The People of Gibraltar
1911- E. R. Kenyon  - A Needle in the Haystack

Salvador Sanchez and Juan Arengo

( 1911 – Baedeker )

Following a long tradition, many a military men who served in the Gibraltar for a few years often thought themselves sufficiently knowledgeable and well versed to be able to write a history of it. Major-General Kenyon Chief Engineer in Gibraltar during the very early years of the 20th century was one of them.

His book, Gibraltar under Moor, Spaniard and Briton was first published in the Royal Engineer Journal in 1911. It was then revised and enlarged in 1933 and was finally edited and republished in 1938 under the aegis of the Gibraltar Society – a precursor of sorts of today’s Gibraltar Heritage Society but without too many civilian contributions. It is this last edition that I refer to in this essay.

Continuing with tradition a quick browse through the book’s index reveals the names of quite a few well-known pre 15th century Moorish overlords, several post 15th and pre 17th century Spanish nobles and any number of references to British military men who are always given their full rank as well as their decorations and awards - however many.

As regards local civilians  . . . I searched for the proverbial needle in the haystack and eventually found a certain Salvador Sanchez – probably a Spanish workman - mentioned as an aside in a postscript – and Juan Arengo of Arengo’s Palace fame     . Apart from that - nada, zilch, ni uno, not a single one . . . they are simply not to be found - which only makes a complete chapter on the apes occupying eight solid pages – and a photograph – even more galling. The history of the entire population of Gibraltar from 1704 to 1931 is summarised in a couple of dozen lines mostly made up of census figures offered without comment.

And this is not a 19th century one day visitor who simply found the natives a curious bunch and then moved on to describe the wonders of St Michael’s Cave, those incredible Galleries or the views from the top of the Rock. This was a man who must have walked among the “natives” for several years. In fact a man who may have got at least a few of the more interesting bits in his history from having actually talked to some of them.

Nevertheless Kenyon’s “history” does have quite a few interesting bits. A military engineer by trade he understandably makes a point of mentioning many of Gibraltar’s well-kent defensive structures yet finds time to offer interesting observations on a number of civilian buildings and institutions found on the Rock. 

But perhaps the best of all is that Kenyon doesn’t skimp on dates - so much so that the book can usefully be summarised as a sort of “time-line”.

To avoid repletion I have ignored those chapters or sections in which Kenyon deals at length with topics which have been written about elsewhere with more up to date information – such as for example - the Moorish Castle, the Turkish Raid, Deadman’s Hole, the Nun’s Well, the Moorish Baths, the Churches, the Sieges, the Calpe Hunt, the Duke of Kent and so forth. Instead I have organised Kenyon’s information using the kind of chronological approach one associates with Gibraltar’s many yearly Directories. The book’s illustrations I have also published separately. To view any of these, please follow the links shown below.

( 1928 - The Empire Marketing Board - Charles Pears )

1911 - E. R. Kenyon - Almost a Directory - BC to end 18th Century (See LINK)     
1911 - E. R. Kenyon - Almost a Directory - 19th and 20th Century (See LINK)     
1911 - E. R. Kenyon - Illustrations (See LINK)