The People of Gibraltar
1757 - The Gentleman's Magazine - Corruption

Gibraltar is situated upon the continent of Spain . . but when our ministers obtained this place they should have insisted upon a small territory adjacent to it, not only to supply the garrison . . but to make the harbour more secure for shipping. . . it is a safe retreat against the Moors but not against the Spaniards, whose batteries can annoy almost the whole harbour. . .

I have been informed that his late majesty wrote a letter to the King of Spain with his own hand in which he promised to restore it, but upon finding how disagreeable it would be to his own people excused himself from performing it . . .

. .it is to be wished that the place was made as agreeable to the inhabitants as possible. The governors have frequently acted in a more arbitrary and tyrannical manner, than would have been permitted in Turkey; their power, being restrained by no civil jurisdiction, is unlimited, except with regard to life and death, and they have committed actions with impunity, for which a Turkish bashaw would have lost his head.

A Jew was kidnapped by one governor, and sent to Barbary, with this message from his British Excellency, to the Moorish bashaw, that he had sent him 'a fat goose to pluck '. The poor Jew was released by Captain Smith . . . and protected him from the malice of the governor . . . But the poor Jew never obtained any satisfaction tho' he complained to the privy council of his wrongs, which were too notorious to be denied.

Upon complaint of . . abuses of power, a civil magistrate with the title of justice of Gibraltar was appointed, but he never went thither. When I was there the governor's will was the sole law by which he governed. And how bad a law that was, I could bring many instances to prove, but the following will suffice.

All communication with Gibraltar is prohibited by the Spaniards on pain of death; however, a secret trade is carried on and the garrison might be supplied with fruit, greens and fresh provisions from thence as from Barbary and Portugal at a very moderate rate. but the governor will permit but one butcher in the garrison, who for his licence and monopoly, furnishes the governor's table.

Map of Gibraltar ( 1758 John Putland - detail  )

Hence the importation of all live cattle, nay, even of a quarter of mutton is prohibited to the officers themselves, without leave first obtained from his Excellency, which with regard to live cattle is scarce ever granted to any but the butcher; and even a quarter of English mutton, tho' designed as a present to a officer . . has been frequently stopped. .. . he would forbid them to kill anything . . and threatened to break an officer and the chaplain of the garrison for disobedience, because each of them had killed a suckling pig.

. . the governor lays on a small duty upon all imported wine, and a further tax upon all taverns or suttling houses, by which a considerable revenue is brought into his pocket; yet though this be said to be done to prevent drunkenness; yet it is really the cause of it, by inducing the governor not to punish the guilty lest he diminish the consumption . . and lessen his own revenue. . . in times of peace there is no reason why the inhabitants, who are not soldiers, should not be governed by British laws magistrates of their own choosing.

The writer then continues with an even lengthier critique of Minorca - which he also considered to be corrupt but not quite as corrupt as Gibraltar. The identity of the governors in question is not revealed, although the episode of the 'plucked goose' occurred in1748 when William Hargrave was in command. As regards the author he must have served on the Rock at some time to have been privy to so much inside information . 

He was also more or less a contemporary of the pamphleteer who wrote Reasons to Give up Gibraltar ( see LINK ) but it seems unlikely that they were one and the same persons. Their writing styles are completely different.