The People of Gibraltar
1730 - Bartholome Danino - The Genoese Consul

Levrery, Betulozo and Sabine - Hargrave, Nicolasa and Grana

Danino was born somewhere in Genoa in 1700. He was brought to Gibraltar by his father when he was 9 years old and he spent the rest of his life on the Rock. At the relatively young age of 26, he bought himself a property in Gibraltar, something that was neither easy, nor inexpensive, to do and over time he became one of the two most important Genoese merchants in Gibraltar - the other was Francesco Levrery, a wine merchant and the Danish consul .

Map of Gibraltar in the late 17th century ( Unknown )

A measure of Danino's rising wealth and influence in local matters is that well before he was officially appointed consul he was already intervening in Genoese affairs. In 1708 a local Genoese gentleman called Juan Betulozo bought himself a house - not an easy thing to achieve in Gibraltar in those days. Unfortunately Juan died intestate in the late 1730s during the term of office of General Joseph Sabine - yet another of a long line of corrupt British Governors of Gibraltar. It meant that when Juan's seven year old nephew Philip tried to claim his legitimate inheritance he was unable to do so.

General Joseph Sabine ( Unknown )

Sabine wanted the house for his own purposes and the Judge Advocate did everything possible to ensure that he would get it. Danino was unable to overturn the verdict but he did take young Philip into his own house 'so that he should not die of want.' Several years later Danino was vindicated. General Bland took over from Sabine's successor Lieutenant-General William Hargrave - another thoroughly avaricious character - and restored the inheritance to the now 14 year old Philip Betulozo.

It must have been during Sabine's term that Danino officially succeeded Govanni Baptista Sturla ( see LINK ) as Genoese consul. It was a reflection on the lack of rapport that existed between Danino and the Governor that Sabine actually asked Sturla to return to Gibraltar despite the fact that he had been expelled from the place by the previous Governor, Lord Portmore.

Although the exact date is hard to come by Bartholome probably married while in his early 30s. His bride was a local girl by the name of Nicolasa who was five years younger than him. She bore him a son, Agustin - born in 1737 who eventually became sexton, and two daughters, Maria - born in 1739 and Francisca born in 1741. The records show the surname as Dagnino.

Danino's relationship with Sabine may not have been of the best but it was simply non-existent with Hargrave. Ironically Both Sabine and Hargrave employed the same under secretary. His name was John Domenick Grana and he was also Genoese. Given Danino's problems with both Governors it would seem that Grana did not believe in giving his countryman any sort of preferential treatment.

Lieutenant General William Hargrave - Governor of Gibraltar ( 1740 - Abraham Seaman )

Danino's income depended to a great extent on consular fees paid to him by all Genoese ships that called at Gibraltar. Unfortunately many Genoese owners opted to use Papal or Knights of Malta flags of convenience to avoid paying their dues. Some even preferred to pay British fees and fly British flag as this entitled them to Mediterranean Passes.

Mediterranean Pass

This piece of paper allowed its possessor to travel throughout the Mediterranean without fear of being molested by a Barbary Corsair. That was of course the theory. The practice gave rise to a whole series of problems especially in so far as Gibraltar was concerned

Yet another problem that had to be faced was that most of the Corsairs were completely illiterate. Waving a piece of paper in front of them was hardly likely to prove a deterrent. In an attempt to solve this, the British authorities hit on the idea of issuing documents with heavily decorated headings. The tops of the Pass were then cut off using a wavy pattern and these were then sent to the appropriate consuls in Morocco who would in turn pass them on to the Barbary ship captains. Any wrongly captured captain would now be able to offer his half of the Pass to any illiterate corsair who could it check its validity by making his bit of paper fit that of the one on offer.

Reading this, one is left with the feeling that more than one corsair decided not to bother and plundered on regardles. All of which was of no use to Danino. Many Genoese ship-owners thought it was a good idea and it did save them at least some of their fees in Gibraltar.

Danino tried to complain to Hargrave who of course refused to help. In fact he invariably hindered. On one occasion Danino tried to intercede on behalf of the members of the crew of a British ship with the very un-British name of Nostra Signora del Assompta Patroneggiata . The men had come to him with complaints about their Genoese captain, Giuseppe Alimonda. Hargrave intervened and spitefully told him to mind his own business. This, he said, was a British ship.

A Genoese galleass similar to the Nostra Signora del Assompta Patroneggiata

Halfway through Hargrave's term of office, Genoa technically became an enemy of Britain when she became an ally of France during the War of the Austrian Succession. Hargrave instinctively hit on the idea of threatening to expel all Genoese born residents from Gibraltar - the possibilities of getting people to pay up in order to be exempt were enormous.

By 1748 those who wouldn't or couldn't pay were forced to leave and ended up in Tetuan. Danino stayed on and one can take it as a given that his 36 odd years of residence on the Rock will have counted for little - it must have cost him a small fortune.

When Hargrave was finally replaced the following year by Lieutenant-General Humphry Bland. Danino must have heaved a sigh of relief - Bland had his many faults but at least he was one of the least corrupt Governors of Gibraltar of the 19th century. In fact it was something of a mutual admiration society. When the Governor sentenced two Genoese fishermen to be lashed for smuggling tobacco there was not a peep of protest out of Danino who would normally have defended his compatriots come hell or high water.

Danino may have found it harder to maintain his good relationship with Bland when in 1750 a young Genoese lad was convicted of raping a seven year old English girl. Interestingly there must have been a strong sense of community among the Genoese at the time. They were not just horrified but felt collectively responsible for what had happened. Despite the fact that they were probably the poorest residents on the Rock they managed to collect a substantial amount of money which they presented to the parents of the little girl as an indication of their regret.

Gibraltar from Cabrita Point ( 1770s - Unknown )

The surname, Danino is a relatively common one in Gibraltar today. As far back as 1888 there were well over 100 individuals called Danino, Daninos or Dagnino or who were residents of the Rock.

Which is less than surprising. Bartholome Danino's was a tough, resilience and resourceful man. In 1777 and approaching his 78th birthday he was still the Genoese consul of Gibraltar. He had outlasted twenty odd Governors of the Rock and must have had a good few reminiscences of his dealings with each and every one of them. Whatever the case he was a worthy Gibraltarian.