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From "Correspondence and Documents", The Colonial Church Chronicle and Missionary Journal,
No. XXV (July 1849), pages 22-25.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2008


SIR,--There are few English people who set foot on Gibraltar without experiencing surprise at the singular character of the population. The traveller hears on all sides of him his own language, spoken, with sufficient contempt of its grammar and pronunciation, by the so-called British subjects, a very heterogeneous compound of the Jew and Gentile; in the bustling streets he encounters crowds of Moors and Barbary Jews in their respective national dresses; English soldiers and sailors of course, and the Andalusian in his peculiar sombrero and jacket. It may be well supposed that the religious mind of such a community is terribly divided; and such is indeed the case, and it would never answer for one dreaming much about religious unity, if he valued his peace of mind, to select "the Rock" for a residence. But unfortunately this strife of opinion is greater than it need have been, had our own Church, in good time, shown that energy and taken that position in this important place which she ought to have done.

I shall say little of the Jews and Moors; the former have five synagogues, one of which is of considerable size, and several schools; the Mahommedan, as his belief is adapted as well to the wandering tribes of the desert as the settled inhabitants of towns, neither needs nor possesses a place of worship in this land of the stranger.

To begin with those of the Christians who were first settled here. The Roman Catholics have two churches or chapels; at the north end is the old parish church of St. Mary, converted into a cathedral, connected with which are schools; and at the south is a small chapel, to which is also attached a boys' and girls' school. The Vicar Apostolic, or Bishop Hughes, as he has been called since the appointment of our own Bishop, presides over these establishments with a staff of ten priests. When "the Rock" was first surrendered to the British, one priest was deemed sufficient for the service of the Church, as the majority of the inhabitants abandoned it for ever, and settled at Algesiras and San Roque, leaving only a few Genoese; but Bishop Hughes is known to possess his full share of animosity to all communions but that of his own, and leaves nothing undone to extend his authority even beyond the eleven or twelve thousand nominal Roman Catholics that are said to belong to the place, and he has been in consequence gradually increasing the number of his Clergy every year. The population of Gibraltar is so constituted, that whatever communion is most active, must become more or less proselytizing; for there are, or at least were in former years, marriages contracted between Jews and Christians, and Roman Catholics and Protestants; and the offspring of these unions compose that body which is subject to the contending influence of the Protestants and Roman Catholics. The same sort of thing occurs amongst the Protestants themselves, where members of the Church of England intermarry with Presbyterians and Wesleyans.

[23] The comparatively new Protestant chapel is now converted into a cathedral; such a cathedral as it is to be hoped, is without its parallel. It is even without a bell of any kind to call to prayers. There was once, I believe, a small bell turret, which either fell down, or was taken down, because of insufficient support. There has been much talk of erecting a campanile, or detached clock and bell turret, but this trifling matter has not been accomplished. Presiding over the cathedral, and in fact, the civil interest generally, of the Church of England, is the civil Chaplain and Archdeacon, whose agreeable manners and numerous accomplishments all admit; he has, however, arrived at that time of life which entitles him to some permanent assistance. Sunday afternoon service is performed by the zealous Chaplain to the convict establishment, whose duties appear to be of the most laborious description; and for thus adding to them, he is rewarded only by the shadowy honour of a stall in the cathedral. In the Sunday evenings, the prayers of the Church of England are read in Spanish, and a Spanish sermon is delivered by a gentleman who was once a priest in the Spanish Church, whose interesting history is probably known to you and your readers. His whole address is that of a well-educated, high-minded, and independent man. He is married, but there is nothing in this but what redounds to his credit; being the last to merit any of the charges that the Romanists have so often made against those who have abandoned their communion for ours. For the above-named services, and for assisting at the morning prayers, he receives a sum, I believe, under 50l. a year. Considering his peculiar position, his unimpeachable character, and his preclusion from employment in his own country, there appears here a strange want of that English generosity that is proverbial.

With respect to the attendance on Divine worship, I chanced to be at Gibraltar during a wet season; but from what I saw, excepting at Easter time, I should reckon the Sunday morning congregation as under one hundred and twenty, the afternoon, as under fifty, and the evening, as under twelve. Many reasons may be assigned for this miserable attendance, without reflecting in any way upon the officiating Clergy.

Two of these, from having other important business, are precluded from pastoral intercourse with their congregations; but in fact, with few exceptions, there is, amongst the civilians, none of the hereditary love of the Church of England, her rules and services, and veneration for the great men who have shone as lights within her pale, that is met with in other places, at least amongst the well-instructed members of her communion. Hence it is no wonder there is so little personal sacrifice made in her behalf. Out of the enormous sum of 30,000l., which is drawn from "the Rock," for the salaries of its officials, &c. &c., the Church does not come in for 400l. a year. Of the three Clergymen who habitually officiate in the cathedral, one receives nothing for his services, and another, as I have stated, only a precarious 50l. a year. This partiality is the more [23/24] conspicuous, because more than one of the official posts of the garrison are utter sinecures. The occupants of them receive from 500l. to 1000l. a year, for leading a life that may be truly described as otium cum dignitate. In connexion with the cathedral, is a school containing about 150 children. The boys in the upper classes can mostly repeat the Church Catechism in English and Spanish. Besides the cathedral there is the garrison chapel, which is exclusively for the military, and the Garrison Chaplain is, in reality, independent of episcopal jurisdiction. The Wesleyans more than divide the Protestant interest on "the Rock," with the Church of England. The "Mission Protestante," as they ostentatiously denominate their establishment, costs the Parent Society upwards of 800l. a year, the sums raised on "the Rock" being wholly, inadequate to defray the expenses of the Mission. But they can show something for this; their schools are incomparably the most flourishing of all; they have, in the north, a chapel and three schools, looked after by two Ministers; and, at the south, an excellent school-room, which is also used as a chapel. Many Spanish children of both sexes are here instructed in Protestant principles, without being at all pledged to embrace the Protestant faith. A lay-preacher and schoolmaster, who, from long residence on "the Rock," is well acquainted with the Spanish language, is the chief superintendent of this establishment; the junior Minister preaches occasionally in Spanish, both here and in the town. The Roman Catholics and Wesleyans have wisely established chapels and schools at both ends of "the Rock," for the population of Gibraltar is distributed into two towns, divided by the Alameda, and Parade ground; and in any ecclesiastical arrangement, the necessity of a chapel-of-ease at the south is immediately obvious.

I must not omit to mention an act of disinterestedness, on the part of the senior Wesleyan Minister. He purchased at his own cost a vessel, which he fitted up as a floating chapel, for the accommodation of sailors in the port. Having been recalled from Gibraltar, he is willing to part with this vessel to any Protestant communion, at a loss to himself of 100l. And it is to be hoped that the Church of England may embrace this opportunity of furthering the spiritual welfare of the numerous seamen frequenting the harbour.

The list of churches and chapels is not yet completed. The Free Church of Scotland, those Donatists of the North, likewise claim a footing here. A talented preacher has lately been sent out to take the place of the former Presbyterian Minister, and consequences have ensued such as might have been anticipated, from what I have already said respecting the character of the population. Many members of the Church of England have, for Sundays consecutively, frequented his ministrations; some, apparently, because they would show their independence, others for fashion's sake, and not a few doubtless from the natural disposition to follow a crowd. Accordingly, the Free Church of Scotland is impressed with an idea that she has a special mission here; and although until within this present year a large room has been found sufficient for their requirements, they talk of [24/25] erecting a chapel, and adding one more to the numerous Anglo-hispanico schools. The Church of England is not often brought into collision with the Free Church of Scotland, but a glance into the catechisms put forth by the General Assembly of that body, will show how little charity is entertained by them towards the Prelatical Church of England. In their opinions, they are scarcely less fanatical than the Covenanters, whose wild zeal has furnished so rich a field for the author of Waverley; but they are more ambitious, and possess more of the missionary spirit, and therefore will be often found subverting the legitimate influence of our own Church.

As the hereditary Protestants, exclusive of the military of Gibraltar, cannot amount to more than fifteen hundred, it is said that there are already sufficient ministers for the needs of the population. This of course was said with greater force years ago, yet the Wesleyans found room for two ministers and a lay-preacher; and the Free Church of Scotland, as I have just stated, are talking of enlarging their operations. As the Wesleyans make use of the Church Prayers in their chapels, how excellent a thing it would be, if they could any how be brought partially under episcopal superintendence! if they could be made to bear some such relation in the ecclesiastical world to the regular Clergy of the Church of England, as in the military world the East India Company's service does to her Majesty's troops.

I have thus endeavoured to present to you a picture of Gibraltar, as it appears to the eyes of a Churchman. I could write much upon the military character, the indifference of the officers of the line, and the deficient education of many, entering as they do, before manhood opens to them, upon a life of incessant frivolity; but I fear I have already exceeded the limits you can allow for such communications as these. T. D.


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