Tom is ferried from Conil Bay near Cape Trafalgar on the 2nd of May 1797 to the Royal Hospital on Isle de Leonin in Cadiz harbour. The French consul intervene on his behalf but the Spanish still regard him as a political prisoner and mount a 5-man guard around him. However within a month he’s fit enough to dictate letters. 5 months later he’s able to move. Finally on 16th September 1797, through French diplomatic pressure, he earns his release.
Relationship with place
My brother who lives in Australia decided a while back that if he was going to bring his family to Europe to see their Scottish relatives it would be more fun and warmer to rent a villa somewhere on the continent rather than book a cheap hotel in Glasgow. In 2015 with my dad still relatively mobile aged 85 my brother booked a house in Portugal. We built our annual summer camping trip around this family get together. After the reunion we planned another couple of encounters with family and friends. Our pal Nuno was renovating a house in the Algarve and Jackie’s cousin lived near Loja in Spain. Temperatures were soaring and we didn’t want to leave the coast. We checked the guide and found a site near Jerez that allowed me to check out Cadiz.
France had lost all its colonies in North America and Britain had lost much of its north American empire. The Spanish Empire had absorbed and managed much of North America West of the Mississippi but New Spain was busy exploiting and controlling their possessions further south. The slave trade was at its height and British, American, French and Dutch ships were operating at capacity selling people to provide labour to work on Caribbean plantations, however with national allegiances built up and broken regularly, political intrigue between the representatives of each of these states would be thriving. Governers, managers, Viceroyals and soldiers played one off another to obtain economic or political advantage. Amidst all this Thomas was sometimes a diplomatic asset sometimes an embarrassment. After the gun battle in the bay of Cadiz, one more administrator was forced to manage an awkward situation. The governor wouldn’t have known much about Tom, what to do with him or where he would be going next. He would just have wanted to keep him alive in order to shift him on to the next representative. Thomas himself would only have been dimly aware of his situation. He was probably on laudanum for pain relief, he’d lost an eye and was being guarded at all times on Isle de Leonin military hospital. The town had been under siege by the British navy for months and violent sorties by the British Navy were often expected.
We camped near El Puerto Santa Maria, took the fast ferry to the terminal in the Port of Cadiz and set out, 2 adults 3 children. I wanted to visit the fortifications at Castillo de San Sebastian, but we all needed breakfast. A day like that is full of compromises, managing people’s energy levels. We take a bus tour, hung out with cold drinks in a plaza, mingled with the crowd at the Iglesia and made our way to the Castillo de San Sebastian. It was a hot August afternoon, the crowd was thick on the beach, a real city beach.
Camping Playa las Dunas de San Anton. Trailer with 5 persons, €40 per night