The People of Gibraltar
1705 - Richard Holroide - Never Made it as Mayor 

Richard Holroide was born in Yorkshire in 1662, and came to live in Gibraltar in 1705 almost immediately after the Rock was taken by Messrs Hesse, Rooke et al (See LINK). In a very short while, he began to exhibit the kind of entrepreneurial skills that would make him perhaps the richest merchant on the Rock throughout his lifetime. 

The defeat of Baron de Pointis in the Bay of Gibraltar by a Admiral John Leake during the 12th Siege of Gibraltar - The battle actually took pave near Punta Carnero and not inside the Bay as shown on the map   
(1705 )

In 1717 - for example - a British Government Treasury Warrant acknowledged the delivery of “165 half barrels of pork” . . . “and 108 of beef” delivered by Holroide to John Conduit who was acting Commissary of his Majesty's Stores and Provisions at Gibraltar at the time. The total value of the sale was around £388 - a very respectable amount of money indeed. This sale, incidentally, had been specifically authorised by the Governor Colonel Ralph Congreve on the grounds that: 
. . . that the place (the Garrison of Gibraltar) would have been very much exposed if Mr. Conduit had not bought the said provisions, 
The fact that Congreve has gone down in history as among the more corrupt of Governors of Gibraltar is neither here nor there. The most important thing from Holroide’s point of view was that he had obtained a foot in the lucrative door of the Convent as a main supplier to the Garrison.

By 1719 Holroide had already figured out that the failure of the Hispano-French efforts to retake the Rock in 1705 after the 12th Siege made it very likely that business as usual across the land border with Spain would take years to get back to normal. Like others he must have come to the conclusion that trade with Barbary was the best available alternative. By now well ensconced on the Rock as a well-off merchant, Holroyd petitioned the Board of Trade and Plantations asking them to give him:
. . . a licence or pass to send over any English vessel to Barbary, with the goods and merchandize he hath in Gibraltar, and to bring back the merchandises of Barbary in return for the same, and for such debts as are due to them there.
Perhaps rather more surprisingly the petition also stated:
. . . that there is no other English house but Mr. Holroide's there concerned in the trade to Barbary, and they had nothing further to offer, than to desire the Board would please to consider the said Petition and report their opinion.
In other words, he not only got his pass but also a rather useful monopoly. What is perhaps less obvious is that the petition failed to acknowledge that there were other non-“English” Jewish and Genoese resident merchants  who were already involved in trade with Barbary. But of course British policy at the time and for decades to come was to encourage British Protestants to reside and do business on the Rock at the expense of “Jews, Moors, and Papists of different nations which may prove dangerous”.  

Gibraltar   (1721 - William Van der Hagen )

In 1726 Governor Richard Kane prepared the Rock for what would later be known as the 13th Siege of Gibraltar. Among other thing he issued a series of contradictory orders regarding Spaniards who were still residing on the Rock - that they should leave immediately, that if they did leave they would forfeit their houses and finally that they were refused permission to leave.

Wisely quite a few of those affected decided that the best thing to do was pack and leave. Their priority of course was to sell their property as soon as possible. Pedro Machado, one of the few landowners who had remained on the Rock after 1704 sold his home to Richard Holroide, perhaps the first of the many properties that he bought on the Rock over the years.

Bust of Richard Kane in Westminster Abby

In 1728 and just after the end of the 13th Siege, the British Government in London in the guise of the then Board of Trade and Plantation considered a proposal for the establishment of a civil government in Gibraltar - unbelievable considering that it actually too more than two hundred years to get one going. Even more unbelievable was the following statement which appeared in the minutes of a meeting of the Board of Trade that took place in December 1728:

 . . . several merchants, having met and considered the questions proposed by their Lordships, had directed him to desire a copy of the charter . . . that they might better be able to make a satisfactory answer; but that in the meantime, they had unanimously agreed to recommend to their Lordships Mr. Richard Holroide, an inhabitant of Gibraltar, to be the first mayor. He never made it as mayor which was perhaps just as well as it might have interfered with his main day job as a very successful merchant. 

The column on the left is a record of consignments of wheat, tobacco, barley, flour etc. for the years 1737 and 1738 by a London merchant - Solomon Merrett and Co. - to Messrs Holroyde and Pearson of Gibraltar. They must have been doing quite well as the total value is nearly £6000. The smaller list on the right is a similar record of consignments to another Gibraltar merchant - Messrs William Grove and Co.

That by 1749 Holroide was doing quite nicely thank you is more than confirmed by his numerous claims to properties at Bland’s Court of Enquiry - seven at the last count and far more than anybody else. Most of them were given the green light.

Roger Elliott was the first Governor of Gibraltar appointed by the British

Holroide lost his garden in this one . . . .

. . .  but got his garden in this one

Two successful claims the first for a house near the Chapel of the La Vera Cruz and the second for one near the Jews Synagogue - Holroide got both these properties from Mimor Toledano in payment for debts owing

Claim for a second house in the Vera Cruz area

The road running across the middle of the plan is Main Street - The building on the top section with the pillars is probably the church known as La Vera Cruz   ( 1753 - James Montressor )   (See LINK)

Finally a successful claim for a house and garden “on the upper part of the easy side of town leading to the Hospital” - presumably the old Spanish one run by Juan Mateos, (see LINK) subsequently known as the Blue Barracks

More or less at the same time as his Court of Enquiry was taking place, Humphrey Bland turned his attentions to Gibraltar’s notorious problems with alcohol. 
The quantity of spirits in this place, on a survey taken soon after my arrival here, amounted to: 8702 Gallons of Rum: 1850 Gallons of French Brandy and 5250 Gallons of Gin. In all 15802 Gallons of spirits which quantity was sufficient to destroy in a very short time a much greater Garrison than ours was  . . . 
His first and rather non-sequitur response was that the local “settlers in future” be made to pay the duty rather than the “English Merchants”. About three years later he appointed Richard Holroide - together with Andrew and Richard Den, James Read, John Lewis and Leeds Booth “- all of them (English) Merchants” to supply the Suttlers “with good and wholesome wine”

During the War of the Austrian Succession which began in 1740 and lasted eight long years Spain was once more at war with Britain. For a change Gibraltar was not directly involved although much use was made of her limited victualling facilities to take care of the Royal Navy. In 1745 the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet Vice-Admiral William Rowley asked him to look into a problem concerning Dutch ships anchored in the harbour with goods and supplies on route to Genoa. 

Vice Admiral William Rowley

The following is Holroide’s letter to Captain Klaass Slicker, presumably the Dutch Master in charge of the ships.
1745 . . . As Vice-Admiral Rowley has thought proper to prevent your proceeding to Genoa with your loading of wheat, which appears to him to be intended for his Britannic Majesty's enemies, he gave you liberty to dispose of your cargo in any other manner and to the best advantage for the benefit of the owners; but as you have refused to comply with his desire, the admiral has given me orders to dispose of the cargo for the most that can be obtained; and accordingly I have agreed with purchasers for some considerable part of the wheat. I therefore desire that you will deliver such part of your cargo as may be required by the person I shall appoint to receive it. 
The Dutch refused to comply and Holroide received further instructions on the matter.
I am ordered by the admiral to acquaint you that since the Dutch masters will not sell their cargoes of corn, he would have you do it in the best and most public manner you can. You are to keep the amount received in your hands, and to pay the freight to the masters. The admiral is of opinion that the cargoes - wholly or in great part -belongs to French merchants.
The documents fail to tell us what happened next but I am absolutely certain that Holroide made a small packet out of this one. More importantly the affair shows the cosy relationship which this particular Gibraltar Merchant had managed to cultivate with the upper echelons of the Royal Navy on the Rock.

The Rock in the 1750s   ( Detail - Barras de la Penne )

All of which leads me to believe that when Richard Holroide died in Gibraltar 1758 at the ripe old age of 96 after having lived in Gibraltar for more than 53 years he must have left an estate worth a very pretty penny. The 1777 census, however, fails to mention anybody called Holroide living on the Rock. Who knows where his fortune ended up.

For anybody so inclined to have a look, a memorial tablet with his coat of arms is still on display at the time of writing on the south wall of King’s Chapel in the Convent (See LINK

Richard Holroide’s memorial tablet