The People of Gibraltar

1842 - Prince Adalbert of Prussia - Numerous Orientals 

Prince Adalbert of Prussia was born in 1884 in Potsdam, Germany. He was a son of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. In 1842 he accompanied his father and brother on a tour of Italy. When they got to Naples he left his family and joined his friends Count Oriolla and Count Bismark  on the sixty gun warship the San Michelle. 

From Naples they travelled through the Gulf of Lyons to Malaga and then to Gibraltar where they stayed for several days. The frigate then sailed to Cadiz and after touching Tenerife arrived at Rio de Janeiro in September 1842.

Count Bismark, Prince Adalbert and Count Oriolla  . . . I am not quite sure which one is which

The Prince recorded his experiences in a book with the cumbersome title of Travels of his Royal Highness Prince Adalbert of Prussia, in the South of Europe and in Brazil, with a voyage up the Amazon and the Xingu. It was originally published for private viewing but was later translated into English in 1849. The first volume contains a chapter dedicated to Gibraltar; Here are a some quotes from it.

The Rock from the Sea
The Rock of Gibraltar rose close to us with a threatening frown, like a huge giant, sending his violent squalls down upon us: the slender masts of the frigate bent under their fury . . . I observed that we were already in the bay of Algeziras. 

The Rock  ( 1840 Robert Kelly )

The Rock of Gibraltar is recognized by the sailors at a great distance : I saw it first yesterday morning  . . . The beautiful mountains of Spain descended gradually toward the west and south, until they were levelled to a scarcely perceptible plain. With this were connected other hills, at the end of which Gibraltar projects into the blue sea, like a small, insular-looking rock. . . 

We threaded our way through a great many ships, lying in the roadstead, together with mistics, boves and other small coasting-vessels with lateen sails, which usually lie off the Neutral Ground in considerable numbers. 

Mistics, boves and other small coasting-vessels with lateen sails off the Neutral Ground ( 1850s - Vilhelm Melbye )

These boats carry on a wholesale smuggling-trade from Gibraltar to Spain, which England not only allows but even protects. The small Government steamer the 'Lizard,' lies constantly ready, at the first signal given from the Rock above, to hasten to the assistance of the smuggler when pursued by the Spanish Guarda Costas. The ' Lizard ' either tows the smuggler into Gibraltar, or places herself between that boat and the Spaniard, so that the latter recognizing the British flag dares not fire. . . .

The Town
The town stretches along the seashore at the foot of the Rock, commencing at its north-western comer close to the Neutral Ground, and extending to about the centre of its west side, up which it rises to a third of its height. Gibraltar from a distance has a neat and clean appearance, and gives an impression of being rather a stately town. In the direction of Europa Point extend green plantations, cottages and large single buildings, chiefly barracks, magazines, etc.

The People
We landed at the Water Port, at the north-west end of the town : a small group of Arabs and Spaniards were collected here. These two nations, intermixed with English soldiers and sailors, constitute the inhabitants of this clean and prettily built town, in which the Spanish architecture is found united with English comfort. 

The various costumes of the numerous Orientals are in part very handsome: some wear crimson cloaks, but the majority a white burnu, or a similar garment of equally light stuff, but very strong, striped white and black or dark brown. The characteristic white turban is seen frequently, but many go bareheaded. Beside the Arabs and Berbers, there are in Gibraltar many Jews from Africa, who are drest in a garb similar to that of their Polish brethren, but more smart. 

Among the English troops here the Highlanders of the Seventy-ninth regiment are particularly striking. The same variety of Spanish costumes is seen here as in Malaga ; almost all the women are clad in the Spanish dress, even the Jewesses, who wear scarlet, hooded cloaks, with a broad velvet trimming. 

In 1844, two years after Adalbert's visit, the population of the Rock was made up of around 15 800 people of which nearly 10 000 were classified as 'natives'. These were an indistinguishable group of people who were mainly of both Spanish and Genoese decent. 

Also included in the census were Spaniards and Genoese who still retained their original nationality - or who had simply as yet not been able to claim true residency  on the Rock. Understandably the Prince found it hard to distinguish between these people. He was in good company - hardly any other visitor to the Rock was able to do so - at least he refrained from dismissing them all as riff raff as so many others of his own generation had done ( see LINK )

There were also about 1 600 Jews but those Jewesses in scarlet coats were not Jewish at all but local gentiles wearing the tradition female dress of Gibraltar. As regards the Moors there were only a paltry 9 of them on the census. In other words most of those 'Arabs and Berbers' were African traders who would soon be going back home to Barbary. 

The Governor
The Governor, Sir Alexander Woodford, received me with the greatest courtesy ; I found him with Lady and Miss Woodford in his drawing-room, which looks on to a small garden, rich in all kinds of exotic plants ; among these a beautiful dragon-tree and a splendid oleander were peculiarly striking. 

Sir Alexander desired Colonel Brown, the Commander of Artillery at Gibraltar, to accompany me on horseback to visit the Lowe Batteries, that is to say the whole of the coast-defences, from the town to Europa Point. 

Sir Alexander George Woodford

The Tourist Trail
This morning I landed at half-past five o'clock, intending to ride over the remaining part of the fortifications with Colonel Brown. He conducted us, past the tower attached to the old Moorish castle, to the Excavations... .

 . . . The enormous embrasures formed in the rock, from which the guns of the Excavations are pointed, have occasioned many fatal accidents. An English officer was once trying to gather some flowers for a lady, when he was precipitated from one of these openings : at another time a similar fate befell six or eight artillerymen, who were blown through one of them by the bursting of a piece of ordnance. 

An English officer . . trying to gather flowers for a lady . .   precipitated from one of these openings

It was interesting to look down upon the two lines of the English and Spanish posts, which cross the Neutral Ground obliquely, — the black sentry-boxes of the former and the white ones of the latter, with the guard-houses behind, and in the background "The Queen of Spain's Chair."

The white Spanish sentry-boxes were known as garitas and the guard houses behind them were originally supposed to hinder smuggling and - in time of war - make it difficult for soldiers to desert. They proved useless on both counts 

Signal Station
. . .Passing through these galleries we came to the Rock-Gun-Battery, which lies above them, and from thence along a narrow path to the Signal House. This building is situated on the ridge of the Rock . . .In front of it stands a small mast and yard for hoisting signals. 

The old artillery man who inhabits this lonely station, and whose duty it is to survey with an eaglets glance all that passes upon the waters below, and then to telegraph the news by coloured signal-flags, — in a word, the Eye of the Lion of Gibraltar, — manages to render a stay upon this lonely spot pleasant both to himself and others. The merry old man offered us a glass of his excellent porter, explained the view, and sold us some small cannons which he had made out of pieces of the rock. 

Signal Station or El Hacho  ( 1860 A. Guesdon )

Most of the rest of the account concerns deals with military matters - the names of the regiments stationed on the Rock at the time, a long description on the firing of certain guns and apotted history of British Gibraltar.

Generally one gets the impression that the Prince was quite conscious of his position as a member of the Prussian Royal family. It would have been politically untenable to write down exactly what he thought about Gibraltar or anywhere else for that matter. Nevertheless, all in all Adalbert seems to have been reasonably impressed with the place - never overly enthusiastic about anything but never critical either