The People of Gibraltar
1728 - The Jews of Gibraltar - The Return

Vice-Admiral Cornwall, Commander of the Straits Squadron, did not like the Jews ( see LINK ) and his obsessive correspondence with his bosses in London seem to have succeeded in keeping them out of Gibraltar. 

Unfortunately he also carried a general dislike of anything to do with Barbary and detested the Moors as much as he did the Jews. Infuriated by the smuggling that continued to persist across the Straits - despite the absence of Jews on the Rock - Cornwall decided to tackle the problem head on and captured several Moorish xebecs carrying contraband - which he duly confiscated.



Xebec off Gibraltar  (19th century -  Otto Lusty  )

The goods in question belonged to Jewish merchants and were intended for delivery to the Emperor of Morocco. The inevitable outcome was that the Emperor declared war on Britain, put a stop to all trade with Gibraltar yet at the same time keeping a friendly relationship with any British merchants who happened to be factors anywhere in Morocco.

It has been suggested that the man responsible for supplying the Emperor with the contraband goods in question was none other than Moses Ben Hattar. John Windus - an English historian attached to British contingent - described Ben Hattar as follows:
. . . a Jewish Merchant, who had been often employed in the former treaties, and was a person more artful and interested than any other in the country, and chiefly to be considered, in regard, he had it more in his power to make the negotiations successful, or defeat it as he had done that of others. 
Captain Charles Stewart of the Royal Navy was the commander of a squadron that was supposed to cruise against the Barbary pirates was nominated as Minister Plenipotentiary to Morocco.  His remit was somewhat confused. He was to negotiate a trade treaty that would benefit Gibraltar while at the same time secure the release of numerous British captives held by the Moroccans. 


A Journey to Mequinez - 1725 - John Windus

When he first arrived in Gibraltar in 1720 he found that: 
. . . the Spaniards, having formed an expedition against the Moors, had already made considerable embarkations to Ceuta, from their Camp near the Bay of Gibraltar.
He decided that it was time to make a move. He corresponded with the King of Morocco and agreed to meet him in Tetuan.  A Treaty of Peace ( see LINK ) was then thrashed out and duly signed by Stewart for the Britain and by Ben Attar as one of the signatories for the King of Morocco. 

Shortly afterwards Captain Stewart returned to Gibraltar. Ben Attar went with him so that he could accompany the Captain when he returned to Tetuan to meet the King in person. It was while they were there that the British were able to witness what Windus described as 'Ben Hattar's unlimited power over the Jews'.
. . .  having employed one Ben Saphat as his agent or Factor in Gibraltar, found upon going thither himself that he had wronged him considerably, reported things falsely, and dealt unfaithfully in his commissions; whereupon as Ben Hattar was now coming down to meet him, before he could get within hearing, Ben Hattar ordered him to be strangled, upon which the Jews and some Blacks belonging to the emperor, immediately ran towards him, pulled him off his Mule and within an instant stripped him of his cloaths, and whipt a Rope about his Neck, which they began to draw, and in this manner bringing him nearer to us, pale and gasping, he cryed out to the Ambassador to intercede for him; 
The surprise of the thing kept  every Body silent and in suspence what would be the Event ; but after Ben Hattar had reviled and threatened him, he ordered that he should be carried to prison, where ( as we afterwards heard ) he was daily bastinadoed as well for the Fault he had committed, as to make him discover all his Effects, which Ben Hattar seized upon for his own use.

Tetuan    ( 1725 - From A journey to Mequines by John Windus )

And there was more: Ben Hattor had set off for Mequinez two days before the British contingent and had been well received by the Emperor. The reason Windus gave for bothering to write about Ben Hattar's happy reception by the Emperor was:
. . . . because no Man goes before him, but with the upmost Fear, and in doubt whether he shall return alive . . .
Shortly afterwards Mulay Imael sent one of his Courtiers to tell Stewart that the house he had been assigned to in Mequinez in was not good enough.
He would have him go to a House of Ben Hattar's that he had lately built, and was one of the best in Mequinez . . 

Mequinez  ( 1725 - A Journey to Mequines by John Windus )

Elsewhere other Jews were also trying hard to get the British authorities to change their minds as regards their eviction from the Rock. Moses Mocatta, one of the Jews who had signed the deposition on bribing - or the lack of it - in order to give Colonel Stanhope Cotton a helping hand, had eventually been thrown out of the fortress for his pains. He was now living in London. His lengthy petition to the British Government is worth quoting in full as it shows that despite living elsewhere, his financial involvement in Gibraltar were considerable. 
To the Kings Most Excellent Majesty, the humble petition of Moses Mocatta of London, Mercht. Showeth;  That having carried on a correspondence with some Merchants settled at Gibraltar for Conveniency of the Trade with Barbary, Did for several years send great quantities of British Cloath and other British Manufactures and those being bartered with the Moors for the Commodities of the Growth of Barbary had Communicated and Enlarged a considerable Trade with the Bay of Tetuan a Port belonging to the Emperor of Morocco within the Streights of Gibraltar.
That your Petitioner by his Agents had Contracted last year for Great Parcells of British Cloath and other British Manufactures with severall Moorish Merchants and also with the Bashaw of Tetuan for the use of the Emperor of Morocco to a very great Vallue and have sent the British Goods Most of which were Transported to Tetuan and the Remainder are now at Gibraltar, your Petitioners said Agents, not being permitted to fetch them: nor bring over from Tetuan to Gibraltar the Barbary Goods so Bartered, there being a strict Prohibition of Trade and Communication between these Ports, No Letters permitted to pass, By which Interruption Your Petitioner, cannot be informed of the Circumstances of his Concensus and by such long Detention is rendered uncapable of giving Satisfaction to his Credit and for large sums Contracted.
Therefore your Petitioner humbly prays Your Majesties Most Gracious Letter to the Commander of your Fortress of Gibraltar and of your Ships of Warr employed in that Prohibition, to permitt your Petitioner and his Agents the Liberty of Carrying from Gibraltar such British goods as have long been lying there for the above mentioned, and also to bring over from Tetuan to Gibraltar Your Petitioners Returns without Molestation. And Your Petitioner as in Duty bound shall ever pray &c.'
It was a clever argument. All in all, however, it would be safer to say that Moses Ben Hattar was the person most responsible for actually reversing the forced exodus of Jews from Gibraltar brought about by the Treaty of Utrecht. ( see LINK ) Backed by the King of Fez and Morocco, he must have been the person who insisted in including the word 'Jew'  in that the all important ending to Article VII in the Treaty of Peace of 1720. ( see LINK
Article VII  . . . that the subjects of the Emperor of Fez and Morocco, whether Moors or Jews residing in the dominions of the King of Great Britain, shall entirely enjoy the same privileges that are granted to the English residing on Barbary.
That this article never appeared again on subsequent treaties - and there were quite a few - is neither here nor there. The deed had been done so to speak and there was no going back. From 1720 to the beginning of the Great Siege of Gibraltar the Jews were very much in evidence once more on the Rock.


Plan of the town of Gibraltar   ( 1727 Jean Covens and Corneille Mortier  - Detail )

The records of the period show that the following Jews were granted property rights in Gibraltar.

Abraham Acris,
Moises Cansino
Abraham Benider - Interpreter to Captain Stewart, and later to John Russell while on their trips to Morocco.
Memon Toledano - He was given rights over what was classified as 'a heap of rubbish'. He built himself a house on it.
Isaak Netto - He was authorised to build on a piece of waste ground. This has been identified as somewhere on the west side of what today is Engineers Lane. Netto build himself a synagogue which was probably the precursor of the Shahar Hashamayim Synagogue. The original entrance was in a street suitable called Synagogue Lane. It t is now known as Serfaty's Passage. 

Using the 1777 census as a guide it has been estimated that in 1725 out of 1113 civilian inhabitants 137 were Jewish, most of them males and most of them originally from the Barbary Coast. In addition to those who had received property grants, families with the following surnames were living in Gibraltar at the time.

Aboab (Tetuan)
Anahory (Tetuan)
Sananes (Tetuan)
Budy (Salé),
Conquy (Holland)
Dañinos (Leghorn)
Diaz Carvalho (Portugal)
 Cardozo (Portugal), 
Abudarham (Barbary)
Massias (Barbary)
Moreno, 
Nunez
Anraleck
Bensusan 

When General Richard Kane arrived from Minorca to take over as Lieutenant Governor the 1725, one of the first things he did was throw out all the Spaniards on the grounds that they would not be welcome in the event of war with Spain. He was also of the opinion that the Jews were not entitled to be there either.
I shall order the Jews that are here to give Notice to their Correspondence in all Parts not to come hither with a view to inhabiting here; and shall acquaint all Jews who have familys that they are to prepare to retire from hence with their familys, and that none are to be admitted here but as travellers.
General Richard Kane  ( Unknown ) 
In what was a reversal of the arguments that had been used in the past it was now the turn of the authorities in London to show some common sense. Well aware that the frontier with Spain would be closed once again and that the Garrison would be dependent on Barbary for most of its supplies,  it instructed Kane accordingly - despite the fact that this contravened the Treaty of Utrecht. 
. . . considering the present circumstances of our Affairs , those Jews at Gibraltar may for the present be conived at, and will accordingly have you suspend the execution of any orders that may have been formally sent for removing them from thence.
By 1729, Kane was gone, the 13th Siege was over and Lieutenant-Governor Clayton had taken over as Lieutenant Governor. His more sanguine approach to the 'Jewish' problem is neatly encapsulated in one of his letters to the Secretary of State:
There is a person in the City whose name is Netto, a Jew, very well known there, he was the person I engaged to furnish the Garrison with fresh provisions from Barbary, whether I had any profit from him in any kind, but for my own table paid the same as every officer in the Garrison for my consumption. I beg sir if you doubt me you will enquire or whether, since his leaving this place (as he now resides in London) he hears I have since.
Colonel Clayton had appointed Isaac Netto as sole contractor for importing food from Morocco soon after his arrival.  The following year, on the death of his father, Haham David Nieto, Isaac went to London and became Rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue at Bevis Marks.

Netto may have left - albeit of his own choice - but most of the rest of the Jewish community stayed on in Gibraltar. Not all of them were rich merchants or held trade monopolies. Most were simply labourers, porters, and craftsmen. But they all had one thing in common - Utrecht or no Utrecht, they were determined to stay.


Gibraltar in the 18th century   ( Unknown ) 


Other articles on the Jews of Gibraltar.