1801, in company with the Turkish army, and the British military mission ; to which are annexed, observations on the plague, and on the diseases prevalent in Turkey, and a meteorological journal. London
Whittman provides provides an eye-witness account, as surgeon to the British mission, of Koehler’s Turkish expedition and unfortunate demise in Jaffa in 1800.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Cambridge: Faculty of Classics Archives Repository

Faculty of Classics
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge CB3 9DA United Kingdom
+441223 335193