The People of Gibraltar
1830 – Josiah Conder - The Traveller in Gibraltar 


Josiah Conder was - among many other things - the editor of The Patriot - a Nonconformist and anti-slavery newspaper. In fact the only picture I have come across of him is in a painting of the Anti-Slavery Society Convention of 1840.



Thomas Clarkson addresses the Anti-Slavery Society Convention of 1840 -  Josiah Condor among the crowd    (Benjamin Haydon )

He was also active in trying to get Britain’s anti-Jewish laws repealed and found time to publish a number of books and hymns. But perhaps his most well known book was a massive thirty volume Modern Traveller covering many of the countries of the world. Rather surprisingly in my view is the fact that Conder never travelled abroad himself and depended on other people for him for his facts and opinions. The quotes below are taken from Volume 18 which covered Spain and included a section on Gibraltar. 
Gebel al Tarik, Gebel al Tarif  . . . or is it Gebel al Tath :. . . . the generally received derivation of Gibraltar, Gebel al Tarik, the mountain of Tarik (or Tarif), (see LINK) which is adopted even by Gibbon; and Ben Hazel, a Granadan Moor, says expressly, we are told, that the mountain derived its name from that general. 

Tariq-ibn-Zayid (Unknown)
Other authorities, however, assign as a more probable etymology, Gebel al Tath, which is said to signify the mountain of the entrance, it being considered as the key of the straits. Tauh, in Hebrew, signifies finis, end or limit, which might not inappropriately have been given to Mount Calpe as the extreme point of Europe. Gebel Tour, in Arabic, signifies simply “High Mountain”. The derivation of Calpe is unknown, or that might help to decide the question. 
Mr. Southey refers us for the "former appellations" of this celebrated promontory, to a History of Gibraltar by D. Ignacio Lopez de Ayala (see LINK). Not having access to the work of the learned Don, we regret that Mr. S. has not told us what they were, although we have a great distrust of the Spanish etymologists.
Conder was not alone in suggesting that the name might have come from Tarif - it was a common misconception at the time. Nor was he was he alone in suggesting the possibility of the name of Gibraltar being a corruption of Gebel al Tath. As regards Lopez de Ayala perhaps it’s worth mentioning that he offerred yet another etymological possibility; that of Tarag which means pathway in Arabic: Gebel Tarag - The Mountain of the Pathway
The Great Siege (see LINK) - or How to Take Gibraltar: Plans poured in from all quarters, some bold to extravagance, others so whimsical, that it was scarcely possible to look upon them as serious. Several of this kind I received myself.  
One of those sent to the ministers, formally proposed to throw up, in front of the lines of San Roque, a prodigious mount, higher than Gibraltar, which would consequently deprive that fortress of its principal means of defence. The projector had calculated the quantity of cubic fathoms of earth, the number of hands, and the time that would be required by this enormous undertaking, and proved that it would be less expensive and less destructive than the prolongation of the siege . . . 
Another proposed to fill the bombs with a substance so strongly mephitic, that, on bursting in the fortress, they would either put to flight or poison the besieged with their exhalations. 

Yet another hare-brained plan on how to capture Gibraltar    (1780 - Juan de Aquas)  (See LINK)
The plan of D'Arcon (See LINK) was at length presented, and engaged the more serious attention of the Spanish Government. Scarcely any thing is known respecting it, except what relates to the ten floating batteries, which, on the 13th of September, 1782, foolishly exposed themselves to the fire of Gibraltar, and were reduced to ashes by the red-hot balls of the English batteries.
Scarcely anything might have been known of the floating batteries in the early 19th century - but we know a hell of a lot more about it today. British military and other historian have made well sure of that.



General Eliott and Floating Batteries      (John Singleton Copley)  (See LINK)
The Town: The principal street, which is full of shops, traverses nearly the whole town, being half a mile in length. All the houses are built in the English style, with small doors, flat roofs, and enormous bow-windows behind which goods of all sorts are exposed to sale. M. Laborde is all astonishment how so much merchandise can be disposed of in so small a place, insulated on all sides, and without any open communication with Spain.
Laborde is almost certainly the French Count Louis-Joseph-Alexandre de Laborde (see LINK) who published his Itinéraire descriptif de l'Espagne which was published in 1809.
The principal buildings are the marine hospital, the victualling office, the barracks, and the convent, now the governor's house. The places of worship are, an English church (see LINK), a Roman Catholic chapel (See LINK) , a Wesleyan Methodist chapel, and four synagogues  . . . . There is a small but elegant theatre. (See LINK)  

1844 - St Mary the Crowned  (1844 - Old Inhabitant - Travellers’ Handbook)  (See LINK)
The Garrison Library: A public library instituted by Mr. Pitt, is attached to the garrison. (See LINK) "This institution," says Mr. Jacob, "together with the sensible and polite conversation of the engineer and artillery officers, most of whom are men of education and liberal minds, gives an agreeable tone to the society and manners. 

The Garrison Library    (1830 - Frederick Leeds Edridge)  (See LINK)

Mr. Jacob is William Jacob who published his Travels in the South of Spain in 1811 (See LINK)
The South:  . . . on the south, the marine hospital, a handsome and commodious building., The view extends over a number of country-houses, to some of which beautiful gardens are attached. In time, these new buildings will form a town as considerable as that of Gibraltar. 
. . . there are eight magnificent cisterns, large enough to contain 40,000 tons of water. (See LINK) These cisterns are bomb-proof; they receive all the water that flows down the side of the mountain, previously purified in coppers erected for that purpose. 
The English have formed a project for building over these cisterns an edifice for keeping everything necessary for victualling ships; and the hospital as well as the artillery park being near, they could then instantly refit a squadron with everything it might want. 
Rosia - The large white building to the right of middle is the “edifice” covering the cisterns  (1850 - William J. Huggins)  (See LINK)
From Europa Point to the gate on the land side, are several moles, which facilitate the unlading of ships, and enable them to cast anchor in greater security; yet, they are constantly at work upon them, as well as upon the fortifications, to which they are adding something every day."The small plain on the southern side, which terminates in Europa Point, is somewhat elevated above the sea, towards which it is bounded on all sides by rocks.  
"To a person coming direct from England," says Mr. Jacob," Gibraltar will not appear a very pleasing place of residence ; but after passing a few months in the best cities of Spain, it appears a paradise " - owing, he means, to its restoring the traveller to " English society and English comforts." . . .  
"It is impossible," says Laborde, “to do justice to the taste and magnificence of the English, on seeing the care with which they have embellished the rock. They have spared nothing to cover it with trees and flowers, to support the earth with walls and other props, to cut a number of roads through the solid rock, and make them passable on horseback and in carriages up to the very top. They have even sown some artificial meadows for their flocks; an excellent example to the Spaniards . . . “
O’Hara’s Folly: . . . . A tower has been built at the highest point, about 1,300 feet above the sea, which was intended by General O'Hara (see LINK) to overlook the high lands which intercept the distant view of the Atlantic towards the N.W., so as to enable him to watch the motions of any fleet in the Bay of Cadiz.  
But it was never used; and having, from its height, been frequently struck by lightning, is now a heap of ruins, serving only to add another impressive feature to the scene. 

O’Hara’s Folly  (1824 - James Bucknall-Estcourt)  (See LINK)
The Apes: The crevices of the rock are the resort of African apes (see LINK) of a large size: here they hide themselves when the east wind blows; but at other times, they make their appearance in, considerable numbers, and sometimes greatly incommode passengers by rolling down broken fragments of rock.  
No one is permitted to shoot them, the strictest orders being issued, that no gun shall be fired on the rock, which, says Mr: Jacob, as the place abounds with game, proves to sportsmen a great mortification.

The Apes    (1854 - E. Widick)
The Eastern Cliffs: On the steep eastern side, several winding passages, defended by batteries, are constructed along the face of the mountain, which conduct to the Mediterranean Stairs, a long flight of steps cut in the rock, by which you may reach the summit. The whole of the rest of this side is perfectly inaccessible, except one or two spots near the base, where fishermen sometimes land. (See LINK)

The eastern cliffs - Catalan Bay Village    (Unknown date - Robert Talbot Kelly)
The Inhabitants: The principal inhabitants are the military, the rest chiefly merchants. And besides the British there are Spaniards, Italians, Moors and Jews. . . . . The population is about 12 000 inclusive of the garrison. 
The census of 1830 suggests a civilian population of just over 18 000 - exclusive of the Garrison.
The Jews . . . . there are not more than 1 ,600 Jews at Gibraltar, - families were probably meant. Many of them are Moorish Jews, refugees from Barbary, where they are held in extreme degradation. "The Jews," remarks M. Laborde, " live more securely here than in any other part of Europe ; and so great a number of them assemble from all parts, that, in process of time, this famous rock will be a colony of Jews. "The principal synagogue is handsome, "having three aisles separated by pillars of the Doric order," with a pulpit towards the centre for the rabbi.
The Sha’ar Hashamayim - Esnoga Grande or Great Synagogue - was and is the principle Synagogue in Gibraltar. Its in Engineer Lane. The other Synagugues in town are the Ets Hayim - Esnoga Chica or The Little Synagogue in Irish Town, the Nefutsot Yehuda - Esnoga Flamenca or Flemish Synagogue in the Line Wall, the Esnoga Abudarham - Abudarham Synagogue in Parliament Lane. It has been claimed that this last one occupies a building that was once the Municipal Council in Spanish times.


Comparison between the Nefutsot Yehuda in the mid 19th century and in the 21st
Nothing, however, can be more miserable than the appearance of the civil inhabitants of the town, whether Moors, Jews, or Christians. They live crowded together in habitations resembling barracks rather than houses, which are as filthy as their persons." Owing to this circumstance, the plague, when introduced here from Cadiz in 1804, (see LINK) swept off thousands. 
To a person coming direct from England," says Mr. Jacob, "Gibraltar will not appear a very pleasing place of residence; but after passing a few months in the best cities of Spain, it appears a paradise "- owing, he means, to its restoring the traveller to "English society and English comforts." 
San Roque: This is an ill-paved town of miserable appearance, although the environs are agreeable and highly cultivated. It boasts, however, of a posada, “equalling in comfort an English inn," being the resort of the officers from Gibraltar, who make excursions into Spain.

Gibraltar from San Roque     (1830s - William Lacey)    (See Link)
This place has derived an importance from being the site of the encampment and works of the besieging army which invested Gibraltar in the years 1779—82. The camp is now nothing but a heap of ruins ; but traces of the trenches and epaulements are still to be discovered, with the large stone tower, called the Tower of the Mill, the only object that escaped the ravages of the contending armies, and the site of the little gardens which the English had been permitted to make before their fortress, beyond the limits to which they were confined by the Peace of Utrecht. (See LINK)
The above is a rather confused and confusing passage. San Roque was not the site of the trenches of the Great Siege nor that of the Tower of the Mill “Torre del Molino” - that honour goes to the isthmus that separates the Rock itself from Spain. The tower, incidentally was more or less destroyed during a surprise British counterattack - known in history books as “the Sortie” - on those very same trenches during the Siege.


The Mill Tower right in the thick of things during the Sortie

In so far as Gibraltar is concerned San Roque was mostly “famous” for being attributed as the place where a large number of the Spanish civilian population of Gibraltar settled after the Anglo-English takeover of the Rock in 1704. (See LINK)
Algeciras - Contraband: situated on the western side of the Bay of Gibraltar, was, at the commencement of the last century, a place of little importance, and consisted chiefly of fishermen's huts. But the capture and continued possession of Gibraltar by the English, renders a counterpoint in the bay necessary to Spain; and from that moment it has continued to increase.  
Its chief trade, in time of peace, is a contraband one with the English; but it flourishes mostly in war, from the great resort of gun-boats and privateers, which find here a commodious situation for observing and capturing enemies’ vessels in the narrow entrance of the Mediterranean.  
From  . . .  (valleys) flow several small streams which fall into the Bay. The mouth of one of them, named El Miel, (Rio de la Miel) forms a creek, the banks on one side of which are steep, but flat on the other, and on this flat stands the lower part of Algeziras.  
In this part is the market-place, ornamented with a fountain, where the water brought by the aqueduct from the hills is discharged, and serves to supply the whole town and shipping, very little rain being collected in cistern.

Hills above Algeciras and aqueduct   (1826 - Louis Auguste de Saison)
Ronda - Smugglers : The mountains in this neighbourhood are filled with contrabandists, who convey tobacco and other goods from Gibraltar to the interior of the country. They are an athletic race of men, with all the hardiness and spirit of enterprise which their dangerous occupation requires.  
They reside in the towns which are situated in the most mountainous parts of the country, and are well acquainted with all the passes and hiding-places. They are excellent marksmen; and though the habit of their lives has rendered them disobedient to the revenue laws, yet, they are much attached to their native land." 

Spanish smugglers from Gibraltar on their way to Ronda (1881- Gustav Doré)    (See LINK)