These sketches are artists impressions, drawn by the great granddaughter of D M Thornton, of events written in the biography of D M Thornton by W H T Gairdner as well as from Thornton’s diaries, letters, etc.


“Bulus faced threats from his family and had to flee. He joined the Thornton family in England for several weeks. He returned to Cairo and became a well respected teacher in the church.


Athanasius spoke at an outdoor meeting in the square Seiyideh Zeinab (Sayyidah Zaynab). When leaving Atallah received a stone on his back. 1899 Diaries D M Thornton.


When an undergraduate at Cambridge University Douglas M Thornton fixed up a fishing rod, triggered by an alarm clock, to strip his bed, in order to prevent himself oversleeping. 1893-5


“Buffalo or Goats milk madam?” The Thornton and Gairdner families spent a holiday overlooking Aboukir bay, Egypt. The huts were made of matting nailed to posts driven into the ground. The large communal tent had an organ and piano for hymns. circa 1906 (Letters D M Thornton.)


Mrs Elaine Thornton and Cecil leaving Egypt for a flat in St Johns Wood London. Elaine spent the rest of her life with the CMS and was their first woman secretary.


In his  enthusiasm to speak at the Keswick Christian meeting 1896 D M Thornton jumped from a window onto the stage.


“…member at meeting……it says in your book that if you are struck on one cheek, you are to turn the other but I don’t believe that a proud Englishman would do that. …Gairdner…….come on friend, strike me as much as you like…..he looked too friendly…we couldn’t. They laughed and all drunk coffee together”. ( Ref p 138 . Temple Gairdner of Cairo)


Rev W H T Gairdner chose an empty carriage for D M Thornton on his 1907 trip to upper Egypt; but the former declined and entered a carriage full of officials saying…”I have to go fishing … his colleague (Temple Gairdner) found himself ignored and left standing on the platform…”  (Ref p89 book DM Thornton by WHT Gairdner.)


Rev D M Thornton with the Metran of Kena who had “gathered a few friends.” 1907 (Ref  p257 DM Thornton by WHT Gairdner) 


Shortly after taking up his post in Egypt Rev Douglas M Thornton was shown the passageways in the Great Pyramid by a Dragoman; but wasted no time in conversing with him about spiritual and moral issues. 1898.


“He was offered brandy (at the end) but put it from him and said ‘It would do the greatest harm to my work, and I want to have it straight with the Lord and my colleagues from the start’ “. D M Thornton developed Typhoid probably brought on by overtiredness in the heat of the 1907 summer trip to upper Egypt. This developed into Pneumonia from which he died. 1907 ( Ref p278 Book DM Thornton by WHT Gairdner)


Late night meeting of the Student Christian Movement – talking nonsense – late into the next  morning.


On holiday in Cyprus, 1903, the donkey slipped down the mountain on its backside – Cecil roared with laughter.

Discover more of the history of the Diocese of Egypt