JJ Rowe Diary: 11 Feb 1889


The first entry in Joseph Rowe’s 5-week diary was made on 11 February 1889. He had been stationed in Gibraltar with the British army for just over a year, and it was here that his first child, also named Joseph, was born in 1888.

The diary begins on the day that Joseph and his fellow soldiers departed Gibraltar for India, the site of their next posting. Also travelling with Joseph were his wife, Pollie, and his 4-month old son. It is a nostalgic entry, looking back at his time in Gibraltar and the friends that he and Pollie were leaving behind.

The Diary Entry

Monday 11 2 89

Arose at 4.50 am rather full of excitement & busy. Had a shave before gun fire. Went round & visited the cookhouses, found fires ageing & two cooks absent but they came in when they heard that I was inquiring for them rather they worse for drink & one got run in & got 8 days defaulters bill{?} & losts his good conduct badge. Fell in to march off at 1.55 pm, two young Officers, two Corprl & another Sergt & myself where the escort for the Bolowes{?}.

Paraded on the Ah-eda{?} & the Regt received an excellent character from His Excellence the Governor during our stay on the rock & gave the Colonel a letter to forward to the Commander in Chief of Madras. The Governor shed tears during his speech, shook hands with the Colonel & bid us all Goodbye.

Then we marched off to the New Mole where the ship laid waiting to the tune of The Girl I left behind me & Goodbye sweet heart Goodbye & Auld lang syne & such like. We had a few friends in Gibr who it was rather hard to say Goodbye too. Mrs Williams who for this last four or five months have been like a mother to Dear Pollie. She belong to the R.E. & on the ship we where meet by Mr & Mrs Holmes the people in charge on the soldiers Home & also by Miss Archibald the Lady in charge of the Presbytrain Soldiers Institute & the Rev J Grimshaw our own Wesleyan minister & also by Qr Master Sergt Dawson & Mrs Dawson very dear friends of ours.

They gave us such heaps of books & papers to distribute on the Ship as any paper is very handy to read to pass the time away on a long voyage & about 5.30 pm they untied the tow ropes & we steam out of the Harbour & went left wheel. What we call left wheel is going round the side of the rock which lead into the Mediterranean, & right wheel means the way home to England from Gibraltar.

The light house was light up when we went by Europa Point, that was the last we saw of the old rock, where was our first & happy little home. We have the potrait of the Chapel & our house all on one Card & if all is well & we reach India & get settled we will have it framed, then we shall be able to show our little boy the house where he was born.

We remained on deck till nearly 8 pm as it was a lovely night & the moon shone forth in splender. The we retired, Pollie & the Baby to the part set apart for woman & children to sleep in their bunks & I to my hammock. We kissed before we parted which we always do night & morn & committed ourselves to our Heavenly Fathers keeping. Who is night{?} to save & we are ever thankful that he is our God & Father & watch & protect us on the might deep, as well as on land.

Now I have written rather a long story for the first day, but no not think that I shall have much to say for the next two or three. Passed a good night rest, as I always as a rule sleep well in a hammock, but sorry to say poor Pollie passed a very comfootless night for some of the weman were a bit worst for the Goodbye drinks they had had. Some were crying & some using foul language far unbecoming to either men or wemen, so that it was nearly three o’clock before they were settled.


  1. At this point in Joseph’s army career, he was a cook, and it was natural for him to have been paying a visit to the cookhouses, as he did, to ensure that everything was in order.
  2. Places: Joseph mentions locations called New Mole and Europa Point. New Mole was a breakwater in the southern part of Gibraltar harbour, and Europa Point is the southernmost point in Gibraltar.
  3. People: The Rev J Grimshaw mentioned by Joseph was John Grimshaw, a Wesleyan Methodist minister and missionary who served in Gibraltar as army chaplain from as early as 1885.


Rowe, Joseph James. (1889) Diary. Personal collection of M. Bowles.

Minutes of Several Conversations at the One Hundred and Forty-Second Yearly Conference of the People Called Methodists. (1885) London: Wesleyan-Methodist Book-Room. p. 102.

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