Malaga City - History

Boyd and Torrijos are executed on San Andreas beach, Malaga
The Execution by Firing Squad of Torrijos and his Colleages on the beach at Málaga by by Antonio Gisbert Pérez (1888) Prado Madrid

Torrijos and Boyd

One of the most notable rebellions of the time was by General Jose Maria de Torrijos. He had spent time in London and drew support from liberals like Tennyson and Carlysle and John Sterling whose Irish cousin Lieutenant Robert Boyd had a 4,000 pound inheritance and funded a ship which was seized by British authorities on request of Spanish envoy in London. Sterling withdrew after suddenly becoming engaged.

Undeterred revolutionaries managed to regroup in Gibraltar in 1830. They attacked San Roque, then La Linea.  Coronel Salvador Manzanares, minister in the Liberal Triennium (1820-1823) lead 17 comrades from Gibraltar and landed at Babonaque, Estepona in February 1831. Under heavy fire by the Royalist Volunteers and a group of carabinieri, Manzanares retreated with his men inland, crossing the Sierra Bermeja, trying to reach Igualeja the nearest town to the coast that had promised help. Far from finding friends waiting, they were attacked by government forces. On March 2 they were captured in Casares and escorted to Estepona, he was executed on March 7, 1831. His companions suffered the same fate three days later. They lie burried in an unmarked (until 2005) grave in Estepona cemetry.

The actions were putting a strain on Anglo-Spanish relations and the British envoy in Madrid; Aldington and the prime minister Lord Palmerstone wanted to see the back of them. It looked for a while as time would wipe them out as many of the English in the band having spent their money on wine, women and song over the border in La Linea, began to tire of their romantic adventure and drifted home.

The hard core lingered on the Rock and the authorities had to act; first with bribery for a new life in the colonies. Staunch commitment to a idealistic cause is always misjudged by authority and this was no exception, the offer was rejected. Then out of the blue a (forged?) letter reached Torrijos from Viriato his second in command assuring 2,500 troops from the Malaga garrison. The band set sail from Gibraltar on 30 November 1831 in a brigantine for Velez-Malaga.  However they were driven onto the rocks at Mijas Costa (Charcón beach)  by a customs cutter and fired upon,  they were forced to abandon the ship and run for the mountains.  On the other side of the mountain they took refuge in a farmhouse belonging to the Count of Mollina, with an ancient Arab tower near the old road to Cártama in Alhaurin de la Torre  but on the 5th December they were surrounded by the forces of Gonzalez Moreno, the Governor of Malaga. Under the guard of Colonel, later General Monasteria, they were roped together and taken to Malaga's Carmelite monastery whilst the Governor awaited instructions from Madrid. The presence of Robert Boyd was reported the the British Counsul William Mark but he was not allowed to see him. The tired messanger returned from Madrid 5 days later and word from Madrid was brutally unforgiving. Fernando VII, who wrote with his own hand: "Execute them all. I, the King". Moreno was quick to act. All 52 prisoners were to be shot in the morning, including a 15 year old cabin boy called Flores Calderón y Fernández Golfín. Whilst the catholics spent the last night confessing, the 26 year old Boyd wrote two letters one to his brother William (see below), the other to his friend Harry in Gibraltar.

Convento del Carmen
10 December, 1831

My dearest William,

The dismal news that this letter conveys, you I trust will break to my beloved & revered mother in the easiest and gentlest manner. Ere this letter reaches you I will be mouldering in my grave in a foreign land. The preparations for death are going on rapidly around me & as I sit chained among my fellow-sufferers in the refectory where I write from, the harbingers of death robed in the livery of the grave are flitting around me agonising as the Spaniards have it, the poor wretches at their confession. Violent have been the attacks they have made upon me to make me recant, and, if any such story should go abroad you will know what credit to attach to it.

I am thank God calm & perfectly resigned & at some future day I feel a presentiment that my spirit will claim retribution for my wrongs - Dark will be the deed that will be done this night in the Convento of the Carmelites - Accusation is conviction.

Think of me at times as I at this moment think only of the affliction that this news will bring upon my dear very dear brothers and sisters. Let them take my last my dying love & if the events of my life should pass before them, let them forget the follies of earlier times in the reflection that I fall in defence of what I hold dear and that there is not one dishonouring spot on the exit of your brother. He is the more fortunate. Yea he hath finished. For him there is no longer any future. His life was pure, bright; without spot it was & cannot cease to be. No ominous hour knocks at his door with tidings of mishap. Far off is he, above desire or fear. No more submitted to the chance or change of the unsteady planets. Oh! It is well with him.

Last best of love to my mother - Adieu.

Yours till the last affectionately,

Robert Boyd.

Mark you that I die like a gentleman & a soldier - I am to be shot with sixty others in about an hour.

In the morning they were taken to Playa San Andres and executed, on the Sabbath!  (The exact location is now the corner of Av. Ingeniero José María Garnic and Calle Canales where a marble cross from the abandoned convent was placed in about 1836. An iron cross was later (1868) placed in the wrong location, but facing the sea, and became obscured by later buildings, works it was moved in 2003 to a prominant site in the middle of the roundabout of the main seafront promenade and Av. Ingeniero José María Garnic.)  

Pedro Manrique Lopez a young man from Estepona was one of the executed, a 1982 plaque on his birth house can be seen in Calle Santa Ana.

Mark managed to claim Boyd's body "in the name of the Queen" and Robert Boyd gained the unwelcome distinction of being the first resident of the English Cemetery in Malaga. Aldington composed a formal but limp letter of protest in which he cravenly acknowledged that Boyd deserved to be shot, but feebly complained of the lack of a trail first. When Moreno who was know as known as "The executioner of Málaga" visited Britain in 1834 question were asked in British Parliament about his status. Palmeson took a legal view  ‘General Moreno was not amenable to any tribunal in this country'. The Times newspaper reflected the general indignation in the country when it wrote ‘although international law is unable to reach the person of Moreno, the force of public opinion ... may yet drive him from this free country'.  Moreno was promoted to General Lieutenant and the post of Captain-General of Granada, but was assassinated by Carlist soldiers at Urdax in Spain in 1839.

An obelisk was raised to their memory in Plaza de la Merced in 1842 and nearby at the end of the Alhameda cars wiz round Plaza del General Torrijos. There is a Calle Robert Boyd in Malaga inaugurated in 2004 by his great great Nephew Michael Boyd-Carpenter (illustrating and entertaining archive email account of the inauguration part one, and part two) and the Malaga and "Association Historico Cultural TORRIJOS 1831" meets regularly to keep the memory alive.