The People of Gibraltar
1749 - Mrs Viale - The Governor of Gibraltar’s Daughter

The Viale surname was quite common in Gibraltar in the late 18th century. It appears at least sixteen times on the 1777 census some with very similar first names making it hard to distinguish between them. For the purposes of this essay I am really only interested in one of them so I will give it a try.

I’ll start with Juan Baptist Viale.  Juan was born in Genoa in 1712 and came to Gibraltar when he was 21 years old - that is in 1733. Juan was a gardener - a profession for which the Genoese were held in high regard on the Rock.

In 1749 Humphrey Bland - Gibraltar’s Governor at the time (see Link) - set up a Court of Enquiry to investigate the legality or otherwise of land titles on the Rock.  Juan Baptist, together with two gardener colleagues - Philip Ouze and Michael Riera - decided to chance their arm and testify. During the hearing they introduced themselves as gardeners who tended and manured large plots of land on the isthmus outside Landport Gate (see LINK) where they cultivated vegetables which they sold to the Garrison. (See LINK

 Minutes of the Court of Enquiry

Plan of Gibraltar showing the gardens on the isthmus on the far right   (Mid 18th C - 1760 - Segismundo Font)
Presumably they were hoping for some sort of joint ownership of the land in question. They didn’t get it. Instead the Court judged that although the ground belonged to the King, they were no longer required to pay rent - for the time being at any rate - as long as they continued to manure and use the land as gardens and supplied the Garrison with “herbage at reasonable rates”.

And that would have been that had it not been for a completely separate claim made by a certain David Pacifico who testified that a house near the Spanish Church (see LINK) had been given to him by General Hargrave. 

Minutes of the Court of Enquiry
Juan Baptist disagreed and immediately counterclaimed - the house he told the court, had been built specifically for his wife by General Jasper Clayton who was Governor from 1727 to 1730. And his wife - as he also sensationally claimed - was Jasper Clayton’s very own natural daughter. 

Minutes of the Court of Enquiry
Juan Baptist’s testimony was confirmed by John Dominich Grana who had been at one time or the other under-secretary to both of Sabine and Hargrave - which in many ways made his testimony all the more convincing. He told the Court that Clayton had always shown: 
. . . . a very affectionate regard for her and allowed the income of this house as part of the provision for her and her mother. 
Grana also went on to say that:
. . . in General Hargrave’s time Viale applied sev’l time to be put in possession of their house but Gen’l Hargrave would not agree to it.

Minutes of the Court of Enquiry
In yet another deposition Pedro the Sala added his own testimony in favour of Viale. Pedro was a Spanish officer who had become for all intents and purposes Gibraltar’s one and only policeman. Although his testimony was one of support for Viale, he also went out of his way to make sure that the court was made aware of the kind of corruption that had been on-going in Gibraltar under just about every previous Governor. 

Minutes of the Court of Enquiry
Sabine, he said, had indeed built the house and had then rented it out to somebody else as his daughter was at the time unmarried. However he always took care that all the money he collected in rent would be passed on to her. When Clayton was replaced as Governor by Joseph Sabine he stopped this and pocketed the cash.  

David Pacifico was unable to compete against this kind of evidence and the court awarded the house to John Baptist Viale in his wife’s name. But it wasn’t over just yet. 

In a rather odd turn of events, General Bland - who normally simply rubber stamped whatever his Court came up with - refused to accept their decision in this particular case. In a lengthy document he explained his reasons why.  It makes for interesting reading as it clearly shows Bland’s contempt for many of his predecessors - particularly Jasper Clayton , Joseph Sabine, and William Hargrave.

General Humphrey Bland
1stly - Tho’ it is allowed that Governor Clayton rebuilt the house after the last Siege and put the mother of the claimant in possession of it without taking any rent from her while he was lieutenant Governor it is not clear that he ever claimed it as his own property but rebuilt it pursuant to his Majesty’s orders out of the Revenues arising here for the King and which ought to have been solely appropriated towards rebuilding all the other houses destroyed or damaged by the Siege. 
Instead of which Governor Clayton, and all who commanded here after him put the said revenues into their own pockets and gave all the ruined houses and wastground (sic) to different people to build on some paying a sum of money for such leave and a ground rent for the same which is the principle cause the houses are not better built and the King’s revenues much sunk by it, since, had these been employed in rebuilding these houses they would not only have been better than they are now but the sole property of said houses would have been his Majesty’s and the whole rent they now let for paid to the King whereas his majesty has only ground rent as settled by the Court of Enquiry at the rate of one eighth part from the Protestant proprietors and one fourth part from those of other religions. 
2ndly - On Governor Sabine coming here as Governor he seized the said house (Viale’s) as the King’s and let it out for twelve dollars per month turning the Claimant’s mother out of it. Nor did Governor Clayton oppose it, not looking upon it as his own but the King’s.  
When he was made Governor after Governor Sabine’s death, he never sent any orders for it to be restored to the claimant’s mother but suffered Governor Hargrave, the then Lieutenant Governor to keep the said house as the Kings and receive the rents of it. 
As I found it in this situation I do not think myself at liberty to make presents of the King’s property but leave graces of this kind to his majesty. 

However, as the Claimant was owed by Governor Clayton as his natural daughter and married and settled in this town I have granted her a lease of the said house for thirty one years at the rent of ten dollars per month which is two dollars a month less than is paid to General Hargrave on condition of her putting it into repair which is now wanting and keeping it so during the term of her lease.

Joseph Sabine

William Hargrave
The case of the bastard daughter of one of Gibraltar’s less admirable Governors has encroached into the history of perhaps the most well-know of Gibraltar’s many Viales  - Sir Emanuel Viale (see LINK). He was for a while actively involved in assisting the British in their dealing with their Spanish allies in the very early 19th century during the Peninsular War. 

Some historians have suggested that John Baptist Viale may have been his father and that he was therefore directly related to a one-time Governor of Gibraltar. It was the kind of relationship that a man like Emanuel would have loved to promote for all it was worth.

However, I suspect that it is far more likely that his father was another Juan Viale - also from Genoa and a contemporary of Juan Baptist and one of the many sutlers on the Rock. More to the point his mother was Maria Viale who as far as I know was nobody’s bastard daughter.

Census of 1777 - Manuel Viale is almost certainly Emanuel