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The Settlement of Jews in Gibraltar, 1704-1783

Mesod Benady

<plain_text><page sequence="1">The Settlement of Jews in Gibraltar, 1704?1783* MESOD BENADY 1. Gibraltar becomes British 1704 In May 1704, the combined Anglo-Dutch fleet sailed from Lisbon for the Mediterranean. Britain, Holland, Portugal, and Austria were at war against France and Spain in support of the candidature of the Archduke Charles (the son of the Emperor of Austria) to the Spanish throne, in opposition to Philip V, grandson of Louis XIV of France. The fleet was com? manded by Sir George Rooke, with the Dutch Admiral van der Dussen second in command, and was under instructions to co-operate with the Duke of Savoy, engage the French fleet if possible, and alarm the Spanish coast. The fleet appeared off Barcelona but did not have the friendly reception anticipated and was unable to capture the town, so it continued its cruise along the coast of Spain with a view to attacking Cadiz again, but on 28 July at a Council of War held in the bay of Tetuan it was decided that in view of the difficulty expected in capturing Cadiz (as had been demonstrated during the attempt made in 1702) Gibraltar, the subsidiary target, which was strongly fortified but weakly garrisoned, should be attacked instead. After being invested by sea and land and subjected to bombardment by the fleet, the fortress capitulated; not to the allied admirals, but to a Marshal of the Austrian Empire, Prince George of Hesse Darmstadt, who was the pretender Charles's represen? tative aboard the fleet, with the title of Viceroy of the Kingdom of Aragon.1 Under the terms of capitulation most of the inhabi? tants left the town, and the allies occupied a city in which there were at most 70 civilians left, and which was cut off from the interior. Prince George was in command and he was faced with two problems: one was to prepare the fortress for the attack which he knew would soon come from the Spanish and French, and the other to find ways and means of keeping the town supplied. He had ten weeks to prepare to deal with the first problem, and he spent the time in build? ing additional fortifications and batteries along the northern side of the Rock to guard the approaches from the Spanish mainland, but the difficulty in obtaining supplies was to be a perennial problem and * Mr. Benady delivered a paper to the Jewish Historical Society of England, on the Jews in eighteenth-century Gibraltar, on 7 June 1978, and he has combined material from it with some of the contents of a lecture also on Gibraltar which he gave to the Society in 1958, to form this published version.. an important factor in the shaping of the history of Gibraltar from then on. Knox, the British Commissary of Supplies, reported on October 23: 'The whole of this garrison is about 2,600 souls including inhabitants which I vic tuall and have no more left than will last above 10 week at short allowance from this time.'2 The fleet landed what supplies it could and Prince George encouraged ships from all countries to call at Gibraltar by declaring it a free port. John Methuen, the British Ambassador in Lisbon, was very conscious of the importance to British trade of retaining Gibral? tar and keeping Prince George provided with supplies and money from Lisbon, but it was obvious that for fresh provisions and building materials Morocco was the nearest and best source. Prince George did his best to maintain a friendly correspondence with the Emperor Mulay Ismael, who at this juncture was in Tangier, and the Alcaide Aly Benandola, who com? manded the Moroccan forces besieging Ceuta. Hints were dropped that when Charles III ruled Spain, that fortress would be returned to the Moroccans. The best intermediaries were priests and Jews. The newly appointed Proveedor for Charles Hi's forces, Joseph Cortizos, a Dutch Jew of Marrano (New Christian) origin, who still had relatives in Spain, including his uncle, the Viscount de Valdefuentes, was sent to Mor? occo, to purchase grain and horses. In December a special British emissary also arrived in Tangier, the shadowy figure of'the Jew Israel Jones'.3 Right through the ensuing siege, which lasted from October 1704 until May 1705, Gibraltar was kept supplied from Britain, Portugal, and Morocco. In August 1705, the combined fleets sailed from Gibraltar with the Archduke Charles, Prince George, and the bulk of the available forces, under the Earl of Peterborough, to carry the war to the coasts of Cata? lonia and Valencia. Gibraltar was henceforth neglected. 'We want all most every thing but sault provisions; my Lord Peterborough has not left men enough to do the daily duty of the garrison', lamented the Governor on August 19.4 A few days after Gibraltar had been captured Prince George had appointed his lieutenant, Henry Nugent, Count of Val de Soto, an Irish Catholic who had served with him in Hungary and Spain, to be Gover? nor of the fortress, but this was not received very kindly by Brigadier-General Fox, of the Marines, who was the senior British officer at Gibraltar. Methuen 87</page><page sequence="2">88 Mesod Benady commented, 'the consequence of the place to England seems to require an English garrison ... I could wish that with regards the Government of that Place in Particular had been put in the hands of an Englishman and which I think ought yet to be in a handsom manner endeavoured'.5 When Nugent was mortally wounded by a shell in November,6 Prince George, after consultation with the Earl of Galway in Portugal, appointed an English officer, Brigadier-General John Shrimpton, the Major of the 1st Guards, to be Governor of Gibraltar on behalf of the Pretender Charles HI with the rank of major-general in the Spanish army. Shrimpton's appointment was confirmed by Charles and he was left in command of Gibraltar when the fleet sailed in August 1705; but he was away from his duties for long periods and the charge of the place reverted to the senior British officer, Colonel Roger Elliott, although there was a Dutch brigadier-general in the garrison. When Shrimpton died in England in December 1707, Elliott was promptly gazetted Governor of Gibraltar by Queen Anne.7 Prince George had been killed in the fighting at Barcelona the previous year and there was nobody in Charles's entourage to take an interest in the place. The fortress was only kept going by supplies and reinforcements sent by the British Government from England and Portugal. Gibraltar was now a de facto British colony, although it did not become so de jure until the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. II. Jews in Gibraltar before Utrecht, 1705-1712 Colonel Joseph Bennett, who was the chief military engineer at Gibraltar from 1704 to 1713, in his report to the Inspectors of the Army in 1712, made this comment: 'That in a short time after the place was declared an open port, many people ca