The People of Gibraltar
1820 - James Anton - A Plentiful Supply of Fleas

General George Don and Benito de Soto - Mr. Hatchman and Mr Baker
Dr Hennen and Dr Broadfoot - Sergeant Rose

Described rather disparagingly in an 1840 edition of the Spectator as a "Scotch rustic", James Anton was an army quarter-master sergeant who was stationed in Gibraltar from 1825 to 1832. 

James Anton

He had volunteered for life in the army in the early 19th century and joined the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of foot - also known as the the Black Watch - and took part in the various campaigns during the Peninsular War including Quatre Bas and Waterloo, an experience that may have influenced his personal motto - that there was no English regiment to equal a Scottish one, and no Scottish one to equal the 42nd.

The Scots having a bad time at Quatre Bas  ( 1900s - W.B. Wollen )

In 1825 the regiment was sent to Gibraltar where it remained for six years. After retirement he used his diary, which was apparently in verse, to write about his experiences in the army. According to Anton the habit of journal writing was now quite common in the army - not something that the Spectator agreed with suggesting that "the custom was more rare . . for want of the ability to write" - a criticism which was certainly not true of Anton.  

The title of his book was Retrospect of a Military Life. It was actually published twice in 1841 the second with corrections which have little relevance to those sections concerning Gibraltar - about which he had quite a lot to say. 

General Impressions
His initial description of the Rock lists all the conventional sights - it looked like an island but wasn't, the town extended backwards and up the western face and is bounded towards the south by a wall. 

The South
His description of what he calls "the South" is more detailed almost certainly because he was quartered in Windmill Barracks on arrival - which is where newly arrived regiments were usually housed. No complaints as it was an "airy" place because of its elevated position. 

Not so much fun for officers whose quarters were "too remote from the soldiers' parade, a circumstance which subjects the gentlemen to no small inconvenience in the rainy season." It was just as bad for the poor officers in Europa Flats:
. . . a large building occupied as an hospital on Europa Flats was converted into officers' quarters and mess-house. In this building eleven officers are now uncomfortably quartered. It stands remote from any other building, is exposed to every tempest that visits the Gut is a mile from the soldiers' barracks, two from the town and three from the market.
This was a reference to a building which would later be known as Bleak House. (See LINK)

The Rock from the south - Bleak House is the building on the edge of the cliff on the extreme left  (Unknown )

New Mole Parade, Rosia (see LINK) and Buenavista - which he calls Bonavista - are described as separate villages, the southern pinnacle of the Rock crowned by O'Hara's Folly (see LINK) - which Anton calls St Georges Tower. 

Looking south from Europa flats with O'Hara's Folly on top of the sugar loaf - the building is Governor's Cottage which was also constructed during O'Hara's Governorship      ( 1834 - H.A. Turner )  (See LINK )

Europa Flats also warrants a mention:
Here is also a flag-staff with the union-jack at the top floating in the breeze, and serving as a signal for vessels passing up and down the Straits to display their colours.
The Town
Anton had relatively little of real interest to say about the town, other than outlining Main Street or Waterport Street - running the entire length of the town from the Grand Casemates to Southport, Engineers Lane running parallel to it "under different names" and Irish Town which he considered to be a "respectable street". The Garrison Library and the Exchange he considered handsome, the Convent less so "although it presents a very fine appearance on the side towards the garden" 

The Garrison Library from the Artillery Barracks  ( 1834 - H.A. Turner )  

As regards the King's Chapel;
. . . although the Convent Chapel is almost capable of containing all that attend to worship, it may be said with certainty that there are hundreds of Protestants, perhaps careless ones that have not entered its door twice in seven years; the reason of which is , the seats being generally occupied by private families or officials of the Garrison; when a humble stranger seats himself so as to hear and see the preacher, he has a chance of being turned out, and instead of the pleasant look of a saint, wishing to make a saint of a sinner, he meets with the frowning face of a demon, wishing if not telling him to go to.

( 1870s - From Captain Buckle's collection )  (See LINK)

On a lighter vein, there were also at the time two theatres but neither is named. Apparently the thing that drew most of his attention was the large number of dogs wandering around the place.
. . . the meanest inhabitant that visits another is attended by a dog, and if the person visited has none , the house is certain of getting a plentiful supply of fleas and the furniture soiled.  Imposing a tax on dogs would be  . . a benefit on the inhabitants in general.  
In general, the town, he suggests, was an absolute mess before the siege - by which he meant the Great Siege of the late 18th century but that it had been improved immensely since the arrival of General Don as Lieutenant Governor. (See LINK)  It was he who had;
Caused every hut and shed to be white-washed or painted within, for there were more wooden huts and sheds that respectable houses; he caused the drains to be opened, scoured and enlarged; he divided the town into districts , appointed inspectors to each and established a scavenger department and a regular system of police.
Later after the various yellow fever epidemics of the early 19th century had finally disappeared, General Don ordered:
. . . proper drains to be cut, new buildings . . erected . .  old dilapidated sheds  . . removed from the principle streets and lanes and a new town may be said to have arisen on the site of the old. 
Anton also comments on the town's water supply problems which were Don also cast his beady eye. When Don arrived there were already several public draw-wells which were used by the Garrison. Transportation from Well to barracks was solved by making it compulsory for each regiment on arrival:
. . . to purchase three mules, three carts with harness, two asses with pack-paddles and cross-trees, and about fifty water kegs each holding about five gallons.
As for the civilians, General Don ordered that every new house would be required to have a tank into which they would be able to collect rainwater from the roof. 

The Church the Holy Trinity
One part of town which he dedicates a disproportionate amount of space to is the Church of the Holy Trinity - its consecration as a cathedral would have to wait until 1838, long after Anton had left Gibraltar. His interest in the church may have derived from the fact that its foundation stone was laid in 1825 and the building completed three years later. That General Don requisitioned it for use as a yellow fever hospital instead of using it as a church must also have been the source of considerable talk and gossip at the time and was certainly not to Anton's liking.
A church has recently been built and owing to the indifference of the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir George Don, to the undertaking, it was permitted to remain for several years in an unfinished state.

The Holy Trinity, shortly after it had been made a cathedral in 1842 (Unknown )

His main gripe, however, was shoddy workmanship, and the rather uncaring attitude of the authorities. The main blame, however, he lays squarely on the poor shoulders of the Spanish workers.
It has suffered . .  to remain five years after being roofed, before doors or windows were made for it. The rains of several winters poured in floods on its roof, the gutters were chocked up either by accident or design . . until the walls absorbed the whole to their foundations; if this had been unforeseen . .  during the first rainy season it ought to have been guarded against afterwards; if . . . done intentionally it may be attributed to Spanish workmen who are more zealous to promote the advancement of the Church of Rome.

The Rock in the 1830s   ( 1836 - An engraving of a painting by David Roberts )  (See LINK)

Catalan Bay
He mentions Catalan Bay twice - in both cases referring to it as Cataline Bay.
The east side of the Rock is inaccessible, being almost perpendicular from base to summit with the exception of a small fishing village called Cataline from which the Bay on the east side of the Rock receives its name , but here the hill rises so perpendicularly that no human foot can ascend to the summit 
Vessels which chance to approach this side of the Rock are exposed to great danger, in consequence of an eddy current setting in from the Straits and preventing them getting out to sea, in this case they are said to be "back-strapped", and may remain weeks before they can work their way out.  
Bay-side Village
Anton makes a rare historical mention of this semi-settlement on the west beach of isthmus which is referred to throughout the account as the Neutral Ground. Much to his dismay it had recently been razed to the ground by the authorities - but he didn't know why. The excuses given were that it had been done
. . .  in compliance with existing treaties with Spain, or in order to prevent smuggling, or to prevent offenders from being sheltered from the laws of their country.
Anton offers a fourth reason - that in the event of war the people living in "Bay-side Village" would necessarily have to be admitted into the town proper, causing all sorts of inconveniences. Whatever the reason he considered it a shame;
. . . a great loss not only to the proprietors but to the respectable families residing in Gibraltar, as it afforded the later an agreeable retreat in the summer season, and enabled the females to enjoy bathing quarters, which could not be so easily obtained otherwise. 
His remedy was to have the place resurrected, enclosed and converted into gardens making use of soldiers as labourers. 

The People
Anton does not portray the civilian population as being different to anybody else but simply mentions them where appropriate when describing their activities or the situations in which they find themselves. 

The main town square of Gibraltar possibly depicted slight before Anton was stationed on the Rock. It is a picture that is a history lesson on its own   ( 1828 - F. Benucci )  (See LINK)

Crime was rare, and while he was there Anton only witnessed one execution - that of Benito de Soto (see LINK) the pirate, and he was not a Gibraltarian. Nor were those Spanish political refugees that had congregated in Gibraltar at the time. In fact his views on Spaniards in general were thoroughly unsympathetic:
One half or two-thirds of the country is the property of the church. . .  the inhabitants of the large towns, though disaffected towards government and clamorous for reform, have not the spirit to accomplish it.  They are bold in tumult, disorderly in the field, and cowardly in a fight, their weapons are directed against the unguarded, and the poignard of the assassin is more to be dreaded than the sword of the open foe. . .  
Does he protest too much? Perhaps one might find the origins of this curious over-the-top diatribe in his Peninsular War experiences - where the Spanish chose to fight their common enemy in a manner that was completely different to that of their British allies. 

"Cowardly" Spaniards - including their leader General Francisco Castaños - greeting Napoleon's General Dupont, after inflicting on his French troops the worst disaster and capitulation of the Peninsular War. Some of Castaños' regulars were "volunteers" from Gibraltar, some of which were - ironically - the kind of people that Anton heavily criticises elsewhere    ( Unknown date - José Casado del Alisal )

In a diametrically opposite manner he offers his view on the Jews of Gibraltar in a short but surprisingly sympathetic paragraph. There were quite a number of them in Gibraltar at the time - nearly four thousand according to the author. Quite a few were involved in "mercantile speculation", an activity they conducted with considerable success. 
If these people have acquired a bad name  . .  it may be justly ascribed to the many arbitrary impositions to which they have been subjected. Their men of capital have long been obliged to advance loans to hazardous speculators. .  who . . . make it a merit to overreach a Jew . .  that it was no wonder when he made advances at so great a hazard . .  his demands should have been made in proportion to the risk he encountered.

Three Jewish merchant of Gibraltar   ( 1832 - From Commander M .C. Perry's Album ) (See LINK

Anton's account is dotted with references to both smugglers and their trade (see LINK) - the first of which he seems to admire if with a certain ambivalence towards the second.
The Gibraltar smugglers are unquestionably the best sailors of the Mediterranean, hardy and intrepid. They entered the solitary but dangerous creeks, approached the rocky islets or surfy beaches fearless of danger, landed their cargoes at all hazards, and returned to enrich the town by their adventure.
On the other hand when a felucca carrying contraband from Gibraltar was captured by the Spaniards well within range of Gibraltar's many batteries, he was indignant that nothing had been done to redress what could only be described as an "insult to the British flag".
. . . the principle smuggling was and perhaps still is, where it would be least suspected, namely at the King's Dockyard. 

A Spanish felucca off Gibraltar  (1852 - Vilhelm Melbye)  (See LINK)

Anton also estimated that there were about one hundred people employed in the tobacco trade. A great number of cigars called Havannahs, were being smuggled into Spain but the blame for this he laid at the doors of the Spanish authorities who insisted on having their own monopoly in the sale of tobacco and charged exorbitant prices for the stuff in all its forms. 

Yellow Fever
Anton was unlucky enough to have to go through the epidemic of 1828 which was not as destructive as that of 1804 (see LINKbut still managed to kill more than 2,600 people. Out of the 538 members of his regiment, 221 were admitted into hospital of which 54 died. All told the Garrison suffered 422 losses.

The author was strongly - if incorrectly - of the opinion that the disease was highly contagious, that it had been imported and that its better breeding grounds was amongst the crowded house "with lodgers of the very lowest class. The "Contagion" theory was in fact more or less universally accepted at the time - and as Anton himself notes the arguments discussed by the officers commissioned by General Don to find out the causes of the disease were all based on the same premise.
Some maintained that it sprang from the filthy state of the drains, others that it was endemic to the place, while a third insisted upon its having been imported.
Spain had as yet not experienced any casualties and were understandably worried by the great influx of people into San Roque and La Linea trying to avoid the worst. They set up a cordon;
 . . . . on the front of their lines on the isthmus and not a soul was permitted to pass it. Much to their credit, however, permission was given to bring every article of food, provender and fuel for the use of the inhabitants and even without the customary duties.
The British authorities followed suit and set up another cordon on their side of the isthmus and any exchange of goods and money assumed a ritual dance which Anton describes with relish and some detail.
The sellers brought their articles to the center between the cords and there arranged them in lots. While this was doing the Gibraltarians had to recede as many paces of the cord as the Spaniards had advanced towards the center. When the articles were arranged the latter withdrew behind their cord and the former advanced to theirs and made their bargains. These concluded the Spaniards retired some twenty or thirty paces and the buyers rushed forward, removed the articles and returned.  
This was repeated every quarter of an hour . . . from six in the morning until ten . . . it seemed not a little astonishing how expeditiously bargains were made. . . . . Persons were appointed to receive the money from the buyers; it was put into a pail among vinegar . . .

Plan of the isthmus showing the position of the Spanish and British cordons and the tented camps set up for inhabitants  ( 1830's - Piaget et Lailavoix - Detail )

The cordon sanitaire system described by James Anton seems to have been put in practice once again during the numerous cholera epidemic which visited Gibraltar during the 19th century from 1835 to 1885, the last of which killed  some 20 odd residents and is perhaps the one referred to in the above cartoon. In this case the epidemic started in the neighbouring Spanish town of La Linea

As conditions worsened, the authorities continued to misjudge the epidemiology of the disease. Houses were "purified" drains scoured, the courts of justice and places of worship were closed, tents were set up in the Neutral ground to house thousands of inhabitants and better-off residents took up residence aboard ships anchored in the Bay. A lazaretto was established in the north front glacis near Landport.
Here three tents were pitched for the reception of those who were supposed to be infected  . . . and it may be observed that there could not have been a more injudicious selection for a site for the lazaretto without the walls than this was, for close to this place the soldiers on duty and every person who had business from the town to Bay-side village . . . or to Cateline (Catalan Bay)  . .  had to pass and repass . . . 

The buildings on the banks of the inundation formed part of the Lazaretto complex - The first one on the left was the original building and must have replaced the tents mentioned by Anton  ( 1930s - L. Roisin )  (See LINK)

Mr. Hatchman, the Garrison chaplain died and his place was taken over temporarily by Mr Baker, a Methodist clergyman. Then Dr Hennen - the Chief Medical Officer; his place was taken by Dr Broadfoot. Soldiers that had previously been willing to help attend the sick refused to volunteer, and the fear engendered by the continued acceptance that the disease was contagious led some people into ironic situations that appear doubly so today.
Those in health took copious drafts . . . of medicine as antidotes . . . so their bodies frequently threw them into an imaginary disorder, which was supposed to be the symptom of the epidemic, and off they were taken to hospital, took the fever in reality, and returned no more.
Army Colleagues 
As regards his fellow soldiers, Anton names none of them and prefers to mention them collectively rather than as individuals. This is rather unfortunate as it was precisely while he was stationed in Gibraltar that George Rose was also a sergeant in his very own Black Watch regiment.

Rose was born a slave in Spanish Town, capital of Jamaica, in the early 1790s. and it appears that he managed to escape and flee to England where he joined the 2nd Battalion of the 73rd Regiment of Foot. He was about 20 years old.

A mannequin of George Rose in the Black Watch Museum in Scotland

In 1831 he was promoted to Sergeant making him the most senior black soldier known to be serving in a British regiment at the time and perhaps the only black senior non-commissioned officer of the 19th century. He would most certainly have been a curiosity in Gibraltar at the time but obviously not enough to make him worthy of comment by James Anton.