In 1661 King Charles II married the Portuguese Catherine of Braganza, and as part of her dowry Charles was granted the ports of Tangier and Bombay (now Mumbai). As soon as Charles and Catherine's marriage treaty had been signed, Admiral Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, was sent to take possession of Tangier.
On September 6 1661, King Charles appointed Henry Mordaunt, 2nd Earl of Peterborough, as Governor and Captain General of all the forces in Tangier. When Peterborough landed he found the town derelict, and under constant attack from some 17,000 Berber rebels.
The Tangier Regiment (later known as the 2nd Regiment of Foot) arrived in Tangier on January 29 1662 and was joined by Parliamentarian companies from the garrison of Dunkirk and two units from the Royalist Force, which had been serving in Flanders; they officially took over Tangier from Montague's small naval garrison. The Regiment remained in Tangier for 23 years until the port was finally evacuated in 1684.
Three additional regiments from the Dunkirk garrison were also placed under Peterborough's command and he arrived in Tangier with a force of 500 horse and 2000 foot with the wives of 200-300 of the soldiers, to serve in a domestic capacity, the first time that wives had officially accompanied an English army to an overseas garrison.
The Portuguese government were not in the least bit reluctant to part with Tangier. The anchorage was unsafe for shipping, and beyond the landward fortifications lived the Moroccans, who were looking for an opportunity to take back the city. The Portuguese inhabitants were not happy with these arrangements and departed on the British ships, leaving a civilian population made up of only the wives and families of the military.
Work began on a fortified harbour at the end of November. It was to be six hundred yards long, 30 foot deep at low tide and be able to keep out the roughest of seas. Each redoubt had 400 men guarding the excavation site, whilst to the front balls of spikes, stakes and piles of gunpowder and stone mix, which acted as a basic mine were laid.
In 1675 a garrison school was founded, led by Rev Dr George Mercer.
On December 30 1676, Charles ordered a survey of the city and garrison of Tangier, which was costing about £140 000 a year to maintain. The survey showed that the total inhabitants numbered 2,225, of whom 50 were army officers, 1,231 other ranks, with 302 army wives and children. Amongst the buildings was a hospital and an army school.
In 1680, the pressure from the Moroccans increased, as the sultan of Morocco joined forces with the Chief of Fez in order to pursue a war against all foreign troops in his land. Reinforcements were needed at the Garrison, which was raised to 3000 in number.
The Royal Scots, shortly followed by a further foot regiment, the 2nd Tangier Regiment raised on July 13 1680, were sent to Tangier. The new regiment was accompanied by the King's Battalion, which was formed from the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards. The Battalion landed in July 1680, and fierce attacks were made against the Moors, who had gained a footing on the edge of the town, finally defeating them by controlled and well-aimed musket fire. The Battalion remained in Tangier until the fort was abandoned.
For some time Parliament had been concerned about the cost of maintaining the Tangier garrison. By 1680 the King had threatened to give up Tangier unless the supplies were voted for its sea defences, intended to provide a safe harbour for shipping. The fundamental problem was that in order to keep the town and harbour free from cannon fire the perimeter of the defended area had to be vastly increased. A number of outworks were built but the siege of 1680 showed that the Moroccans were capable of isolating and capturing these outworks by entrenchments and mining.
The garrison at Tangier had to be constantly reinforced, having cost nearly two million pounds of royal treasure, and many lives had been sacrificed in its defence. Merchant ships continued to be harassed by Barbary pirates, and undefended crews were regularly captured into slavery.
The so-called Popish Plot in England had intensified the dread of Catholicism, and the King's frequent request for more troops to increase the size of the garrison raised suspicions that a standing army was being retained in Tangier to ensure a Catholic succession and absolute monarchy.
In October 1680, Colonel Charles FitzCharles, 1st Earl of Plymouth, arrived as Governor, but was taken mortally ill soon afterwards. Colonel Edward Sackville took over the governorship temporarily.
On December 20 1680, the House of Commons petitioned the King to give his assent to a Bill of Exclusion to disinherit the Duke of York; adding that, unless and until the bill was passed, Parliament could not give any supplies to Charles. The King refused to sacrifice his brother's right of succession to save Tangier.
Finally, in 1683, Charles gave Admiral Lord Dartmouth secret orders to abandon Tangier. Dartmouth was to level the fortifications, destroy the harbour, and evacuate the troops. In August 1683 Dartmouth, as Admiral of the Fleet and captain general in Tangier, sailed from Plymouth. He was accompanied by Samuel Pepys who wrote an account of the evacuation.
One of Lord Dartmouth's main concerns was the evacuation of sick soldiers "and the many families and their effects to be brought off". The hospital ship Unity sailed for England on October 18 1683 with 114 invalid soldiers and 104 women and children. The main force of 2,830 officers and men and 361 wives and children finally completed the demolition of the harbour wall and fortifications, and evacuated the garrison during the early months of 1684.
The 2nd Tangier Regiment left late in the second week of February for Plymouth with some 600 men and 30 wives and children. The Earl of Dumbarton's regiment went into quarters at Rochester, and Trelawney's Regiment to Portsmouth.
Before leaving, Dartmouth was able to purchase the release of many English prisoners from Ismail's bagnio, including several officers and about 40 men, some of whom had spent 10 years in the hands of the Moroccans.
Some of the departing soldiers were to be rewarded with large land grants in the newly acquired Province of New York. Thomas Dongan, 2nd Earl of Limerick, a Lieutenant-Governor of Tangier, would become New York Provincial Governor and William "Tangier" Smith, the last mayor of Tangier, would get 50 miles of Atlantic Ocean front property on Long Island.
|29 January 1662 to 1663||Henry Mordaunt, 2nd Earl of Peterborough, Governor|
|1663 to May 4 1664||Andrew Rutherford, 1st Earl of Teviot, Governor|
|May 4 1664 to 1664||Sir Tobias Bridges, Governor|
|1664 to April 1665||John Fitzgerald, Governor|
|April 1665 to 1666||John, Baron Belasyse, Governor||unable to take oath of conformity|
|1666 to 1669||Sir Henry Norwood, Governor|
|1669 to 1670||John Middleton, 1st Earl of Middleton, Governor||1st Term|
|1670 to 1672||Sir Hugh Chomondeley, acting Governor|
|1672 to 1674||John Middleton, 1st Earl of Middleton||2nd Term|
|1674 to 1675||Budget Meakin, acting Governor|
|1675 to 1680||William O'Brien, 2nd Earl of Inchiquin, Governor|
|1680 to 1680||Palmes Fairbourne, Governor|
|1680 to 1680||Thomas Butler, Earl of Ossory||died after appointment but before taking up position|
|1680 to October 1680||Charles FitzCharles, 1st Earl of Plymouth, Governor||died soon after taking up position as Governor|
|October 1680 to December 28 1681||Sir Edward Sackville, Governor|
|December 28 1681 to 1683||Sir Percy Kirke, Governor|
|1683 to 6 February 1684||George Legge, Admiral Lord Dartmouth, Governor|
|Re-incorporated into Morocco|