The People of Gibraltar
1850 - The German Consuls - El Patio Schott

Mary Bosano Lane and Francis Ferro - Freyone and the Larios family
Mr. Suarez

The London Gazette of the 21st of May 1850 carried the following announcement:
Foreign-Office, May 18 1850 - The Queen has been pleased to approve of Mr Ferdinand Schott as Consul at Gibraltar for his Majesty the King of Prussia.
. . .  a cutting of which must surely have been a shoo-in for Mr. Ferdinand Schott's collection of publications recording major events in his life. If so I would have loved to have seen the album as I have so far been unable to find out the exact identity of this gentleman. 

Was he a second generation Gibraltarian or did he arrive on a visit from his native Germany , decided he liked the Rock and settled on it permanently? I can only guess that he was of German origin. His full name is given elsewhere as Fernandus Schott Rumpof which makes it rather unlikely that he was anything else. One dubious authority gives his place of birth as Gussen, Germany and that he was originally a piano teacher. As there is no such place as Gussen in Germany one suspect that the piano teacher reference is equally suspect.


The Rock of Gibraltar ( 1854 - Harry John Johnson )

Nevertheless there is something that may have influenced Fernando's decision to live in Gibraltar - his known friendship with the Larios family, (see LINK) perhaps one of the richest landowners in the Campo area and an influential part-time resident in Gibraltar itself. So much so that Fernando eventually married one of Pablo Larios' daughters - Carolina Larios y Tassara (b1824) with whom he eventually had several children.

Ferdinand junior (b1845)
Horatio Carolus (b1846 - d1913)
Eugenio Richardo Joannes Schott (b1848 )
Amalia (b1850 - d1922)
Aurelia (b1851)
Lucila (b1854)
Arturo (b1855)

Between his efforts at producing multiple heirs, Fernando - perhaps with more than a little help from his father in law - seems to have become a rather prosperous merchant on the Rock and a couple of decades later we find him and his family living very comfortably in No. 8 Irish Town.

However, not all was family bliss and happiness as it seems that Carolina was carrying some sort of recessive gene for madness. According to Los Umbrales de la Locura which was published in 2007:
Don Arturio Larios padece enajenación mental y está incapacitado en Gibraltar; y que dos primos segundos, hijos de una hermana de D. Arturo, uno de ellos llamado Arturo Schott y Larios, se halla privado de razón en una casa de salud de Inglaterra, y el otro D. Eugenio, murió a consecuencia de ataques epilépticos
The sister of Arturo Larios was of course Carolina, Eugenio and Arturo being her two youngest sons. By 1871, however, Eugenio no longer appears on the local census lists which suggest that he died relatively young while Arturo was still probably in England. The family, however, seem to have moved into a new home in No. 3 Commercial Square - an undoubted statement of Ferdinand's increasing prosperity. This was a house in what was one of the best locations in town. Unfortunately Ferdinand hardly had any time to enjoy it. He had by now joined his son Eugene - hopefully in heaven.


Commercial Square in the late 19th century - The entrance to No 3 is just to the left of the last gharry   ( Unknown )

Seven years later several members of the family were still all living in No. 3. Carolina, a widow at 54 and a matriarch is described in the 1878 census as "living on her own means". Her two sons Ferdinand and Arthur aged 34 and 24 respectively and Lucila aged 25 kept her company. All were as yet unmarried while Aurelia and Amalia seem to have left Gibraltar for good.

Horatio, on the other hand had moved away from the family in order to marry Herminia Canepa - after which he seems to have changed his religion from Roman Catholic - that of his parents - to Protestant, which presumably was that of the Canepas. His new address was 17 Cathedral Square - ironically somewhere in today's Main Street ideally located right in front of the Catholic Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned.

By 1878 Horatio and Herminia had produced two children, Ferdinand (b1873) and Laura (b1875) of which the first - Ferdinand - disappears from view - presumably and unfortunately dead - as early as 1891 by which time he would have been 17.



On the back it states - "Fernando Schott, 1887, age 42"     (With thanks to Charlie Bosano )

Another six years and Horatio was handed honorary exotic consulships for the Kingdom of Siam and the Republic of Hawai'i - it only lasted until 1888 but he was appointed in 1884 when the Republic was created.  Perhaps more importantly, he was also appointed consul of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The consulate was in Irish Town.


Seal of the Republic of Hawai'i


Kingdom of Siam and Republic of Hawai'i handstamps from Gibraltar

A few years earlier in 1891 Horatio's elder brother Ferdinand had already been appointed Consul for Germany. Part of his house in 3 Commercial Square was now used as a consulate, a large German flag flying conspicuously from a mast on its roof. In 1899 he becomes a member of the local Grand Jury a position of some honour and influence. 



The German Consulate on the left with the German flag flying high   (With thanks to Andrew Schembri )


On the back it states - "Fernando Schott. Joined 1870, hunted till 1924".  This probably refers to his membership of that all-consuming local institution - The Royal Calpe Hunt. His close relative Pablo Larios would become Master of the Hounds in 1894 .  (See LINK)    ( With thanks to Charlie Bosano )

One unlikely symbol of Fernando's increasing prosperity was his purchase of a pianola from M. Welte & Sõhnne. It was an instrument that only the very wealthy could afford. The company's list of its early 20th century customers included a veritable who's who of European Royalty. Whatever the case it suggests that Ferdinand may have inherited his father's love for the piano but not his reputed playing skills.


In 1899 both Ferdinand and his younger brother's consular careers were confirmed in Lutgardo Lopez Zaragoza's Guia de Gibraltar y su Campo, The elder brother is listed as German consul with the consulate in Commercial Square and Horatio as consul for Hawai'i, Siam and Austria-Hungry with offices in Irish Town. 


Austrian-Hungarian Consular handstamps from Gibraltar

There were one or two changes by the turn of the century. In 1911, Ferdinand was still living in Commercial Square but his mother Carolina had now passed away while Horatio now a pensionable 65 had moved to a house in Arengo's Palace Road with his 58 year old wife Herminia. He would continue his consulate duties right up to 1913, the year in which he died.

In 1909 the German Kaiser's ship, the Hohenzollern, (see LINK) called at Gibraltar on her way to Venice to pick up Wilhelm and his wife. Officers - including the Commander, Count Von Platen - and crew took advantage of the visit to do a bit of sight-seeing. This is what the Graphic magazine had to say about the visit:


The text reads as follows; 
A German sailor wandering about town - Count Von Platen and Herr F. Schott at the German Consulate
The Emperor William's yacht Hohenzollern put in at Gibraltar the other day on her way to Venice, where the Kaiser and Kaiserina joined her this week on their trip to Corfu. Naturally both officers and crew availed themselves of the opportunity thus afforded to inspect our Mediterranean strong-hold, and in their usual easy-going way, the authorities seem to have allowed them to wander pretty well where they liked.
The Hohenzollern at Gibraltar - Our German Visitors Making the Round of the Rock

There is of course an understandable tone of British disapproval about the way in which these potential enemies were being allowed to wander around the Garrison without let or hindrance - a quick browse though the history books reveals the growing tensions building up as a prelude to the Great War - Austro-German successes over Serbia, the ongoing arguments about Crete, the threat of Russian intervention in Persia and so forth. Perhaps Consul Ferdinand Schott should have been a wee bit more circumspect. As the local German consul, however, he was of course, "only obeying orders".


German Consular handstamps from Gibraltar

Horatio also had his moment of glory in 1896 when an Austrian-Hungarian diplomat, Gilbert Graf Hohenwart visited Gibraltar with his wife. Horatio took them on a sightseeing tour that included Europa Point and a long distance view of the Spanish fortress of Ceuta.

According to Rudolf Agstner in his well researched Die Hitze ist heir wieder colossal . . .  Hohenwart's wife seems to have been taken aback by Gibraltar. It was much more exotic than she thought it would be. The wind, she said, had an African feel to it and the streets were full of bare-legged Arabs. Her comment must have caused an awkward frisson among her mainly male companions

Fernando never married but curiously it was Horatio who took up that stereotypical old bachelor's hobby - stamp collecting. 



Newspaper Wrapper sent by Horatio to an address in Frankfort but which was - after use returned to him  (Early 20th century )


Postcard to Valencia which was also returned to Horatio   (late 19th century) 


Postcard sent by Horatio Schott with the Republic of Hawai'i consular seal   (late 19th century) 


Postcard showing Horatio Schott and Larios connection

The theory is that Horatio asked his friends, consular colleagues and business associates to return whatever mail he sent them after they had dealt with the correspondence accordingly.  Modern philatelists browsing their collections of these postcards, wrappers and letters have been struck by Horatio's very distinctive and practically indecipherable hand-writing. A few have convinced themselves that that those letters and postcards that dealt with consular matters may have been written in code. As one contributor to the Postal Stationary Collector put it:
The German Empire and the A-H Empire were pretty tight during this period which is during the run-up to WW L. Gibraltar was basically a garrison and a truck stop for maritime traffic. Were these consulates a listening post? Was the eminent Señor Don Schott a Spy? Was his handwriting actually coded secret messages?

Two postcards written in Horatio Schott's indecipherable handwriting   (Early 20th century )

Although most people in Gibraltar would be hard pressed to tell you who exactly the Schotts were, their surname has been locally immortalised because of a particular building which lies in Castle Road just opposite the Church of the Sacred Heart and which is referred to by everybody - to this day - as el Patio Schott.



Castle Road looking north with el Patio Schott on the left   ( 1930s )

I have never had a look at the deeds of this property but a date-stone over one of its archways gives the initials FS and the date 1888 which was presumably the year it was constructed. It strongly suggests that the original owner was Fernando Schott jnr. Regardless of its date of construction or the name of the original owner there is one thing about the place that is beyond dispute. One has only to talk to people who once lived in the Patio to realise in just how much affection it was held by so many Gibraltarians. A sample of their many reminiscences appears in a separate article. (See LINK)  





The foundation stone for the Sacred Heart Church was laid in 1874 and the work was completed in 1899. In this photo of work on the church is still in progress and el Patio Schott has yet to be built      (With thanks to Charlie Bosano )


In this old photograph the west tower of the church is still missing  but the Patio Schott is now clearly visible   (Unknown )

One finally bit of Gibraltar history associated with the Schotts. Because Gibraltar was a fortress the authorities were loath to allow people to photograph - or indeed paint or sketch the place - without a permit from the Governor. It meant that it was not until the rather late date of the 17th of November 1897 that the very first coloured drawing postcards were published by Freyone. 

The pictures occupied the side on which the sender wrote the message. The name, address and stamp were on the other side. For some unknown reason, Horatio Schott was allowed to send one of these about half a year earlier in March 1897. Perhaps the fact that he was a consul might have had something to do with it. Or perhaps he was just a very persuasive man.

 Whatever the reason there is little doubt that the Schotts with their German origins, their wealth, and their consulships form part of that interesting and rather exotic fabric that made up the population of Gibraltar at the time.


Horatio Schott's Freyone Postcard dated March 1897