The Snuff Tobacco Reference

Battle of Vigo Bay and Vigo Prize Snuff Tobacco

The Battle of Vigo Bay was a naval engagement between an Anglo-Dutch fleet and a Franco-Spanish fleet that occurred on 1702-10-23 as part of the War of the Spanish Succession. The English Allied side prevailed, managing to destroy or capture all opposing ships and seize a quantity of goods famously including a large amount of snuff tobacco which had been transported from the Spanish Americas. Interestingly, snuff featured during the heat of the battle: Vice-Admiral Hopſon was in extream Danger: For, being clapt on board by a French Fire-Ship, by which his Rigging was preſently ſet on Fire, he expected every moment to be burnt. But it hapned, that the French Veſſel which was a Merchant-Man, laden with Snuff, and made up in haſt into a Fireſhip, being blown up, the Snuff partly Extinguiſh’d the Fire, and preſerv’d the Engliſh Man of War. (A. Roper, 1703.) A contemporary source gives the Dutch share of the snuff taken at Vigo as 1675. Balles de Tabac en Poudre peſant 365. mille livres (Lettres Historiques, 1703.) The English share, an unclear amount but huge, was sold for prize purposes on their home market, though was released in a manner so as to glut and thus sold exceptionally cheaply, with one individual speaking to the saturation when observing, there’s not a Duſt of Tobacco in Town, but what bears the name of Right Vigo Snuff (R. D., 1703.) The snuff achieved a general degree of popularity within England, as the following claim though exaggerated nonetheless attests to: The Beaus at all Ends of the Town, to expreſs their Gratitude as well as Satisfaction in the Joyful Succeſs of Her Majesſties Arms this Summer, have quite laid aſide Brazile, Amber, and Orangery, and in memory of your great Action, will furniſh their Boxes with no other than Vigo Snuff; inſomuch, that if a Gentleman through Inadvertency ſhould ſay, He takes any other than plain Spaniſh, amongſt theſe Nice Men of Honour, he would certainly be ſuſpected as an Enemy to the Government. (C. S., 1703.)


  1. British Battles On Land and Sea. James Grant. Volume 1; Chapter 89; Pages 473–478. Digitised version
  2. Tobacco: Its History and Associations. Frederick William Fairholt. Pages 258–259. 1875. Digitised version
  3. The History Of the Reign of Queen Anne: Year the First. A. Roper. Volume 1; Page 132. 1703. Digitised version
  4. Lettres Historiques. Volume 23; Page 339. 1703.
  5. Letters From the Living to the Living. Goſſip Murray the City Projector, to Inquiſitive Love-News in the Country. R. D. Page 11. 1703.
  6. Letters From the Living to the Living. An Anſwer from a Gentleman in London, to a Letter from Vigo. Sir C. S. Page 209. 1703.