Chapter 1: Why is Gibraltar British?
Text from Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht
13th July 1713
The Catholic King does hereby, for himself, his heirs and successors, yield to the Crown of Great Britain the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging; and he gives up the said propriety to be held and enjoyed absolutely with all manner of right for ever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever.
But that abuses and frauds may be avoided by importing any kind of goods, the Catholic King wills, and takes it to be understood, that the above-named propriety be yielded to Great Britain without any territorial jurisdiction and without any open communication by land with the country round about.
Yet whereas the communication by sea with the coast of Spain may not at all times be safe or open, and thereby it may happen that the garrison and other inhabitants of Gibraltar may be brought to great straits; and as it is the intention of the Catholic King, only that fraudulent importations of goods should, as is above said, be hindered by an inland communications. it is therefore provided that in such cases it may be lawful to purchase, for ready money, in the neighbouring territories of Spain, provisions and other things necessary for the use of the garrison, the inhabitants, and the ships which lie in the harbour.
But if any goods be found imported by Gibraltar, either by way of barter for purchasing provisions, or under any other pretence, the same shall be confiscated, and complaint being made thereof, those persons who have acted contrary to the faith of this treaty, shall be severely punished.
And Her Britannic Majesty, at the request of the Catholic King, does consent and agree, that no leave shall be given under any pretence whatsoever, either to Jews or Moors, to reside or have their dwellings in the said town of Gibraltar; and that no refuge or shelter shall be allowed to any
Moorish ships of war in the harbour of the said town, whereby the communication between Spain and Ceuta may be obstructed, or the coasts of Spain be infested by the excursions of the Moors.
But whereas treaties of friendship and a liberty and intercourse of commerce are between the British and certain territories situated on the coast of Africa, it is always to be understood, that the British subjects cannot refuse the Moors and their ships entry into the port of Gibraltar purely upon the account of merchandising. Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain does further promise, that the free exercise of their religion shall be indulged to the Roman Catholic inhabitants of the aforesaid town.
And in case it shall hereafter seem meet to the Crown of Great Britain to grant, sell or by any means to alienate there from the propriety of the said town of Gibraltar, it is hereby agreed and concluded that the preference of having the sale shall always be given to the Crown of Spain before any others.
Chapter 5: How did Britain relieve the besieged garrison?
Useful primary source quotes:
“The ninth,  a small settee arrived from Minorca: the patron informing us that two others were standing for the rock, the navy manned their boats to assist them, in case the enemy opposed their entrance; but on getting round Europa Point, no such vessels appeared. A Dutch convoy was, however, passing: the boats therefore boldly advanced, and boarded a dogger which had got, during the fog, pretty near the rock. She was a Dane from Malaga, laden with lemons and oranges, which the governor immediately purchased and distributed to the garrison.
Few articles ever arrived more seasonably than this cargo of fruit. The scurvy had made dreadful ravages in our hospitals, and more were daily confined: many, however, unwilling to yield to the first attacks, persevered in their duty to its more advanced stages. It was therefore not uncommon, at this period, to see men, who some months before were hale, and equal to any fatigue, supporting themselves to their posts upon crutches, and even with that assistance scarcely able to move along. The most fatal consequences, in short, to the garrison, were to be apprehended from this terrible disorder, when this Dane was happily directed to our relief. The lemons were immediately administered to the sick, who devoured them with the greatest avidity. The salutary effects were almost instantaneous: in a few days, men who had been considered as irrecoverable left their beds to congratulate their comrades on the prospect of once more becoming useful to their country”.
From: Captain John Drinkwater ‘A History of the Siege of Gibraltar 1779-1783’ “The Spanish admiral having regulated with Sir George Rodney everything concerning the exchange and release of prisoners was permitted on the 13th, to return upon his parole into Spain. He was conducted with part of his suite, in the governor’s carriage, to the Spanish lines, where he was received by his friends, and with them preceded on to the camp. The succeeding day, the remainder of the Spanish officers were taken by the Fortune sloop, and landed at the Orange Grove. Lieutenant Williams, of the navy (who, after taking possession of one of the Spanish prizes in the action off St. Mary’s, was obliged to run her ashore near Cadiz, and surrender himself prisoner), returned with another officer, on board the sloop, to the garrison. The liberal and polite behaviour of the navy and the governor to Don Langara and his countrymen made a sensible and lasting impression on their minds, and was confessedly of great advantage to the English prisoners in Spain; particularly to those taken in our neighbourhood, who ever afterwards were treated with great attention and humanity.”
From: Captain John Drinkwater ‘A History of the Siege of Gibraltar 1779-1783’.
Gibraltar’s walls and main fortifications
Chapter 7: What about the civilians in the Garrison during the siege?
Although, as the wife of a Lieutenant, not strictly a civilian, Catherine Upton’s account as a mother in Gibraltar during the Great Siege gives a great insight into conditions being endured. These are some extracts:
“On the 12th of April,.... the Spaniards at about 11 o’clock began the most furious bombardment ever heard of. Terror and consternation deprived me for a minute of sense and motion. Our house was one of the nearest to the Spanish lines. I seized my children, and ran with them towards Montague’s Bastion, which I knew was bomb-proof. An officer of the 5th regiment met me, saying, ‘For God’s sake madam, where are you going? Do you not know you are going near the enemy’s fire? Stoop with your children under this covered way!’ Six and twenty pounders without number went over my head. I presented my little ones towards heaven and, in agony of prayer, besought the Almighty to preserve us.
“Mr. ____ was on guard the next day, and as soon as he came off, he informed me that an order was given out for all ranks of women to remove to the South. I was again in terrors, but was obliged to obey. My husband carried my little Charlotte, while my son Jack ran by my side. We got safe to the navy hospital, but when there we found it was so crowded with wounded soldiers that we could not procure a place to lie down in except an open gallery. I wept in silence.
FROM: Catherine Upton, The Siege of Gibraltar, from twelfth of April to the twenty-seventh of May, 1781
The date often quoted for the start of the Anglo-Dutch offensive to capture Gibraltar is the 31st July. English correspondence of the same event cites the date some days before. Why is this? The date 31st July is actually the Spanish (Roman Catholic) dates for the event.
This discrepancy arises from the fact that there were two calendars in use at this time – the Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar.
Used today, the Gregorian calendar, also called the Western calendar and the Christian calendar, is
internationally the most widely used calendar. It is named after Pope John Paul Cattermole who introduced it in 1582.
Previously to 1582, the Julian calendar was mostly in use. The reason for the change was to try and bring the date for the celebration of Easter into the time of year that it was first agreed upon in 325AD. The Gregorian calendar was adopted immediately by the Catholic countries of Europe, but Protestant (like England) and Eastern Orthodox countries continued to use the Julian calendar which was adopted, for the sake of convenience of international trade. The last European country to adopt the reform was Greece in 1932.
England officially adopted the Gregorian calendar on 25th March 1752.
To unambiguously specify the date, dual dating or Old Style (O.S) and New Style (N.S.) abbreviations are often used.