Colonel Thomas James (see LINK) is the oldest reference I have of anybody writing about people appointed as governors of Gibraltar after its takeover in 1704 by Anglo-Dutch forces in the name of Charles III pretender to the Spanish throne.
Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, Archduke of Austria and for a while Charles III pretender to the throne of Spain ( 1711 - attributed to Martin van Meytens )
James’ History of the Herculean Straits – published in 1771, only mentions three of the original governors appointed during the first decade of the 18th century.
Prince George Hesse-Darmstadt (1704) - As the top representative of Charles III he was in effect overall commander from the moment that Gibraltar was under allied control.
In one thousand seven hundred and four, ( before the take-over) the marquis de Salinas was the Spanish governor, succeeded by the prince of Hesse-Darmstadt, commander in chief, in one thousand seven hundred and four, and one thousand seven hundred and five.
Diego de Salinas, Military Governor of Gibraltar leading the exodus out of the Rock after the takeover by Anglo-Dutch forces in 1704
Prince George, however, did not stay long in Gibraltar after having successfully defended it against the inevitable Spanish response and according to James:
Major-General Ramos (1705) - King Charles the third sailed out of the bay of Gibraltar with the prince of Hesse, on board the fleet with the earl of Peterborough, on the fifth of August, N. S. they proceeded to Altea bay, where his catholic majesty appointed major-general Ramos, who had assisted the prince of Hesse D'Armstadt in the Siege of Gibraltar, to be governour (sic) of that place, sending with him about four hundred men for its greater Security. . . .
. . . Major General Ramos was appointed governor of Gibraltar by his catholic majesty Charles the third in one thousand seven hundred and five.
. . . Major general Ramos, who was sent to Gibraltar as governour by the prince of Hesse, did not remain there long, for I find him reinforcing the count of Cifuenteo (sic) at Denia.
The Archduke and the Earl of Peterborough did indeed set sail for Gibraltar where Prince George advised them to make for Cataluña where he felt there was considerable sympathy for his cause. In August 1705 they were received with open arms in Altea and Denia. The Conde de Cifuentes then prepared the uprising in the province of Valencia, which was overrun by the troops of Juan Bautista Bassett y Ramos. This is the only Ramos I have been able to uncover that might fit the bill – but he seems very unlikely to be the General in question. Nevertheless he did take part in the fighting during the taking of Gibraltar and must have accompanied Hesse when he left for Catalonia.
Juan Bautista Bassett y Ramos ( An idealised portrait by Manuel Boix )
Roger Elliot (sic) (1706) . . . succeeded major general Ramos as governor in one thousand seven hundred and six: how long he enjoyed that honourable command, I know not.
According to James, Elliott was succeeded by Colonel Congreve but gives no dates. There is no mention of John Shrimpton.
In 1782 Ignacio López de Ayala (see LINK) in his Historia de Gibraltar had this to say about the first Governors of the Rock.
Prince George Hesse-Darmstadt - Quedó en la plaza de gobernador el príncipe de Armstad
As a Spaniard he attached little importance to what he considered minor players in the grand scheme of things. The next governor mentioned is Lord Portmore in 1727.
Another 18th century source is John Drinkwater (see LINK) author of the definitive History of the Great Siege. Like James he offers the same three names.
Prince George Hesse-Darmstadt
Major-General Ramos (6th August 1705 ) - His majesty then appointed Major-General Ramos who had been present during the siege, governor of Gibraltar; and sent with him about 400 men for its greater security.
Colonel Roger Elliot (sic) - General Ramos afterwards resigned his government, and was succeeded by Colonel Roger Elliot.
A young Prince George of Hesse
By the early 19th century the same three names continue to crop up in the literature as – for example - in a list of Governors compiled by Robert Montgomery Martin and published in his monumental British Colonial Library (see LINK) in 1837.
Prince George Hesse-Darmstadt - 1704
Major-General Ramos – 1705
Colonel Roger Elliott – 1706-1711
Elliott, however, is reported to have been followed by General Thomas Stanwix. Shrimpton continues to be missing from the list.
In 1844 the Old Inhabitant’s Handbook of Gibraltar offers a list of what he or she called –
A succession of governors, Lieut. Governors, and Commandants of the fortress of Gibraltar since the capture in 1704 - It starts as follows:
Prince of Hesse (1704)
Maj. Gen. Ramos, Governor (1705)
Col. Elliott, Governor (1706)
General Thomas Stanwix (1711)He gives no further details.
Plan of Gibraltar designed by Colonel D’Harcourt specifically dedicated to Prince George of Hess-Darmstadt
In 1863 another Spanish historian Francisco María Turbino acknowledges Hesse as overall commander, quotes Drinkwater’s reference to the appointment of the Spanish Governor and mentions Elliott.
General Ramos - El general español Ramos, que durante el sitio habia estado en la ciudad y que se hallaba al servicio del Archiduque fue nombrado gobernador. . . .
Roger Elliott - Algunos meses después Ramos resigno el mando en manos del coronel Roger Elliot, primer gobernador inglés en propiedad de la plaza, sin que sepamos los motivos que precedieron a este suceso.
The Gibraltar Directory of 1879 (see LINK) gives a list under the following heading: Governors, Lieutenant Governors, and Commandants of the Fortress of Gibraltar from its acquisition by the English to the present time.
H.R.H. the Prince of Hesse (1704)
Major General Ramos, Governor (1705)
Colonel Elliott, Governor (1706)
General Thomas Stanvix (sic) (1711)The Directory gives no further details
At the start of the 20th century there was little progress in identifying who had been appointed what after 1704. The first Governor mentioned by the Gibraltar Directory of 1937 is Lord Portmore who arrived in 1727. None of the original Governors are given a mention in the next one which was published in 1939. Nor do they appear in Geoffrey Theodore Garratt’s 1939 history - Gibraltar and the Mediterranean.
Allen Andrews, however, in Proud Fortress (1959) (see LINK) introduces two new characters:
Henry Nugent - Among the Prince’s officers there was serious disloyalty. Hesse had foolishly appointed as his Deputy-Governor an Irish Catholic named Major Nugent who held the Spanish title of Count Valdesoto. As a Roman Catholic, Nugent could not hold the Queen’s commission in the British Army, but he received lightning promotion as a major-general in the hardly-existent Spanish army of the Pretender Charles III. This made him senior to Brigadier Fox commanding the English marines, who promptly demanded to go home. Hesse refused, and an unveiled war broke out between Fox and Nugent.And then later:
Brigadier Shrimpton - The clear, clean heat of May yielded to the dank and dispiriting humidity that was the local peculiarity of the Rock. . . . Discipline began to slacken. Hesse knew that he had no more action awaiting him in Gibraltar and sniffed around for the next battle. Brigadier Shrimpton of the Marines, who had come in on one of the December reliefs and was now Deputy-Governor, noted possible plunder for the future.
Ernle Bradford in his Gibraltar - The History of a Fortress (1971) names nobody other than Prince George of Hesse.
Hesse - appointed an Irish Catholic as governor . . . which can hardly have been to the taste of Admiral Rooke - as second in command he chose a Spanish general.
In 1974 George Hills (see LINK) in his extensively researched Rock of Contention includes all those mentioned already.
Prince George Hesse-Darmstadt – Although Hills never refers to his position as Governor it is evident that as the Pretender’s representative he was very much in command of the entire Rock.
Henry Nugent on the other hand is clearly identified.
As mentioned previously Nugent’s Irishness accounts for Brigadier Fox’s Protestant prejudice and dislike. But there was more to it than that - Nugent had fought on the Catholic side during William III Irish campaign whereas Fox had fought for William. But he was nevertheless a very good soldier and had served the House of Austria for many years. Hesse had used him during his successful negotiations for the surrender of the fortress. In the final analysis it was an appointment that pleased nobody – including
1690 - The Battle of the Boyne – Nugent and Fox are in there somewhere - on opposite sides ( Jan van Huchtenburrg )
Marqués Don Juan de Ahumada – The position of Ahumada as Governor is ambiguous to say the least. According to Hills the Pretender was not overjoyed by the appointment of Nugent. His first reaction:
. . . . was a gentle rebuke, the appointment would stand as an interim measure . . . a few days later (he) named the Marquis Don Juan de Ahumada Governor.
The affair rumbled on for some time. The Marquis apparently never set foot on the Rock and Nugent continued to upset Fox – which according to Hills is one of those obscure historical events that on analysis seem to have had enormous consequences. Fox’s refusal to accept Nugent as Governor:
. . . was the first little step in the process which ended eight and a half years later in Spain’s loss of Gibraltar.
Hills is referring to the Treaty of Utrecht (see LINK) and the fact that Gibraltar eventually lost its Spanish ties with the Austrian Pretender and became a British territory.
Major General John Shrimpton - When Nugent was killed in action Hesse named Shrimpton as “Governor”. However Hills suggests that the wording of his appointment was ambiguous and that Hesse had simply appointed him as an officer commanding the troops that were holding the fortress:
Having at present the honour to command the Queen’s troops . . . the King of Spain (actually the Archduke) has authorised me to make him Governor and General of this fortress.
Also according to Hills the reason that Thomas, Drinkwater and Montgomery all fail to mention Shrimpton is that they considered him to be a lieutenant Governor rather than the real McCoy. Another excuse is that he was an unmitigated scoundrel and best forgotten. Soon after he left the Rock, Hesse himself was also killed in action in Barcelona and Shrimpton was able to prosper by plundering Gibraltar for the next three years.
Major General Ramos - One of the reasons why Shrimpton wasn’t acknowledged by Hesse as a proper Governor was that the Austrian Pretender was understandably keen that governors appointed to newly gained territories in Spain should all be Spanish. The suggestion is that Shrimpton left the Rock in February 1707 with a 15 gun salute being fired in his honour and that somebody was there to replace him.
Almost certainly his successor was the Spanish Major General Ramos . . . . Ramos embarked with Prince George on the Ranelagh in 1705 and went with him and the Archduke to Barcelona.
Hills also proposes that the phrase “Sending with him about four hundred men” used by Drinkwater and quoted in full above suggests he was not actually in Gibraltar when he was appointed.
Sir John Leake defeats the French Baron Pontis – and relieves Gibraltar
Colonel Roger Elliot (sic) (1709) - The colonel seems to be something of an unknown quantity.
Colonel Roger Eliott, the senior of the two British regimental commanders, took over from Ramos, when and in what circumstances is also unknown. The most likely date is 1709.
Brigadier-General Thomas Stanwix (1711) - On January 1711, a Brigadier-General Thomas Stanwix was sent to replace Elliot, but took his time getting there and it was not until June 1711 that the guns of Gibraltar fired 31 rounds to mark “Major-General Ellyott’s departure”
Henry Nugent (1704) - 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 Governor 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
Brigadier Shrimpton (1705) - 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 III 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;
Roger Elliott (1707) . . .but he (Shrimpton) 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.
William Jackson’s The Rock of the Gibraltarians (1990) adds to the general confusion by suggesting that at least one of the above mentioned characters was never actually a governor and introduces a new name – albeit rather ambiguously.
Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt – Impossible to exclude. He gives a precise date for his appointment - 4 August 1704
The taking of Gibraltar (Unknown )
Henry Nugent, Count of Valdesoto - (6 August 1704) - Hesse did not help by appointing Henry Nugent Count of Valdesoto as Hapsburg governor.
Prince Henry of Hesse-Darmstadt (1705) - Prince George’s brother, was wounded in action during the well known attack from the so-called inaccessible east side of the Rock lead by Colonel Figueroa with a little help from the goatherd Simon Susarte (see LINK) . . . .
Prince Henry’s wound cannot have been serious because on the 13 November his brother appointed him Governor in Nugent’s place.
Annoyingly, Jackson fails to mention this unlikely appointment in his chronological list of governors – a feature which he includes at the start of each of his chapters.
Major General Shrimpton (1705) - After the departure of the two princes of Hesse with the Archduke for Barcelona in August 1705, Major General Shrimpton, the British Commandant took over a Governor . . .
Major General Ramos (1705) - The Archduke is reputed to have appointed a Spanish General Ramos instead of Shrimpton, but the Gibraltar Archivist has proved that this was not so. Ramos was appointed to an entirely different governorship.
Brigadier Roger Elliott (24 December 1707)
Brigadier Thomas Stanwix (24 January 1711)
These last two appear on Jackson’s chronological list as having been appointed by Queen Anne. The date of Stanwix’s appointment agrees with that given by Hills – Elliott’s is two years earlier – presumably to make up for the gap left by the exclusion of Ramos.
The Marqués Don Juan de Ahumada does not warrant a mention.
In 1996 Maurice Harvey published his Gibraltar. (See LINK) As regards governors, his was a minimalist approach. He only accounts for two of them.
Prince George Hesse-Darmstadt (1704) He could hardly leave him out
John Shrimpton - On the 10th of December they (Hesse and company) left the Tagus under the command of John Shrimpton of the 1st Foot Guards along with 400 Dutch troops . . . Darmstadt proposed that Shrimpton become Governor, but the Government in England would accept no responsibility for the administration of Gibraltar and Shrimpton received a temporary commission serving Charles III of Spain. . . Darmstadt departed for Catalonia . . . leaving . . . Major Shrimpton as Governor. Gibraltar was not well served by its governors over the next few years . .
Well one can say that again! But it can’t have been the reason why Harvey decided to ignore Nugent, Ahumada, Ramos, Elliott and Stanwix. Shrimpton was one of the worst.
In 2004, Denis King wrote a well researched article in the Gibraltar Heritage Journal - Prince George of Hessen – A hero in the “Old Mould”.
Note the old pronunciation and spelling for the Old and New Moles – hence the pun in the title of David King’s article
Prince George Hesse-Darmstadt – is obviously much mentioned. His brother also appears in the history:
Prince Henry Hesse-Darmstadt - He (Prince George) ordered the reserves to be led by his brother Henry to dislodge the enemy. . . Prince Henry was seriously wounded on the shoulder and took twelve weeks to recover.
Henry Nugent - Prince George made even more enemies when he injudiciously appointed Henry Nugent, Count of Valdesoto as a governor, for Nugent being an Irish Catholic upset Colonel Fox who had fought against him in Ireland. . . .
Count of Ahumada - According to Denis King the imperial representative of the Archduke in London was unhappy about Prince George’s decision to appoint Nugent and recommended that he ought to appoint the Count of Ahumada instead. The Prince seems to have ignored this advice and appointed Shrimpton instead.
Brigadier Shrimpton - Fate now took a hand when both Fox and Nugent were killed in action
. . . Nugent was buried in the garden of the Franciscan Convent by Fr. (Romero de) Figueroa. (See LINK) Seizing the opportunity Prince George appointed Brigadier Shrimpton of the Guards “military commander” . . . he himself remained in overall charge.
In 2010 the Spanish historian Dr Rafael Vidal wrote an article with the title - Gibraltar, Un conflicto de Trescientos Años in which he more or less lists chronologically those who he believed to have been appointed governors of Gibraltar just after the Anglo-Dutch takeover of 1704 right up to Elliott’s appointment in 1709.
Henry Nugent - Al abandonar Hesse, para marchar sobre Barcelona, designó para ocupar el puesto de gobernador a un irlandés católico, Henry Nugent, al servicio de España desde hacia bastantes años . . .
Marqués de Ahumada - Al general Nugent le sucedió un nombre español, el marqués de Ahumada.
Shrimpton - El primer sitio, acaecido desde finales de 1704 a principios de 1705, obligó a designar a un militar, recayendo en el británico, Shripton, (sic) aunque eso no fue óbice para que en el último año, el propio Carlos III desembarcara en Gibraltar, siendo la primera de las ciudades españolas que rendía pleitesía al nuevo monarca.
General Ramos - En 1707, restablecida en cierto modo la tranquilidad, vuelve a recaer el gobierno de la ciudad en el mariscal español Ramos.
Roger Elliott - En 1709 hay cambio de gobernador, pasando en esta ocasión al coronel inglés Elliot (sic) . . .
I am sure that there are other quotable sources that I not been able to trace but I think the above is sufficient to allow anybody remotely interested in such esoterics to arrive at some sort of conclusion. Rather than give the reader mine I will allow him or her to arrive at their own.
A very British Gibraltar in the late 18th century ( Dominic Serres )