The making of modern Gibraltar since 1704

This study concerns the history of Gibraltar following its military conquest in 1704, after which sovereignty of the territory was transferred from Spain to Britain and it became a British fortress and colony. It focuses on the civilian population and shows how a substantial multi-ethnic Roman Catholic and Jewish population, derived mainly from the littorals and islands of the Mediterranean, became settled in British Gibraltar, much of it in defiance of British efforts to control entry and restrict residence. To explain why that population arrived and took root, the book also analyses the changing fortunes of the local economy over 300 years, the occupational opportunities presented and the variable living standards which resulted. Although for most of the period the British authorities primarily regarded Gibraltar as a fortress and governed it autocratically, they also began to incorporate civilians into administration, until it eventually, though still a British Overseas Territory, became internally a self-governing civilian democracy. The principal intention of the study is to show how the demographic, economic, administrative and political history of Gibraltar accounts for the construction, eventually and problematically, of a distinctive ‘Gibraltarian’ identity. With Gibraltar's political future still today contested, this is a matter of considerable political importance.

are an insufficient indication of how successfully a national economy is functioning and distributing its rewards, or of how well it is managed (if managed at all). In the case of Gibraltar in the early nineteenth century, population growth was very rapid, even though punctured by massive drops when epidemics hit. Thereafter it grew significantly, although more slowly. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to deduce too much about the economy from the number of people living in Gibraltar at any one time, or from the slowing down of population growth from the 1830s. As we

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3 Government and politics, 1704–1819 It has been established already that the military conquest of 1704 was followed by failure and frustration. The occupation of Gibraltar in the name of ‘King Charles III’ was not the prelude, as expected, to his triumphant enthronement in Madrid. As a result, and consequent upon partition and the containment of allied troops behind the walls of a fortified town at the south end of an isthmus on the tip of southern Europe, the problem arose as to who would thereafter govern Gibraltar, and how. Those challenging questions were

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Abstract only

Introduction Gibraltar has, of course, a very long history. There is archaeological evidence of human settlement on the peninsula stretching back several thousand years. Moreover, in historic times the Rock of Gibraltar was joined by its isthmus politically as well as geographically to a much larger territory. This was the case, for example, following the first Moorish conquest of southern Spain beginning in 711. The connection was sustained after the region was conquered from the north for the Christian kings of Castile, Gibraltar being captured in 1309, lost in

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2 A fortress economy, 1704–1815 The previous chapter noted the modest growth of the civilian population of Gibraltar until early in the nineteenth century and how its ethnic and religious composition did not conform to official British wishes. This chapter will add a further layer of explanation for those developments by exploring the economic history of Gibraltar in the century or so after the allied occupation. Gibraltar was, of course, sufficiently attractive economically after 1704 to induce civilians to enter and settle, and eventually to bring up families

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Constructing a Gibraltarian identity

11 Towards the future: constructing a Gibraltarian identity History does not stop, and certainly the political destiny of Gibraltar internally and externally was, in May 1969, still to be determined. Accordingly, subsequent political developments are reviewed as an introduction to this final chapter. The new constitution was certainly an important step, confirming and extending Gibraltar’s democratic character. Each elector was now able to vote for up to eight candidates for the fifteen elected seats in the House of Assembly, from whom were selected, by the chief

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10 Big government and self-government, 1940–69 Because it has become a truism it is not necessarily untrue. The evacuation from May 1940 of much of the civilian population from Gibraltar, and especially some of their uncomfortable experiences in Britain and Northern Ireland, did embitter the exiles and those still resident in Gibraltar and did provoke demands for political change.1 The apparently tardy steps being taken by the British authorities to organise repatriation seemed to expose the limited political influence that Gibraltar civilians had over their own

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1 The demographic roots of Gibraltarian identity, 1704–1819 The majority of those currently living in Gibraltar, and many of the Gibraltarborn who live outside, regard themselves as Gibraltarians, with a culture and identity sufficiently distinctive in their eyes to qualify Gibraltar as a nation. This is today repeatedly asserted, and it is a main aim of this book to explore and explain the origins of this self-perception. Undoubtedly its roots and nature are plural, but among its most important origins and character lies the ethnic make-up of the population. It

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6 Governors and the governed, 1815–1914 The civilian population of Gibraltar during the nineteenth century came in some respects to resemble other communities of largely European immigrant origins. Within the British Empire by the end of the century the predominantly white settler societies of Canada, Australia and New Zealand certainly contained higher proportions of people of British and Irish origin than did Gibraltar, but they had all been enriched by immigrant families and their descendants from other parts of continental Europe. The independent republics

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8 Earning a living in the twentieth century The quality of life for entrepreneurs and employees resident in Gibraltar, and of their families, depended considerably on their energies and enterprise; but it is a similar platitude to acknowledge that a great deal also depended on context. Men, and women (to adapt Marx), make their own history, but not in circumstances of their own choosing.1 It was therefore fortunate that in the nineteenth century, as has been shown, the circumstances in which people in Gibraltar found themselves were eventually conducive to an

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