Alcock, Rutherford, Sir, 1809-1897

Alternative names
Birth 1809
Death 1897-11-02

Biographical notes:

Rutherford Alcock was born in 1809. Following his father into the medical profession, he became a surgeon in the Marine Brigade in Portugal in 1833, later serving with the Spanish Legion until 1837. In 1840, he was appointed consul in Shanghai, advancing to the consulate in Canton in 1854. In 1858, Alcock accepted the post of consul-general in Japan, and the following year became the first British Minister to Japan. He was knighted on his return to Britain in 1862, following an attack by a band of Ronins. Returning to Japan the next year, he resumed his ministerial post, serving until 1865 when he was appointed British Minister to China. Retiring in 1871, he served as president of the Royal Geographical Society between 1876 and 1878. His publications on Japan include The Capital of the Tycoon, published in 1863 and Art and Art Industries in Japan, published in 1878. He died on 2 November 1897 in London.

From the guide to the Rutherford Alcock collection, 1876, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)

Action by French and British legions took place in Spain in the 1830s during the First Carlist War, 1833-1839. The background to the War had been the death of King Ferdinand VII of Spain and the subsequent Regency of Queen Cristina - his fourth wife - on behalf of their infant daughter Isabel II. Spain had become split into two factions known as the Cristinos, or Isabelinos, and the Carlists. Cristinos were the supporters of the Queen-Regent and the government, and the Carlists were supporters of Don Carlos (Carlos Maria Isidro de Borbon, 1788-1855) a Pretender to the Spanish throne and brother of Ferdinand VII. Carlists had invoked the Salic Law which had been introduced to Spain by King Philip V in 1713. Salic Law excluded females from royal succession. There had been more to the conflict than this however. Roots lay in the 1820s with the growth of an extreme political party which materialised into the paramilitary Royalist Volunteers (Realistas Volunarios) in 1827. Opposed to liberalism in Spain, this traditionalist group regarded Don Carlos as its figurehead.

The disputed succession and the ideological current provoked the First Carlist War which centred around the Carlist homelands of the Basque Country and Aragon, although fighting also covered the rest of Spain at one time or another. Defeated in the First Carlist War, the Carlists waged a Second War in the 1840s, a coup was attempted in 1860 in support of the Don Carlos heir, and a Third War was underway between 1872 and 1876. There was also an outbreak of insurgency in support of the Carlist claim in 1900-1902.

In 1918 the formation of the Traditionalist Party became the principal voice of Carlism but it was merged with the Falange in 1937 by General Francisco Franco, although neither groups had much in common. The Carlist line had become extinct in 1936 with the death of Don Alfonso Carlos, duque de San Jaime, though Francis Xavier of Bourbon-Parma (styled as Charles IX) was nominated as 'successor' and he in turn was succeeded by his son Carlos-Hugo, Duke of Parma.

The present King of Spain, Juan Carlos, was the son of Don Juan, conde de Barcelona, and grandson of King Alfonso XIII.

From the guide to the Collection of Notes of Surgical Cases arising from the Military Action of British Troops in Spain, 1832-1837, (Edinburgh University Library)


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  • Surgery, Military
  • Military hospitals


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  • Spain History Carlist War, 1833-1840 (as recorded)