1775 to 1822 (PDF File)
1775 - January 17th, Captain James Cook land on South Georgia which he claims for George III and Britain; “This land I called the Isle of Georgia in honour of H. Majesty.”
” .. Here Captain Cook displayed the British Flag, and performed the ceremony of taking possession of those barren rocks, in the name of his Britannic Majesty, and his heirs forever. A volley of two or three muskets was fired into the air. … South Georgia, besides being uninhabitable, does not appear to contain any single article, for which it might be visited occasionally by European ships. Seals and sea-lions, of which the blubber is accounted an article of commerce, are much more numerous on the desert coasts of South America, the Falklands, and the New Year’s Islands, where they may likewise be obtained at a much smaller risk. If the norther ocean should ever be cleared of whales, by our annual fisheries, we might then visit the other hemisphere, where these animals are known to be numerous….”
January 31st, the South Sandwich Islands are also discovered by Captain Cook and named after the 1st Lord of the Admiralty, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.
13,000 seal skins from the Falklands are sold in Canton, China for $5 each, by American vessels.
Two vessels, captained by William and Jonathon Mooers of London, transport a cargo of Elephant Seal oil from the Falklands to Dunkerque.
The King George, fresh from Port Egmont with a cargo of seal skins and oil, arrives at Darmouth, Massachusetts where its commander, Captain Greenwood, reports on the advantages to be found in the Falkland Islands to Leonard Jarvis, a boat-builder. Jarvis, in turn, passes on the information to a merchant/whaler – Aaron Lopez.
March 22nd, Edmund Burke, in his speech to the British Parliament arguing for conciliation with the revolting American colonists, refers to the expansion of their whaling fleet into the southern Atlantic; “.. look at the manner in which the people of New England have of late carried on the whale fishery. Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson’s Bay and Davis’s Straits, whilst we are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are at the antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the south. Falkland Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of their victorious industry.”
In August, Samuel Enderby, a London based merchant and whaler, writes to a contact in the American colonies with a proposal regarding the exploitation of the whales and seals to be found around the Falkland Islands. Sixteen ships are outfitted at Martha’s Vineyard by four loyalist New England oil merchants, Francis Rotch, Richard Smith, Aaron Lopez and Leonard Jarvis, before being ordered to rendezvous at Port Egmont.
“From 1771 to 1775, Massachusetts employed annually … one hundred and twenty-one vessels, of 14,026 tons, in the southern (fishery); navigated by 4,059 seamen. Before the revolutionary war, the small island of Nantucket had … eighty-five ships, of 10,200 tons, in the southern fishery.”
August 23rd, King George III declares the American colonies to be in ‘rebellion.’
En-route to the south Atlantic, five vessels of the New England fleet are seized by the Royal Navy and their crews pressed.
September 4th, Capt. John Locke in Minerva receives instructions to go whaling off the Brazil Banks before joining Rotch at Port Egmont.
September 8th, Rotch sails to Britain in the Francis to talk terms with Samuel Enderby. On his arrival he hears of the seizure of the 5 ships and negotiates with the British Government for their release and for protection from the Royal Navy on the basis that his business is to be considered an English one, and not an American enterprise as the loyalist fleet intend to sell their oil in England. Rotch also proposes to manufacture candles in London, from spermaceti whale oil.
In October, the British Government agrees to release the five New England vessels, together with their pressed crews, while Rotch contracts to purchase supplies to the value of £10,000 from merchants in London.
“In 1775 the first British attempt was made at the Southern fishery. Ships of from one hundred to one hundred and nine tons were sent to .., the coast of Brazil, the Falkland Islands, …” [Jenkins 1921]
“The Southern Whale Fishery had been initiated in 1775 by British firms including Samuel Enderby and Sons, John St Barbe and Alexander Champion.” [Byrnes 2000]
In December, the New England whaling fleet start to arrive at Port Egmont; eventually joined by Francis Rotch with more vessels from England.
1776 – January 1st, William Clayton, the last Military Administrator at Port Egmont, describes the archipelago in a reading to the Royal Society in London; “ .. Saunders Island, on which the English settlement was made, a blockhouse erected, several spots enclosed for gardens and three storehouses, and five dwelling-houses or huts, built at different times by the ships crews who were stationed there.”
January 24th, the Spanish vessel San Fransisco de Paula, commended by Capt. Juan Pascal Callejas, arrives at Port Egmont. He removes the plate left by Lieut. Clayton in 1774.
“In the beginning of 1776, Captain Juan P. Callejas formally reconnoitered Port Egmont and the adjacent bays; he found the roads covered with grass, the doors of the Houses and Stores open, the roofs almost entirely fallen in and some effects scattered on the shore.” [Vernet 1832]
“… I find that towards the end of 1775 (sic) a Spanish Officer named Callegas in pursuance of these orders visits the remains of our settlement at Port Egmont and discovered there the Inscription left by Captain Clayton upon his quitting the place the year before. This Inscription fully set forth His Majesty’s rights and was on a leaden plate, and was sent by Callegas to Buenos Ayres, where I am told it was carefully preserved until General Beresford took possession of the city, and sent it to England.” [Parish 1830]
February 7th, Madrid informs Buenos Aires that the Spanish Ambassador in London has complained of English vessels being seen in Port Egmont, and that the; “ … British Minister again assured him of the abandonment, adding that he had reason to suspect that Vessels belonging to the revolted Colonies of North America often went to the Islands to fish for Whales; on which account the Court of London had in its contemplation to send 1 or 2 Frigates to expel them.”
March 1st, the wording of the lead plate left behind at Port Egmont, is reported to the Spanish Court.
March 25th, the Spanish pilot Jose de la Pena reports sighting an English ship moored at Port Egmont.
April 1st, a suggestion is made in the House of Commons, that convicts should be sent to the Falkland Islands.
Nuestra Señora de la Gloria is wrecked near the entrance to Port Egmont.
The Whale Fishery, etc. Act 1776 extends the bounty system to the Southern Whale fishery.
In August, King Carlos III of Spain creates the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata; devolved from the territory controlled by the Viceroy at Lima. However, the Falkland Islands are not included within the territory of the new Viceroyalty which is; “.. located from 15º and 37º latitude South” [Revolucion Hispano-Americaux 1829 Mariano Torrente]
“Mr Bland,… in his report, describes the boundaries of La Plata with great minuteness, .. gives as its southern limit the parallel of thirty eight and a half degrees of south latitude.” [Greenhow 1842]
“To the South of latitude thirty-eight degrees and a half, and between the Andes and the Atlantic, as far as the straits of Magellan, is, at present, entirely in possession of the various tribes of Patagonian savages, over whom the colonial Government exercised no authority, nor asserted any claim, other than a right of pre-emption and of settlement in their territory against all foreign nations; to which rights and benefits the independent Government claims to have succeeded.” [Bland 1818]
August 9th, Spain designates Montevideo as its primary naval base with responsibility for the south Atlantic, including the island of Soledad. Two frigates are initially posted to the base; “… the Commander of the frigates responsible for communications with the Falklands were available as necessary in order to assume the Government of the Islands …… “
September 26th, the patrolling vessels receive orders to warn off any American ships they should find fishing near the islands.
January 4th, Spanish Governor, Fransisco Gil de Taboada y Lemos, leaves Puerto Soledad and is replaced by a navy lieutenant, Don Ramon de Carassa y Souza.
“Of the extent of the Spanish settlement at Soledad during this period, we have no distinct accounts .. It was under the superintendence of an officer entitled Commandante of the Malvinas, who was dependent on the Viceroy of La Plata.” [Greenhow 1842]
A Spanish vessel, Santo Cristo del Buen Fin, reconnoiters Port Egmont.
Francis Rotch returns to London from the Falkland Islands.
April 1st, Don Pablo Sisur is commissioned to survey the area of Port Egmont; ““In his Instructions he was ordered, if he found there any American Vessels, to make to them the before-mentioned intimation, as it was no longer under British dominion; and in case he should find there any English Vessels, he should make the same intimation to them, and further accuse them of a want of good faith.”
October 1st, the Treaty of San Ildefonso between Spain and Portugal recognises Portuguese rights to Brazil and reaffirms both the Treaty of Madrid 1750, and the abandonment of the Treaty of Tordesillas 1494.
1778 – large numbers of ‘maruading‘ sealers, American and British, are noted by the Spanish at Soledad.
40,000 seal skins and 28,000 tons of elephant seal oil are taken to London.
Juan de la Piedra is sent out to explore and found settlements along the coast of Patagonia south of latitude 41 degrees. A settlement is founded on the Rio Negro, and at San Julians.
“Our occupation of the Falkland Islands, in the first instance, and the work shortly afterwards published by Falkner in this country, pointing out the defenceless state of Patagonia, joined to the enterprising character of the British voyages of discovery about the same period, appears to have stimulated the Spaniards, in alarm lest we should forestall them, to examine their coasts, to explore their rivers, and to found settlements, of which every record was concealed from public view, lest the world at large should become better acquainted ..” [Woodbine Parish 1839]
1779 – July 8th, Spain declares war against Great Britain, citing a number of grievances and joining the French in support of the Americans, although she declines a formal alliance with the colonists.
November 22nd, navy lieutenant, Don Salvador Medina y Juan takes command at Soledad.
1780 – January 20th, reported in the Whitehall Evening Post; “The power of France being totally annihilated in the East-Indies, it is said, that an expedition was planned, and ready to be carried into execution, against the Spanish settlements in the South Seas, as soon as three ships of the line could be spared, and it was known that Spain was preparing to break with us. So early as the 23d. of May last a person was dispatched over land to India, to inform the Company’s servants there of the approaching rupture with Spain; so that we may reasonably conclude by this time, that Sir Edward Vernon is in the neighbourhood of Acapulco, and beating up the Dons quarters in that part of the world. The force destined for this service is said to be three men of war of the line, frigates, country ships &c. and six thousand land forces. It is not above six or seven weeks sail from part of the British dominions in India to the Coast of Chili, in South-America, if care be taken to reach a certain latitude at the time the monsoon or trade wind sets in. “
Reacting to the reported likelihood of attacks on its South American possessions, orders are sent from Spain to warn the Viceroys. Those for Viceroy Vértiz in Buenos Aires, instruct him to; “ .. entirely demolish the Establishment of Port Egmont, and not to leave a vestige of it remaining.” ( Nieto (1947 p.291) states that the orders were issued in early 1780; R. R. Caillet-Bois in Las Islas Malvinas (1952 p.169) dates the order to October 22nd, 1779, while Vernet (1832) gives the date of June 30th 1777. At war again with Britain and, apparently, aware of plans to attack its South American possessions, this act of destruction was to remove the facilities at Port Egmont which British ships may have wished to rely upon. An act of war, not of sovereignty.)
Vértiz’s instructions forbid him to withdraw troops from Soledad and require him; “..to make every sacrifice for sustaining the Malvinas, in order that England may never claim them, pro derelicto.”
At the same time, the garrison at Puerto Soledad on East Falkland Island is raised to the status of presidio.
March 17th, Juan Pasqual Calleja arrives at Port Egmont in the Nuestra Señora del Rosario.
March 18th, before carrying out his orders, Calleja sketches the buildings at Egmont.
March 22nd, the wooden blockhouse is set alight.
May 25th, with the destruction complete, Calleja’s sits out a storm before departing on the 28th.
“ Of the old Settlement we could discover foundations of what appeared to be a row of barracks and houses built with some regularity of plan, but the Spanish Authorities had endeavoured to destroy all trace of habitations and had not left even the remnant of a wall standing.” [Grey's Log 1836]
1781 – February 8th, the Spanish Court; “ .. acknowledged the receipt of the Despatch acquainting it with the fulfillment of its Instructions.” [Vernet 1832]
February 26th, frigate Lieutenant, Don Jacinto Mariano del Carmen Altolaguirre takes command of the presidio on Soledad. He oversees the work of a priest, a Minister of the Royal Treasury, 3 officers, 1 surgeon, 50 soldiers, 43 convicts, 1 bricklayer and 1 baker. Buildings are recorded as – 1 house for the Commander, 1 for the Port Captain, 4 for the officers plus sailors quarters, barracks for the troops and convicts, 5 small rooms, a hospital, chapel, blacksmith’s workshop and stores. Three batteries with a total of 11 cannon are also listed.
September 30th, Jose Morel reconnoiters Port Egmont on the instructions of Lieut. Altolaguirre.
“ .. after three or four years , in which upwards of a million of hard dollars was spent upon them, orders were sent out to abandon them all, except the settlement upon the Rio Negro, after setting up at San Joseph’s, Port Desire, and San Julian’s, signals of possession, as the English had done at Port Egmont, for evidence in case of need, of his Catholic Majesty’s rights.” [Parish 1839]
April 1st, the supply vessel from Montevideo arrives at East Falkland. Altolaguirre hands over command of the presidio to Navy Captain, Don Fulgencio D. Montemayor.
In May, second-Lieut. Vicente Villa checks on Port Egmont.
Captain Frost in the General Knox, hunts seals at the Falklands.
September 3rd, the Treaty of Paris is signed officially ending the American War of Independence, and most of the smaller wars all around the globe that had grown out of it. Great Britain signs separate agreements with France and Spain.
1784 – June 28th, Lieut. Don Agustín de Figueroa takes over command of the garrison on East Falkland island.
1785 – May 15th, Captain Don Ramón de Clairac y Villalonga takes over control of the presido.
In September, Lieut. Thomas Edgar applies for leave from the Royal Navy and is appointed Master of the whaling ship, Hope.
November 4th, the Hope sails for West Falkland.
The English sealing ship United States, commanded by Capt. Huffey, spends the winter at Swan Island.
1786 – in January, the British Government receive an approach; “The whalers sought pelagic sperm whale, which was either being fished out in some areas or becoming more successful at avoiding whalers. In January 1786, leading fishery firms approached the Treasury for financial assistance, bounties, and the right to sail into the Indian and Pacific Oceans.” It is decided that the issue requires an inquiry by the Privy Council.
Thomas Edgar and the Hope arrives in the Falklands. After dispersing the sealing crews, Edgar sets out to survey West Falkland Island.
January 5th, the English ships King George and Queen Charlotte arrive at Port Egmont where Captain’s Portlock and Dixon survey the port; “Tis most probable that this was near the place where Captain Macbride lay in the year 1766, when he wintered here, as we found on the adjacent shore the ruins of several houses, said to be built by him, but destroyed since by the Spaniards…”
January 15th, the sloop from the British sealer, United States, arrives at Port Egmont; while an American ship also moors at Swan Island.
January 23rd, the King George and Queen Charlotte sail for Cape Horn.
February 4th, the Privy Council’s Committee for Trade and Plantations begins an examination of the South Whale Fishery.
May 25th, Lieut. Don Pedro de Mesa y Castro takes over at Soledad.
In June, the Privy Council’s recommendations result in An Act for the Encouragement of the Southern Whale Fishery, under which bounties become payable to vessels fishing the Southern Fishery below 35° S latitude.
“Act 26 Geo III c.50 gave whalers Cape Horn to 50 degrees west of cape and up to Equator, Cape of Good Hope, 15 degrees east of cape and up to 30 degrees south. Some 29 ships brought home sperm oil, whale oil and seal skins valued at £53,350.”
Thomas Delano in the Lord Hawkesworth, sails from England to the Falklands.
1787 – the British whaling ship Amelia, under Captain James Shields, visits the Falkland Islands.
February 7th, the American schooner Pilgrim, commanded by Capt. James Shields, visits the Falkland Islands.
Rumours of a new settlement at Port Egmont reach Buenos Aires. [AGN VII 1.3.34 and AGN B.Nat. Leg. 196]
In March, he Marquis of Loreta, Don Pedro Meza, reconnoiters. On his return, Meza reports that he had found no evidence of foreign vessels.
May 15th, Captain Don Ramón de Clairac y Villalonga takes command of the presidio.
“In 2 cruizes made by Don Ramon Clairac in 1787, he found in different parts of the Islands, the ship Hudibras, the Shallop Audaz, and the Brig Malplaquet, all English Vessels. They made divers excuses for being there, and were all likewise ordered off.”
Thomas Delano and the Lord Hawkesworth, leave South Georgia with a full cargo of seal furs.
Viceroy Vértiz writes to the Spanish Court proposing that Soledad’s presidio be abandoned to save money.
In November, Thomas Edgar and the Hope arrive back in England.
1788 – British ships visiting the Falklands and South Georgia include the Lucas, under Captain William Aiken, the Intrepid, under Captain John Leard and the Quaker under Shadrick Kearn.
In early February, American Captain John Kendrick arrives at Saunders Island with the Columbia Redivia and Lady Washington. They remain for nearly a month. Third Mate, Robin Haswell, visits Port Egmont; “We arrived at the place the Garrison stood early in the afternoon. Here are standing a number of the sides of turf houses and two or three built of stone but have no roofs. There is a small stone pier or dock built for the reception of boats.”
April 4th, the sealer, United States, arrives at Dover with 25,000 gallons of oil from the Falkland Islands.
April 10th, Lt. Don Pedro de Mesa y Castro takes command on East Falkland.
April 28th, “By a Royal Order, dated in Aranjuez on the 28th of April, 1788, Instructions were given to foment the Fisheries in the Islands, and to reconnoiter their Establishments, in order not to allow any English to remain, either on Falkland, or any other part.”
July 16th, Captain Leard writes to Charles Jenkinson, Lord Hawkesbury, the President of the Council for Trade and Foreign Plantations suggesting conservation measures for seals around the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. He proposes that a ‘South Seas Company’ be established to regulate sealing and that limits be applied, based upon the age, sex and species of the seals to be taken.
1789 – January 17th, Samuel Enderby writes to George Chalmers, Chief Clerk to the Privy Council concerning the Southern Whale Fishery, and refers to Lord Hawkesworth, and the Government’s bounty; “ I think it must give his Lordship pleasure to see the Fishery he has patronised succeed so well under his Direction. His Lordship first took the Fishery under his Protection in 1785, the year prior to which sixteen Sail of Vessels had been employed in the South Whale Fishery, the value of the oil, etc. they brought have amounted to between 27 and £28,000 for which Govt. paid 18% although the premiums were but £1500 per annum. The number of vessels which returned from that fishery last year were 45 sail; the value of the oil, etc., amounted to £90,599 for which Govt. have and will pay £6,300 which is not 7% on the whole amount of the cargoes of oil, etc.”
May 16th, Captain Don Ramón de Clairac y Villalonga returns for his third posting in command of the garrison on East Falkland Island.
October 20th, following a petition from London whaling interests, the Board of Trade seeks legal advice on the pretensions of the Spanish authorities to fishing in the open seas of the south Atlantic. The Board responds; “The best and latest Writers on the Law of Nations, are of the opinion that if there are any Seas, which can be considered in any respects as the Objects of Domain, or exclusive Rights, they can be either such Parts only, as are near the Land, so that from their proximity to it Dominion can be properly maintained over them, by the Sovereigns of the adjoining Shores, or that are such as are in Part surrounded by the Land being either Roads, Bays, Ports or Harbours.”
December 13th, the Malaspina Expedition visits Port Egmont which it describes as “ruined and spoilt.” Malaspina reports finding 7 British, and 2 French, whalers at or near, the old British settlement.
1790 – William Raven in the Jackall, moors at South Georgia. Ameruicans Roswell Woodward and Daniel F. Greene set out on a sealing voyage to the Falkland Islands from Connecticut.
February 7th, an American Schooner, Peregrine, is ordered away from the Falklands by the Spanish.
June 30th, Lieut. Don Juan José de Elizlade y Ustariz takes over at Soledad.
October 28th, Britain and Spain sign the Nootka Sound Convention No.1. Article VI provides that neither party may form new establishments on any of the islands ‘adjacent’ to the east and west coasts of South America then occupied by Spain.
‘Article 6: It is further agreed with respect to the eastern and western coasts of South America and the islands adjacent, that the respective subjects shall not form in the future any establishment on the parts of the coast situated to the south of the parts of the same coast and of the islands adjacent already occupied by Spain; it being understood that the said respective subjects shall retain the liberty of landing on the coasts and islands so situated for objects connected with their fishery and of erecting thereon huts and other temporary structures serving only those objects.’
Article 7: In all cases of complaint or infraction of the articles of the present convention, the officers of either party, without permitting themselves previously to commit any violence or act of force, shall be bound to make an exact report of the affair, and of its circumstances, to their respective Courts, who will terminate such differences in an amicable manner.”
The agreement also contains a ‘Secret Article’; “Since by article 6 of the present convention it has been stipulated, respecting the eastern and western coasts of South America, that the respective subjects shall not in the future form any establishment on the parts of these coasts situated to the south of the parts of the said coasts actually occupied by Spain, it is agreed and declared by the present article that this stipulation shall remain in force only so long as no establishment shall have been formed by the subjects of any other power on the coasts in question. This secret article shall have the same force as if it were inserted in the convention.”
[Note: The Falkland Islands were not 'adjacent', under any definition available in an 18th century Dictionary.]
December 3rd, the Convention is laid before Parliament; “ .. and became the subject of discussion in both Houses. By the friends of the ministry it was extolled and defended in general terms, as vindicating the honor of the nation, … The opposition, on the other hand, contended … that the rights of British subjects had been materially abridged … They observed that, … they were by this treaty prohibited from going nearer than thirty miles to a Spanish territory, …”To remove all possibility,” said that gentleman (Mr. Fox), “of our ever forming a settlement to the south of her American colonies, was an object for which Spain would have been willing to pay a liberal price.” Of the truth of this assertion, there was sufficient proof in the efforts made by the Government of Spain to prevent other nations from planting colonies in the Falkland Islands; from which islands, it may be remarked, both parties to the convention appear to have been excluded by the terms of the sixth article.”
1791 – South Georgia is visited by a Capt. Cook in the London, William Clark in the Sparrow, Captain Pitman in the Ann and Christopher Horner in Astrea.
January 8th, the American sealer Hope arrives off the Spanish garrison on East Falkland en-route to the Pacific.
January 11th, sufficiently concerned by reports of a new British settlement, the Viceroy orders two vessels to reconnoiter; “ On the 11th of this month ships of the Falklands expedition, the Paguevot St. Eulalia and Brig Rosario departed from Montevideo to make a reconnaissance of Staten Island and New Island according to the news in which there is supposed to be an English establishment.”
March 1st, Captain Don Pedro Pablo Sanguineto takes command of the garrison. He reports that Soledad now has 38 buildings of which 14 are made from stone and that the batteries have a total of 12 cannon. He adds that the bread oven is now useless.
November 22nd, the Spanish Governor of the Falklands is ordered to reconnoiter Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego with a frigate and a brig. Governor Elizalde is informed that; “ … according to the literal tenor of Article VI, the English should not be allowed to fish or construct huts on Coasts… such as the Coasts of Deseado, those of San Jose, and even the Bay of San Julian, and other places in which we may have had occupation or settlements, …”
Lieut. Don Juan Latre is sent out to make a reconnaisance of the Isands.
Captain Eckstein in the whaler, Sydenham, hunts near the Falklands.
1792 – Thomas Pittman, in the Ann, takes 3,000 barrels of Elephant Seal Oil and 50,000 Fur Seal pelts from South Georgia, while Benjamin Page, in the Hope, takes a cargo of Fur Seal skins from the Falklands to China.
France goes to war against Austria with Britain being embroiled as one of Austria’s allies.
September, the American brig Betsy arrives at the Falklands hunting for seals.
In October, Nancy and Hero also arrive with the same purpose. Mercury anchors at Port Egmont.
1793 – February 1st, Captain Don Pedro Pablo Sanguineto returns to East Falkland for his second tour in command of the garrison there.
The Admiralty makes HMS Rattler available to the whaling firm of Enderby &Sons. Commanded by Capt. James Colnett, the vessel’s Orders are to examine islands and harbours in the south Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in order to identify those suitable for refitting and victualling stations for the; “… purpose of extending the spermaceti whale fishery.”
April 8th, HMS Rattler arrives off the Falkland Islands.
July 29th, at Soledad; “ the Governor Sangineto learned that, in the Islands, and the neighborhood of them, were various foreign fishing Vessels; he called a Council of his Officers, in which it was resolved that Lieut. Don Juan Latre, in the Brig Galvez, should go in quest of these Vessels, and expel them.”
American sealing vessels Nancy, Hero, Betsey,Josephus and Swallow hunt at the Falklands.
In September, Don Juan Latre, patrolling East Falkland in the Spanish Brig, Galvez, sends a warning to the American Brig, Nancy; “ In consequence of the recent Treaties between the Spanish and British Governments, and of the orders I have received from the Commander and Governor of these Islands of Malvinas, it is my duty to inform you that you have no right either to fish or to anchor in the neighborhood of Spanish settlements; as solely the English Royalists are allowed to fish at 10 leagues from the said Establishments.“
September 14th, Lt. Latre discovers 6 more American fishing vessels and 1 French ship. All are ordered away and their huts and gardens destroyed.
Swallow leaves the archipelago with a cargo of 16,000 Fur Seal skins and a quantity of Elephant Seal oil.
1794 – January 2nd, the Malaspina Expedition returns to Port Egmont. On the expedition’s arrival the American sealers Nancy under Capt. John Bernard, and the Hero, commanded by Capt. Enoch Basnard, are anchored by the old British settlement. The American Brig Mercury, Capt. William Barnet, is also nearby, at the western point.
“From the moment we tacked into the harbour we noticed two unrigged brigs anchored in the bay further to the south. Both acknowledged our ensign with the American flag. Their respective captains came on board that afternoon and informed me, as born out by their manifests, that they had left New York fifteen or sixteen months earlier, making directly for these islands for the sole purpose of obtaining seal furs and oil. Various other vessels from the same nation were anchored in a number of nearby harbours for the same purpose, with their seamen spread out throughout the surrounding islands; their launches keeping up communication with the ships. .. the cargo of a single vessel often came to 20,000 seal skins and great numbers of barrels of oil. .. we could see no exaggerations to presume that within a few years all the moneys that the Spanish monarchy was expending in the Malvinas, however generously, would flow back into the hands of foreign traders. I suspended taking any action pending the accumulation of detailed information about the true spirit of our latest treaties. Rather, I offered them anything that might be useful to them…”
January 9th, Alejandro Malaspina, after considering the matter for a week, and consulting the first Nootka Sound Convention, notes; “.. there had been several incidents involving the American ships anchored either in the same harbour or nearby. Almost daily their large launches went around the outer islands. On the 9th a small schooner of the same nation belonging to a ship anchored near the western point of the islands, had anchored in the harbour, unable to sail because of her very bad condition. They all needed ship’s biscuits and the schooner needed various provisions that she had requested but that had not yet reached our establishment at Soledad. As the time spent lengthened, the slaughter of seals increased to such an extent that it seemed likely that soon they would all be destroyed, as the Americans themselves admitted. These undertakings, in my opinion, of a less equivocal interpretation of Article 6 of the most recent Escorial Treaty,1 eventually persuaded me not to remain an indifferent onlooker of such damage to our national interests, or negligently to allow the hunting to continue even longer while they waited for the stores they had requested. Both these duties, however, had to be discharged without breaking the established laws of hospitality or disturbing the peace. In particular we had to take care not to bring dishonour to our flag by making statements which could easily be evaded without the least punishment.
Thus having summoned the captains of the two ships anchored in the harbour as well as Captain White from the small schooner, I explained the titles under which everything included in the name Islas Malvinas must be considered a Spanish possession. I pointed out how harmful the fishing and hunting in which they were involved were to our national interests, how reprehensible it would be if I allowed myself to be an indifferent witness of such abuses, and how easy it would be, nevertheless, for them to move to other harbours in the vicinity during my brief stay in these parts, which would certainly be of no more than twelve days, and that this final consideration would oblige me to expel them at once, unless they could plead some reason for staying on, a justification that I would be willing to accept as I had no desire to inconvenience them while at anchor, nor fail to help them as far as possible. Such reasons could not fail to bring pressure to bear on them.
The next day the captains of the two brigs at anchor in the harbour presented documents which confirmed their intention to leave as soon as they had finished taking water. In their requests for assistance all understood the necessity of leaving these islands immediately…”
Capt. Bernard promises to leave after a further 10 days; while Capt. Basnard agrees to go in 6 or 7 days time.
January 16th, Malaspina takes on as crew six English sailors who had stayed behind to seal on their own behalf when their vessel left some six months before; and who had sold their stock to an American ship.
January 17th, Commander Malaspina records in his Journal; “The American ships had now set sail and the others had been assisted in doing the same.”
January 20th, the Malaspina expedition sails from Port Egmont.
In April, Lieut. Don José de Aldana y Ortega takes command on East Falkland.
May 12th, a map of South America is published by Laurie & Whittle of London; “The Isles of Falkland belong to Great Britain by Right of first Discovery. The English have a Fort & Settlement at Port Egmont in Saunders Island, on the North of the Western Falkland, & the Spaniards have a Fort in the Eastern Isle. As Port Egmont, is a safe and capacious Harbour, It will become of great utility to the British Navy & even to Privateers, in any future war, to annoy the Spanish Trade in the South Sea.”
British sealing ships, Active, Ann, Fox, Kitty, Lively, Lord Hawksbury, Mary, Minerva and Sybil, visit South Georgia during the austral summer.
1795 – June 15th, Captain D. Pedro Pablo Sanguineto returns yet again to take command of the presidio on Soledad.
1796 – English sealers Sally and Young William visit South Georgia. The Sally, a brig of 170 tons owned by Thomas Guillame & Co of London, is wrecked. All the crew are rescued by Capt. Mackay in the Young William.
March 15th, Lieut. Don José Aldana y Ortega returns to the Soledad posting.
August 27th, Lieut. Don José Aldana y Ortega is promoted to Captain.
October 5th, Spain allies with France and declares war against Britain.
“Spain declared war against Great Britain.. since which period, no distinct allusion to the convention of 1790 appears to have been made by either of the parties, in its public acts addressed to, or its engagements concluded with, the other. .. it would seem that the Convention of October, 1790, between Great Britain and Spain expired in October 1795, …” [Greenhow 1842]
“The Nootka Sound convention grew out of certain rights on the part of Great Britain, which existed long prior to the formation of that convention. Gentlemen had talked about certain concessions on the part of Spain, certain benefits which had been conceded to England in the Nootka Sound convention; but it would be remembered that that convention was ended by the war of 1796.” [March 9th 1846 Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856.]
1797 – British forces blockade Spain to cut her off from the American dominions.
Lieut. Edgar;s chart of West Falkland is published in London.
“I cannot omit this opportunity of bearing my strongest testimony to the accuracy with which Lieutenant Edgar has delineated the coast of the western main island, and the small ones of this group… On the northern coast of the western island there are many entrances; the principle one is that leading to Port Egmont, and which may be seen from some distance from the sea… “ [Weddell 1825]
February 20th, Lieut. Don Luis Medina y Torres takes over on Soledad.
August 22nd, American sealer Neptune moors at Port Soledad to be joined by Juno.
October 19th, the American sealer Betsy also arrives at Port Egmont. Capt. Paddock of the whaler Olive Branch stops there to take on water.
December 8th, Betsy and Olive Branch depart together for Cape Horn.
1798 - March 17th, Captain Don Francisco Xavier de Viana y Alzaibar takes command of the presidio.
English sealers Prince Edward and Sybil visit South Georgia.
June 18th, sealers Aurora and Lively sail from England for South Georgia.
Regulator, an American ship, is wrecked at Right Whale Bay, South Georgia; the crew, and cargo, get ashore.
English sealers Earl Spencer and Hercules fish at South Georgia.
The Regulator’s cargo of seal pelts is sold to the British ship, Morse.
1800 – the British sealers Duke of Kent and the Eliza hunt at South Georgia.
A map of South America is published by the Depot-General de Marine in Paris. The archipelago is named ‘Iles Malouines.’ West Falkland is marked as ‘Falkland‘, while East Falkland island is shown as ‘I. De La Soledad.’ The locations of Port Egmont and Port Soledad are also indicated.
January 26th, the American ship Perserverance of Boston anchors; “.. in North West Harbour, in one of the Falkland Islands where we found the Diana of London, commanded by captain John Locke.”
March 15th, Captain Don Francisco Xavier de Viana y Alzaíbar takes command of the Soledad garrison.
In September, the American sealer Aspasia, Capt. Edmund Fanning, arrives at South Georgia looking for the Regulator. Fanning notes the presence of 16 other British and American vessels around the island.
American sealer Sally (Nathian Storer) stops at the Falklands and South Georgia. the British sealer Canada (Capt. Lewis Llewellin) founders there.
1801 – responsibility for the Colonies is transferred to the War and Colonial Office.
March 31st, Lt. Don Ramón Fernández y Villegas takes command on East Falkland.
Favourite from Nantucket hunts at the Falklands while the English Duke of Kent takes seals from South Georgia.
Bougainville, still believing that the French have superior title to the Falkland Islands, writes to Napoleon urging him to raise the matter during the negotiations with the British during the Peace of Amiens. [Diego Luis Molinari: La Primera Unión del Sur, Orígenes de la Frontera Austral Argentino-Chilena Patagonia, Islas Malvinas y Antártida, Buenos Aires, 1961, p. 67]
“30,000 Frenchmen, established on these islands would ensure to the Metropole (Paris) a vast trade in the two oceans, and this settlement would also serve to form the training school indispensable for sailors of a navy such as the French Navy should be. No time is more suitable than now for Spain to renounce in our favour her imaginary right to these islands and for England to consent to this concession.” [Quoted in Cawkell 2001]
May 25th, the Earl Spencer again sails for South Georgia under Captain Beacon.
1802 – in January, Captain McLean in the Anna Josepha, en-route from Sydney to Cape Town, stops at West Falkland with the crew suffering from scurvy. James Grant RN notes the presence of American sealers, including the Washington..
January 31st, the American ship, Juno, under the command of Capt. Kendrick stops off at Soledad for the purpose of taking on water. He tells Lt. Villegas that he was advised to do so by the Spanish Consul in the USA. Villegas writes to the Viceroy for advice.
Captain Isaac Pendleton in the Union, maps South Georgia.
March 17th, Lieut. Don Bernardo de Bonavía takes over the presidio.
A British Act of Parliament continues the bounty system for the Southerm Whale Fishery and encourages foreign settlers in Milford Haven to pursue the oil business. [42 Geo.III cc.18, 77 and 114]
May 4th, the Viceroy responds to Lt. Villegas’ request for advice, telling him to obey his orders and instruct foreign vessels to leave.
British sealers Earl Spencer, Duke of Kent, Spightly and Dragon hunt at South Georgia.
1803 – the cost of the penal colony on East Falkland is put at 24,564 pesos.
In January, the Eleonora, commanded by Capt. Edmund Cole, from Rhode Islands, stops at Egmont.
At the end of February, Lieut. D. Antonio Leal de Ibarra y Oxinando commands at Soledad.
May 17th, Britain goes back to war with France and its allies, including Spain.
1804 – March 21st, Captain Don Bernardo de Bonavía takes command on East Falkland.
1805 – Spanish maps start to refer to the islands as the ‘Malvinas’.
March 21st, Lieut. Antonio Leal de Ibarra y Oxinando takes over the presidio.
October 21st, the Battle of Trafalgar severely reduces the capacity of Spain to communicate with its South American colonies
1806 – March 20th, Captain D. Bernardo de Bonavía returns to command the garrison on East Falkland.
June 27th, Home Popham and General William Carr Beresford, leading some 1,600 troops and marines, attack and briefly occupy Buenos Aires. Beresford discovers the lead plaque taken from Port Egmont and seizes it.
A detailed account of the extent of the Viceroyalty is prepared; “ The recent brilliant acquisition by the British forces under General Beresford and Sir Home Popham of the very important settlement of Buenos Ayres, renders an account of the extensive viceroyalty to which it gives its name doubly desirable. … If the limits of the work will admit, it is intended next to introduce succinct accounts of such of the adjacent countries, as, though not included in the political denomination of the Viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres, have, nevertheless, natural relations towards it, which make them objects of interest at the present time. …. Peru and Chili on the west; and the unexplored districts of Patagonia to the south ; with the Falkland islands and others, scattered in the Atlantic ocean, on the east; are those alluded to.”
The plate is sent back to England.
Santiago de Liniers, leading the local militia, successfully dislodges British forces from Buenos Aires forcing the surrender of General Beresford.
December 13th, an instruction from the Treasury is Spain, provides that; “.. for the expenditures and payments we shall consider from now onwards the establishment of Malvinas as a ship sailing and all the employees at that destination as depending on the ship, and the Navy shall have the same accounts in the same way as the ones of the other warships according to their particular and exclusive ordinances”.
1807 – further attacks on Montevideo by British forces interrupt the annual supply ship to the presidio at Port soledad, reducing the garrison to near starvation.
In November, France sends an army into Spain to attack Portugal. Spain agrees to its ally passing through in return for a promise of territory once Napoleon has subdued the Portuguese.
1808 - British ships, Otter and Swan, visit South Georgia while the American sealer Triumph hunts at the Falklands. On its return voyage the Swan passes Beauchêne Island and determines its latitude.
In February, Napoleon Bonaparte turns on his Spanish allies and occupies Spain.
March 19th, the unpopular King Carlos IV of Spain abdicates in favour of his son, Ferdinand.
April, Napoleon takes Charles IV as prisoner to Bayonne, and summons Ferdinand.
In May, under threat, Carlos retracts his earlier abdication, but then abdicates again; this time in favour of Napoleon’s brother, Joseph. The people of Madrid rise up against the occupiers killing 150 soldiers before being crushed by the French Imperial Guard. Meanwhile, in Bayonne, Ferdinand VII is forced to renounce his own claim to the Spanish throne. Popular uprisings break out around in Cartegena, Valencia, Zaragoza, Murcia and in Asturias.
In Buenos Aires, General Liniers is acclaimed as Viceroy.
June 6th, Napoleon proclaims his brother, Joseph, King of Spain.
August, British troops land in Portugal.
Pilot Don Gerardo Bordas takes command at Soledad.
September 25th, in Spain, the juntas of Murcia, Valencia and Seville, with others, form a temporary government, the Supreme Central Junta, to coordinate Spanish opposition to Napoleon.
In Buenos Aires, Viceroy Liniers’ allegiance becomes suspect; he being French by birth.
1809 – January 1st, a coup attempt against Viceroy Liniers fails.
“The affairs of the River Plate are unsettled – The French General Liniers, who was the Acting Governor of Buenos Aires had banished most of the principle inhabitants to Falkland’s Islands; but the Spanish Governor of Monte Video, much disgusted by so tyrannical a measure, immediately on receiving the information sent vessels to their relief, and prepared a welcome reception for the exiled patriots at Monte Video, whither they were accordingly removed.”
January 14th, in Spain, the Supreme Central Junta signs a treaty of alliance with Britain.
“.. after having been at war with Spain for eight of the past twelve years, Britain suddenly became an ally.” [Rock 1987]
May 22nd, the Supreme Junta invites representatives from its overseas territories to sit in a Cortes. Invitees include Peru, Buenos Aires and Chile.
In August, a new Viceroy, Balthasar de Cisneros, arrives in Buenos Aires to replace Liniers.
1810 – January 29th, following military reverses the Supreme Junta dissolves itself and a five person Council of Regency of Spain and the Indies is tasked with pursuing the idea of a Cortes.
At the end of January, Pilot Don Pablo Guillén Martínez takes over command of the garrison on East Falkland from Don Gerado Bordas, who goes to Montevideo to request payment of the wages due to him in accordance with the Spanish treasury instruction of December, 1807.
March 20th, without funds, due to the turmoil in Spain, Rear-Admiral Salazar passes on Bordas’ request to Viceroy Cisneros, who instructs that certified copies of the Treasury Order be sent to the Navy Minister at Montevideo – in effect reminding the Rear-Admiral that the debt is his; and Spain’s.
May 20th, Salazar again requests assistance with regard to Pilot Bordas’ wages.
May 22nd – 25th, a cabildo abierto is held in Buenos Aires to decide the future of the Viceroyalty. Delegates refuse to recognise the authority of the Council of Regency, but eventually declare for Ferdinand, professing to sustain the provinces in; “the most constant fidelity and adherence to their beloved Ferdinand VII,and his legal successors to the crown of Spain.”
Buenos Aires Province forms its own, ‘Primera Junta’, led by Cornelio Judas Tadeo de Saavedra and including Manuel Belgrano, Juan Jose Castelli and Mariano Moreno. Viceroy de Cisneros is forced to resign and exiled.
In a reflection of the confusion in Spain, not all the Provinces of the Viceroyalty agree on who to support, and conflict erupts. Montevideo endorses the Council of Regency, and its Governor, Francisco Javier de Elio, declares himself, Viceroy of the Rio de la Plata. The garrison on East Falkland stay loyal to the Council of Regency in Spain – and Elio.
May 30th, the issue of Bordas’ wages is taken up by Cornelio Judas Tadeo de Saavedra, President of the Primera Junta who countersigns the request, and also asks for the Treasury Order of December 13th, 1806 to be sent to Montevideo. [ This matter was about who should pay for work completed before January 1810 and it was quite clearly being passed back to the loyal Spanish Navy in Montevideo. That was as it should be because the debt was one for the navy budget in line with the 1807 Order. It seems clear that Buenos Aires was not prepared to take responsibility and confirms that the Falklands were not within the jurisdiction of Buenos Aires or the Viceroy; but rather the responsibility of the Navy.]
June 2nd, La Gazeta de Buenos Ayres is founded by Decree; “the people have a right to know the behavior of their representatives.” The Gazette is to publish official announcements, appointments, notices and decrees.
“Before the revolution there was a printing press in Buenos Ayres, whence issued a weekly newspaper, merely for the purpose of printing and publishing sundry papers and documents for the convenience of the viceroy, and under his sanction entirely. … This press is still continued , and the ministerial paper, called the Buenos Ayres Gazette, issues from it weekly. … The press has never been tolerated with a single day of genuine and manly freedom in Buenos Ayres. Nothing is published but what is flattering to the powers that be:..”
June 28th, the USA appoints Joel R. Poinsett to be its “agent for seamen and commerce” at Buenos Aires, with one of his objects being to inquire into; “.. the state, the characteristics, and the proportions, as to numbers, intelligence, and wealth, of the several parties, the amount of population, the extent and organization of the military force, and the pecuniary resources of the country.”
September 18th, a Junta in Santiago (Chile) declares full independence.
September 24th, the Cortes meets in Cádiz. Three representatives of the Rio de la Plata provinces are in attendance. Claiming to represent the people, the Cortes splits government into three branches – the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. The Council of Regency acts as the executive.
December 7th, Alexander Ross arrives at Port Egmont aboard the Tonquin, where Capt. Jonathon Thorn intends to take on water; “ .. Mr. McKay, myself and some others, went up the bay a little to repait two old graves which we had discovered in a dilapidated state the day before. On one of these graves was the following rudely-cut inscription on a board: – ‘William Stevens, aged 22 years, killed by a fall from a rock, on 21st of September 1794;’ on the other, ‘Benjamine Peak died of the smallpox on the 5th of January 1803 ship Eleonora, Captain Edmund Cole, Providence, Rhode Islands.”
1811 – in January, acting-Viceroy Gaspar de Vigodet in Montevideo, suffering increasing losses in attacks by revolutionary forces, recalls the loyalist garrison from East Falkland; “ the Cortes at Cadiz expressed their intention of reoccupying them when the situation was more propitious.”
January 19th, Francisco Javier de Elio is confirmed as Viceroy by the Junta of Cadiz, with Buenos Aires declared a rebel city.
February, the rural population of the Banda Oriental rebel against Ferdinand and threaten the Viceroy’s position.
February 13th, Pilot Don Paul Guillén Martinez, evacuates the garrison from Puerto Soledad. A plate is left in the bell tower with the inscription -
” This island with its ports, buildings, units and quanto contains belongs to the sovereignty of Sr. D. Fernando VII King of Spain and the Indies, Soledad of Malvinas 7 February 1811 – Governor Paul Guillén.”
May 13th, the last members of the Spanish garrison leave Soledad.
“.. The buildings (except some dry grass lints) were all originally constructed by the Spaniards; they are remarkable for their extremely thick walls (of stone,) some being three feet in solidity. They are very straggling, covering a space of half a mile in length, and a quarter of a mile in breadth. There are the remains of a building, formerly used as a cathedral, (now uninhabited and in ruins,) a hospital, a general store warehouse, a large oven (in which at present resides a family of five people,) a parade-ground, trenches, several small forts, and the remains of a very thick, straight, stone bridge, lying quite in ruins, in the erection of which, report said, the Spaniards expended twenty-five thousand dollars, the stream which it crossed being, even in rainy weather, never too deep to pass over it by the help of common stepping-stones…”
May 14th, a Junta in Acuncion (Paraguay) declares full independence.
July 5th, a Junta in Caracas (Venezuela) declares full independence.
August 30th, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville dies in Paris.
November 18th, following defeats at the hand of the rural forces, Viceroy de Elio returns to Spain. Vigodet is appointed Captain-General of the River Plate with instructions to continue the defence of Montevideo.
Francisco Javier de Elio formally resigns his office as the last Viceroy de la Rio de la Plata.
February 27th, Manuel Belgrano creates a new flag, a triband of light blue and white based on the coat of arms of the Spanish royal family, which he unfurls over the city of Rosario. However, the new emblem is unacceptable to the First Triumvirate as they rule in the name of King Ferdinand and any flag other than that of Spain would be seen as an act of rebellion against the House of Bourbon.
March 19th, the Cortes in Cádiz promulgates a written Constitution. Article 1: “The Spanish nation is the collectivity of the Spaniards of both hemispheres.”
1813 – February 8th, the British ship Isabella is wrecked off the coast of Eagle Island. The Captain, George Higton, and 5 of the crew set out to get help in one of the ship’s boats leaving the rest of the crew behind.
March 14th, the Canadian ship Columbia arrives at Berkeley Sound.
April 5th, the American sealer Nania finds the marooned British seamen left behind by Higton; who are unaware that the US and Britain are now at war. When they learn of this the English sailors seize the Nania leaving Captain Barnard and four of his crew marooned on New Island.
October, Napoleon’s forces retreat from the Iberian Peninsular.
1814 - British vessels, Admiral Colpoys, Diana and Recovery visit the Falkland Islands to prepare for the voyage around Cape Horn.
The Provinces of the old Viceroyalty descend into a series of civil and internecine wars.
March, Ferdinand VII, King of Spain, re-enters his country and takes up his throne. Napoleon abdicates.
A British ship arrives at Port Soledad and inspects the remains of the Spanish presidio; “ .. this place appears to have been settled by the Spaniards. By a paper I found in the Governor’s house it appears they left it in April 1811. the houses were in good condition, and consisted of about twenty built of wood, and a small Church. In the vicinity of the habour, on the first day of our arrival, I saw about fity head of fine Oxen, and as many horses, likewise as many Pigs, and the tame Geese were so numerous that one man shot in one day as many as were sufficient for the Brig for the week. We likewise found a Bakehouse with every utensil in good order..”
May 4th, Ferdinand VII attempts to reimpose absolute monarchy over Spain, and its dominions in the Americas.
June, General Carlos Alvear’s Buenos Airean troops finally capture Montevideo from forces loyal to Spain.
July 5th, a Treaty of Friendship and Alliance is signed between Britain and Spain.
August 28th, additional Articles are agreed between Spain and Britain.
“Art. 1.—It is agreed that, pending the negociation of a new Treaty of Commerce, Great Britain shall be admitted to trade with Spain upon the same conditions as those which existed previously to the year 1796. All the Treaties of Commerce which at that period subsisted between the two nations being hereby ratified and confirmed.
Art. 3. – His Britannic Majesty being anxious that the troubles and disturbances which unfortunately prevail in the dominions of His Catholic Majesty in America should entirely cease, and the subjects of those provinces return to their obedience to their lawful sovereign, engages to take the most effectual measures for preventing his subjects from furnishing arms, ammunition, or any other warlike article to the revolted in America.”Manuel Belgrano and Bernardino Rivadavia are commissioned to go to Europe, via Rio de Janeiro, to negotiate the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, with a Spanish or English prince as the monarch of a United Provinces.”
“But this article (Art. 1) could have related only to the treaties of commerce between the European dominions of the parties; for in the first place, no commerce existed agreeably to treaty, between either party or its colonies and the colonies of the other, before 1796; and moreover, another article in the same Treaty of Madrid provides that, “in the event of the commerce of the Spanish American colonies being opened to foreign nations, His Catholic Majesty promises that Great Britain shall be permitted to trade with those possessions, as the most favored nations.” Thus it would seem that the convention of October, 1790, between Great Britain and Spain, expired in October, 1795, and has not since been renewed; and if that be the case, Great Britain and Spain should each stand with regard to the Falkland Islands, as if it never had been concluded.” [Greenhow 1842]
Manuel Belgrano and Bernardino Rivadavia are sent to Europe, via Rio de Janeiro, to negotiate the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, with a Spanish or English prince as King of a United Provinces.
In November, Captain Barnard and his crew are rescued by the British whalers, Asp and Indispensable.
HMS Nancy, a gun-brig, is also sailing near the archipelago hunting for the survivors of the Isabella.
December 12th, during heated talks to find some resolution to the inconclusive War of 1812, English negotiator Henry Goulbourn refers to driving the Spanish off the Falklands in 1771. John Quincy Adams responds that he believes such was not the case and that; “… as I remembered it, the Spaniards in that case had driven the British off, and Great Britain had insisted upon being restored to the possession, though she immediately afterwards abandoned it, and the claim to the islands themselves.” Goulbourn disagrees saying; “Well, we fitted out a fleet and troops, and Spain knew that we would have taken them, and so she chose to give them up.”
Two French sealers out of Le havre, the Elephant de Mer and the Zenaide, moor at the Falklands.
1815 - the British sealer Norfolk, visits South Georgia. Edmund Fanning, in the Stonington sealing ship, Volunteer, leaves a gang of 9 men at Port Louis with orders to hunt in the area until his return in 1817.
January 9th, Carlos Alvear is chosen to be Supreme Director in Buenos Aires. He instructs Manuel Jose Garcia to negotiate the placing of the United Provinces under British protection. Garcia is entrusted with letters to the British Foreign Minister stating that the United Provinces wished to belong to Britain and accept her laws. The letters also asked for the deployment of troops to restore order. On his arrival in Rio de Janeiro, Garcia speaks to the British Ambassador, Lord Strangford, who tells him that the plan is impossible as Britain has already agreed to act in harmony with Spain on the issue of its colonies.
April 15th, Alvear is deposed.
In May, Belgrano and Rivadavia arrive in Britain but quickly recognise that the Government there will not support their ambitions. A revised plan to interest Charles IV in forming one or more monarchies around the Rio de la Plata also fails.
September 1st, US President Madison formally proclaims the United Staes’ neutrality between Spain and her revolted colonies.
British sealers Admiral Colpoys and Diana hunt at South Georgia.
American sealer Volunteer, arrives at Port Soledad for a three month stay.
July 9th, the Congress of Tucumán, declares independence; arguing that the union with Spain was broken on Ferdinand’s abdication in 1808.
“We, the Representatives of the United provinces of South America in General Congress assembled, invoking that Supreme Being, who presides over the universe, and in the name of and by the authority of the people we represent, asserting before heaven and all the nations of the earth the justice of our resolution, do hereby solemnly declare it to be the unanimous and indisputable determination of the people of these Provinces to break the bonds which have hitherto bound them to the Kings of Spain – to recover those natural rights of which they have been deprived, and to take upon themselves the character of Free Nation, independent of King Ferdinand the Seventh, of his successors, and of Spain, with full and ample power in consequence de facto and de jure to establish for themselves such form of Government as existing circumstances may render necessary…”
“According to predominant nineteenth-century doctrine there were no rules determining what were ‘States’ for the purposes on international law; the matter was within the discretion of existing recognized States.” [Crawford 2007]
Ferdinand’s reaction is to prepare an expeditionary force of 12,000 men, for an invasion of Buenos Aires.
July 20th, Belgrano’s triband flag is accepted as the flag of the new nation.
August 14th, General José de San Martín writes to the Governor of the city of San Juan; “On the 31st last month, the Minister of War stated the following to me: “The government is desirous of ending the misery of those who are held in jails, dungeons or other prisons located in the territory of these provinces, as a result of their reprehensible conduct/excesses and to preserve public peace. With the purpose of rendering them useful to the State under the guidance of expert chiefs that shall draw them away from their misplaced past and turn them into honourable citizens that shall serve the common good, His Excellency has decided that you provide that all the persons of the high class that are imprisoned in the jurisdiction under your command sentenced to the jails of Patagones, Malvinas or other places be sent to this capital city, escorted with the strictest surveillance possible, and along with a copy of their respective sentences, including any deserters contempt of court. ...” [ General Martin was apparently neither aware that the penal colony on East Falkland had stayed loyal to Spain, nor that it had abandoned the Falklands 5 years before.]
British sealer Grand Sachem hunts at South Georgia.
In September, during talks with the Portuguese King in Brazil, King Ferdinand considers that both Buenos Aires and Montevideo, being “irrecoverable,” are pawns to be used to negotiate an advantage. [Thomas Jefferson
1817 – in January, the Volunteer returns to the Falklands to complete its cargo before sailing for New York.
Samuel B. Edes, in the sealer Pickering, out of Boston, visits the Falkland Islands en-route to South Georgia; “After reconnoitering about the Falkland Islands, without finding seal enough to warrant us in leaving a gang there, we ran over to Staten Land, and Tierra del Fuego ...”
Britain's old settlement at Port Egmont is still a favourite resort of whalers and sealers; “The English again formed a small settlement in Port Egmont in 1817, principally as a place of refreshment for the Whalers.” [ Army and Navy Chronicle (New Issue) vol.6 January 1 to June 30 1838 p.165-166.]
April 6th, George W. Erving, US Minister to Spain, writes to Secretary John Quincy Adams; “With respect to the colonies, I believe it to be very certain that England has offered her mediation. But here the two governments cannot agree. Spain in the true spirit of her system, insists on their returning to their ancient unqualified allegiance, & her pretensions are still upheld by calculations on the flattering intelligence, true or false, which she every now & then receives from various parts of South America. England besides the reasonable objections which she has to oppose to such absurd & hopeless overtures, cannot find that she has any interest in making them; she does not wish to separate the colonies from Spain, on the contrary; but she desires that the trade to them may be open.”
On the same day, a privateer, David Jewett, acting under a ‘commission‘ of Buenos Aires attacks and seizes the General Gates. Two bags of cochineal are seized as is a folder of official letters from Havana to the Spanish Consul in Philadelphia. Jewitt’s ship is called Invincible.
“ … littoral states strong and weak alike—relied on private vessels for maritime support. Those private vessels, known as privateers, were invested with power to act on behalf of a state through letters of marque and reprisal. Instead of oceans policed by national navies, private vessels and their captains sailed their vessels on behalf of states.” [Samuels 2012]
In May, the Admiral Colpoys sails from London for South Georgia.
May 15th, an ordinance to regulate the actions of corsairs employed by the Buenos Airean Government is signed into law by the Supreme Director Juan Martin de Pueyrredon and Matias de Yrigoyen, the Minister for War and the Navy. The ordinance is entitled – Reglamento Provisional de Corso and contains 46 articles detailing legal and unlawful actions.
“These crimes are all distinctly to be traced to the articles in that Code … namely, to the article which gives the privileges of a Buenos-Ayrean, and a right to their flag, to every foreigner, who has never been in the country..” [John Quincy Adams 1820]
In August, the British Foreign Minister, Lord Castlereagh, circulates a note to the European Allies; “.. founded upon the previous application from Spain, soliciting the mediation of the allies between her and her Colonies. It proposes that they should undertake the mediation, on condition that Spain should agree to three principles to form the basis of it: 1. A general amnesty to the insurgents. 2. That the South Americans should be admissible to offices and honors equally with the Spaniards. 3. That the Colonies should enjoy a free commerce with other nations, subject to certain suitable preferences in favor of Spain.”
October 29th, General Mason introduces Don Manuel Aguirre to Secretary Adams in Washington; “He gave me a letter to the President, containing the declaration of independence of Buenos Ayres, with an exposition of the motives of that act, written by himself, and two commissions to himself, inclosed in a sealed packet addressed to me. One commission was from the United Provinces of South America (Buenos Ayres), signed by the Supreme Director Pueyrredon, styling Aguirre Commissary-General of War, and constituting him agent of the Government near that of the United States.”
As the US does not yet recognise the United Provinces, Adams informs Aguirre that he will not be viewed as a Minister from Buenos Aires, but merely as an Agent.
November 28th, the sealer Admiral Colpoys, commanded by James Todrig, is wrecked at South Georgia. The crew save much of the cargo which is transferred to another ship.
The Sea Fox under Capt. Fanning arrives off East Falkland seeking seal oil and skins while the Bordelais, a French ship under the command of Camille de Roquefeuil sails by the archipelago; “I wished that it (France) would again occupy those islands, which, it is true, would not furnish any rich produce but … would be useful to our fisheries, it might serve also as a place of deportation, and would afford a vent to our super-abundant population. Spain, which is on the point of being excluded from South America, could have no interests in preventing us: and even the power which embraces the world with its colonies and squadrons, could hardly look with a jealous eye on the occupation of this desolate coast.”
December 4th, prior to any consideration of recognition, the United States sends out three commissioners, Rodney, Bland and Graham, to ascertain the condition and prospects of the La Plata provinces.
December 24th, Secretary John Quincy Adams has a meeting with Aquirre; “.. and I had with him a conference of nearly two hours. He gave me a copy of the Declaration of Independence of Buenos Ayres of 9th July, 1816, and read to me in English a paper urging the acknowledgment of that Government by the United States. I asked him if it was in consequence of any new instructions. He said, No, but in consequence of what had passed in Congress on the subject. His instructions were to urge the recognition of Buenos Ayres as circumstances might occur to favor the demand; but he was expressly instructed not to urge it at the hazard of embroiling the United States with any of the powers of Europe. He told me there were three public agents of Buenos Ayres in Europe one at London, one at Vienna, and the third had been under the guarantee of the British Minister at Madrid, but he believed was now gone to Paris. The proposals that he had made to Spain were, that the King of Spain s brother, the Infant Don Carlos, should be the sovereign of Spanish South America, but upon two conditions, one, the absolute independence of South America ; and the other, that Don Carlos should go over alone, without any troops. Spain rejected these proposals, and would hear of nothing but unconditional submission, upon which the Declaration of Independence was made.”
1818 – March 25th, Henry Clay speaking in Washington, calls for $18,000 to outfit and salary a Minister for the United Provinces. The motion is defeated.
March 29th, Aguirre receives a letter from Buenos Aires for transmission to President Monroe asking for formal recognition of the United Provinces. Explaining why this had not been requested before, the author, Pueyrredon say; “As long as the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata considered the issue of the contest in which, obedience to honour and justice, they had engaged with the Mother Country, as doubtful, they cautiously abstained from requiring of other nations to compromit their interests by a formal acknowledgment of their Independence.”
July 24th, John Quincy Adams sees President Monroe regarding a letter from Commissioner Bland in Buenos Aires; “ .. Bland’s letter .. contains much information concerning the state of the country, a decided opinion that they will never again submit to the dominion of Spain, and an opinion equally strong that the Government of the United States ought not at present to recognize that of Buenos Ayres. He has a very bad opinion of Pueyrredon, and still worse of his Secretary of State, Tagle. ..”
In August, French statesman, the 5th Duc de Richelieu, in an attempt to facilitate an accord between Spain and the United provinces, proposes to Ferdinand VII that one of the Spanish princes be crowned at Buenos Aires.
Ferdinand refuses, preferring General Vigodet suggestion that the Island of Soledad be used as a staging post for an invasion of the United Provinces.
September, French agents in Buenos Aires report that Manuel Belgrano and the Government there, favour a close political connection with France, and would still prefer a monarchy rather than republicanism.
November 7th, John Quincy Adams, in consultation with President Monroe over the President’s annual Message to Congress, notes in his diary; “ … with regard to the facts relating to the European mediation, some of them had been communicated to us in close confidence by the British Government, and the President could not dilate upon them without giving them a color to charge us with a breach of that confidence. Still less can he enlarge upon the facts in the internal condition of South America which operate against the acknowledgment of the Government of Buenos Ayres, the principal of which is that they pretend to the sovereignty of the whole Viceroyalty of La Plata, while Portugal is in possession of Montevideo, Artigas of the Banda Oriental, Paraguay under other separate government, and the Spanish royalists in five other provinces.”
November 9th, the British Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, writes; “Mediation between Spain and her Colonies is the most embarrassing question. The last proposition of the new Spanish Minister in London suggested that the commerce of England and other friendly Powers with the Colonies should only be carried on through Spanish ports. This is obviously impossible ..”
December 14th, Mr. De Forrest, an American citizen, presents an application to the US Government for his recognition as Consul-General for Buenos Aires. The application is rejected. Secretary Adams informs him; ““That it might be well for him to make known to his Government that if the United States should hereafter acknowledge them, it will be without involving themselves in any question as to the extent of their authority or territory; particularly they will not be considered as taking any part in their questions with the Portuguese, or Artigas, upon the Banda Oriental, or with Paraguay, Santa Fe, or any provinces contesting their authority; that we should also expect to know whether the independence that we were to acknowledge was complete or partial.”
1819 – January 14th, Spain announces penalties for any subject of a foreign state who joins the standard of their revolting colonists – “News reached England that ships of war flying the Spanish flag had orders to cruise against the merchant ships of every country presuming to trade with her insurgent Colonies.”
Jose Valentin Gomez is sent to Paris from Buenos Aires empowered; “.. to negotiate and make proposals to the Ministry of France to the end of causing the cessation of the hostilities which inundate with blood the Provinces of the Rio de la Plata.” France attempts to persuade Ferdinand VII to support the idea of a Spanish prince on the throne of a kingdom in the Rio de la Plata area, with the capital at Buenos Aires. Ferdinand maintains his stubborn approach to the whole question.
British whalers and sealers, Arab, Anne, Echo, Grand Sachem, Indispensible, King George, Dove, Norfolk, Recovery and Mary Ann, hunt off South Georgia.
February 3rd, the British sealer Indispensible is reported off South Georgia with 120 tons of oil.
February 12th, Richard Rush, US Minister to Great Britain has a meeting with Lord Castlereagh on the subject of Spain’s colonies; “ .. he observed, that while Great Britain had, from the first, anxiously desired to see the controversy at an end, and had done her best to effect this desire, it had always been upon the basis of a restoration of the supremacy of Spain;”
Further attempts are made to convince the USA that it should recognise the United Provinces as a new State; “The Republic of the United Provinces of South America comprehends, with some exceptions, the same territory as the Vice-Royalty of Rio de la Plata, which was established in 1778. It extends from the 16th to the 45th degree of south latitude.” [Kanki 1819]
February 19th, Captain William Smith in the merchant brig, Williams, sights Livingston Island, the most northerly of the South Shetland Islands.
May 6th, Arab arrives back with 300 casks of oil and 5,000 seal skins.
May 22nd, Grand Sachem reaches Gravesend with 150 casks of oil and 180 seal skins.
An Act of Parliament is passed prohibiting the service of British subjects in the ranks of the revolting Spanish Colonies.
June 8th, the Mary Ann arrives at Limehouse with 690 casks of oil and 900 salted seal skins.
Joseph Herring, with the backing of British merchants, fits out the Esperito Santo at Buenos Aires for a seal hunting voyage to the South Shetland islands. The vessel, flying the British flag and with a British crew, stops off at the Falklands where it meets the American sealer Hersilia. When the Hersilia sails, she leaves behind 2nd mate Nathaniel Palmer to obtain supplies of fresh beef from the wild cattle on East Falkland.
The French sealer Victor sails for the archipelago.
Buenos Airean armador, Patricio Lynch, acquires a French frigate called Braque and refits the vessel as a privateer.
“Privateers were privately owned vessels authorised by governments in times of war to prey upon enemy trade and shipping. They were required to carry commissions (letters of marque), act in accordance with specific instructions and transmit prizes to ports to be legally adjudicated in courts of maritime jurisdiction.” [McCarthy 2012]
September 9th, Lynch writes to the Minister of the Navy about the refitted vessel, for which he needs cannon; “I wish to assemble a corsair frigate of 475 tons and 30 to 34 guns at this port… I lack the armament and ammunition that I cannot find for sale in private hands and I must disturb his excellency to apply for the arsenal, .. under the conditions of article 5 of the Corsair Ordinance. If His Excellency wishes to grant it, I hope he will issue the orders to the respective commands of Marina and gun room, and grant a corsair licence for the vessel which will be called ‘Thomas Guido,” and their Commander is Don David Jewett. I beg His Excellency to accede to this request…”
In October, Smith and the Williams, return and land on King George Island; claiming the South Shetland Islands for Britain. Hersilia returns to West Falkland to re-provision having failed to find the mythical Aurora Islands, and, on hearing of Smith’s claim, sails south in search of new sealing grounds.
In December, the Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb Thaddeus von Bellinghausen arrives at South georgia in Vostok and Mirny where they map the south coast. In one of the fjords, Bellinghausen meets two English three-masted sealers which had been hunting seals there for four months.
Bellingshausen sails on to the South Sandwich Islands; finding more of them than Cook had observed and confirming that they were all islands rather than being any part of a continent.
1820 - in Spain, King Ferdinand provokes a revolt leading to his imprisonment by his own countrymen.
Captain Smith and the Williams, with a Charter from the Royal Navy, return to survey the South Shetland Islands with Lieutenant Edward Bransfield on board.
A French vessel arrives at Port Egmont; “.. It is proper thus to mention what the Islands are capable of affording now, for the reports of several years ago do not apply to the present time. An instance of this occurred in the case of a French ship which arrived at Port Egmont in the year 1820, for a cargo of seal skins and oil. The captain was a lieutenant in the French navy, and his ship was elegantly and expensively fitted out. It appeared that the voyage was projected upon the foundation of his father having, forty-two years before, been at this port, and at that time found the beaches lined with sea elephants and seals. The son expected the same to be still the case; but as none were to be found, he abandoned the voyage, with great loss, no doubt, to his employers.”
January 7th, Patricio Lynch writes again to the Minister of War, Matias de Yirigoyen; With my corsair frigate Heroína receiving its provisions, recruiting its crew and preparing to set sail within 15 days, I take the liberty of writing to you … The name of the ship shall be as above mentioned, unless you decide otherwise; its letters of marque or commission shall be those of a warship of the state set to sail for a year;.. its captain Don David Jewett, that of Colonel … as was promised to him and as he deserves, having served on the Bark Invincible with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel with honour … I’m thinking of giving him six lieutenants but I have yet to decide which, among the various applicants should be the first and which the second, and for this reason I request that you grant me commissions in the following manner: that of first lieutenant with the rank of captain, and the other lieutenants, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th, with their ranks, all according to proper procedure and that of second lieutenant in favour of Don Luciano Castelli. .. I also request that you send me general and specific instructions that your Excellency may wish to communicate to the commander of the ship. The ship is now in an admirable condition and I trust that it will honour the country to which it belongs. It grieves me considerably that it should take to the sea without your having been at its side: it is the best we have had so far. A son of Acevedo who has worked in the English navy goes as midshipman. In the same class goes a nephew of Goyena who has been a midshipman in Spain, and then there are a number of young adventurers also going…”
[No instructions have been found, and there is no evidence that any were sent.]
January 8th, Niles’ Weekley Register estimates that there are between 15 and 20,000 American seamen engaged in privateering activities.
January 15th, Lynch is granted a ‘corsair’ licence signed by Supreme Director Jose Rondeau, under the cosair regulations of 1817; permitting his privateer to pursue and capture Spanish ships. David Jewett is commisioned Colonel in the National Marine Service.
“There is scarcely a Buenos Ayrean privateer which has not committed piracy of every description – it appears that at Buenos Ayres itself commissions of Artigas have been sold to the Captains of the Buenos Ayres privateers, who have gone to sea, and used one or the other commission as suited their purposes… There is not a day passes but we hear of new crimes of this description committed under the flag and commission of Buenos Ayres by people of every other nation; for, to find among them a native or even a genuine citizen of Buenos Ayres, is almost without example” [Adams 1820]
“… the sole titles that the Captain of Heroina provided as proof of ownership, and authorisation to capture enemy ships on behalf of the Supreme Director of the United Provinces of South America, written the first in French and the second in Spanish, and given to the first Captain of Heroina David Jewitt on the 15th January 1820 who has endorsed and transferred to current Captain Masson on the 22nd April 1821, expressly declaring that the Heroina was a Buenos Ayres War Sloop and was aimed to fight against the Spanish flag, … reprimanding and punishing all excesses committed against friendly or neutral flagships.” [Portuguese Court Record 1822]
”As privateering developed in Britain in the 16-18th centuries, the privateer ‘commission’ and ‘letter of marque’ were two different entities. The former was issued against specific non-state targets, whereas letters of marque were issued against citizens of enemy sovereign states. However, by the 19th century, at least in the sources I’ve used, the two terms seem to have become synonymous and were used interchangeably .. So, if Jewett received a ‘commission’, I would assume it was granted specifically to take command of a privateer, just as if he’d been issued with a letter of marque – the difference in this context being merely one of terminology…”[McCarthy 2013]
January 30th, Smith and Bransfield discover the Antarctic Peninsula.
February 14th, on its entry to Berkeley Sound, the French corvette Uranie, founders – “Commodore Freycenet had performed a voyage of science almost round the world, and after having spent nearly three years, was returning home when this distressing accident happened. .. the crew got safe to land. .. They were at length relieved from their distressed situation by an American sloop, which, in passing, saw them, and went to their assistance….”
February 18th, Manuel de Sarratea takes over as Governor in Buenos Aires.
March 6th, Sarratea is replaced by Juan Balcarce.
March 11th, Juan Balcarce is replaced as Governor by Manuel de Sarratea.
March 21st, Colonel David Jewett, the Heroina and its crew of 200, and sails after Spanish prey.
“The necessity for having an effective crew, and the impossibility of getting men of good characters, had induced him to take some out of the common prison.” [Weddell 1825]
James Weddell’s ships Jane and Beaufoy are moored at Port Egmont, while the General Knox is at West Point harbour. Other vessels include the Mercury, and Sir Andrew Hammond at Port Soledad.
Towards the end of April, Commodore Freycenet, his crew and passengers from the Uranie sail for the River Plate aboard the Mercury.
In May, on the banks of the Rio de la Plata; “… as news of the Falklands riches reached Montevideo, Don Pacheco, whose cattle business had run into financial difficulties, approached Louis Vernet, a successful man of affairs in Buenos Aires, for help. In return, he promised him half of a large sum of money owed him by the government, ..” [Cawkell 1983]
May 21st, the Hersilia arrives back at Stonington with 8,868 seal skins.
July 5th, John Murray Forbes is appointed to be the USA’s Agent for Agent for Commerce and Seamen in the Province of Buenos Ayres. John Quincy Adams instructs him; “In the progress of their revolution, Buenos Ayres and Chili have, to the extent of their powers, and, indeed, far beyond their natural means, combined maritime operations with those of their war by land. Having no ships or seamen of their own, they have countenanced and encouraged foreigners to enter their service, without always considering how far it might affect either the right or the duties of the nations to which those foreigners belonged. The privateers which, with the commissions and under the flag of Buenos Ayres, have committed so many and such atrocious acts of piracy, were all either fitted out, manned, and officered by foreigners, at Buenos Ayres, or even in foreign countries, not excepting our own, to which blank commissions, both for the ships and officers, have been sent…”
July 11th, in the House of Commons; “ .. on a call for information .., Dr. Lushington argued the broad principle, that England ought to recognize immediately and fully the independence of Buenos Ayres.”
July 20th, Minister Rush writes from London, to Secretary John Quincy Adams in Washington; ”What I have heard is, that, in the month of April, (being subsequent to the establishment of the constitution of 1812,) the agents of Chili, Buenos Ayres and Venezuela, did meet together in this city, … They jointly signed an address to the King of Spain asking that the independence of these countries might be acknowledged. This address was transmitted to Ferdinand through the medium of the Duke of San Carlos, then the Spanish ambassador at this court. The reply to it through the same channel was, that no proposition wouldbe listened to that had not for its basis the return of the colonies to their subjection to the mothercountry.”
On July 27th, in an act of piracy, the Heroina attacks a Portuguese ship, the Carlota, which is en-route to Lisbon; “ .. we got sight of a heavy ship of war or strong armed ship at 10 o’clock in the morning and immediately made all sail in chase, which from the near equality of sailing, we were unable to come up with, until after midnight…. On coming up with the chase, the weather being clear moon-light, we being to windward and within half musket shot, she from appearances confirmed the first opinion that she was a ship of war. – At this moment and before hailing, she fired a shot, which passed between the foremast and bowsprit end. Then hailed her several times, to which at length received an indistinct answer, by some understood “Portuguese.” – I ordered him to send an officer and boat on board, which being repeated several times, and as often refused, I found it necessary to enforce the demand and assured him both in Spanish and English, that unless he complied I should fire into him, and being again refused, I ordered Lieut. Edwards to fire from the Fore Castle of the upper deck one gun across his fore-foot elevating the same, which was accordingly done, and as soon as fired, was returned from the ship with a full broadside of round grape and musketry and repeated with a brisk fire, being then within a short pistol-shot distance – I ordered the batteries to be opened upon her which was continued for the term of fifteen minutes close action, when she was silenced for the space of two or three minutes – hearing cries and groans on board of her, I immediately ordered a cessation of firing, supposing her to have struck, when she directly resumed the action, then at half pistol-shot distance which I as soon returned with two broadsides, when they cried for quarter, stating that they had struck on which I despatched Lieut. Edwards and the necessary officers and men to take charge for the night; she proved to be, as you will perceive by the documents herewith presented, the ship Carlotta of 22 heavy guns besides small arms with a crew of 62 men and 14 passengers from La Bahia.. “ [Jewett 1821]
August 19th, some members of the Heroina’s crew conspire to mutiny, but the plan is discovered and the conspirators arrested. Following a swift court-martial, Jewett executes two officers and four sailors for their involvement in the conspiracy.
October 16th, Stonington sealers Hero and Express arrive at the Falklands followed by the Frederick. Free Gift and Essex are also en-route.
April 23rd, approaching the Falkland Islands, the Heroina and Carlotta run into a storm; “ .. we encountered a very violent Gale from N.W. To W. during which we entertained much apprehension for the safety of both vessels, and in the height of the gale lost sight of the Prize, since which I have no intelligence of her…”
October 24th, US Agent, John Murray Forbes, arrives in Buenos Aires.
October 27th, the Heroina enters Berkeley Sound after losing 50 men on the Carlotta. Jewett’s remaining crew are in a poor condition; suffereing from scurvy; “The state of the Heroina on entering this port can’t be adequately described and scarcely imagined. Only ten effective seamen calculated to do the duty … , to attend the sick, the dying, and to bury the dead – without the most distant hope of relief, but from the salutary effects of the fresh earth, and a partial cessation from the heavy duty of working the ship through a series of tempestuous weather and severe cold, the fatigue of which, helped on by despondency, from witnessing the rapidity of the hand of death, encreased by terrors, and sufferings from the the violence of the weather – left me all but abandoned – in this situation I entered the Bay of this port on the 27th (civil) day of October, 1820, at the close of the same. Finding myself in a situation to bring the ship to an anchor, and unable to reach the port, I ordered it to be done, being then about ten miles distant from the ancient town of Soledad.” [Jewett 1821]
October 28th, Jewett appraises his situation; “On the following day I proceeded in my boat to explore what resources might be afforded by this place, as the only dependence for saving from an immediate dissolution (I may say) the survivors of misfortunes; who from the bad quality of our provisions, the short allowance, and total want of vegetables, and fresh stock, were reduced to the verge of despair. – Under the dilapidated state in which I found the remains of this once hospitable place, I was compelled to form tents with the shattered sails of my ship, to shelter the sick which was done as easily and early as possible. I was enabled to reach a safe anchorage for my ship, when on landing the sick and affected, the sudden change of air, and effect of the earth, gave an equally immediate termination to the existence of many, and relief to others. The limited resources for vegetable supplies, and the laborious exercise of the chase gave but a partial refreshment to the sick and those able to do duty.”
October 31st, the American schooner Huntress, commanded by Capt. Burdick, moors up at Bense harbour in the Falkland Islands. The three Stonington sealers sail for the South Shetland Islands.
The Heroina’s commander, on reconnoitering, discovers that the archipelago is at the center of a booming industry – “When Captain Jewitt arrived at the Falklands, he found more than thirty sail of vessels engaged there in the seal fishery, besides others which were recruiting the health of their crews after whaling or sealing voyages in the antarctic regions. By the crews of these ships numbers of cattle and pigs were killed, as well as horses, the wild descendants of those taken there by Bougainville and his successors.” [Fitzroy 1839]
November 2nd, Colonel Jewett sends letters to some of the commanders of the ships scattered around the islands, announcing that he has an Order to take possession of the Islands.
British explorer and seal hunter, James Weddell, on the brig Jane, receives a copy of the letter. “While lying in this port in 1820, I had a letter brought me from the commander of a patriot national frigate of 30 guns, then at anchor in Port Louis; and to convey an idea of the kind of claim made by the South Americans to these islands, I shall subjoin his letter..”
“National Frigate Heroina at Port Soledad
Sir, I have the honour to inform you of the circumstance of my arrival at this port, commissioned by the supreme government of the United Provinces of South America to take possession of these islands in the name of the country to which they naturally appertain. In the performance of this duty it is my desire to act towards all friendly flags with the most distinguished justice and politeness. A principal object is to prevent the wanton destruction of the sources of supply to those whose necessities compel or invite them to visit the islands, and to aid and assist such as require it to obtain a supply with the least trouble and expense. As your views do not enter into contravention or competition with these orders, and as I think mutual advantage may result from a personal interview, I invite you to pay me a visit on board my ship, where I shall be happy to accommodate you during your pleasure. I would beg you, so far as comes within your sphere, to communicate this information to other British subjects in this vicinity. I have the honour to be respectfully yours…”
“Captain Jewitt received me with great politeness, and not withstanding the mutilated and worn out state of his crew, he assumed an air of power and authority beyond my expectation. He told me his business was to take possession of the Falkland Islands for his government, and that everything necessary for an establishment would be procured from Buenos Ayres so soon as he could purchase a cutter, of which there were several among the islands.
It evidently appeared, however, that his principal business was to refresh his crew; for never, since the time of Lord Anson, perhaps, had an instance occurred where the scurvy had been so destructive to a ships company. … The complement of men, when the ship sailed from Buenos Ayres eight months before, was 200: they had not now more than 30 seamen and 40 soldiers fit to do duty … “ [Weddell 1825]
Weddell helps Jewett move the Heroina to a more suitable anchorage near Bougainville’s old settlement of Fort Louis, where the scurvy ridden sick billeted in the old bakery.
November 6th, Capt. Jewett holds a ceremony; “In a few days, he took formal possession of these islands for the patriot government of Buenos Ayres, read a declaration under their colours, planted on a port in ruins, and fired a salute of 21 guns. On this occasion the officers were all in full uniform, being exactly that of our navy, which but ill accorded with the dilapidated state of the ship; but he was wise enough to calculate the effect of such parade, upon the minds of the masters of ships who were in the islands; and as he had laid claim to the wreck of the French ship before mentioned to the entire exclusion of several vessels which had arrived, bound to New Shetland, he was aware that an authoritative appearance was necessary. In fact he struck such a terror on the minds of some ship-masters, lest they should be captured or robbed, that one of them proposed taking up arms against him…” [Weddell 1825]
James Weddell is not convinced that Jewett’s claim is legitimate; believing that the Colonel is more interested is gaining the salvage rights to the Uranie – the remaining equipment on which would help repair the Heroina; “Captain Weddell … ridicules the whole proceeding; insinuating his belief, that Jewitt had merely put into the harbour in order to obtain refreshments for his crew, and that the assumption of possession was chiefly intended for the purpose of securing an exclusive claim to the wreck of the French ship Uranie…”
“Weddell was in no doubt that Jewitt’s principle business in putting into the islands was to refresh his crew and that taking possession was subsidiary. … The un-United Provinces were in a state of unrest. There was no Supreme Government. There were in the year 1820 at least twenty-four governments. Described by Argentina’s historians as ‘the terrible year,’ it was the most anarchic. There was no Supreme Government in Argentina’s early history. It is highly unlikely that one of these governments, during its brief reign, would have had time to think of the islands let alone task Jewitt to take possession.” [Cawkell 1983]
November 9th, Capt. William B. Orne of the General Knox receives a copy of Jewett’s proclamation.
Six British ships, the ‘Eliza’, ‘George’, ‘Hetty’, ‘Indian’, ‘Jane’, ‘Beaufoy’ and ‘Sprightly’ are moored around the Islands, together with a dozen US ships – including the Eucane, New Haven, Governor Hawkins, Physicienne, Charity, General Knox, Fanning, Harmony, Wasp, Free Gift, Hero and the Sir Andrew Hammond.
“The number of vessels of various nations then on the coasts of the islands were not less than fifty, the majority of which were from the United States.” [Greenhow 1842]
Jewett makes no attempt to impose any conditions on the ships anchored around the islands, nor is any restriction applied to regulate the sealing activities that most the ships there are indulging in.
November 11th, Capt. Burdick moves the Huntress to Hope Harbour where he encounters the Huron; “.. I found two Ships and their Shallops, one from New Haven, Bound to the East’d, and the other from Salem had been lying here two years past and with a part of a load of oil and a few skins. The former left New Haven last March, was the Huron, Capt. Davis.”
November 20th, James Weddell sails, leaving Jewett repairing his ship. Weddell carries letters from George which has 9,000 seal skins on board.
December 12th, Jewett deems his crew to have recovered sufficiently to be taken back on board the Heroina.
1821 – January 20th, the Heroina’s Captain of the Troops, Capitan Laureano Anzoategui makes a Public Protest to Col. Jewett, demanding that the ship should return to Buenos Aires regardless of its poor condition. Jewett relieves Anzoategui from his post and awaits the arrival of Spanish prey.
Jewett seizes the US schooner, Rampart, claiming that the vessel is a legitimate target as it has a cargo bound for Spain.
February 1st, Colonel Jewett prepares a 13 page report about his journey for the authorities in Buenos Aires, but makes no mention of his claim of the previous November. He does ask for a relief; “Should the disposition of Government place this ship again in Commission it will be found necessary to give her the requisite repairs, and advisable to change most of the Officers, and a great part of the crew. Persuaded that my misfortunes will be sufficient to induce the Supreme Government to provide for my immediate relief, from my present painful and distressed situation, by sending as Commander of their confidence to supercede me – I rest assured that my supplication will be granted as early as possible.” [Jewitt 1821]
A prize crew is put aboard the Rampart which is sent to Buenos Aires to have its case adjudged by the courts there – she also carries Jewitt’s Report and associated papers.
February 16th, the Rampart arrives at Buenos Aires; “.. the American Schooner Rampart, Capn. Farrin, was brought in here, a Prize to the Heroina, Capn. Jewett, Captured at anchor at the Falkland Islands. In this case every possible irregularity has been committed. The Crew has never been examined, the Hatches have never been sealed, the Cargo has been discharged without notification to the Captain and to cap the Climax, we know and hope to prove that the Captor was cruising under two Commissions, but such is the arbitrary military despotism which reigns here and such is still the more arbitrary despotism of poverty and want of means, that I have very great doubt if the best arguments and the strongest Proofs will avail anything against them. “ [Forbes 1821]
February 24th, Forbes complains to the Governor by letter, but is told by the Minister for War that he has no “official Character,” in a response regarded by the American delegation as; “highly offensive.”
March 1st, reacting to the slight, Agent Forbes demands the return of his passport; an unexpected response that causes consternation within the Buenos Airean Foreign Ministry.
March 9th, Forbes is called to a conference with Snr. Luca, Secretary to the Government and Treasury. Forbes complains of the; “ .. total disregard which had been shewn to my representations in the case of the American Schooner Rampart lately brought in here as a Prize; I then, producing the Prize Regulation of 1817 in Spanish and English, went through several articles, the observance of which had been wholly neglected in that Case. Mr. Luca confessed his incompetence to speak on that matter, as it belonged to the Department of War…. He said that he would lay the subject before the Governor and take his orders on it. …”
Capt. William Mason, an Englishman, is appointed to the command of the privateer Heroina.
April 9th, the Huron arrives back at New Island. also at the Falklands are Charity, Henry, Aurora, Nancy and several other British and American vessels.
April 22nd, Jewett signs over the ships documents and privateer Commission to Capt. Mason before the Heroina sails away from the archipelago leaving nothing behind – no marks, no signs, not even a flag.
June 6th, the General Knox arrives back in Salem, Massachusetts, with 5000 seal skins, 600 barrels of oil and a copy of Jewett’s circular.
June 8th, the Salem Gazette reproduces the warning; “National Frigate Heroina, Port Soledad, 9th Nov. 1820: “Sir, I have the honour to inform you of my arrival at this Port, to take possession of these islands, in the name of the Supreme Government of the United Provinces of South America. This ceremony was publicly performed on the 6th day of this present November, and the National Standard hoisted at the Fort, under a salute from this Frigate, in the presence of several citizens of The United States and Subjects of Great Britain, I am, etc. D. Jewett.”
June 16th, in Niles’ Weekley Register; “.. “D. Jewitt, colonel of the marine of the united provinces of South America and commander of the frigate Heroina” has taken formal possession of the Falkland Islands, “in the name of the supreme government” of the provinces aforesaid.”
August 3rd, Jewett’s letter appears in the Times newspaper in London, and is then picked up by the press in both Gibraltar and Spain (Redactor de Cadiz).
August 24th, La Gazeta de Buenos Ayres is replaced with another official Gazette by Bernardino Rivadavia; ”… under the direction of the Ministry of Government it will organize and publish an official register, and must include all laws, orders and decrees and acts of a general effect or that demand a circular communication”.
September 1st, US Agent Forbes meets with Rivadavia; “I … again received an apology for his delay in the long promised Conference…. I then stated, that by late advices from the West Indies the horrors of Piracy which had so justly excited universal indignation, were daily increasing, as well by the numbers of the Vessels as by their strength of Armament, and the boldness of their nefarious Enterprizes. … That all these Vessels were notoriously furnished with several different Commissions & according to the Privateering Regulations of this Province, they were deemed to be pirates…. That I was instructed by my government to make the strongest remonstrance on this subject. To all these observations Mr. Rivadavia replies that this evil would no longer exist, that there would soon be given an order recalling all privateers; …”
James Weddell sets out from England again in the Jane. He is accompanied by the Beaufoy commanded by Capt. Michael McLeod. The vessels are to take in the Cape Verde Islands for a cargo of salt and then move onto the Falklands.
September 14th, Forbes writes to Bernado Rivadavia on the subject of privateers; “ .. By the privateering regulations of Buenos Ayres, a privateer owned here, or commissioned by this Government, who shall be furnished with a commission from any other prince or republic, even if allied with this, “shall be adjudged a good prize, and her captain or commander punished as pirates.” It is therefore under the sanction of its own laws that I presume to call the early and efficacious intervention of this Government to vindicate those violated laws.”
September 17th, Rivadavia assures Forbes that Buenos Aires intends to recall all privateer Commissions.
On their arrival at the Falklands, the Jane and Beaufoy meet up with the American sealer Charity and all three sail for the sealing grounds at the South Shetlands.
October 6th, all privateer Commissions issued against Spain are annulled by Buenos Aires.
October 21st, the Government in Buenos Aires issues a Decree regulating the fishery on the Patagonian coast and subjecting all foreign vessels to heavy duties for fishing there; “ .. but no allusion is made to the Falkland Islands…” [Greenhow 1842]
November 6th, a Buenos Aries tribunal considering the mutiny on board the Heroina, approves Colonel David Jewett’s actions in suppressing it. No mention is made of Jewett’s claim to the Falklands archipelago on behalf of the United Provinces.
November 10th, the Salem news report reaches the United Provinces, and is reproduced in the Buenos Aires Argos newspaper.
“Whatever may have been Jewitt’s motives, or the value of the declaration of right made by him, his act was not for some time officially adopted as its own by the Government of Buenos Ayres.” [Greenhow 1842]
“… in 1820 Britain had not yet recognised the independence of the South American republics from Spain. It was unnecessary, then, for her to protest against Jewitt’s actions because any actions in the name of an independent Argentina were not considered legitimate.” [Mufty 1986]
In December, the South Orkney Islands are discovered and claimed for Britain by Captain George Powell.
British sealers Enchantress, Hetty, John, Pomona, Sprightly, Jane, Beaufoy, Jane Maria, Wasp, Livonia, Robert and Grace hunt at the Falklands.
1822 - in March, Weddell and McLeod set sail for England.
March 9th, Joaquin de Anduaga, Spanish Minister to the United States, to John Quincy Adams; “Sir: In the National Intelligencer of this day, I have seen the message sent by the President to the House of Representatives, in which he proposes the recognition by the United States of the insurgent Governments of Spanish America. … what is the present state of Spanish America, and what are its Governments, to entitle them to recognition? Buenos Ayres is sunk in the most complete anarchy, and each day sees new despots produced, who disappear the next. … Where, then, are those Governments which ought to be recognised? where the pledges of their stability? where the proof that those provinces will not return to a union with Spain, when so many of their inhabitants desire it? and, in fine, where the right of the United States to sanction and declare legitimate a rebellion without cause, and the event of which is not even decided ? … I think it my duty to protest as I do solemnly protest, against the recognition of the Governments mentioned, of the insurgent Spanish provinces of America, by the United States, declaring that it can in no way now, or at any time, lessen or invalidate in the least the right of Spain to the said provinces, or to employ whatever means may be in her power to reunite them to the rest of her dominions.
On March 20th, the Heroína is challenged by the Portuguese 44 gun frigate Pérola off Gibraltar. The Pérola manages to approach the Heroína and fires a broadside, ravaging the deck and forcing Mason to surrender.
April 22nd, the British brig Romeo arrives in the Rio de la Plata from the Islas Nuevas. [ A name for the Falklands, translated from the French name given them by Frézier (1716) or a reference to New Island which is one of the most westerly of the Falklands' group?]
May 6th, Mason stands trial at the Admiralty Court in Lisbon where he is found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment in Portugal. [Mason served 2 years imprisonment]
“A great deal of money was made and lost by speculators, at the time privateering was allowed in Buenos Ayres. The last vessel that sailed was the Heroine (formerly the French Braak), commanded by a North American, named Mason …” [Love 1825]
June 7th, London’s Morning Chronicle reports; ‘Case of the Heroina: The Commander, it appeared in evidence, was a North American of the name of William Robert Mason, and his commission was dated in April, 1820, authorising him only to molest Spanish vessels, enjoining, and imposing on him the obligation to avoid every abuse of his trust, and all irregularities on the high seas which might implicate the Buenos Ayres flag. In his cruize he was directed to overhaul every vessel, both armed and traders navigating under the Spanish flag, and examine their commissions and papers to see if they were legal, and the use made of them, and also to punish all excesses committed against neutral and friendly vessels. The Heroina was fitted out and commissioned as a vessel belonging to the Government of Buenos Ayres. On examination, however, 45 men, composing the crew, spontaneously confessed, that this corvette pursued a system of piracy, robbing all the vessels they could. From the depositions, it appeared, that early in August, 1820, in the latitude of La Isla de Flores, they met a Portuguese vessel, called the Carlotta, bound with a cargo from Bahia to Lisbon, which they captured, after an action of two hours. The crew were put in irons five days, and then sent on board a vessel accidentally met with. The captain of the privateer afterwards had two officers and four sailors shot; and his prize, the Carlotta, was lost in a storm.
Towards the close of 1820, being at the Falkland Islands, an American schooner entered, which they captured, and sent to their consignee at Buenos Ayres. On the 14th June, they captured the Spanish brig of war, Maypu, bound from Lima to Cadiz and armed her to accompany them on their piratical expedition. In the latitude of Cabofrio, they chased the Portuguese brig, Infante Don Sebastian, firing at her, but being unable to come up with her, they chased a Portuguese galley to leeward, and the captain having come on board the Heroina, near Cape St. Vincents, accompanied by a slave, the pirates had the latter hung up to compel him to declare where his master kept his money. on the 12th July, 1821, they captured the Portuguese ship Viscondessa de Rio Sceo, near Bahia, which they took to the island of St. Vincents, conveying on board the privateer the greatest part of the moveable effects, and after selling the hull, they shipped the cargo in the American brig Aligator, and conveyed it to the island of Boa Vista, where it was transshipped on board the brig Hunter of London, for the purpose of going to Buenos Ayres.
Numerous other similar cases are detailed in the proceedings. The privateer and her consort generally made their attacks under the British flag.” (Report in the Morning Chronicle, London, dated Friday, June 7, 1822)
“A great deal of money was made and lost by speculators, at the time privateering was allowed in Buenos Ayres. The last vessel that sailed was the Heroine (formerly the French Braak), commanded by a North American, named Mason …” [Love 1825]
June 21st, the Spanish Court circulates a ‘Manifesto’ to European Governments and the United States regarding the “dissident Spanish provinces of America;” informing Spain’s allies that King Ferdinand has never renounced his, “.. legitimate acknowledged rights.”
In July, Weddell and McLeod arrive back in England.
August 3rd, the Adeona, under the command of Captain William Low, sails from the Rio de la Plata for the Falklands.
September 17th, James Weddell departs England in the brig, Jane, bound for the south seas. The Jane is accompanied by the cutter, Beaufoy, now commanded by Matthew Brisbane.
In October, Wasp, an American schooner commanded by Benjamin Morrell, meets up with its sister ship Henry at New Island.
In preparation for the Congress of Verona, Lord Londonberry asks the Foreign Office for information on South America. All available records are collected together by a clerk, Woodbine Parish.
November 2nd, Morrell searches for the mythical Aurora Islands before sailing to South Georgia which he reaches on the 20th.