The People of Gibraltar
1704 - John Geraldo Diek, Dieck, Dierk, or Dierck - Citamell Lane

Bernarda Montaine and Patrick Diek - Theresa, Mary Francisca and Juana Diek
William Hayes and William Jack -  Giambattista Sturla and Thomas Porro
Andres Danino 

Contemporary engraving of the Rock  (Bernard Lens )
A poor Lady, by name Chidley . . . to make her some amends for her want of company, she was most formally conducted to a Pretty Whim or Whirligig. . .  It contains Room enough for one person, and tho’ in length it be ten foot, yet, by the narrowness, I find it does not answer our old saying of “it’s as broad as it’s long.”  
It is fixed between two swivels, so is turn’d round till it makes the person, if not us’d very gently, a little giddy and Land Sick. This Office was performed by two of the private Gentlemen of the Garrison, for the space of an hour in the Market Place, being well attended. All this was to oblige her for the following good qualities, which she had the goodness to make frequent use of such as giving soft words in smooth language, beating better manners into several men and a too frequent bestowing of her other favours
The above is a quote from a diary written in 1727 during the 13th Siege by an anonymous British officer. (See LINK)

A Whirligig or Pretty Whim ( George Palao )

During almost entire 18th century, a narrow alley opposite the Grand Parade (see LINK) on the east side of Main Street (see LINK) sported one of these contraptions. Not surprisingly the alley was almost universally referred to by the British soldiers - and others - as Whirligigg Lane.

From the minutes of the 1749 Court of Enquiry

The word “whirligig” must have proved a bit of a mouthful to Spanish speaking locals.  They called the alley ‘el Callejón de las Siete Revueltas’ , a name which had nothing to do with the spins of the Whirligig but a reference to its many twists and turns.  

El Callejón de las Siete Revueltas from Main Street to la Calle del Gobernador       ( 1753 - James Montressor ) (See LINK)

The above plan shows Main Street running across along the bottom  - The large opening below it is the Grand Parade - The first street leading east from it is el Patio del Catalán (Horse Barracks Lane) - The red line tracks the path along El Callejón de las Siete Revueltas from Main Street to La Calle del Gobernador (Governor’s Lane) - I can only make out at best six turnings. 

According to the early 20th century historian Major-General E. R. Kenyon, 1777 Garrison Orders refer to the alley as “Citamell Lane” - which difers from the name that appears on the Census taken that same year where it is called “City MALL Lane”.

City Mall Lane - copy of a page taken from the 1777 Census

Kenyon, however, confirms that the Garrison orders of 1780 finally calls by its modern name of “City Mill Lane” - to which one might add yet another version “Siete Mil Lei” which was much used by the thousands of Spanish workers who entered Gibraltar in the mid 20th century to work in its Dockyard and elsewhere. 

The name that eventually replaced the older versions nevertheless leaves us with a small dilemma - whereas it is easy to appreciate the origins of the older names it is not quite as easy to understand where that “Mill” came from. Kenyon suggested that it is a corruption of “Mall” - an old English word that describes a place where certain games are played. But as he himself notes:
. . . this idea hardly commends itself to those acquainted to the narrow sinuous lane and its neighbourhood. 
Another explanation is that a mill actually existed there in the past. It was owned by a certain John Geraldo Diek - or was that Dieck? - Dierk? Or perhaps even Dierck? I will stick to Diek but I could be wrong. In Gibraltar it is not just streets and alleyways that come in different flavours - so does many a surname.

Diek was an interesting fellow. For a start he was Dutch and had been a resident in Gibraltar from well before 1704 when Anglo-Dutch forces captured of the Rock. (See LINK) No doubt the sight of so many of his countrymen may have persuaded him that it would be worth his while to stay rather than join the general exodus to Spain.

Whether he did so before or after 1704, Geraldo married a local girl called Bernarda. She bore him at the very least, one son, Patrick and three daughters, Theresa, Mary Francisca and Juana (Jeane).

During the very early days of the 18th century Geraldo was granted a property which he converted into a mill for producing tobacco snuff. Next to the mill he also owned a shed where he produced candles made of beeswax imported from Barbary. They were usually hung out to dry by being draped over poles by their long wicks. Candles were an important consumer item in those pre-electricity days and passers-by who could afford it were able to select their supplies from a show of different types and sizes.

Whether some or most of what he produced in his snuff mill was smuggled into Spain is hard to tell. What is known is that he was a relatively wealthy man and was eventually appointed as Dutch Consul in Gibraltar.

In 1720, Dierck (sic) along with two other Gibraltar merchants - William Hayes and William Jack and led by the indomitable Giambattista Sturla (see LINK), petitioned the Lord Commissioners of the Trade and Plantations to set up a court of justice in Gibraltar to decide on financial disputes between traders and merchants. The petition was successful and Diek can lay claim to have been at least partially responsible for the eventual setting up of the 1720 Charter of Justice - the first civil court in Gibraltar post 1704. 

By 1749 Geraldo Diek had died and Humphrey Bland (see LINK) was carrying out his survey into the legitimacy of people’s claims to the ownership of property in Gibraltar. Diek’s heirs didn’t bother to make any claims as regards the mill - perhaps it either no longer existed or had already been sold. But Bernarda - who appears to have since remarried - claimed along with her children, the storehouse, waxworks and garden “on the back part and the east side of town”. This was presumably the property in which where Gerarldo made his candles.

Wax yard, garden and stores - they are in the right part of town but seem to large to have been privately owned    ( 1753 - James Montressor )

The heirs also testified to ownership of another house in Main Street which had also been theirs since before “the town had been possessed by the English”. As suggested by the deposition of local resident Thomas Porro, the house was - and probably always had been - surplus to the family’s needs and was rented out.

The marriage of Diek’s daughter Theresa to Andres Gavino will also have been a plus as regards the overall financial and moral standing of the family - he was an extremely successful merchant, commercially active for a quarter of a century. He ended up as consul of the United States of America and his epitaph in the Catholic Cathedral (see LINK) describes him as a ‘noble knight who from his fortune gave to the poor and to the worship of God.’  

Gavino family Coat of Arms on the facade of a building in a Gibraltar street known as Gavino’s Court