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Postern of Our Lady of Solitude through which Anda escaped with most government papers and about half the treasury.

A British conquest of the Spanish Philippines occurred between 1762 and 1764, although the only part of the Philippines which the British actually occupied was the Spanish colonial capital Manila with the principal Spanish naval port Cavite, both on Manila Bay.

In 1762, most of the central plain, south and west coasts of Luzon, and most of the coastal parts of the eastern Visayas, were scatteredly occupied by the Spanish as well as by native rulers, but by no other European power. From a European viewpoint, these lands constituted the Spanish Philippines. The highlands of Luzon and the other large islands of the archipelago had not been subjugated by the Spanish. The Sultanate of Sulu had not been conquered by the Spanish although the sultan had been captured and imprisoned by the Spanish and had been forced to signed over Basilan and Palawan to the Spanish. Great Britain and Spain were adversaries in the Seven Years' War. In the far east, Britain wished to establish trading bases in the Spanish Philippines, and within the sultanate of Sulu, and especially in Mindanao.

In August 1759, Charles III ascended the Spanish throne. At the time, Britain and France were at war, in what was later called the Seven Years War. France successfully negotiated a treaty with Spain known as the Family Compact which was signed on 15 August 1761. By an ancillary secret convention, Spain was committed to making preparations for war against Britain.[1]

Britain declared war against Spain on 4 January 1762. On 6 January 1762 the British Cabinet led by the Prime Minister, the Earl of Bute, agreed to attack Havana in the West Indies, and approved Colonel William Draper's 'Scheme for taking Manila with some Troops, which are already in the East Indies' in the East.[2] Draper was commanding officer of the 79th Regiment of Foot, which was currently stationed in Madras, India. On 18 January 1762, Spain issued their own declaration of war against Britain.[3] On 21 January 1762 King George III signed the instructions to Draper to implement his Scheme, emphasising that by taking advantage of the 'existing war with Spain' Britain might be able to assure her post-war mercantile expansion. There was also the expectation that the commerce of Spain would suffer a 'crippling blow'. On arrival in India, Draper's brevet rank became brigadier general.[4]

On 24 September 1762 [5], the small but technically proficient force of British Army regulars and British East India Company soldiers, supported by the ships and men of the East Indies Squadron of the British Royal Navy, sailed into Manila Bay from Madras.[1]

The expedition, led by Brigadier General William Draper and Rear-Admiral Samuel Cornish, captured Manila, "the greatest Spanish fortress in the western Pacific", and attempted to establish free trade with China.[6 ]

The Spanish defeat was not really surprising. The Royal Governor of the Philippines, Don Pedro Manuel de Arandia had died in 1759 and his replacement Brigadier Don Francisco de la Torre had not arrived because of the British attack on Havana in Cuba. Spanish policy was for the Archbishop of Manila to be Lieutenant Governor. In part, because the garrison was commanded by the Archbishop Don Manuel Antonio Rojo del Rio et Vieria, instead of by a military expert, many mistakes were made by the Spanish forces.[7]

Under Spanish rule, the Philippines never paid its own way, but survived on an annual subsidy paid by the Spanish Crown. As a cost saving measure, and because the Spanish authorities never really contemplated a serious expedition against Manila by a European power, the 200 year old fortifications at Manila had not been much improved since first built by the Spanish.[8]

On 5 October 1762 (4 October local calendar), the night before the fall of the walled city of Manila (now called Intramuros), the Spanish military persuaded Archbishop Rojo to summon a council of war. By very heavy battery fire that day, the British had successfully breached the walls of the bastion San Diego, dried up the ditch, dismounted the cannons of that bastion and the two adjoining bastions, San Andes and San Eugeno, set fire to parts of the town, and driven the Spaniards from the walls. The Spanish military recommended capitulation. The archbishop would not consent. The only positive action from the council of war was the dispatch of Oidor Don Simón de Anda y Salazar to the provincial town of Bulacan to organize continued resistance to the British once Manila fell[9]. At that war council, the Real Audencia appointed Anda Lieutenant Governor and Visitor-General.[10][11] That night Anda took a substantial portion of the treasury and official records with him, departing Fort Santigo through the postern of Our Lady of Solitude, to a boat on the Pasig River, and then to Bulacan. He moved headquarters from Bulacan to Bacolor in Pampanga province, which was more secure from the British, and quickly obtained the powerful support of the Augustinians. He raised an army which may eventually have amounted to 10,000 men, almost all ill-armed native Filipinos. On 8 October 1762 Anda wrote to Rojo informing him that Anda had assumed the position of Governor and Capitan-General under statutes of the Indies which allowed for the devolution of authority from the Governor to the Audencia, of which he was the only member not captive by the British. Anda demanded the royal seal, but Rojo declined to surrender it and refused to recognise Anda's self-proclamation as Governor and Capitan-General.[11]

Early success by the British in Manila did not enable them to expand their control over all parts of the Spanish Philippines. In reality they only continuously controlled Manila and Cavite. But Manila was the capital, and key, to the Spanish Philippines, and the British accepted the written surrender of the Spanish government in the Philippines from Archbishop Rojo and the Real Audiencia on 30 October 1762.[11]

Other parts of the Philippines were controlled for shorter periods. Vigan, Ilocos Sur, was controlled by the British appointed governor of Ilocos Sur, the Ilocano Diego Silang and his successor against the Spanish, Gabriela Silang. Ilocos Norte and Cagayan also saw British ascendancy against the Spanish by way of local native freedom fighters [12].

The terms of surrender proposed by the Real Audencia and agreed to by the British leaders, secured private property, guaranteed the Roman Catholic religion and its episcopal government, and granted the citizens of the former Spanish colony the rights of peaceful travel and of trade 'as British subjects'. Under superior British control, the Philippines would continue to be governed by the Real Audencia, the expenses of which were to be paid by Spain.[11]

The Seven Years War was ended by the Treaty of Paris (1763) signed on 10 February 1763. At the time of signing the treaty, the signatories were not aware that the Philippines had been taken by the British and was being administered as a British colony. Consequently no specific provision was made for the Philippines. Instead they fell under the general provision that all other lands not otherwise provided for be returned to the Spanish Crown.[13]

The British ended their rule by embarking from Manila and Cavite in the first week of April 1764, and sailing out of Manila Bay for Batavia, India and England. The conflict over payment by Spain of the outstanding part of the ransom promised by Archbishop Rojo in the terms of surrender, and compensation by Britain for excesses committed by Governor Drake against residents of Manila, continued in Europe for years afterwards.[14]

See also


  1. ^ a b Tracy 1995, p. 9
  2. ^ Fish 2003, p. 3
  3. ^ Fish 2003, p. 2
  4. ^ Tracy 1995, pp. 12-15
  5. ^ British naval calendar date
  6. ^ Tracy 1995, p. 1,7,endcover
  7. ^ Tracy 1995, p. esp.33
  8. ^ Tracy 1995, pp. 12,55
  9. ^ Tracy 1995, pp. 48-49
  10. ^ Fish 2003, p. 126
  11. ^ a b c d Tracy 1995, p. 58
  12. ^ Zaide, Gregorio F, Philippine History and Government, National Bookstore, Manila, 1984
  13. ^ Tracy 1995, p. 109
  14. ^ Tracy 1995, p. 106




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