Tag Archives: Spanish America

Thomas’s rise to power and the advent of the Guano empire.

Thomas Wheelock Walford (mother’s maiden name) arrived into Lima, Peru circa 1834.  He was around 21 years of age; he is better known as the founder of the Wheelock line in Latin America.

Thomas Wheelock (Circa 1850s)
Thomas Wheelock (Circa 1850s)

After Peru’s Independence (from Spain) the British merchants achieved to place themselves in key (strategic) places of Chile and Peru, in the big cities and in the main seaports from where the British Companies controlled the local and regional trade. It has been estimated that 10% of the British Empire export market reached this new burgeoning market. (1)

There were many Agencies and merchants of the companies of London, Liverpool and Hull such as Gibbs and Co., Read, Huth Gruning & Co. and Bates and Stokes Co. (3) In these booming economies of South America, Thomas arrived into Peru just after his twentieth birthday.

He was born in Market Drayton, hence the connection to Tayleurs House (See first Blog) Shropshire on the 13th of December 1813, the youngest of seven Children the son of Mr. Thomas Wheelock Sherratt and Mrs. Elizabeth Walford. He was baptized in the Independent Methodist Church. Thomas’ Wheelock Walford Family were merchants and farmers.

His father was the steward for the Earl of Lichfield and he was one of the innovators for modernizing of the English Agriculture and some of the modern machinery of the time can still be seen at Park Farm inside the grounds of Shugborough Hall (4)

Entrance to Park Hall Farm in Shugborough

Plaque at the Farm

 

It is noteworthy that also residing in Peru there were direct relatives to him, Jonathan Buckley from Liverpool who married his older sister Emma and whose daughter (his niece Emma) would have a profound influence in the years to come….. At one point he switches employments to Henry Reed & Co (In other documents known as Henry Read) a subsidiary and representatives of Tayleur House. He worked as Chief Clerk.

The Agency rented out Casa Osambela at the time the grandest house of Lima (three floors Painted Blue in the photo) build in 1793 (by Don Martín de Osambela y Osambela Descendant of one of the grand families of Navarra at the time of his death in 1825 at the Battle of Ayacucho and the last Royalist stand at the Real Felipe Fortress ending Spanish Empire Domination. he left a fortune of at least 1.5 Million pesos Fuertes = ($F) ….17 “Pesos Fuertes” = to one ounce of gold (27.06 grams) ). A fascinating history for another blog but one of the many myths of this gentleman is that he left Spain due to a dalliance with one of the Kings Daughters! (5)

House of Osambela
Main Courtyard of the House Osambela
Entrance

After Martin Osambela’s death His family was financially ruined and had to find ways to ends meet. Due to the demands of the new republican government and the confiscation of properties. (5)

The house was therefore either sold or rented out to Henry Reed & Co while the Osambela live there, Thomas Wheelock settled in his new employment and there he met around 1836-37 Mariana Osambela a young widow (Her Husband passed away in 1834) and second Daughter of Martin Osambela. Thomas Wheelock married Mariana in 1839, Her full name: Mariana Osambela Ureta was 25 years old. Her mother was Mrs. Mariana Ureta y Bermudez, born in Lima belonged to a well to do family of second-generation Spanish (“criollos”) Despite the financial and political downfall for Martin’s family, Thomas’s marriage to Mariana Osambela Ureta placed him as a prominent family man in Lima’s Society.  (6) (8)

Uniform from the War of Independence at Real Felipe Fortress

Mariana had a daughter from her previous marriage Juana Rosa Riera-Osambela (changed her name to Wheelock after adoption and who survived into adulthood) who married a Scottish engineer by the name of Alexander Prentice from Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland and had 12 or 13 children. (7)

Thomas became a very shrewd businessman with investments in Market speculation and loans to the local markets (many of these loans made for infrastructure were consumed in war and redrawing boundaries).  in the light and gas company of Lima and the Water works. By the mid 1840’s he became the head of the agency at the return of Henry Read back to England and that enable him to build British interests in the region and represent several agencies by the 1850’s. His real fortune would come when he decided to invest in Guano and the Rise of the British Informal Empire. (9)

NEXT Article: The Guano empire.

References:

1.- “A New Economic History of Argentina” Cambridge Alan M. Taylor and Della Paolera Gerardo. University Press 2003

2.- British Trade with Latin America in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Victor Bulmer-Thomas

3.- Anglo Peruvian Commercial and financial relations. 1825-1865. William M. Matthew PHD. Thesis 1970

4.- https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/shugborough-estate/features/park-farm-at-shugborough

5.- “Don Martín de Osambela, comerciante navarro de los siglos XVIII/XIX, y su descendencia en el Perú” – Anuario de Estudios Americanos , Teodoro Hampe Martinez

6.- The Diary of Heinrich Witt, Volume 3

7.- The Diary of Heinrich Witt, Volume 4

8.- The Wheelock Family in Peru…during the XIX Century… Jaime Wheelock Roman

9.- “The Imperialism of Free Trade” Economic History Review John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson

New Series, Vol. 6, No. 1 (1953), pp. 1-15

Setting the scene and the building of South America -Introduction

Thomas Wheelock arrived in Peru in 1832 with opportunities to be made. Thomas had been hired by the Tayleur House, a merchant and shipping company out of Market Drayton, starting at the bottom of the ladder as a Clerk. Thomas arrives following upheavals in South America which would not be settled until 1850.

To understand the beginning of British influence in South America there needs to be an understanding of the political situation of the entire Latin region. British and European migration to South America was affected by events such as the Napoleonic Invasion of Spain which triggered the Wars of Independence in Latin America and opened new trade markets.

In 1825 Mainland Spanish America split into more than a dozen separate countries, following the administrative divisions of the colonial system. The difficulty for the inhabitants of these countries was not, however, as simple as the demarcation of geographic boundaries. Rather, the recently liberated countries of Latin America faced the much more daunting challenge of defining and consolidating new nations. The inhabitants of each country set out on programs to create a postcolonial political, economic, and social order. The obstacles confronting them were imposing. (1)

This was a land of opportunity due to the collapse of the Spanish Empire and the subsequent wars of Independence creating a political vacuum in the new countries.

To embark on the trip from Europe to South America you needed to have capital or a job secured, the trip took several months. Most Europeans would depart from Liverpool  to Tenerife,  then 5- 6 months across the Atlantic via Tierra Del Fuego to Valparaiso (Or Callao)  – Arica – Quilca. This was no trip for the faint hearted with deaths and seas sickness among common occurrences.

Sometimes a ship on arrival in South America would find their trip diverted to the nearest safe port that was not in battle. An entry from 1824 talks about the Grand Port of Callao and being unable to dock so they were forced to head to Valparaiso:

Samuel Duncan, whom Moens had left in charge of the Lima house when he left about twelve months ago, wrote that business was 50% worse than it then had been. Since February Lima and Callao were again in possession of the Royalists, commanded by Canterrac, to them Callao had been delivered up by mutinous black regiments. Also the Intermedios were occupied by the Spaniards and it was expected that Bolivar would shortly give them battle. The whole coast had been declared under blockade by the Patriots, but this Captain Maling of H.B.M.S. “Cambridge” was only willing to acknowledge as far as regarded Callao, the forces of the Patriots not being sufficient to effect the actual blockade of the other ports. Amongst the English in Valparaiso the embezzlement of about $8000 committed by the Captain’s clerk of H.M.S. “Tartar” gave rise to much talk and conversation. (2)

*(HBMS – Stands for His Britannic Majesty’s Ship)

Depending on social status a European with means and a secured future would meet the likes of Simon Bolivar or the British Consul, European Impressions of Simon Bolivar in 1825 are as follows:

Bolivar was a man of the middle size, and of a spare make. His face of a darkish tinge, His forehead is well shaped and very high. His eyes, the colour of which I could not distinguish are piercing, his nose long and straight, his mouth large; his mustachios thin and long, I thought to become him well; but when he smiled a harsh and deeply marked wrinkle from the nose down to the mouth, became apparent. Amongst his aides-de-camp was an extremely fair youth, with hair which might be called white; he was Belford Hinton Wilson, in later years British Chargé d’Affaires in Perú. (2).

NEXT Article: Thomas’s rise to power and the advent of the Guano empire.

References:

1.- https://www.britannica.com/place/Latin-America/Building-new-nations-1826-50

2.- The Diary of Heinrich Witt, Volume 3

4.- Anglo Peruvian Commercial and financial relations. 1825-1865. William M. Matthew PHD. Thesis 1970

3.- Classwell Images

 

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