The War of Jenkins' Ear (known as Guerra del Asiento in Spain) was a conflict between Britain and Spain lasting from 1739 to 1748, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its unusual name, coined by British historian Thomas Carlyle in 1858,refers to an ear severed from Robert Jenkins, a captain of a British merchant ship. There is no evidence that supports the stories that the severed ear was exhibited before the British Parliament.
The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.
Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.
Thomas Carlyle was a Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, translator, historian, mathematician, and teacher. Considered one of the most important social commentators of his time, he presented many lectures during his lifetime with certain acclaim in the Victorian era. One of those conferences resulted in his famous work On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History where he explains that the key role in history lies in the actions of the "Great Man", claiming that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men".
The seeds of conflict began with the separation of an ear from Jenkins following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731, eight years before the war began. Popular response to the incident was tepid until several years later when opposition politicians and the British South Sea Company hoped to spur outrage against Spain, believing that a victorious war would improve Britain’s trading opportunities in the Caribbean.Also ostensibly providing the impetus to war against the Spanish Empire was a desire to pressure the Spanish not to renege on the lucrative asiento contract, which gave British slavers permission to sell slaves in Spanish America.
The South Sea Company was a British joint-stock company founded in 1711, created as a public-private partnership to consolidate and reduce the cost of national debt. The company was also granted a monopoly to trade with South America and nearby islands, hence its name. When the company was created, Britain was involved in the War of the Spanish Succession and Spain controlled South America. There was no realistic prospect that trade would take place, and the company never realised any significant profit from its monopoly. Company stock rose greatly in value as it expanded its operations dealing in government debt, peaking in 1720 before collapsing to little above its original flotation price; the economic bubble became known as the South Sea Bubble.
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.
The asiento was the license issued by the Spanish crown, by which a set of merchants received the monopoly on a trade route or product. They were included in some peace treaties. An example of it was the payment of a fee, granting legal permission to sell a fixed number of enslaved Africans in the Spanish colonies. They were usually sold to foreigners, mainly Portuguese. They were also considered a tangible asset, comparable to tax farming, and a source of profit for the Spanish crown. The original impetus to import enslaved Africans was to relieve the indigenous inhabitants of the colonies from the labor demands of the Spanish colonists. Dutch merchants became involved in the slave trade. In 1713, the British were awarded the right to the asiento in the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession. The British government passed its rights to the South Sea Company. The British asiento ended with the 1750 Treaty of Madrid between Great Britain and Spain.
The war resulted in heavy British casualties in North America. After 1742, the war was subsumed by the wider War of the Austrian Succession, which involved most of the powers of Europe. Peace arrived with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. From the British perspective, the war was notable because it was the first time that a regiment of colonial American troops (Oglethorpe's Regiment) was raised and placed "on the Establishment" – made a part of the regular British Army – and sent to fight outside North America.
The War of the Austrian Succession involved most of the powers of Europe over the issue of Archduchess Maria Theresa's succession to the Habsburg Monarchy. The war included peripheral events such as King George's War in British America, the War of Jenkins' Ear, the First Carnatic War in India, the Jacobite rising of 1745 in Scotland, and the First and Second Silesian Wars.
The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748, sometimes called the Treaty of Aachen, ended the War of the Austrian Succession following a congress assembled on 24 April 1748 at the Free Imperial City of Aachen, called Aix-la-Chapelle in French and then also in English, in the west of the Holy Roman Empire. The resulting treaty was signed on 18 October 1748 by Great Britain, France, and the Dutch Republic. Two implementation treaties were signed at Nice on 4 December 1748 and 21 January 1749 by Austria, Spain, Sardinia, Modena, and Genoa.
Oglethorpe's Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army formed for service in North America during the War of Jenkins' Ear. It was commanded by James Oglethorpe, first Governor of Georgia.
At the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht gave Britain a thirty-year asiento , or contract-right, to supply an unlimited number of slaves to the Spanish colonies, and 500 tons of goods per year. This provided British traders and smugglers potential inroads into the traditionally closed markets in Spanish America. But Britain and Spain were often at war during this period, fighting one another in the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–20), the Blockade of Porto Bello (1726) and the Anglo-Spanish War (1727–1729).
The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was a European conflict of the early 18th century, triggered by the death of the childless Charles II of Spain in November 1700. His closest heirs were members of the Austrian Habsburg and French Bourbon families; acquisition of an undivided Spanish Empire by either threatened the European balance of power.
The War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-1720) was caused by Spanish attempts to regain territorial losses in Italy agreed in the 1713 Peace of Utrecht. Spain recaptured Sardinia in 1717 without opposition but when followed by landing on Sicily in July 1718, it led to the formation of the Quadruple Alliance on 2 August 1718, comprising Britain, France, Emperor Charles VI and the Dutch Republic.
The Blockade of Porto Bello was a failed British naval action against the Spanish port of Porto Bello in present-day Panama between 1726 and 1727 as part of the Anglo-Spanish War. The British were attempting to blockade the port to stop valuable treasure convoys leaving for Spain. After months spent on the ineffective and costly operation, during which not a single British shot was fired, on Admiralty orders, the British finally withdrew, with the loss from tropical disease of some 3,000 to 4,000 men from a complement of 4,750.
In the Treaty of Seville (1729), following the Anglo-Spanish War, Britain had accorded Spanish warships a "Visitation Right", the right to stop British traders and check them for smuggled cargo to verify that the asiento was being respected. Over time, the Spanish became suspicious British traders were abusing the contract and began to board ships and confiscate their cargoes.After very strained relations between 1727 and 1732, the situation improved between 1732 and 1737, when Sir Robert Walpole supported Spain during the War of the Polish Succession. But the causes of the problems remained and, when the opposition against Walpole grew, so did anti-Spanish sentiment among the British public.
The Treaty of Seville was signed on 9 November 1729 between Great Britain, France, and Spain, concluding the Anglo-Spanish War (1727).
Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford,, known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British statesman who is generally regarded as the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain.
The War of the Polish Succession (1733–35) was a major European war sparked by a Polish civil war over the succession to Augustus II, which the other European powers widened in pursuit of their own national interests. France and Spain, the two Bourbon powers, attempted to check the power of the Austrian Habsburgs in western Europe, as did the Kingdom of Prussia, whilst Saxony and Russia mobilized to support the eventual Polish victor. The slight amount of fighting in Poland resulted in the accession of Augustus III, who in addition to Russia and Saxony, was politically supported by the Habsburgs.
Walpole gave in to the pressure and approved the sending of troops to the West Indies and a squadron to Gibraltar under Admiral Nicholas Haddock, provoking an immediate Spanish reaction. Spain asked for financial compensation, and in turn the British demanded annulment of the Visitation Right. In response, King Philip V of Spain annulled the asiento and had all British ships in Spanish harbours confiscated.[ citation needed ]
The West Indies is a region of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean that includes the island countries and surrounding waters of three major archipelagos: the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the Lucayan Archipelago.
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an area of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and is bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, home to over 30,000 people, primarily Gibraltarians.
Nicholas Haddock was an admiral in the Royal Navy and Commander-in-Chief of Britain's naval forces in the Mediterranean between 1738 and 1742. Despite an active and successful early and middle career, his reputation was tarnished in 1740 when he failed to prevent the Spanish and French fleets from combining to support an invasion of Italy. Amid public outcry he was forced to resign his naval responsibilities and return to England, where he fell into a melancholic state.
The Convention of Pardo, an attempt to mediate the dispute, broke down. On 14 August, Britain recalled its ambassador to Spain and officially declared war on 23 October 1739. Despite the Pacte de Famille, France remained neutral. Walpole was deeply reluctant to declare war and reportedly remarked of the jubilation in Britain "they are ringing their bells, soon they will be wringing their hands".
The incident that gave its name to the war had occurred in 1731, off the coast of Florida, when the British brig Rebecca was boarded by the Spanish patrol boat La Isabela, commanded by the guarda costa (effectively privateer) Juan de León Fandiño. After boarding, Fandiño cut off the left ear of the Rebecca's captain, Robert Jenkins, whom he accused of smuggling (although Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette for 7 October 1731, says it was Lieutenant Dorce).Fandiño told Jenkins, "Go, and tell your King that I will do the same, if he dares to do the same." In March 1738, Jenkins was ordered to testify before Parliament, presumably to repeat his story before a committee of the House of Commons. According to some accounts, he produced the severed ear as part of his presentation, although no detailed record of the hearing exists. The incident was considered alongside various other cases of "Spanish Depredations upon the British Subjects", and was perceived as an insult to Britain's honour and a clear casus belli.
The conflict was named by essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle, in 1858, one hundred and ten years after hostilities ended. Carlyle mentioned the ear in several passages of his History of Friedrich II (1858), most notably in Book XI, chapter VI, where he refers specifically to "the War of Jenkins's Ear".
Following Jenkins' testimony and petitions from other West Indies merchants, the opposition in Parliament voted on 28 March 1738 to send "an Address" to the King, asking his Majesty to seek redress from Spain. More than one year later, all diplomatic means having been exhausted, on 10 July 1739 King George II authorised the Admiralty Board to seek maritime reprisals against Spain.On 20 July, Vice Admiral Edward Vernon and a fleet of warships departed Britain, bound for the West Indies, to attack Spanish ships and "possessions". War was not declared against Spain until Saturday, 23 October 1739 (Old Style), one day after the attack on La Guaira, the principal port of the Province of Venezuela, which was controlled by the Royal Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas.
After arriving at the island of Antigua in early October 1739, Vice Admiral Edward Vernon sent three ships under the command of Captain Thomas Waterhouse to intercept Spanish merchant ships that made the route between La Guaira and Porto Bello. Waterhouse spotted several small vessels in the port of La Guaira and decided to attack, implementing a rudimentary plan. The governor of the Province of Venezuela, Brigadier Don Gabriel de Zuloaga had prepared the port defences, and Spanish troops were well-commanded by Captain Don Francisco Saucedo. On 22 October, Waterhouse entered the port of La Guaira flying the Spanish flag. Expecting attack, the port gunners were not deceived by his ruse; they waited until the British squadron was within range and then simultaneously opened fire. After three hours of heavy shelling, Waterhouse ordered a withdrawal. The battered British squadron sailed to Jamaica to undertake emergency repairs. Trying later to explain his actions, Waterhouse argued that the capture of a few small Spanish vessels would not have justified the loss of his men.
One of the first major actions of the war was the British capture, on 22 November 1739, of Portobelo, a silver-exporting town on the coast of Panama; the move was intended to damage Spain's finances and weaken its naval capabilities. The poorly defended port was attacked by six ships of the line under Vice Admiral Edward Vernon who captured it within twenty-four hours. The British occupied the town for three weeks before withdrawing, having destroyed its fortifications, port and warehouses.
As a result, the Spanish changed their trading practices. Rather than trading at centralised ports with a few large treasure fleets, they began using a larger number of smaller convoys trading at a wide variety of ports. Portobelo's economy was so damaged that it did not recover until the building of the Panama Canal nearly two centuries later.
In Britain, the victory was greeted with much celebration. In 1740, at a dinner in honour of Vernon in London, the song "Rule Britannia" was performed in public for the first time.The suburb of Portobello on the Firth of Forth and Portobello Road in London are numbered among various places in Britain named after this victory. More medals were awarded to participants than for any other event in the eighteenth century. The conquest of a port in Spain's American empire was widely considered a foregone conclusion by many Patriot Whigs and opposition Tories, who pressed a reluctant Walpole to launch larger naval expeditions to the Gulf of Mexico.
Following the success of Portobelo, Vernon decided to focus his efforts on the capture of Cartagena de Indias in present-day Colombia. Both Vernon and Edward Trelawny, governor of Jamaica, considered the Spanish gold shipping port to be a prime objective. Since the outbreak of the war, and Vernon's arrival in the Caribbean, the British had made a concerted effort to gain intelligence on the defences of Cartagena. In October 1739, Vernon sent First Lieutenant Percival to deliver a letter to Blas de Lezo and Don Pedro Hidalgo, governor of Cartagena. Percival was to use the opportunity to make a detailed study of the Spanish defences. This effort was thwarted when Percival was denied entry to the port.
On 7 March 1740, in a more direct approach, Vernon undertook a reconnaissance-in-force of the Spanish city. Vernon left Port Royal in command of a squadron including ships of the line, two fire ships, three bomb vessels, and transport ships. Reaching Cartagena on 13 March, Vernon immediately landed several men to map the topography and to reconnoitre the Spanish squadron anchored in Playa Grande, west of Cartagena. Having not seen any reaction from the Spanish, on 18 March Vernon ordered the three bomb vessels to open fire on the city. Vernon intended to provoke a response that might give him a better idea of the defensive capabilities of the Spanish. Understanding Vernon's motives, Lezo did not immediately respond. Instead, Lezo ordered the removal of guns from some of his ships, in order to form a temporary shore battery for the purpose of suppressive fire. Vernon next initiated an amphibious assault, but in the face of strong resistance, the attempt to land 400 soldiers was unsuccessful. The British then undertook a three-day naval bombardment of the city. In total, the campaign lasted 21 days. Vernon then withdrew his forces, leaving HMS Windsor Castle and HMS Greenwich in the vicinity, with a mission to intercept any Spanish ship that might approach.
After the destruction of Portobelo the previous November, Vernon proceeded to remove the last Spanish stronghold in the area. He attacked the fortress of San Lorenzo el Real Chagres, in present-day Panama on the banks of the Chagres River, near Portobelo. The fort was defended by Spanish patrol boats, and was armed with four guns and about thirty soldiers under Captain of Infantry Don Juan Carlos Gutiérrez Cevallos.
At 3 pm on 22 March 1740, the British squadron, composed of the ships Stafford , Norwich , Falmouth and Princess Louisa , the frigate Diamond, the bomb vessels Alderney, Terrible, and Cumberland, the fireships Success and Eleanor, and transports Goodly and Pompey, under command of Vernon, began to bombard the Spanish fortress. Given the overwhelming superiority of the British forces, Captain Cevallos surrendered the fort on 24 March, after resisting for two days.
Following the strategy previously applied at Porto Bello, the British destroyed the fort and seized the guns along with two Spanish patrol boats.
During this time of British victories along the Caribbean coast, events taking place in Spain would prove to have a significant effect on the outcome of the largest engagement of the war. Spain had decided to replace Don Pedro Hidalgo as governor of Cartagena de Indias. But, the new governor-designate, Lieutenant General of the Royal Armies Sebastián de Eslava y Lazaga had first to dodge the Royal Navy in order to get to his new post. Starting from the Galician port of Ferrol, the vessels Galicia and San Carlos set out on the journey. Hearing the news, Vernon immediately sent four ships to intercept the Spanish. They were unsuccessful in their mission. The Spanish managed to circumvent the British interceptors and entered the port of Cartagena on 21 April 1740, landing there with the new governor and several hundred veteran soldiers.
In May, Vernon returned to Cartagena de Indias aboard the flagship HMS Princess Caroline in charge of 13 warships, with the intention of bombarding the city. Lezo reacted by deploying his six ships of the line so that the British fleet was forced into ranges where they could only make short or long shots that were of little value. Vernon withdrew, asserting that the attack was merely a manoeuver. The main consequence of this action was to help the Spanish test their defences.
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The largest action of the war was a major amphibious attack launched by the British under Admiral Edward Vernon in March 1741 against Cartagena de Indias, one of Spain's principal gold-trading ports in their colony of New Granada (today Colombia). Vernon's expedition was hampered by inefficient organisation, his rivalry with the commander of his land forces, and the logistical problems of mounting and maintaining a major trans-Atlantic expedition. The strong fortifications in Cartagena and the able strategy of Spanish Commander Blas de Lezo were decisive in repelling the attack. Heavy losses on the British side were due in large part to virulent tropical diseases, primarily an outbreak of yellow fever, which took more lives than were lost in battle.
The extreme ease with which the British destroyed Porto Bello led to a change in British plans. Instead of Vernon concentrating his next attack on Havana as expected, in order to conquer Cuba, he planned to attack Cartagena de Indias. Located in Colombia, it was the main port of the Viceroyalty and main point of the West Indian fleet for sailing to the Iberian Peninsula. In preparation the British gathered in Jamaica one of the largest fleets ever assembled. It consisted of 186 ships (60 more than the famous Spanish Armada of Philip II), bearing 2,620 artillery pieces and more than 27,000 men. Of that number, 10,000 were soldiers responsible for initiating the assault. There were also 12,600 sailors, 1,000 Jamaican slaves and macheteros, and 4,000 recruits from Virginia. The latter were led by Lawrence Washington, the older half-brother of George Washington, future President of the United States.
Colonial officials assigned Admiral Blas de Lezo to defend the fortified city. He was a marine veteran hardened by numerous naval battles in Europe, beginning with the War of the Spanish Succession, and by confrontations with European pirates in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, and Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. Assisting in that effort were Melchor de Navarrete and Carlos Desnaux, with a squadron of six ships of the line (the flagship vessel Galicia together with the San Felipe,San Carlos,África,Dragón, and Conquistador) and a force of 3,000 soldiers, 600 militia and a group of native Indian archers.
Vernon ordered his forces to clear the port of all scuttled ships. On 13 March 1741, he landed a contingent of troops under command of Major General Thomas Wentworth and artillery to take Fort de San Luis de Bocachica. In support of that action, the British ships simultaneously opened with cannon fire, at a rate of 62 shots per hour. In turn, Lezo ordered four of the Spanish ships to aid 500 of his troops defending Desnaux's position, but the Spanish eventually had to retire to the city. Civilians were already evacuating it. After leaving Fort Bocagrande, the Spanish regrouped at Fort San Felipe de Barajas, while Washington's Virginians took up positions in the nearby hill of La Popa. Vernon, believing the victory at hand, sent a message to Jamaica stating that he had taken the city. The report was subsequently forwarded to London, where there was much celebration. Commemorative medals were minted, depicting the defeated Spanish defenders kneeling before Vernon (). The robust image of the enemy depicted in the British medals bore little resemblance to Admiral Lezo. Maimed by years of battle, he was one-eyed and lame, with limited use of one hand.
On the evening of 19 April, the British mounted an assault in force upon Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. Three columns of grenadiers, supported by Jamaicans and several British companies, moved under cover of darkness, with the aid of an intense naval bombardment. The British fought their way to the base of the fort's ramparts where they discovered that the Spanish had dug deep trenches. This effectively rendered the British scaling equipment too short for the task. The British advance was stymied since the fort's walls had not been breached, and the ramparts could not be topped. Neither could the British easily withdraw in the face of intense Spanish fire and under the weight of their own equipment. The Spanish seized on this opportunity, with devastating effect.
Reversing the tide of battle, the Spanish initiated a fixed bayonet charge at first light, inflicting heavy casualties on the British. The surviving British forces retreated to the safety of their ships. The British maintained a naval bombardment, sinking what remained of the small Spanish squadron (after Lezo's decision to scuttle some of his ships in an effort to block the harbour entrance). The Spanish thwarted any British attempt to land another ground assault force. The British troops were forced to remain aboard ship for a month, without sufficient reserves. With supplies running low, and with the outbreak of disease (primarily yellow fever), which took the lives of many on the crowded ships,Vernon was forced to raise the siege on 9 May and return to Jamaica. Six thousand British died while only one thousand Spanish perished.
Vernon carried on, successfully attacking the Spanish at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. On 5 March 1742, with the help of reinforcements from Europe, he launched an assault on Panama City, Panama. In 1742, Vernon was replaced by Rear-Admiral Chaloner Ogle and returned to England, where he gave an accounting to the Admiralty. He learned that he had been elected MP for Ipswich. Vernon maintained his naval career for another four years before retiring in 1746. In an active Parliamentary career, Vernon advocated for improvements in naval procedures. He continued to hold an interest in naval affairs until his death in 1757.
News of the defeat at Cartagena was a significant factor in the downfall of the British Prime Minister Robert Walpole.Walpole's anti-war views were considered by the Opposition to have contributed to his poor prosecution of the war effort. The new government under Lord Wilmington wanted to shift the focus of Britain's war effort away from the Americas and into the Mediterranean. Spanish policy, dictated by the queen Elisabeth Farnese of Parma, also shifted to a European focus, to recover lost Spanish possessions in Italy from the Austrians. In 1742, a large British fleet under Nicholas Haddock was sent to try and intercept a Spanish army being transported from Barcelona to Italy, which he failed to do having only 10 ships. With the arrival of additional ships from Britain in February 1742, Haddock successfully blockaded the Spanish coast failing to force the Spanish fleet into an action. Lawrence Washington survived the yellow fever outbreak, and eventually retired to Virginia. He named his estate Mount Vernon, in honour of his former commander.
The success of the Porto Bello operation led the British, in September 1740, to send a squadron under Commodore George Anson to attack Spain's possessions in the Pacific. Before they reached the Pacific, numerous men had died from disease, and they were in no shape to launch any sort of attack.Anson reassembled his force in the Juan Fernández Islands, allowing them to recuperate before he moved up the Chilean coast, raiding the small town of Paita. He reached Acapulco too late to intercept the yearly Manila galleon, which had been one of the principal objectives of the expedition. He retreated across the Pacific, running into a storm that forced him to dock for repairs in Canton. After this he tried again the following year to intercept the Manila galleon. He accomplished this on 20 June 1743 off Cape Espiritu Santo, capturing more than a million gold coins.
Anson sailed home, arriving in London more than three and a half years after he had set out, having circumnavigated the globe in the process. Less than a tenth of his forces had survived the expedition. Anson's achievements helped establish his name and wealth in Britain, leading to his appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty.
In 1740, the inhabitants of Georgia launched an overland attack on the fortified city of St. Augustine in Florida, supported by a British naval blockade, but were repelled. The British forces led by James Oglethorpe, the Governor of Georgia, besieged St. Augustine for over a month before retreating, and abandoned their artillery in the process. The failure of the Royal Navy blockade to prevent supplies reaching the settlement was a crucial factor in the collapse of the siege. Oglethorpe began preparing Georgia for an expected Spanish assault.
When war broke out in 1739, both Britain and Spain expected that France would join the war on the Spanish side. This played a large role in the tactical calculations of the British. If the Spanish and French were to operate together, they would have a superiority of ninety ships of the line.In 1740, there was an invasion scare when it was believed that a French fleet at Brest and a Spanish fleet at Ferrol were about to combine and launch an invasion of England. Although this proved not to be the case, the British kept the bulk of their naval and land forces in southern England to act as a deterrent.
Many in the British government were afraid to launch a major offensive against the Spanish, for fear that a major British victory would draw France into the war to protect the balance of power.
In 1742, the Spanish launched an attempt to seize the British colony of Georgia. Manuel de Montiano commanded 2,000 troops, who were landed on St Simons Island off the coast. General Oglethorpe rallied the local forces and defeated the Spanish regulars at Bloody Marsh and Gully Hole Creek, forcing them to withdraw. Border clashes between the colonies of Florida and Georgia continued for the next few years, but neither Spain nor Britain undertook offensive operations on the North American mainland.
The British attacked several locations in the Caribbean with little consequence to the geopolitical situation in the Atlantic. The weakened British forces under Vernon launched an attack against Cuba, landing in Guantánamo Bay with a plan to march the 45 miles to Santiago de Cuba and capture the city.Vernon clashed with the army commander, and the expedition withdrew when faced with heavier Spanish opposition than expected. Vernon remained in the Caribbean until October 1742, before heading back to Britain; he was replaced by admiral Chaloner Ogle, who took command of a sickly fleet. Less than half the sailors were fit for duty. The following year, a smaller fleet of Royal Navy led by commodore Charles Knowles raided the Venezuelan coast, on 2 March 1743 attacking newly La Guaira controlled by Royal Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas whose ships had rendered great assistance to the Spanish navy during War in carrying troops, arms, stores and ammunition from Spain to her colonies, and its destruction would be a severe blow both to the Company and the Spanish Crown.
After a fierce defence by Governor Gabriel José de Zuloaga's troops, Commodore Knowles, having suffered 97 killed and 308 wounded over three days, decided to retire west before sunrise on 6 March. He decided to attack nearby Puerto Cabello. Despite his orders to rendezvous at Borburata Keys—4 miles (6.4 km) east of Puerto Cabello—captains of the detached Burford, Norwich, Assistance, and Otter proceeded to Curaçao. The commodore angrily followed them in. On 28 March, he sent his smaller ships to cruise off Puerto Cabello, and once his main body had been refitted by forces of Governor Zuluaga, went to sea again on 31 March. He struggled against contrary winds and currents for two weeks before finally diverting to the eastern tip of Santo Domingo by 19 April.
By mid-1742, the War of the Austrian Succession had broken out in Europe. Principally fought by Prussia and Austria over possession of Silesia, the war soon engulfed most of the major powers of Europe, who joined two competing alliances. The scale of this new war dwarfed any of the fighting in the Americas, and drew Britain and Spain's attention back to operations on the European continent. The return of Vernon's fleet in 1742 marked the end of major offensive operations in the War of Jenkins' Ear. France entered the war in 1744, emphasizing the European theatre and planning an ambitious invasion of Britain. While it ultimately failed, the threat persuaded British policymakers of the dangers of sending significant forces to the Americas which might be needed at home.
Britain did not attempt any additional attacks on Spanish possessions. In 1745, William Pepperrell of New England led a colonial expedition, supported by a British fleet under Commodore Peter Warren, against the French fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island off Canada. Pepperrell was knighted for his achievement, but Britain returned Louisbourg to the French by the Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle in 1748. A decade later, during the Seven Years' War (known as the French and Indian War in the North American theatre), British forces under Lord Jeffrey Amherst and General Wolfe recaptured it. [ pages needed ]
The war involved privateering by both sides. Anson captured a valuable Manila galleon, but this was more than offset by the numerous Spanish privateering attacks on British shipping along the transatlantic triangular trade route. They seized hundreds of British ships, looting their goods and slaves, and operated with virtual impunity in the West Indies; they were also active in European waters. The Spanish convoys proved almost unstoppable. During the Austrian phase of the war, the British fleet attacked poorly protected French merchantmen instead.
From August 1746, negotiations began in the city of Lisbon, in neutral Portugal, to try to arrange a peace settlement. The death of Philip V of Spain had brought his son Ferdinand VI to the throne, and he was more willing to be conciliatory over the issues of trade. However, because of their commitments to their Austrian allies, the British were unable to agree to Spanish demands for territory in Italy and talks broke down.
The eventual diplomatic resolution formed part of the wider settlement of the War of the Austrian Succession by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. British territorial and economic ambitions on the Caribbean had been repelled,while Spain, though unprepared at the start of the war, proved successful to defend their American possessions. Moreover, the war put an end to the British smuggling, and the Spanish fleet was able to dispatch three treasure convoys to Europe during the war and off-balance the British squadron at Jamaica. The issue of the asiento was not mentioned in the treaty, as its importance had lessened for both nations. The issue was finally settled by the 1750 Treaty of Madrid in which Britain agreed to renounce its claim to the asiento in exchange for a payment of £100,000. The South Sea Company ceased its activity, though the treaty also allowed favourable conditions for British trade with Spanish America.
George Anson's expedition to the Southeast Pacific led the Spanish authorities in Lima and Santiago to advance the position of the Spanish Empire in the area. Forts were thus built in the Juan Fernández Islands and the Chonos Archipelago in 1749 and 1750.
Relations between Britain and Spain improved significantly, but temporarily, in subsequent years due to a concerted effort by the Duke of Newcastle to cultivate Spain as an ally. A succession of Anglophile ministers were appointed in Spain, including José de Carvajal and Ricardo Wall, all of whom were on good terms with British Ambassador Benjamin Keene, in an effort to avoid a repeat of hostilities. As a result, Spain remained neutral during the early part of the Seven Years' War between Britain and France. However, it later joined the French and lost both Havana and Manila to the British in 1762, although both were returned as part of the peace settlement.
The War of Jenkins' Ear is commemorated annually on the last Saturday in May at Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah, Georgia.
Admiral Edward Boscawen, PC was an Admiral in the Royal Navy and Member of Parliament for the borough of Truro, Cornwall. He is known principally for his various naval commands during the 18th century and the engagements that he won, including the Siege of Louisburg in 1758 and Battle of Lagos in 1759. He is also remembered as the officer who signed the warrant authorising the execution of Admiral John Byng in 1757, for failing to engage the enemy at the Battle of Minorca (1756). In his political role, he served as a Member of Parliament for Truro from 1742 until his death although due to almost constant naval employment he seems not to have been particularly active. He also served as one of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty on the Board of Admiralty from 1751 and as a member of the Privy Council from 1758 until his death in 1761.
Admiral Edward Vernon was a British naval officer. He had a long and distinguished career, rising to the rank of admiral after 46 years service. As a vice admiral during the War of Jenkins' Ear, in 1739 he was responsible for the capture of Porto Bello, seen as expunging the failure of Admiral Hosier there in a previous conflict. However, his later amphibious operation against Cartagena de Indias suffered a severe defeat. Vernon also served as a Member of Parliament (MP) on three occasions and was out-spoken on naval matters in Parliament, making him a controversial figure.
Portobelo is a port city and corregimiento in Portobelo District, Colón Province, Panama with a population of 4,559 as of 2010. Established during the Spanish colonial period, it functions as the seat of Portobelo District. Located on the northern part of the Isthmus of Panama, it has a deep natural harbor and served as a center for silver exporting before the mid-eighteenth century and its destruction in 1739 during the War of Jenkins' Ear.
A guard ship is a warship assigned as a stationary guard in a port or harbour, as opposed to a coastal patrol boat which serves its protective role at sea.
The Spanish Alarm was a period from 1739–1748 in North America during the War of Jenkins' Ear which was fought between Britain and Spain. The Spanish Government sanctioned forces to raid and pillage English port towns of the provinces of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Without an adequate regular military garrison in these provinces, the Kingdom of Great Britain encouraged the provinces to raise local militias to combat the Spanish-related attacks.
Lawrence Washington (1718–1752) was an American soldier, planter, politician, and prominent landowner in colonial Virginia. As a founding member of the Ohio Company of Virginia, and a member of the colonial legislature representing Fairfax County, he also founded the town of Alexandria, Virginia on the banks of the Potomac River in 1749.
Admiral Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta, KOGF, OHS was a Spanish navy officer best remembered for the Battle of Cartagena de Indias (1741) in modern-day Colombia, where Spanish imperial forces under his command resisted and defeated a large British invasion fleet under Admiral Edward Vernon.
Sebastián de Eslava y Lazaga was a Spanish general and colonial official. From April 24, 1740 to November 6, 1749 he was viceroy of the newly reestablished Viceroyalty of New Granada. He was governing the colony at the time of the defeat of British Admiral Edward Vernon at Cartagena de Indias. After his death he was named marqués de la Real Defensa de Cartagena de Indias.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Chaloner Ogle KB was a Royal Navy officer and politician. After serving as a junior officer during the Nine Years' War, a ship he was commanding was captured by three French ships off Ostend in July 1706 in an action during the War of the Spanish Succession.
The Battle of Cartagena de Indias was an amphibious military engagement between the forces of Britain under Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon and those of Spain under the Admiral Blas de Lezo. It took place at the city of Cartagena de Indias in March 1741, in present-day Colombia. The battle was a significant episode of the War of Jenkins' Ear and a large-scale naval campaign. The conflict later subsumed into the greater conflict of the War of the Austrian Succession. The battle resulted in a major defeat for the British Navy and Army.
The Siege of St. Augustine was a military engagement that took place during June–July 1740. It was a part of the much larger conflict known as the War of Jenkins' Ear, between Great Britain and Spain.
HMS Duke was an 8-gun fireship of the Royal Navy. She was acquired for service in 1739, having previously been a merchant vessel, and served in the War of Jenkins' Ear and the War of the Austrian Succession, being expended in a naval operation in 1742.
HMS Cumberland was an 8-gun fire ship, previously the civilian vessel Alex Roberts. She was purchased in 1739 and was broken up by 1742 after service in the War of the Austrian Succession.
HMS Burford was a 70-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at Deptford Dockyard to the 1719 Establishment, and launched on 19 July 1722. Burford was notably the early posting of both John Forbes and John Byng, both of whom rose to become Admirals.
Sir Charles Knowles, 1st Baronet was an officer of the Royal Navy, who saw service during the War of Jenkins' Ear, the wider War of the Austrian Succession, and the Seven Years' War. He also briefly served with the Imperial Russian Navy during the Russo-Turkish War. He rose to the rank of Admiral in a long and varied career, crowned with both success, and at times, controversy. He was highly educated, and particularly skilled in building and destroying fortifications. His career was mainly centred on the West Indies, where he commanded ships and squadrons in actions against both Spanish and French ships and settlements. Despite an active naval career that saw him rise to be Rear-Admiral of Great Britain, Knowles found time to devote to his studies, working on translations of foreign scientific studies, and developing his own inventions. His career at sea was blighted however by several failures, which may have been a cause of his move to Russia during the later part of his life to oversee the development of the Russian fleet. He is also remembered for causing the Knowles Riot in Boston.
The Battle of Porto Bello, or the Battle of Portobello, was a 1739 battle between a British naval force aiming to capture the settlement of Portobello in Panama, and its Spanish defenders. It took place during the War of the Austrian Succession, in the early stages of the war sometimes known as the War of Jenkins' Ear. It resulted in a popularly acclaimed British victory.
The Convention of Pardo was a 1739 treaty between Great Britain and Spain designed to find a solution to the issues of smuggling, the Asiento and freedom of the seas, which had strained relations between the two states for the past few decades. The treaty was agreed to try to prevent war breaking out and also known as the Treaty of Pardo or the Convention of El Pardo.
Francisco José de Ovando y Solís Rol de La Cerda, 1st Marquis of Brindisi was a Spanish soldier who served as governor of Chile.
The invasion of Cuba took place between 4–5 August and 9 December 1741 during the War of Jenkins' Ear. A combined army and naval force under the command of Admiral Edward Vernon and Major-General Thomas Wentworth arrived off Cuba and fortified positions around their landing site at Cumberland Bay. Despite facing no serious opposition, neither commander felt prepared to advance on the Spanish settlement at Santiago de Cuba. Harassed by guerrilla raids and with a mounting sick list, the British finally evacuated the island after several months of inactivity.
Lord Augustus FitzRoy was a British officer of the Royal Navy. He served during the War of the Austrian Succession, and was involved in the capture of the Spanish ship of the line, Princesa, a major prize in the war. He was also the father of Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton, who became Prime Minister of Great Britain.
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