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The British Colonization of the Philippines

The British Colonization Invasion of the Philippines

In 1762, the city of Manila was conquered by the British, starting a two year period of British rule. At around 4:00 a.m., under the cover of artillery fire, Colonel William Draper and his men entered Manila. This was the first time the Spaniards had been ousted from their Asian colony by a foreign power.

The conflict between the European powers during the period of 1756–1763 spilled over to their colonies in Asia. One of the outcomes was a two-year period of British control over the Philippine Islands. In the 1700s, the battle for dominance in the “new world,” or current-day North America, was being waged between France and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In 1756, the two countries formally declared war upon each other. Although several battles were fought in mainland Europe, the battle for dominance reached the colonies, thus spreading the war across the globe.

Two years into the war between the United Kingdom and the Spanish Empire, a British fleet—under the East India Company—was dispatched from their colony in India toward Southeast Asia to conquer colonies under the Spanish crown. The fleet was under the command of Rear- Admiral Samuel Cornish and Colonel William Draper, and its land forces were comprised of Regiments of British Soldiers, Royal Artillery, and Indian Sepoys. The “little army,” as Colonel Draper described it in his journal, arrived in the Philippine Archipelago on September 23, 1762.

Upon the British fleet’s arrival in Manila Bay, an emissary from the Spanish forces was sent to deliver a letter to the Commanding Officer, to ask about their nationality and reason for their arrival. The British replied by sending two messengers of their own, which bore the orders of King George III: Capture the city of Manila and order the Spanish in the city to surrender. At this point, Archbishop Miguel Rojo had likewise been informed of the ongoing war between France and the United Kingdom. The final siege of the walled city of Intramuros began on October 5, 1762. Archbishop Rojo recounts that at 6:00 a.m., British troops began leaving the lines to head for the breach. The British seized the foundry and attacked the Royal Gate, which they battered down with axes and iron levers. On the night of the 5th, final preparations were made for the final push into the walled city.

Colonel Draper’s account shows that at 4:00 a.m. of October 6, 1762, the British troops started their offensive by firing mortar shells against the Spanish. At daybreak, a large body of Spanish troops formed in front of St. Andrew’s Church in Parañaque. However, the resistance proved futile; the Spaniards eventually surrendered the city to the British.


Ortigas Foundation Library

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