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Iberian Connections

‘Dear Captain Middleton… IBERIA, the most complete and comfortable Steam-boat I ever sailed in…Yours faithfully, Sheffield’

Before the arrival of Arthur Anderson, Brodie McGhie Willcox was in partnership with Nathaniel Carreno. Little is known of Carreno except that his name hints at an Iberian connection and it was to Spain and Portugal that Willcox and Carreno directed their ship broking and insurance interests.

When Anderson replaced Carreno in 1823 the partnership continued to trade to the Peninsula and before long became embroiled in the Portuguese and Spanish civil wars. Together with Bourne, Willcox & Anderson became acquainted with Juan Alvarez y Mendizabal, a former statesman in the Spanish Government who had been exiled to London in the 1820s and returned to favour as a Minister in 1834. At the height of the Carlist wars the British lent their support to the legitimate heirs of Spain and Portugal and all three of P&O founders played their part. From gun running to chartering steamers, such loyal support to the region paid commercial dividends. Peninsular Company steamers were exempt from port dues in Lisbon, Vigo and Oporto and earned the right to fly the colours of the Spanish Bourbons (red and yellow) and the Portuguese House of Braganza (blue and white) in a new peninsular pennant.

Today the now famous and familiar P&O flag remains unchanged. A salutary reminder of the importance of the Company’s Iberian connections.