1748 – 1774 Establishment

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Link – 1748 to 1774

Lord Anson had seen the potential for a British base in the South Atlantic but it was Lord Egmont that pushed forward with the plan to make use of the Island claimed by Hawkins for England in 1593. Byron was sent, in 1765, to see whether Hawkins’ Maidenland was actually worth the trouble. Trouble that was bound to come when Spain saw, yet again, that its pretentious claims to all the Americas were being eroded. Byron thought what he found in the west of the Islands was certainly that which Anson had considered necessary for a British base – and worth the effort.

MacBride followed, with a garrison and settlers. He was rather less impressed with what he discovered on his arrival – a cold, wind blasted, treeless terrain. What he also found were the French.

Fort George, Saunders Island, Port Egmont, West Falkland 1770

Fort George on Saunders Island by the harbour of Port Egmont, West Falkland

Bougainville had read Anson and got to the archipelago first, in 1764; establishing a settlement on the eastern side of the main eastern island, tucked away in the far reaches of what Byron had named Berkeley Sound.

Spain was no more impressed by France’s incursion than it was by that of Britain but with the Spanish and French crowns related by blood, France was the easier to deal with. Bougainville was pressured to hand over his settlement to Spanish forces in 1767, and so Spain finally arrived in the archipelago. The third nation to get there.

A whistle blew. Spain versus Britain in the Falklands was a game that would play out until 1833. This period saw just the opening moves. A test of strength.


Relevant Resources:

Byron’s Journal of his Circumnavigation  Robert E. Gallagher (ed) 1964

An Account of the Loss of His Majesty’s Sloop Swift in Port Desire – March 1770

Oxford Journal – Saturday 29 September 1770

Histoire d’un Voyage aux Isles Malouines, fait en 1763 et 1764  by Dom Pernetty 1771

The London Gazette January 1771

Thoughts on the Late Transactions respecting Falkland’s Islands by Samuel Johnson 1771

A Refutation of a Pamphlet Called Thoughts on the Late Transactions Respecting Falkland’s Islands … Anon 1771

Clayton Report from Port Egmont – May 20 1774

An Account of the Last Expedition to Port Egmont in Falkland’s Islands in the Year 1772  by Bernard Penrose 1775

The diplomatic career of the Fourth Earl of Rochford 1749 to 1768 by G. Rice 1973

The Falkland Islands Crisis of 1770; Use of Naval Force by Nichols Tracy 1975

La Mision Secreta de D. Ricardo Wall en Londres (1747 to 1748) by Diego T. Alarcia 2000

British Foreign Policy and the Falkland Islands Crisis of 1770 to 1771 by G. Rice 2010

Making Imperial Futures: Concepts of Empire in the Anglo/Spanish Sphere, 1762-71  by David J. Stiles 2012

Francisco Gil y Lemos, gobernador de las islas Malvinas (1774-1777)  by Iago Gil Aguado 2012