He Made Him Eat What?

Sir Robert Walpole, who the town of Walpole, M...
Sir Robert Walpole, who the town of Walpole, Massachusetts was named after. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although one incident may be the spark that sets off a war, usually a number of provocations have preceded it, some of them trivial.

Such was the case in 1739 when Britain went to war with Spain.  One of these seems almost unbelievable today.  A British sea captain was said to have cut off the nose of a Spanish pirate of noble birth and made him eat it. So, a Spanish sea-captain boarded a British ship, cut off one of Captain Jenkins‘ ears and threw it at him, with an insulting message to the king.

The story probably wasn’t true  at all — it was reported later that Jenkins had both ears when he died.  In any case, there was so much resentment in Britain that Prime Minister Walpole declared war on Spain, and France became involved five years later.

As soon as France became entangled, a message was rushed to her fortress at Louisburg, Cape Breton, Governor Du Quesnel acted quickly, sending a force to capture the nearest British settlement at Canso.  The garrison, which had not been notified of the war, was taken by surprise, and surrendered on the understanding that the troops would be taken to Port Royal or Boston, after they had been held as prisoners at Louisburg for one year.

When they arrived at Louisburg, Governor Du Quesnel realized that he did not have enough food for the prisoners so he sent them to Boston as soon as possible.  However, the British had spent enough time in Louisburg to acquire some important information, as strong as it was supposed to be.  Food and ammunition were in short supply.  Many of the soldiers were Swiss mercenaries who had not been paid for a long time.  They were unhappy and there was bad feeling between them and the French.

When this information became known in Boston, an expedition was organized to attack Louisburg.  It sailed on March 24, 1745.

There’s a free e-book available through Google, and I highly recommend reading it: Memoirs of the Kings of Spain for the House of Bourbon in January 1813, published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown. It’s rather long, but a good read! The anecdote of today’s post starts on page 10.

There’s also another free e-book available that has this anecdote: Memoirs of the Life & Administration of Sir Robert Walpole, Earl of Oxford, With Original Correspondence and Authentic Papers, by William Cox in January 1798.



  1. English, French, Spanish, Germans, Russians… how many hundreds of years have their royalty been marrying and warring against each other? Are we about to see another round of unrest with the strain on the “European Union”? Count your noses, ears, fingers and toes.


  2. Interesting tale-the ‘urban legend’of a severed nose and ear!
    Oh, and thank you for visiting my blog-I am new to this and not very technical so still feeling my way a little.


  3. I need an Ipad for these e-books which I still have yet to acquire. I’ll go check out the library. I wouldn’t be surprise if there was cannibalism during those days. Yikes.


      • It was only last year that I bowed down to have a computer in my Sanctuary because I have to write a report. Only in November I started fully utilizing the computer because I was gathering dust. Now, I am entertaining myself on WordPress and people are gifting me with e-books, I need something that is light and I can take with me in my travels. Sitting in front of the computer all day like yesterday to keep in touch with WordPress is a full time job. So a computer in a smaller scale will be handy as well to bring to ProD days. Sorry, I’m starting write a post here. 😀


    • I have a Kobo reader (from Chapters Indigo) and I find I can add a lot of publications for it. I can even add .pdf documents to it. Great for when I’m “out”. But yeah, I’ll often enough borrow my friend’s iPad for the quick & dirty reads. I love that the iPad does not have to go through a booting up process! 🙂


Let me know what's on your mind

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.