The People of Gibraltar
2014 - Gibraltar - What's in a Name


According to the British historian George Hills, the earliest extant record of Djabal Tarik in its original Arabic script can be found in Abd al-Hakam's History of the Conquest of Spain which was published in 9th century:
After that Tarik went to llyan ( Count Julian ) (see LINK) who was in Septa ( Ceuta ) on the straits. The latter rejoicing at his coming, said, I will bring thee to Andalus. But there was a mountain called the mountain of Tarik ( Djabal Tarik ) between the two landing places, that is, between Septa and Andalus.
As the word Djabal Tarik is a phonetic translation from Arab script into English or Spanish it is not surprising that different authors, historians and translators have all opted for different versions.

1622 - Jebal-Tarik - Al Makkarí -History of the Mohammedan Dynasty (see LINK)
1625 - Gibeltarif - Alonso Hernández del Portillo - Historia de Gibraltar  (see LINK)
1724 - Gibil Tarif - Louis Ellies du Pin - The History of the Revolutions in Spain
1771 - Jibel Tarif - Thomas James - History of the Herculean Straits (see LINK )
1781 - Jibel Tarik - James Solas Dodd - Ancient and Modern History of Gibraltar (see LINK )
1782 - Gibel-Tarik - Ignacio López de Ayala - Historia de Gibraltar (see LINK)
1787 - Gibel-Tarif - John Drinkwater - History of the Late Siege (see LINK
1816 - Jabalu-t Tarik - John Shakespear - History of the Mahometan Empire . . 
1837 - Gibel Tarif - Robert Montgomery Martin - History of British . . Possessions (see LINK)
1840 - Gebaltarik - José Antonio Conde - Historia de la Dominación de losÁrabes 
1840s - Gibel -al Tarif - Rev G. N. Wright - The Shores and Islands of the Med 
1853 - Gebal-Tarik - Jose Antonio Conde - Descripción de España 
1860 - Ghebal-Tarik - Francisco Montero - Historia de Gibraltar (see LINK
1863 - Djebel-Tarik - Francisco Turbino - Gibraltar Ante la Historia (see LINK
1873 - Gebal Taric - Frederick George Stephens - A History of Gibraltar (see LINK
1867 - Chebel Tarik - Emilio Lafuente y Alcántara - Appendix - Al Makkari 
1887 - Gebel-el-Tarik - Henry M. Field - Gibraltar (see LINK
1928 - Yebel Tarik - Viaje Escolar a . . . Gibraltar - Ángel Cruz Rueda
1939 - Jebel-Tariq - G.T. Garratt - Gibraltar and the Mediterranean  
1971 - Jebel Tariq - Ernle Bradford - Gibraltar
1973 - Gibel Tarik - Dorothy Ellicott - Our Gibraltar
1987 - Djebel Tarik - Sir William Jackson - The Rock of the Gibraltarians
1990 - Gebel Tarik - Philip Dennis - Gibraltar and its People
2001 - Yabal Tarik - J.M. Ballesta Gómez - La Fortaleza de Gibraltar 
2006 - Jebel Tarik - Darren Fa and Clive Finlayson - The Fortifications of Gibraltar
2006 - Jebel-Tarik - Rene Chartrand - Gibraltar 1779 - 1783 
2007 - Yabal Tariq - A. J. Sáez Rodríguez - Las Defensas de Gibraltar ( XII-XVIII)
2014 - Jabal Tariq - Wikipedia - article on Tariq ibn Ziyad
2014 - Jebel Tariq - Wikipedia - article on Gibraltar
2014 - Jabal-i Tariq - Wikipedia - article on Moorish Gibraltar

In other words, no Gibraltarian need ever again be embarrassed for making the odd spelling mistake. Indeed worse was to come. According to the 17th century Moorish historian al Makkarí, the first Almohad Emir - Abd al Mu'min - put his delusions of grandeur into practice in 1160 and founded the town of Gibraltar. ( see LINK ) 
He ( Abd al-Mu'min ) landed on Jebal Tariq which from that day was called Jebal-al-Fath and ordered that a strong fortress should be erected on top of it. He traced out the building with his own hand . . . . . . He disembarked on to the Mountain of Victory where he stayed for a few months and constructed on it great palaces and buildings which still exist  today . . 
The town itself came to known as Medinat-al-fath presumably to distinguish it from the Rock itself. It was asking for trouble.

1400s - Jebal al-Fath - al Marrakushi 
1600s -Yabal-al-Fath - al Makkarí 
1782 - Gibel-al-phatah - Ignacio López de Ayala - Historia de Gibraltar 
1860 - Gebalu-l-Fatah - Pasqual de Gayangos ( Translating Al-Makkari ) 
1961 - Jabal al-Fath - H.T. Norris - Early Islamic Settlement in Gibraltar  ( see LINK
1987 - Djebel-al-Fath - Sir William Jackson - The Rock of the Gibraltarians 
1974 - Djabal-al-Fath - George Hills - Rock of Contention

1961 - Madinat al-fath - H.T. Norris - Early Islamic Settlement in Gibraltar
1974 - Medinat-al-Fath - George Hills - Rock of Contention
1987 - Medina el FathSir William Jackson - The Rock of the Gibraltarians  - Index
2001 - Madina-al-Fath - Juan Manuel Ballesta Gomez - La Fortaleza de Gibraltar
2014 - Medina al-Fath - Internet - Gibraltar Info 
2014 - Medinat al Fath - Wikipedia - article on Abu al-Hasan 

And so on and so forth . . . Fewer than for Tarik, but then many of the older historians were unaware of Abd al Mu'min and were therefore never given a chance to give their own spelling version of his City of Victory - or was it the City of the Entrance? Or perhaps 'Conquest'? All of these interpretations have been offered at one time or the other.

However, neither Medinat-al-Fath nor any of its many alternative spellings ever really caught on and by the time the Spaniards began to make inroads into southern Spain the well known corruption of Gibel Tarik (or whatever) into Gibraltar - as pronounced in Spanish - had finally taken permanent hold.

Also according to Geroge Hills, historically the name 'Gibraltar' first made its first official appearance in a Spanish document dated 1310. Hills gives no reference but he may have been referring to Ferdinand IVs letter of patent which was published the year after his successful - if short lived - capture of the Rock from the Moors and in which the word Gibraltar appears several times; 
Sepan quantos esta carta vieren como nos don Fernando por la gracia de Dios rey de Castiella, de Toledo, de León, de Galicia, de Sevilla, de Cordova , de Murcia, de Jahen, del Algarbe et señor de Molina , por faser bien et merced al concejo de Gibraltar por que el sea más rico é más poblado . . ( see LINK
Luckily English authors and historians of the day opted to spell the word the same way - this despite the fact that it is pronounced differently in both languages. This consensus means that there are far fewer options for creative spelling and it is nowadays rare to find the word spelt in any other way than as Gibraltar.

But of course there are bad spellers everywhere and it seems that many mapmakers - amateur or indeed professional - were as guilty of this fault as everybody else. Here are just a few examples:

1600s - Gibartas
Algecira (Affazira) and its Isla Verde is shown as of more importance than Gibraltar - this despite the fact that in the 17th century hardly anybody lived there whereas Gibraltar was already a city with a population of about six thousand souls. 

1501 - Gibilter

1547 - Gubelaltar  ( see LINK )

1699 - Gilbraltar

1700s - Gilbraltar

1700s - Gibralter

1704 - Gilbraltar

1727 - Gibaltar

1731 -Gibralter

1742 - Gibaltar

1762 - ?ibraltar   ( see LINK

1780 - Gybraltar

Unknown date - Gibralter

And finally some tongue in cheek spelling by Spanish historian, Ángel María Monti