Sir William Codrington and Sir Robert Wilson - Judah Benoliel and Matteo Attalya,
James Richardson was an English writer and explorer and was well known for his travels in North Africa and the Sahara. After publishing his Travels into the Great Desert of Sahara in 1849, he convinced the British government to equip an expedition to lake Chad and in 1850 He became the first European to cross the stony plain of the Hammada.
Richardson died during this journey and his two volume Travels in Morocco based on his diaries and notes were edited by his wife and published posthumously in 1860. The introduction was written by Laurence Trent Cave, author of The French in Africa. Although the book's main focus is obviously on Morocco, Richardson is quick to comment - in the first volume at any rate - on the curious relationship that existed between the British authorities in Gibraltar and Barbary.
During the entire 18th and much of the 19th century, Spanish resentment against the British occupation of Gibraltar meant that the Garrison - and its civilian population - were more often than not forced to obtain their food and essential fresh supplies from Barbary - and in partiular from places such as Tangier, Fez and Tetuan.
Having made a limited tour in the Empire of Morocco a few years since, I am enabled to appreciate the information imparted to us by the lamented Richardson, and am desirous of adding a few observations of my own upon the present state of affairs in that part of the African Continent.
The following work of the indefatigable traveller demands, at the present moment, a more than ordinary share of public attention, in consequence of the momentous events now passing in the Straits of Gibraltar, where the presence of powerful armaments entails on the Governor of our great rock-fortress, a duty of some delicacy, situated as he now is in close proximity to three belligerent powers, all of whom are at peace with Great Britain.
Sir William Codrington, Governor of Gibraltar
But distinguished alike for common sense and professional ability, Sir William Codrington, it is to be hoped, will steer clear of the follies committed by Sir Robert Wilson in 1844, and will command respect for the British name, without provoking bitter feelings between ourselves, and our French and Spanish neighbours.
It is scarcely possible that either France or Spain can contemplate the conquest of the entire Empire of Morocco, as the result of the present impending crisis, the superficial extent of the territory being 219,420 square miles . . . . The inhabitants may be classified as follows: 4,000,000 Moors and Arabs; 2,000,000 Berbers; 500,000 Jews, and the remainder are of the Negro race . .
Sir Robert Wilson was Governor of Gibraltar from 1842 to 1848, Sir William Codrington from 1859 to 1865. It means that it was the former that was Governor while Richardson was travelling around the area. What exactly Sir Robert did that displeased Trent is hard to say but he did make a rather undiplomatic visit to Tangier as Governor of Gibraltar in which he tried to offer British support to the Moorish leaders against the French.
Sir Robert Wilson, Governor of Gibraltar
Introduction by Laurence Trent Cave
England has, but a short time since, succeeded in emancipating her Jewish brethren from their few remaining disabilities; an opportunity may now be at hand, of ameliorating the condition of those in the Empire of Morocco, who are forced to submit to a grinding persecution, and are merely tolerated because they are useful. They supply many wants of the Moorish population; are the best, and in many handicrafts, the only artificers, and are much employed by the government in financial occupations.
They are compelled to occupy a distinct quarter of the town they inhabit; are permitted only to wear black garments, are forbidden to ride, the horse being considered too noble an animal to carry a Jew, and are forced to take off their shoes on passing a mosque. Even the little Moorish boys strike and ill-treat the in various ways, and the slightest attempt at retaliation was formerly punished with death, and would now be visited with the bastinado. They are more heavily taxed than any other class, and special contributions are often levied on them. . . .
The Moorish Traders
There is an important trade in manufactures and provisions carried on between Tangier and Gibraltar. The Fez merchants have resident agents in Gibraltar. Curious stories are told of Maroquine adventurers leaving Tangier and Fez as camel-drivers and town-porters, and then assuming the character and style of merchants in Gibraltar, throwing over their shoulders a splendid woollen burnouse, and folding round their heads a thoroughly orthodox turban in large swelling folds of milk-white purity.
Moorish traders in Main Street Gibraltar ( Late 19th century- Unknown )
In this way, they will walk through the stores of Gibraltar, and obtain thousands of dollars’ worth of credit. The merchant-emperor found it necessary to put a stop to this, and promulgated as decree to the effect, that he would not, for the future, be responsible for the debts of any of his subjects contracted out of his dominions.
This was aimed at these trading adventurers, and the decree was transmitted to the British Consul, who had it published in the Gibraltar Gazette ( see LINK ) while I was staying in that city. Up to this time, the Emperor, singularly enough, had made himself responsible for all the debts of his subjects trading with Gibraltar. The trade in provisions at Tangier is most active, bullocks, sheep, butcher’s meat, fowls, eggs, game and pigeons, grain and flour, &c., are daily shipped from Tangier to Gibraltar.
The garrison and population of Gibraltar draw more than two-thirds of their provisions from this and other northern parts of Morocco. This government speculates in and carries on commerce; and, like most African and Asiatic governments, has had its established monopolies from time immemorial, of some of which it disposes, whilst it reserves others for itself, as those of tobacco, sulphur, and cochineal.
All the high functionaries engage in commerce, and this occupation of trade and barter is considered the most honourable in the empire, sanctioned as it is by the Emperor himself, who may be considered as the chief of merchants. The monopolies are sold by public auction at so much per annum. . . .
In many ways the above probably explains the enormous success of the Jewish settlement in Gibraltar during the 18th century. Whereas Barbary Moors came and went and no doubt made their fortunes both legitimately and illegitimately by supplying Gibraltar, the Barbary Jews found it much more convenient to become residents. The Treaty of Utrecht ( see LINK ) was supposed to have made it impossible for them to do so.
Preface by Mrs Richardson
I accompanied him on his travels in Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, in which last city he left me, it not being considered advisable that I should proceed with him into the interior of the country. We were not destined to meet again in this world. My beloved husband died at Bornou, in Central Africa, whither he was sent by Her Majesty’s Government to enter into treaties with the chiefs of the surrounding districts.
Richardson's Diary and Notes
Englishmen are surprised, that the frequent visits and uninterrupted communications between Morocco and Gibraltar, during so long a period, should have produced scarcely a perceptible change in the minds of the Moors, and that Western Barbary should be a century behind Tunis. This circumstance certainly does not arise from any inherent inaptitude in the Moorish character to entertain friendly relations with Europeans, and can only have resulted from that crouching and subservient policy which Gibraltar authorities have always judged it expedient to show towards the Maroquines.
Our diplomatic intercourse began with Morocco in the reign of Queen Elizabeth and though on friendly terms more or less ever since, Englishmen have not yet obtained a recognised permission to travel in the interior of the country, without first specially applying to its Government.
Our own countrymen know little of Morocco, or of its inhabitants, customs, laws, and government and, though only five or six days sail from England, it must be regarded as an unknown and unexplored region to the mass of the English nation. Nevertheless, in spite of the Maroquine Empire being the most conservative and unchangeable of all North African Mussulman states, and whilst, happily for itself, it has been allowed to pursue its course obscurely and noiselessly, without exciting particular attention
The communication between Gibraltar and Tangier is by no means easy and regular, though the places are only a few hours’ distance from the other. I had waited many days at Gib (as our captain called the former place), before the wind enabled us to leave, and then, our boat being a small transport for cattle, and the Government contractors wanting beef for the garrison - for an Englishman or an English soldier cannot live in any part of the world without beef - we were compelled to leave with the wind in our teeth, and to make a night's voyage of this four or five hours’ traverse. It might be worth-while, one would think, to try a small steam-tug for the conveyance of cattle from Tangier to our garrison, which, besides, would be a great convenience for passengers.
Spanish Xebex and other Commercial Craft off Gibraltar at Sunset ( 1873 -Vilhelm Melbye ) ( see LINK )
Soon after my arrival at Tangier, the English letter-boat, Correo Ingles, master, Matteo Attalya, brought twelve eunuch slaves, African youths, from Gibraltar. They are a present from the Viceroy of Egypt to the Emperor of Morocco. The Correo is the weekly bearer of letters and despatches to and from Morocco. The slaves were not entered upon the bill of health, thus infringing upon the maritime laws of Gibraltar and Tangier. The other captains of the little boats could not help remarking, 'You English make so much fuss about putting down the slave-trade, and allow it to he carried on under your own flag.' Even the foreign consuls here reprobated the inconsistency of the British Government . . . . .
Moors resident in Gibraltar, have frequently slaves with them. A few days ago, a slave-boy, resident in Gibraltar, wished to turn Christian, and was immediately sent back to Tangier, and sold to another master. Europeans, with whom I have conversed in Tangier, assure me that slaves are generally well treated, and that cases of cruelty are rare.
Slavery was abolished in Britain by act of Parliament in 1833 - the ship-master Matteo Attalaya was breaking the law. Curiously Richardson is more concerned with bill of health infringements than the fact that slaves were being transported - illegally - in an English ship from a British port. More generally it is quite curious how infrequently slaves are ever mentioned as living in Gibraltar. As far as I can make out they never appear on any census from 1704 onwards.
In the environs, there is at times a good deal of game, and the European residents go out to shoot, one is wont in other countries to talk a walk. The principal game is the partridge and hare, and the grand sport, the wild boar. Our officers of the Gibraltar garrison come over for shooting. But quackery and humbug exist in everything. A young gentleman has just arrived from Gibraltar, who had been previously six weeks on his passage from Holland to that place, with his legs inﬁxed in a pair of three-league boots.
He says he has come from Holland on purpose to sport and hunt in Morocco. Several of the consuls, when they go out sporting, metamorphose themselves into veteran Numidian sportsmen. You would imagine they were going to hunt lions for months in the ravines of the Atlas, whereas it is only to shoot a stray partridge or a limping hare . . . .
I took up my stay at the “English Hotel” (posada Ingles), kept by Benoliel, a Morocco Jew, who spoke tolerable English . . . The grand cicerone for the English at Tangier, is Benoliel. He is a man of about sixty years of age, and initiated into the sublimest mysteries of the consular politics of the Shereefs. Ben is full of anecdotes of everybody and everything - from the emperor on the Shereeﬁan throne, down to the mad and ragged dervish in the streets.
The 'grand cicerone' almost certainly Judah Benoliel, one time the Moroccan consul in Gibraltar and a man of considerable wealth and influence in Tangier. After an unpleasant quarrel between two Jews in a synagogue in Tangier, all the synagogues of the city were demolished. Several years later Benoliel managed to convince the Sultan, Muley Abd al-Raḥman to allow them to be rebuilt, while later refusing to take any credit for what had proved to be a rather tricky piece of diplomacy.
Muley Abd al-Raḥman ( 1845 - Eugène Delacroix )
Our cicerone keeps a book, in which the names of all his English guests have been from time to time inscribed. His visitors have been principally officers from Gibraltar, who come here for a few days sporting.
On the bombardment of Tangier, Ben left the country with other fugitives. The Moorish rabble plundered his house, and many valuables which were there concealed, pledged by persons belonging to Tangier, were carried away; Ben was therefore ruined. Some foolish people at Gibraltar told Ben, that the streets of London were paved with gold, or, at any rate, that, inasmuch as he (Ben) had in his time entertained so many Englishmen at his hospitable establishment at Tangier ( for which, however, he was well paid ), he would be sure to make his fortune by a visit to England.
I afterwards met Ben accidentally in the streets of London, in great distress. Some friends of the Anti-Slavery Society subscribed a small sum for him, and sent him back to his family in Gibraltar. Poor Ben was astonished to find as much misery in the streets of our own metropolis, as in any town of Morocco; Regarding his co-religionists in England, Ben observed with bitterness, 'The Jews there are no good; they are very blackguards.'
He was disappointed at their want of liberality, as well as their want of sympathy for Morocco Jews. Ben thought he knew everything, and the ways of this wicked world, but this visit to England convinced him he must begin the world over again. Our cicerone is very shrewd; withal is blessed with a good share of common sense: is by no means bigoted against Mahometans or Christians, and is one of the more respectable of the Barbary Jews.
His information on Morocco, is, however, so mixed up with the marvellous, that only a person well acquainted with North Africa can distinguish the probable from the improbable, or separate the wheat from the chaff. Ben has a large family, like most of the Maroquine Jews; but the great attraction of his family is a most beautiful daughter, with a complexion of jasmine, and locks of the raven; a perfect Rachel in loveliness, proving fully the assertion of Ali Bey, and all other travellers in Morocco, that the fairest women in this country are the Jewesses.
Jewish Woman of Gibraltar in Fiesta Dress ( 1853 - John Frederick Lewis ) ( see LINK )
Ben is the type of many a Barbary Jew, who, to considerable intelligence, and a few grains of what may be called fair English honesty, unites the ordinarily deteriorated character of men, and especially Jews, born and brought up under oppressive governments.
Ben would sell you to the Emperor for a moderate price; and so would the Jewish consular agents of Morocco. A traveller in this country must, therefore, never trust a Maroquine Jew in a matter of vital importance. . . . Mr Drummond Hay, our Consul at Tangier, advised me to return to Gibraltar, and to go by sea to Mogador, and thence to Morocco, where the Emperor was then residing. Adopting his advice, I left the same evening for Gibraltar.
Public audience of Sharif Sidi Muhammad ben Abderrahman IV, at the city of Fès in November 23, 1868, receiving the British Delegation of Tangier, represented by Sir John Drummond-Hay and accompanied by his staff and family ( Courtesy of Mr. Robert Drummond-Hay, London )
I took my passage in a very fine cutter, which had formerly been a yacht, and had since been engaged as a smuggler of Spanish goods. I confess, I was not sorry to hear that the Spanish custom-house was often duped. The cutter had been purchased for the Gibraltar secret service. . . . on reaching Gibraltar I made the acquaintance of Frenerry, who for thirty years had been a merchant in Morocco. . .
It is well that our merchant-vessels have never been reduced to the condition of Genoese craft, or been manned by such chicken-hearted crews I believe the pusillanimity of the latter is traceable, in a great measure, to the miserable way in which the poor fellows are fed. These Genoese had no meat whilst I was with them.
I sailed once in a Neapolitan vessel, a whole month, during which time the crew lived on horse-beans, coarse macaroni, Sardinian fish, mouldy biscuit, and griping black wine. Meat they had none. How is it possible for men thus fed, to fight and wrestle with the billows and terrors of the deep ?
. . . The cattle exported from Tetuan, Tangier, and El-Araish, for the victualling of Gibraltar, is likewise a monopoly; it amounted during my stay to 7,500 dollars. In consequence of an alleged treaty, but which does not exist on paper, the Emperor of Morocco has bound himself to supply our garrison of Gibraltar with 2,000 head of cattle per annum, 1,500 of which must be shipped from Tangier, the rest from other parts of the Gharb, or north-west.
British contractors pay five dollars per head export duty, the ordinary tax is ten. It is estimated, however, that some three or four thousand head of cattle are annually exported from Morocco for our garrison. The Gibraltar Commissariat contractors complain, and with reason, that the Maroquine monopolist supplies the British Government with “the very worst cattle of all Western Barbary.”
Shipping bullocks at Tangier for the Commissariat Department of the Garrison at Gibraltar ( 1912 - George Rose )