xxxxxFollowing a claim by a Captain Robert Jenkins that, while trading in the Caribbean, a Spanish boarding party had seized his cargo and cut off one of his ears, the British chief minister, Robert Walpole, reluctantly declared war on Spain in October 1739. The "War of Jenkins’ Ear", as it was called, started well for the British, mainly due to the exploits of Admiral Edward Vernon, who captured and destroyed the Spanish settlement of Portobello in 1739. However, his fame rests mainly on the fact that it was he who introduced the issue of rum-
THE WAR OF JENKINS’ EAR 1739 (G2)
Walpole: by the English painter and engraver Arthur Pond (1701-
xxxxxThe War of Jenkins’ Ear arose out of smuggling on the part of British merchant seamen. The Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, which concluded the War of the Spanish Succession, had permitted British trade with Spanish colonies in America, but only on a restricted basis. As a result many British traders had resorted to smuggling, including a seaman named Captain Robert Jenkins. In 1731 his vessel, Rebecca, was boarded by members of a Spanish coast guard vessel off the coast of Jamaica. By all accounts, they not only confiscated his cargo, but also cut off one of his ears!
xxxxxThe incident was seen as a minor affair at the time, but following further reports of British seamen being maltreated -
xxxxxThe opening shots of the conflict, which went well for the British, were confined to the New World, and included an attack and counter-
xxxxxIncidentally, as one might expect, a measure of scepticism surrounds the story of Captain Jenkins’ pickled ear. There are those spoilsports who would suggest that the worthy captain actually lost his ear during a tavern brawl! We will never know.
xxxxxThat the War of Jenkin's Ear started off so well for the British is due in large part to the exploits of Admiral Edward Vernon (1684-
xxxxxIncidentally, despite his later failings, Vernon was destined to be fondly remembered by generations of British seamen over the next two hundred years and more. Because of his custom, when afloat, of wearing a coat made of a coarse, wiry fabric (called grogram), he earned the nickname "Old Grog". A shortened version, "grog", then became applied to the measure of rum-
xxxxx...... The family estate of the American President George Washington, Mount Vernon in Virginia, was named after him. Lawrence, Washington's elder half-
Admiral xxxxxxxxxxxxx Edward Vernon