1844 – Old Inhabitant’s Traveller’s Handbook - Introduction
I cannot recall coming across a Traveller’s handbook for Gibraltar dated earlier than this one. Captain James Barber’s Overland Guide-Book - A Complete Vade-Mecum for the Overland Traveller (see LINK) and one or two others may have been published earlier but they were not specifically about the Rock.
The author’s choice for anonymity makes it impossible to speculate on his identity. The book itself offers few clues. An old inhabitant he may have been – in the sense that he had once lived in Gibraltar and that he may no longer have been a spring pigeon – but he wasn’t a local, he was an Englishman. All of which might excuse the fact that some of the information he offers is not entirely to be trusted
For example at the very beginning of an introductory chapter which deals with his arrival at Gibraltar he writes:
Questions and inquiries now follow in rapid succession, and the stranger is told . . .that he will presently see the opening into the Mediterranean ; that the high mountain appearing as in front (Mons Alzla now Ape’s Hill), will, with the small island (Tarsely Island) at its foot, be left presently on the right hand side. . .
By Mons Alzla he meant Mons Abyla – also known as Monte Hacho. Ape’s Hill on the other hand is actually another nearby and much more imposing mountain called Jebel Musa. As for Tarsley Island he is possibly referring to Parsley Island - a direct translation of its Spanish name of Isla del Perjil – which is indeed overlooked by Jebel Musa. (See LINK)
A view from Sierra Bermeja - Just behind the Rock of Gibraltar lies Jebel Musa and to its left with a Rock-like outline is Mount Abyla
( With thanks to J. Javier Garcia who took this marvellous photograph - edited )
Nevertheless as somebody who has written many an article about Gibraltar - I can fully sympathize with the author – it is terribly easy to make a mistake. Besides the Handbook has much in it that is well worth the trouble to browse.
Finally I have divided the book into four sections and have written separate articles for each. The reader can access these via the following links.
1844 - Old Inhabitant’s Traveller’s Handbook - Part 1
1844 - Old Inhabitant’s Traveller’s Handbook - Part 2
1844 - Old Inhabitant’s Traveller’s Handbook - Part 3
1844 - Old Inhabitant’s Traveller’s Handbook - Appendix