Cape Finistere

There is a Cape Finisterre at the northwest corner of Spain, and that is probably what Gilbert had in mind (11, 147, 48). McElroy (209) has argued that it seems more likely that Richard is referring to Finistère, the westernmost department (political division) of France's Breton peninsula. One would think that to be a more logical place for a British revenue sloop to be cruising and for a French frigate to be encountered. In fact, however, around 1800 the area off the Spanish headland was frequently patrolled by British warships, both large and small. They were there to defend against French and Spanish privateers lying in wait for British merchant ships trading to nearby Porto, a busy port in Portugal to which British ships carried fish and grain from North America and carried away wine for England (36, 85).

Act I