The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984 Page: 358
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
feinted over the possession of the Falkland Islands and as English ves-
sels appeared more and more frequently off the Texas coast.
Spanish apprehensions were not allayed by the fact that most of the
threatening vessels were merchantmen seeking trade in deer pelts with
the Indians of coastal Texas. Though the ostensibly mercantile inter-
ests of the smugglers seemed to preclude the possibility of British mili-
tary intervention, the influence gradually gained by the Englishmen
over their Indian clientele would inevitably produce disastrous results
for the Spanish empire. English traders were thus a clear and per-
sistent threat to Texas security. Spanish interests demanded that En-
glish traders be driven from the coastal area, but, unable to divert
troops to the Gulf Coast from interior posts subject to Indian raids,
Texas administrators were compelled to rely upon friendly tribes to
patrol the beaches. Though of dubious military value, the Indian pa-
trols nevertheless occasionally provided coastal presidios with reports
regarding English ship movements. Apparently armed with such in-
formation, the small garrison of Presdio de Nuestra Sefiora de Loreto
de la Bahia is alleged to have seized the Britain, an English schooner
that had sailed into Matagorda Bay, in April, 1769.3
The charges subsequently brought against the Spanish government
by the Britain's supercargo, Philip Ford, created an international inci-
dent that could have had tragic results in the already tense region; yet,
the affair produced only minor repercussions. Indeed, the incident was
quickly forgotten for numerous reasons, but particularly because of the
circumstances under which the schooner arrived in Texas waters.
The appearance of the Britain along the Texas coast was quite in-
advertent. The vessel, based at Port Tobacco, Maryland, had been
chartered for passage to New Orleans on December 12, 1768, by a
party of thirty-four Acadians and forty Catholic Germans, including
several women and children. The Acadians, exiled from Nova Scotia
2Castafieda, Catholic Heritage, IV, 1-35; Bolton, Texas, 1o3; Wright, Anglo-Spanish
Rivalry, 118; Julius Goebel, Jr., The Struggle for the Falkland Islands: A Study in Legal
and Diplomatic History (New Haven, 1927), 271-275-
8Expediente relative to the foundering of an English vessel on the Texas coast, and
complaints of ill treatment at the hands of Captain Thovar [sic], La Bahia, 1770 (Archivo
General de la Naci6n, Mexico City; hereinafter cited as AGN), Secci6n de Historia, vol.
84, expediente 11 (this document is cited hereinafter as Expediente, with folio num-
bers); Castafieda, Catholic Heritage, IV, 286-287.
For a detailed discussion of the Spanish reaction to the perceived English threat,
consult Robert S. Weddle and Robert H. Thonhoff, Drama and Conflict: The Texas Saga
of 1776 (Austin, 1976), 35-40, 47, 97, 102, 113, 174-175, 177-178. See also Castafieda,
Catholic Heritage, IV, 28.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984, periodical, 1983/1984; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/m1/426/: accessed August 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.