War of Jenkins's Ear
A war between Britain and Spain that broke out as a result of Britain's trade with South America. The Peace of Utrecht, which gave the British South Sea Company a limited trade monopoly with the Spanish American colonies, caused general friction, but the main trouble‐makers were illicit traders who defied both the Company and the Spanish government. In 1737 British merchants were protesting at a tightening‐up of Spanish control. The Spanish government and Walpole both wanted peace but Walpole's enemies made it an excuse to attack him: a merchant captain named Jenkins was produced to tell a story of torture and the loss of an ear. Popular clamour was such that Walpole consented reluctantly to declare war. Admiral Vernon captured Porto Bello and France sent two squadrons to the West Indies. In 1740 the war merged into that of the Austrian Succession.