The People of Gibraltar
1817 - Exchange Library of Gibraltar - The Foundation Stone

(Copied from the original publication)

The Ceremony of laying the Foundation Stone of the Exchange took place on the 16th inst. (1) At two o’clock H.E. the Lt. Governor, with Maj. Gen Sir C. Holloway, and their personal staff, accompanied by the following Gentlemen in the order denoted, proceeded from the convent to the Town Alameda (2) (See LINK

H.M. Naval Commissioner and the Civil Judge
The Captain of the Port,
The Garrison Chaplain and the Vicar of the Roman Catholic Persuasion,
Consuls of Foreign Powers,
Grand Jury and Merchants’ Society, representing the Protestant Persuasion,
John Maria Boschetti Esq (see LINKand the Elders of the Church, (3) Representing the Roman Catholic Persuasion,
Joseph Abuderham, Esq and nine other Gentlemen representing the Hebrew Persuasionm,
Subscribers generally (4)

The procession was received on its arrival, by a Guard of Honor, commanded by Maj. Jones of the 26th Regt. with the customary compliments.

Mr Sweetland, Captain of the Port then read an Inscription previously prepared on a plate of silver to the following effect:
This Exchange
was Erected by the
Voluntary Subscription
of the
Laid this 16th Day of April, 1817
By His Excellency
General GEORGE DON, G.C.H. Lieutenant Governor
Commanding Engineer,
David Johnston, Esq Chairman of the Merchants
Representing the Protestant Persuasion,
John Maria Boschetti, Esq, the Roman Catholic
Joseph Abuderham, Esq, the Hebrew Persuasion.

H.E. the Lt. Governor next addressed those present in the following words:
Gentlemen in laying the foundation stone of this building, dedicated to the purposes of a public Exchange I feel convinced that all present unite in one in the sincere hope that Commercial prosperity, the offspring of persecuting industry, and undeviating integrity, will, under the protecting influence of Great Britain, still continue to diffuse its benefits over the community: and this Rock, known to antiquity only as the lofty boundary of Europe, the limit of prudent navigation and destined as it would seem by nature to unproductiveness, will not only exist a proud monument of the heroic actions of an ELLIOT (see LINK), and his brave Companions in arms, but afford at the same time, an example of the commercial activity and resources of our country, and of the wisdom of her laws, policy, and institutions. 

When I reflect upon the peculiar difficulties of the period at which this beneficial, as well as ornamental, Work is commenced, it is impossible too highly to appreciate that public spirit which has induced the commercial Gentlemen of Gibraltar to cooperate, with such Zeal and unanimity, in carrying the design into execution. 

Though unable to express in adequate terms my opinion of such conduct, you may be assured, Gentlemen, of my most anxious and strenuous assistance during the progress of this work, as well as on every occasion when the Mercantile interests of our Country  and the interests of the Inhabitants of this Territory are concerned. 

And whether the prospect of as direct intercourse with the more distant parts of the extended dominions of our Sovereign, shall, if realised, contribute to the support of your further commerce, or in whatever other manner your efforts may be destined to meet with their merited reward, I feel confident that, while in the firm and persevering spirit, now evinced, shall continue to exist, the difficulties of the times will only operate as a fresh stimulus to your exertions, and be the means of striking out new paths of industry. 

Gentlemen, That you may long continue to enjoy the advantages that this Exchange, as a place of union  for the transactions of your affairs,is calculated to give, is my most sincere and heartfelt wish.
The silver plate was then deposited, with a few British Coins, of the late issue, in a recess made in a stone placed at the N.W angle of the projecting front of the intended building.

The ceremony of fixing the stone by using the Trowel and Mallet, was then gone through by Lt Governor, M. Gen. Sir Charles Holloway, and Messrs Johnstone, Boschetti and Abuderham, on the part of the Protestant, Roman Catholic and Hebrew Persuasions respectively, under a complimentary Salute from the Guard, with the Air of God Save The King, and the hearty cheers of all present.

The Procession then accompanied His Excellency to the Convent, and took their leave. At six, as many of the Gentlemen who had assisted at the Ceremony of the Morning, as could be accommodated dined at the Convent; and the Evening passed with that hilarity and good humour which the recollection of the circumstances of the day was calculated to excite.

We understand, that the Plate, which was remarkably well executed, was engraved by Mr. B.W.Lewis.

(1) 16th of April 1817
(2) Yet another name for today’s John Mackintosh Square (See LINK
(3) An unelected group of well-off Roman Catholic individuals who were involved in everything and anything that had to do with the Catholic Church's affairs

If you feel that you would like to know more about the Exchange, please check the following links:

1817 - Exchange Library of Gibraltar - The Response
1818 - Exchange Library of Gibraltar - The Opening Ceremony 
1950 - Exchange Library of Gibraltar - El “Gordo”