The Archduke Charles and Colonel Cotton - Don Lorenzo Armengual de la Mota
Juan Romero de Figueroa and Brigadier Kane - General Humphrey Bland
Earl St Vincent and Aaron Cardozo - General Fox and John Drinkwater
General George Don and Sir Archibald Hunter - The Duke of Ostrogothia
Sutherland and Hayes - Sir Robert Gardiner
The historian Maurice Harvey published his Gibraltar - a History in 1996. It is an odd piece of work. It deals with its subject in the usual conventional manner adopted by most other historians of the Rock but unusually for a work of this nature it is completely devoid of references. More, it includes as an appendix a plan of the Rock and four suggested historical tours of the place. Appropriately, the book is peppered with a large number of modern photographs.The map, idiosyncratically, is missing the detached mole.
Nevertheless, as a relatively recent, and very readable history I have made an attempt at identifying references relating to Gibraltar's social history from 1704 - 1899 - a period that occupies approximately one third of the entire history as written by Harvey. To put this figure into perspective, it only takes the author sixteen pages to cover the Great Siege, a subject which is normally treated as a very lengthy and overly important centre piece by many of his fellow historians.
Chapter 5 - Gibraltar for the Hapsburgs - 1704 -13
After taking of Gibraltar by Anglo-Dutch forces during the War of the Spanish Succession the Spanish population decided to leave en masse.
All bar about 70 of the 4000 inhabitants elected to leave, crossing the isthmus with whatever possessions they could carry and seeking shelter over a wide area of Andalucía. They had been promised by their priest ( see LINK ) that the French would quickly retake the city . . . many settled in San Roque
Whether they were promised anything by 'their priest' is a moot point. In my view just about everybody believed they would eventually return. If the Grand Alliance - which included England and Holland - had won Gibraltar for the Archduke Charles they would have handed over the place to him and handed the town back in to Spain. The problem was, of course, that it was the French Bourbon candidate who became King Philip V of Spain. There was no handing over, no return of the original inhabitants and generally no going back. Still within the limits of the still unresolved War of the Spanish Succession, Harvey makes the following observation;
Gibraltar was not well served by its Governors over the next few years . . . Of significance for later developments was the migration of civilians back to the town to provide all the many services that a resident Garrison requires. These included some 300 Spanish as well as a mix of Jews, Moroccans and other European races, thus launching the cosmopolitan nature of later years.
It would be possible to write at least two rather hefty books based on this on this short paragraph. The first would relate to Britain's forced relationship with the Barbary states - Gibraltar's neighbours across the Straits. Gibraltar's overland neighbour was hostile Spain . Somebody had to supply the Garrison and Barbary was the most obvious if not the easiest solution.
The second book would deal with the crucial role of the Jews as principle intermediaries between Barbary and the British. Harvey does mention the Jews - as quoted below - but only in so far as the Treaty of Utrecht was concerned. ( see LINK )
But at first there was the problems of the Jews and the Moors which the treaty required should be expelled from Gibraltar. The Jews who were mostly merchants, supplied a valuable need for the Garrison and they also lined the pockets, if not of the absent Governors certainly of his resident deputies.
Harvey was too kind - the absent ones also lined their pockets. In fact the story of how they all did so makes for very good reading ( see LINK )
While the Government in London continually exhorted the deputy Governor to expel the Jews, only lip service was paid to this in Gibraltar.
The correspondence between both the Secretary of State in London, Vice-Admiral Cornwall and Gibraltar's 'occasional' Lieutenant-Governor Colonel Stanhope Cotton also reads like comic relief but Harvey chose to give it a miss.
There were also religious problems . The Garrison at this time consisted of about 1500 soldiers plus their dependents who would mostly be practicing Protestants. But the civilian population was predominantly Spanish and Genoese, some 400 of each, who would almost certainly be Roman Catholic and who under the terms of the treaty were allowed freely to practice their own faith. It was not clear whether the jurisdiction lay with London or the Bishop of Cadiz, and while the local hierarchy strongly supported the former, the Government in England ruled in favour of Cadiz. This lead to innumerable confrontations which continued to flare up for more than a century.The Bishop of Cadiz, Don Lorenzo Armengual de la Mota, actually visited the fortress in 1717 with a large retinue which included his secretary and his steward. Although Don Lorenzo declined Cotton's invitation to stay at the Convent, some of his retinue did stay there, and he himself dined daily with the Lieutenant-Governor. Presumably the Bishop spent his stay on the Rock in the company of the local parish priest, Juan Romero de Figueroa.
Bishop of Cadiz, Don Lorenzo Armengual de la Mota
In 1726 Britain and Spain were at war with each other again and the Siege was just over the horizon. . . . the Commander in Minorca Brigadier Kane, had been deputed to keep an eye on the situation . . . the 400 Spanish civilians were expelled by . . . Kane. ( see LINK )It was, indeed, one of the first thing Kane did on his arrival to the Rock. In 1727, the thirteenth Siege began.
The Jews, one of the original sources of contention, were forced into unaccustomed manual labour and a request by some of them to be evacuated to Morocco was soon stifled when brigadier Clayton agreed only to release them to the besieging Spaniards.The above is taken from a diary entry by a soldier who took part in the Siege - the anonymous S.H. and reads as follows.
. . . a body of Jews desire leave to return to Barbary because they commanded to work for the common preservation, but answered by the Governor that as they had enjoyed ease and plenty during peace, if they not assist for their own safety they be turned out to the Spaniards . . . ( see LINK )
There was hardly any change during the early decades following the Thirteenth Siege.
. . the governors continued to extract their dues from trade to the detriment of both merchants and government until greed and envy inevitably led to their individual downfall.
'Extracting their dues' is a euphemism for 'demanding their bribes on pain of expulsion'. The governors were eventually replaced but not before they had all well and truly lined their pockets. Nor were the merchants unduly affected nor repentant - in fact they were quite prepared to swear under oath they had never been forced to pay a single illegal cent to any governor of Gibraltar.
. . . under the governorship of General Humphrey Bland (1749-54) ( see LINK ) the administration was put on a sounder and more honest footing. The population settled down at around 6000 of which three quarters consisted of the garrison ( nominally 3000 ) and their dependents. Of the rest, Genoese and Jews made up the bulk of the population, the former occupying most of the menial trades while the Jews had cornered the shop keeping and business interests.
The governors with little success did their best to attract a solid, respectable Protestant citizenry, but there were few rewards in trying to raise a genteel family in a tightly constrained garrison in which drunkenness flourished along with other vices to which soldiers are susceptible.
Other religions in the civilian population were tolerated and even a synagogue was accepted in clear breach of Utrecht. Such restrictions as existed for other sects, for example regarding the ownership of property, were easily circumvented.
The obsession to attract an expat population continued for decades and well into the 19th century. It was doomed from the start. The word 'respectable' gives the show away. Surprisingly the author seems to fall into the same trap as the authorities by equating 'respectability' with middle class values and moral rectitude. In actual fact the kind of British merchants who did make it their business to come to Gibraltar and who did have enough money to considered as middle-class rarely ended their days in Gibraltar. More often than not they returned to the UK to spend their last few years in comfortable retirement.
Chapter 7 - The Great Siege - 1779-83
At last in early January the Spanish opened fire on the outworks forcing the Gibraltarians to abandon their gardens and the Genoese their fishing.
A pleasant first appearance halfway through the book of the word 'Gibraltarian' - somewhat ruined by identifying the second lot of inhabitants simply as Genoese. In fact the people who were looking after the gardens were almost certainly also of Genoese origin - they were renown throughout the Rock as excellent gardeners - and no different from their fishermen colleagues. Those gardens, incidentally were in the Neutral Ground and right in front of the Spanish lines. It took considerable courage to work in such a place. And that was the one and only mention of civilians in this chapter.
The Gardens in the Neutral Ground in front of the Spanish lines ( 1799 - Barbie du Bocage Jean Denis -detail )
Chapter 8 - A Port for Commerce and War - 1783 - 1815
Gibraltar was thriving throughout this period as a port where few questions were asked regarding the origin or destination of goods. The civilian population enhanced by immigrants particularly from Genoa where the men were fleeing from conscription in Napoleon's armies, increased rapidly to about 8000 by 1797 . A contemporary report said that the town 'contains some very excellent houses . . . .
The quote which continues at length, is taken from Thomas Walsh's Journal of the Late Campaign in Egypt, ( see LINK ) which was published in 1803. According to Harvey the description makes it clear that the by the turn of the century the present layout of the city was well established. However,
. . . the unruly behaviour of the underemployed soldiers was a continuing trial. Vincent was unimpressed as were the town's trades people ( except for the 90 innkeepers ) and in 1798 a shadowy plot was uncovered to hand Gibraltar over to Spain . . . The plot leaked and no fewer than 1100 civilians were expelled from Gibraltar.
An interesting episode that has never been dealt with at any length by anybody as far as I can make out. There is some evidence that Aaron Cardozo, ( see LINK ) a prominent Jewish merchant and a personal friend of Nelson, may have been the person who exposed the plot to the authorities. Unfortunately something far worse was just round the corner.
Aaron Cardozo's House at the turn of the century. It became known as Connaught House after it was lent during the late 19th century to the Duke of Connaught who was stationed in Gibraltar at the time.
In 1804 another and more insidious scourge hit Gibraltar. A plague of fever was sweeping southern Spain and the border was closed to prevent it reaching Gibraltar. It is generally believed now that it was yellow fever ( see LINK ) which may have come with imported goods from the West Indies , but there may have been a concurrent outbreak of typhus or typhoid . . .
When the epidemic faded away, in early 1805 it was estimated that nearly 6000 people had died including 1082 soldiers of the garrison. Even so this still left a population of about 9000, which was still larger than that remaining at the end of the Great Siege.If by 'population' Harvey is referring to the civilian one then the accepted figure is about 6000 people left after the epidemic. Even after the harsh regime of the Duke of Kent his replacement at the chalk-face, General Fox, was still left to cope with the same problems of drunkenness and indiscipline as before . A fortress order reads;
"The Lieut Governor is much shocked at the shameful drunkenness that has prevailed in the Garrison for these last two days . . ."
According to Harvey;
. . . .General Fox soon overcame his surprise and imposed a harsh regime of trial and correction. A punishment of a hundred lashes was regularly awarded and promptly enforced. Hard labour, called a period of 'Black Strap work' after a brand of cheap wine ( see LINK ) was another penalty regularly imposed . The term is still recalled by Blackstrap Cove, south of Catalan Bay.
Blackstrap Cove in the 1950s ( Unknown )
As suggested by the title, this is the chapter in which Harvey gives us a summary of what he calls :
. . . the evolution of the town as a civic entity, to see how the civilian population developed in social and economic terms - how it achieved an identity of its own separate from that of the military fortress . . .
The civilian population of Gibraltar had expanded rapidly throughout the Napoleonic wars until in 1815, despite outbreaks of the fever it stood at slightly over 10 000. It had a cosmopolitan composition. The most numerous although their proportion was falling were the Genoese who still constituted about a third of the total. But there had been a considerable influx of Spaniards and particularly Portuguese as a consequence of the war.
The Jews, mostly of Moroccan origin, were prominent in trade and commerce. Those of British origin formed the smallest of the major groups- about one seventh of the population The civilian population increased steadily until 1830 when it stood at 17 000 after which it remained fairly stable until the end of the century. More significant than mere numbers , however, was that as the years passed the population became more settled and static.
Whereas at the beginning of the century the majority were alien workers mainly providing services for the military, by the end of the period nearly ninety percent of the total were Gibraltarian born citizens. While many of them still worked for the military, Gibraltar was their family home and their official nationality was British. . . .
In 1815 the population was generally living in congested and squalid conditions, The town had to be almost entirely rebuilt after the Great Siege, but in those troubled times no effort was made to improve upon the maze of narrow and haphazard streets which had characterised the old Gibraltar. In fact this is not surprising as there was little space available to replicate the elegance in town planning which distinguished new buildings in 18th century Britain.
A view of the town (1850s - Francis Frith ) ( see LINK )
Some - including John Drinkwater of Great Siege fame - were of the opinion that the damage caused by the Great Siege offered the perfect opportunity to rebuild the town in a more rational fashion. Others suggested that the slope like nature of the ground on which the town had originally been built offered few alternatives to what was already there. The buildings themselves had been destroyed but the foundations were still reusable. As for the elegance of British buildings in the 18th century, this would hardly apply to anybody other than the very rich even in the UK - and it would be safe to say that the great majority of the residents living in Gibraltar at the time were very poor.
It had become fashionable to visit Gibraltar: politicians, poets pamphleteers, and the merely curious passed through in numbers throughout the nineteenth century recording their impressions in prose and verse.Very true, and here are some of them for anybody who might be interested in their opinions;
1800 - Alexandre de Laborde ( see LINK )
1804 - Samuel Taylor Coleridge ( see LINK )
1807 - Robert Semple ( see LINK )
1808 - Francis Sacheverel Darwin ( see LINK )
1808 - Major John Patterson ( see LINK )
1809 - Sir John Carr ( see LINK )
1809 - Sir John Galt ( see LINK )
1810 - General George Cockburn ( see LINK )
1811 - An Interesting Account ( see LINK )
1815 - Sir James Fellowes ( see LINK )
1821 - Theodore Dwight ( see LINK )
1824 - James Bucknall Estcourt ( see LINK )
1827 - Andrew Bigelow ( see LINK )
1830 - William Maginn ( see LINK )
1830 - Benjamin Disraeli ( see LINK )
1830 - Henry D. Inglis ( see LINK )
1832 - Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Batty ( see LINK )
1832 - William Harris Rule ( see LINK )
1837 - Pierre Edmond Boissier ( see LINK )
1837 - Robert Montgomery Martin ( see LINK )
1838 - George Dennis ( see LINK )
1838 - George Wright ( see LINK )
1840 - Edward Delaval Hungerford Napier ( see LINK )
1840 - Edward Delaval Hungerford Napier ( see LINK )
1840 - Major Richard Hort ( see LINK )
1841 - George Henry Borrow ( see LINK )
1841 - Francis Elizabeth Davies ( see LINK )
1841 - The Rev William Robertson ( see LINK )
1842 - Prince Adalbert of Prussia ( see LINK )
1842 - Charles Rockwell ( see LINK )
1842 - Robert Thomas Wilson ( see LINK )
1843 - John Adam Dix ( see LINK )
1845 - T. M. Hughes ( see LINK )
1846 - E. F. Kelaart ( see LINK )
1846 - William Makepeace Thackeray ( see LINK )
1848 - Thomas Debary ( see LINK )
1851 - William Henry Bartlett ( see LINK )
1853 - Lady Louisa Tenison ( see LINK )
1854 - John Overton Choules ( see LINK )
1854 - Reginald Fowler ( see LINK )
1855 - Richard Ford ( see LINK )
1856 - Charles W. March ( see LINK )
1867 - Mark Twain ( see LINK )
1873 - Augustus John Cuthbert Hare ( see LINK )
1874 - John Lawson Stoddard ( see LINK )
1877 - Frederick Whymper ( see LINK )
1878 - Jules Verne ( see LINK )
1881 - Henry Coppée ( see LINK )
1884 - Jules Verne ( see LINK )
1885 - Jules Verne ( see LINK )
1887 - Henry Martyn Field ( see LINK )
1887 - John Augustus O'Shea ( see LINK )
1890 - H.D. Triall ( see LINK )
1892 - Charles A. Stoddard ( see LINK )
1893 - Richard Harding Davis ( see LINK )
1895 - Joshua Slocum ( see LINK )
1899 - Albert Biglow Pain ( see LINK )
1899 - Henry George O'Shea ( see LINK )
I make that nearly sixty examples of visitors to the Rock who left a record of their visit - and that is just the 19th century. A quick glance through each will quickly reveal what almost all of these had in common. What they had to say about the local residents would have fitted with plenty of space to spare on a single sheet of foolscap.
The next three or so pages of Harvey's History, describe the major social changes that occurred during the 19th century. The first is General George Don, ( see LINK ) Lieutenant Governor - but to all intents the real power in Gibraltar from 1814 to 1832. To him he attributes:
. . . improvements in sanitation, water supply, paving, lighting, but a real step forward in these areas had to wait for the end of the century. He also built the first hospital for the civilian population, and laid out the Alameda Gardens. The Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was built in 1825. . .
General George Don
Elsewhere Harvey admits that;
. . . the standard of life for the majority of the population was little better than that of an industrial town in England of the same period. There was no proper sewage system until work tentatively started in the 1870s, and the unhygienic lodgings - crowded together within little more than a square mile - were a common source of disease. The provision of a more adequate sanitation system marked a significant shift in the relationship between Britain and Gibraltar, for it was partly funded by the imposition of a duty on imported wines and spirits.He then gives a resume of the various cultural and social institutions that evolved alongside Gibraltar's commercial development.
The Garrison Library ( see LINK ). . . had become the social and intellectual hub of the garrison. But the military was still largely a self-sufficient establishment, jealous of its privileges, and reluctant to allow the civilians to participate.
'Reluctant' is not the right word to describe the garrison's absolute refusal to allow the locals anywhere near the place, a situation which continued throughout the 20th century. In response the civilians set up their own institution - the Exchange and Commercial Library. ( see LINK )
The Exchange and Commercial Library - Commercial Square ( 1840s - Thomas Colman Dibdin )
The committee of this organisation, made up of the most eminent men of the town, gradually assumed an unofficial but nevertheless influential voice in civil and commercial affairs, which was recognised by most Governors until well into the twentieth century . .
But by no means all of them. Sir Archibald Hunter ( see LINK ) for example, was always more than inclined to throw his authoritarian weight about with the same abandon as his 18th century counterparts.
The Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club ( see LINK ) was founded in 1829, a Jockey Club ( see LINK ) was formed in conjunction with the racecourse on the isthmus and a theatre was opened by the Duke of Ostrogothia in 1847. ( see LINK ) he Gibraltar Chronicle ( see LINK ) still going strong today, had already reached the presses in 1801 . . .
As regards the law, Harvey confirms that prior to 1740 the law in Gibraltar was dependent on Spanish procedures. The first civil Judge under British law was not appointed until 1817 and the Supreme court established in 1830. But the most important legal change was that Gibraltar formally became a Crown Colony and jurisdiction was transferred from the War Office to the Colonial Office and from then on the legal system was developed along English lines. A police force was also set up in 1830 . . .
( National Archives )
The post-war boom began to recede after 1830 as the strategic emphasis moved towards the eastern end of the Mediterranean where the Ottoman empire was in terminal decline. Malta was the main beneficiary . . . the naval dockyard was run down to a care and maintenance basis . . . The advent of the steamship - first seen in Gibraltar in 1823, lead to the development of the port as a coaling station but it barely compensated for the decline in the import/export trade . . . even so, economic activity rather staggered along in a trough until the end of the century . . . unemployment increased - it was recorded as nearly 8 000 in 1871, although this seems an unbelievably high figure given the size of the population.In 1871 the population was 18 694, which makes that over 40% unemployed. Nevertheless,
Although Gibraltar was hardly booming in the second half of the nineteenth century, conditions were still generally better than in any of the surrounding countries at the western end of the Mediterranean, particularly in Andalucía. There was thus no shortage of immigrant labour to take on work uncongenial to Gibraltarians. This influx however, not only lead to racist tensions, but also put unacceptable pressure on living space.. . Domestic service was also largely in the hands of Spanish women, perhaps one of the reasons why Gibraltar men often took a Spanish wife!
As mentioned elsewhere by Harvey, convict labour from the UK was used on the Rock from 1842 to 1875. ( see LINK ) It has been suggested that it was the use of these convicts for manual work that made such employment unappealing to most Gibraltarians. The reference to 'racial tensions' can also be misinterpreted. Relationship between individual Spaniards and locals have always tended to be good - precisely because of racial and life-style similarities between the two communities - hence the rather laconic comment of Gibraltarians marrying their Spanish servants. The only time in which the locals might have been accused of being racist was when Maltese immigrants came to Gibraltar in the 1870s. But it was a short lived phenomenon.
Sutherland and Hayes, Gibraltar Convicts ( Unknown )
Harvey then turns his attention to smuggling:
As the effects of the economic recession began to hit Gibraltar after 1830, the flow of illegal goods into Spain became a flood . . . the staple of the smuggling industry was tobacco. At one time it was calculated that one ton of tobacco was imported into Gibraltar for every male adult in the town and clearly the vast majority of this found its way into Spain. ( see LINK ) General Gardiner . . . described it graphically.
The author then offers a quote from a private report about the problem written by Sir Robert William Gardiner - by then an ex-Governor of Gibraltar - to Lord Palmerston, the British Prime Minister of the day. It is well worth reading it in its entirety, rather than just the small section included in the book. ( see LINK ). The response by an anonymous pamphleteer is also worth the effort. ( see LINK ) Harvey then concluded this major section with the following summary and conclusions.
Better relations with Spain permitted the officers to indulge in their favourite sport of chasing the fox, eventually leading to the establishment of the famous Royal Calpe Hunt ( see LINK ) which became the focal point of polite society in Gibraltar. The ordinary soldiers returned to their favourite pastime of savouring the wine shops and taverns. . . the civilian population tended to grow part from the military, exacerbated by the rotation of regiments through the colony. . . The simmering tensions between the two groups reached their apogee during the governorship of General Gardiner . . . but they were never far from the surface.
General Sir Robert Gardiner
Harvey falls into the same trap as many other general historians in failing to distinguish between the great and the good - or at any rate the wealthy - and the much larger local lumpenproletariat, between the merchants with their specific financial axes to grind - such as the right to smuggle - and everybody else, between the relatively well off Protestant residents and the 'papists' - even between the Jews and everybody else; they were the ones who had the least to gain if they were ever to lose their British nationality.
Indeed, those 'simmering tensions' were nothing new to the vast bulk of the population who from day one in 1704 and right up to the end of World War 2 had always been considered at best as an inconvenient necessity at worst to be dismissed as beyond the pale. A quick review of the extensive literature listed previously should convince the most ardently British present day Gibraltarian that the establishment in Gibraltar didn't really think much of the locals in the 19th century - and in general terms this attitude continued well the 20th century.
Maurice Harvey's history is a good read. In so far as the history of Gibraltar from 1704 to 1899 is concerned it covers the basics - albeit in summary form . But it has little to offer that is new and the overall perspective is - in my opinion - disappointingly conventional.
The Rock from the western beach in the 18th century