The People of Gibraltar
1870 - Frederic George Stephens - A History

There are at least four editions of the book A History of Gibraltar and its Sieges, the original dating from 1870 the last published in 1900. For unknown reasons in none of these is the author's name given although library information, suggests that they were all written by Frederic George Stephens, a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, an occasional author and a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. I have no evidence of him ever having visited the Rock.


Frederic George Stephens


The 1870 and 1873 editions offer the reader a straight-forward history of Gibraltar from the days of the Phoenicians right through to the Great Siege. (See LINK) The final chapter ends with the Battle of Trafalgar. There is therefore little of interest as regards the affairs and personalities of the non-British residents after 1704.

Both editions, however, include a map of Gibraltar as well as photographs by John Hollingworth Mann - all of which are shown below. Mann was probably an employee of George Washington Wilson and Co, a well known British photographer of the era. I have included higher resolution versions of the photographs published in these two editions elsewhere - (See LINK)


Map of Gibraltar


The Rock from San Felipe  (See LINK


The Rock from the English Lines


Gibraltar from the South - The coast of Spain in the distance


Europa Pass and the Straits - to the left is the Military Prison - on the right Buena Vista Barracks - the coast of Africa is just traceable in the distance


Rosia (See LINK) - the large white buildings center-right are the Water Tanks (See LINK)


Windmill Hill and O'Hara's Tower, Europa Point


Windmill Hill from the north


Bird's-eye view of Gibraltar, the Bay and coast of Spain -
in the distance on the left is the village of 'San Roque' and on the right the Hills with the 'Queen of Spain's Chair' - The old Moorish Castle (see LINK)  is on the top right corner


Camp Bay looking south


Governor's Cottage


Panorama of Gibraltar from the head of the Old Mole (See LINK)


South Barracks (see LINK) -  the Catholic College and Convent are seen on the hill above the barracks.


The English Cathedral of the Holy Trinity  (See LINK


Landport - the entrance from Spain (See LINK)


The Alameda (see LINK) and the Grand Parade 


The Neutral Ground from the Rock

The 1879 and the 1900 Editions were completely rewritten and consist of two main sections - the first starting at 1704 and ending at Trafalgar, the second a general description of the Rock and a short chapter on its early history.

J.H.Mann's photographs are replaced by engravings. Although it is not immediately obvious to this particular adult I suspect both editions were meant to be read by younger readers. The following are a selection of quotes.
Arrival On landing, the traveller pushes his way through a motley crowd, crosses the double enceinte, ditches, and drawbridge, and enters the market-place, an open area surrounded by barracks, four, five, and six stories high. Here are to be seen a throng of interesting characters : Algerians and Morocco merchants, with half-naked legs, slippered feet, their shoulders wrapped in their large white burnoose and their head crowned with the turban or tarbouche ; Jews, with venerable beards, black robes, and pointed bonnets ; the turbaned Moors, with loose flowing robes, and vests and trousers of crimson cloth ; and Spanish peasants, with velvet breeches and leggings of embroidered leather, and the navaja, or knife, thrust into their tight crimson sash . . . 
Among these the English soldier winds his way, neat, erect, and clean-shaven, as on parade in St. James's Park ; or the Spanish lady lightly treads, her face concealed by her black silk mantilla, and her hand fluttering the inevitable fan . . .

The Town - The town of Gibraltar is of limited extent, and the peculiar nature of its position prevents it from enlarging itself in any direction. Its two or three long streets run parallel to the sea-lines, and are intersected at right angles by numerous narrow squalid lanes, which ascend the precipitous acclivity by flights of rugged steps, called" Ramps." . . . but these lanes resemble the wynds in the " Old Town " of Edinburgh." . . . 
Gibraltar has no public buildings of architectural importance ; it is essentially a garrison town, a fortified post, in which art and beauty are subordinated to the useful. Except, indeed, at one spot, the Garden, or Alameda one of the most charming promenades in the world . . . 
Byron called Valletta, the principal port of Malta, a " military hothouse ;" but the term is much more applicable to Gibraltar, where the principal ornaments are cannon, and half the population soldiers or soldiers' wives, or soldiers' purveyors . . . .
Stephens continues to describe the people of the Rock by quoting - at great length - from William Makepeace Thackeray (See LINK) and to a lesser degree from William Henry Bartlett  (see LINK). He also delves into Richard Ford (see LINK) for several rather chauvinistic and inaccurate comments on the destruction of the Spanish Lines during the Peninsular Wars.

The unattributed engravings shown below are taken from these two editions.





Early 20th century magic lantern copy





Early 20th century magic lantern copy














In my opinion it is rather odd that Stephens decided to publish these works anonymously - perhaps he was less than proud of them and simply needed the money. As regards the photographs, these apparently did not belong to J.H.Mann - even though he may have taken them - but to Wilson & Co. The engravings - only one of which is attributed to anybody - are direct copies of actual paintings by several different artists. 

As regards Lieutenant Sandby of the 12th, he is probably the ensign mentioned by Spilsbury in his Journal of the Siege of Gibraltar. He was abused by a Captain of the 56th, courageously challenged him to a duel, and was subsequently shot in the leg.

Finally, St Martin's cave is almost certainly St. Michael's.