Gibraltar 1704-1789 Gibraltar 1869-1918

Gibraltar British, 1789-1869

Early in the First war of the Coalition (1793-1795), Spain and Britain were allied against France. Then Spain concluded an alliance with France (1796-1808); however, Gibraltar did not experience another siege. On the contrary, as the British navy conducted operations in the Mediterranean, Gibraltar gained in importance as a naval base. A Yellow Fever empidemic in 1805 killed a third of the population. In 1808 Napoleon Bonaparte made his brother Joseph King of Spain, causing the Popular War, in which Britain supported the Guerrilleros.

From 1815 to 1869, the British hold on Gibraltar was uncontested. "The Rock" being a naval base, military events and political crises anywhere in the Mediterranean affected Gibraltar, such as the disturbances on Sicily 1820, Rebellion in Greece 1821-1827, the Russo-Ottoman War 1828-1829, the revolutions of 1830, the French conquest of Algeria from 1830 onward, the Ottoman-Egyptian conflict 1833, civil war in Spain from 1833 on, the Ottoman expedition into Tripolitania and Cyrenaica 1835, the Ottoman-Egyptian conflict 1839-1840, the revolutions of 1848 in Italy and Wallachia, the Crimean War 1853-1856, the Wars of Italian Unification 1859-1861.
The British Navy was fighting only in the naval Battle of Navarino 1827, securing the independence of Greece from the Ottoman Empire, and in the Crimean War 1853-1856, fighting Russia to protect the Ottoman Empire. In the other events, the British position ranged from observation and non-interference to support/obstruction; when Garibaldi's Redshirts sailed from Genoa to Sicily in 1860, they enjoyed the protection of the British navy.
In 1864 Britain ceded the Ionian Islands to Greece. Construction of the Suez Canal (begun in 1859) was completed by 1869. In the British fleet, steamships constructed from steel and requiring a network of coaling stations, gradually replaced wooden sailboats; of course, Gibraltar became a prominent coaling station, coal being shipped in from Britain.

In 1806 a port administration was established to deal with the rise in commercial vessels docking in Gibraltar. In 1816, the population numbered 10,136, in 1826 15,480, in 1831 17,024, in 1844 15,823. The Roman Catholic element dominated, the largest ethnic group were the Genoese.
In 1823 Gibraltar gave refuge to Spanish liberals.
In 1830 Gibraltar was proclaimed a Crown Colony and given a Charter of Justice; the Gibraltar Police Force was established
From Gibraltar, British goods were smuggled into Spain. Gas works were established in 1857. A cholera epidemic in 1865 killed 572.

History of Gibraltar, from gibnet
Timeline of Gibraltar History, from Govt. of Gibraltar Website
DOCUMENTS Maps of Gibraltar, from the CIA factbook and from cwgames
REFERENCE William G.F. Jackson, The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar, Grendon : Gibraltar Books (1987) 1998

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on April 4th 2007

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