The People of Gibraltar
1896 - Charfield-Taylor - Detestable Gibraltarians


Hobart Taylor was born in Chicago in 1865 and became - at one time or the other, a novelist, biographer, an expert on Molière, editor of a literary journal, consul for Spain in Chicago, and the inheritor of a fortune from his uncle Wayne Chatfield on the condition that he change his name to Hobart C. Chatfield-Taylor - which not surprisingly he did. 


(c1898 - National Portrait Gallery - Smithsonian)

Among his literary output is The Land of the Castanet, a clichéd piece of nonsense - at once romantic and at others insulting which - perhaps unfortunately - includes a final chapter on a visit to Gibraltar where I am certain it never became a local best seller.






I suspect Chatfield-Taylor identified “rock scorpions” as anybody actually living in Gibraltar as against the more usual definition in which it refers to those who had been born there. 

By the late 19th century Gibraltar was both a fortress and a colony - which of the two being of more importance to the British depending on the personality of whoever happened to be governing the place at a given moment in time. The inhabitants put up with the inconveniences of living in a fortress because it was posible to make a reasonable living by choosing to belong to the second.

Gibraltarians are probably unique in British colonial history: the original descendants of those 20 000 “thoroughly detestable” fellows had never been subjugated by British power. They were certainly never conquered by England or Britain. Genoese, Spaniards, Jews, Maltese, Portuguese and others . . . they were there because they found it convenient. And however much the colonial authorities might have wished to get rid of them they found it impossible to do so.  The Garrison would never have been able to survive without them.



A posed montage - a Tableau vivant - supposedly showing different Gibraltar types - They are dressed either in ordinary British style civilian clothes or in the Spanish costumes of the Campo area. The ubiquitous Gibraltar Moors and Jews of contemporary literature appear to have been given a miss. (Mid 19th century - Francis Frith but also attributed to Robert Peters Napper)


An irritatingly inaccurate comment as regards what happened in 1704 - the 11th siege of Gibraltar - the scaling of the eastern cliffs was carried out not by Darmstadt’s forces during the assault but by Franco-Spanish troops who were attempting to retake the town. They were shown the way up during the 12th Siege by Simon Susarte, a goatherd from Gibraltar and after the place had been captured.

As regards Tarik it is doubtful whether he ever set foot on the Rock itself.


Tariq ibn Ziyad “burning his boats” after his arrival  somewhere near Gibraltar  (Fareed Suhelmat)


“Old Eliot in 1779” refers to General Augustus Eliott’s defence of the Rock during the 14th or Great Siege of Gibraltar. Chatfield-Taylor’s confession of his fondness for the British soldier is unnecessary. His predilection for stereotyping is more than evident throughout his book.



Gibraltar by night - Fiesta time at the Alameda    (Early 20th century - The Graphic)



(1888 - Gibraltar Directory)

The Cafe and Nightclub of the Universal on Main Street continued its existence - more or less as described - right up to at least the mid 20th century - It was subsequently owned by the D’Amato brothers.


View west from the Moorish Castle - Dwarfish ships at anchor on the Bay   ( 1868 - Wilhelm Burger)




The Eliott memorial - Alameda Gardens (Mid 19th century - Edward Angelo Goodall)




Piper of the 72 Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders      (Mid 19th century - Unknown )