1769 – January 6th, the storeship HMS Florida leaves Port Egmont for the return voyage to England.
February 1st, William Maltby arrives at Egmont in HM Sloop Favourite. The log states; “Two HM Sloops are stationed here one alternatively relieved every year and a Storeship brings out Stores and Provisions .. Here is no fortifications but four 12 pounders left on shore by Jason in 1766 .. a Small Blockhouse which was sent over in 1766 but is wholy (sic) taken up with stowing dry provisions &c.”
February 7th, Capt. Raynor in Swift, and HMS Florida, depart for England.
February 10th, Governor Puente writes Arriago complaining that the islands are, “useless.”
On November 27th, Capt. Hunt discovers a Spanish ship, San Feilpe, 2 miles north of Cape Tamar engaged in a survey cruise out of Soledad. The two ships anchor in White Rock Bay where Capt. Hunt requires the Spanish vessel to leave; ” I fell in with a Spanish schooner, taking a survey .., and on examination found him belonging to a Spanish Settlement on the east part called Port Soledad, in possession of the French in 1767, and by them called Port Louis. Agreeably to my orders, I warned him to quit the islands; ..”
November 28th, Pilot Angel Santos, in command of the Spanish vessel, sails for Port Soledad where he reports to Ruiz Puente.
December 9th, Capt. Hunt returns to White Rock Bay.
December 10th, the San Felipe anchors in White Rock Bay under the guns of Tamar. The Spanish vessel has two letters from Governor Don Philip Ruiz Puenta carried by the Spanish garrison’s infantry Lieut. of Foot, Don Mario Plata; “.. in a few days after joined me again, in a harbour on the island the Settlement is on, with an officer of infantry on board him, and two letters from the Governor of the Settlement.”
Puenta’s first letter states; ”The master of the schooner, … gave me the first intelligence of your arrival and continuance in this Streight … I cannot refrain from declaring to you my great astonishment at hearing from the said pilot, that the interruption of his voyage, and his putting into this port, are owing to your having forced him to it; and if so, which I must question … I can hardly think, that an officer of your rank, commanding a ship of war … should be so much wanting in attention and respect due to the King my Master’s flag, especially within his dominions.”
The second letter states; “ .. Supposing, as I really do suppose, your being on these coasts to be purely accidental, and that on the first formal warning given you .. to depart, you will totally lay aside all thoughts of any further stay of sailing in these parts; there is no need of enlarging on the matter, as you very well know the contrary to be an absolute violation of good treaties, and a breach of good faith…”
Capt. Hunt responds;” I have received your letter by the officer, acquainting me, that these islands, and coast thereof, belong to the King of Spain, your Master. In return, I am to acquaint you, that the said islands belong to his Britannick Majesty, my Master, by right of discovery, as well as settlement; and that the subjects of no other power whatever can have any right to be settled in the said islands, without leave from his Britannick Majesty, or taking the oaths of allegiance, and sublitting themselves to his government, as subjects to the crown of great Britain. I do therefore, in his Majesty’s name, and by his orders, warn you to leave the said islands; and in order that you may be the better enabled to remove your effects, you may remain six months from the date hereof; at the expiration of which you are expected to depart accordingly.”
Hunt tells Plata that he intends to sail to Berkeley Sound.
Don Mario Plata accepts the response but adds his own protest; “.. I protest against him for having threatened to fire into me, if I prosecuted my commission, and especially for his having opposed my going to their colony, which they said was called Port Egmont. I otherwise protest, that the said Captain Hunt, going into La Solidad harbour; though in an amicable manner, as he verbally told me, will be taken as an insult… “
December 11th, the San Felipe sails for Soledad and Hunt sails for Port Egmont.
December 12th, in anticipation, the Spanish Governor pens a second warning; “… I now tell you,.. and to all who may come under your command as subjects of his Britannick Majesty, that on receipt of this second warning and requisition, you, with the greatest dispatch, quit every Settlement made within these territories and islands of my government, the legal possession of which belongs to my sovereign, and without his superior licence orpermission, which you have not produced, no person can navigate, much less make a Settlement, without violating the sacredness of the present treaties..”
December 15th, Capt. Hunt arrives back at Egmont.
December 18th, Mario Plata anchors near Fort Egmont in San Felipe and, being met by two armed boats and forbidden to step ashore, sends Puente’s warning of December 12th to Hunt, together with his own protest; “ … First, I protest against his having hindered me navigating into Port Egmont, where I now am, running on board of this goleta, and obliging me to come to anchor, without allowing me to go on shore. Secondly, I protest against his not permitting me to go out of its entrance; threatening me, that should I attempt it, he would compel me by force to go back; … being in every respect contrary to the treaties of peace, and the present harmony between the two powers. I protest against Captain Anthony Hunt, and charge him as answerable for all the consequences…”
Hunt repeats his earlier assertion that the islands belong to the British Crown and that the Spanish have six months to evacuate the archipelago.
December 29th, reporting back to Puente, Don Mario Plata describes Port Egmont; “The said colony consists of seven houses, inhabited by some members of two frigates Tamer (sic) and Favorita.. They have a type of fort made from turves without a moat with three gun holes and one cannon.”
January 25th, Capt. George Farmer in Swift arrives back at Port Egmont from Plymouth.
February 1st, HMS Florida arrives with supplies for Port Egmont. The log notes; “ .. 4 Guns left on the Shoar by the Jason which are mounted on a Sodd wall thrown up between them and the Sea.”
February 20th, two Spanish frigates, Santa Cathalina and Andaluz, arrive at Port Egmont from Buenos Aires with instructions to expel the English garrison. The Spanish commander, Don Fernando de Rubalcava, on board the St. Catharine, is surprised to find four English frigates moored near the settlement, the Tamar, Swift, Favourite and Florida.
Clearly outnumbered, Rubalcava, writes to Captain Hunt; “Happening to come into this harbour, I was surprised to find in it a kind of settlement under the English flag, which was flying on shore, and supported by his Britannic Majesty’s ships, yourself being commander in chief. As these dominions belong to his Catholic Majesty, this procedure is contrary to the spirit of treaties, which do not allow of such intrusion into a foreign dominion, against all right; and therefore the subjects of the King of Great Britain have dared to violate the last peace, in the observance of which, his Catholic Majesty, to obviate all complaint, strictly obliges all his subjects to the most sincere harmony, so conformable to his royal intentions; accordingly I protest to you, both verbally and in writing, that you desist from your illegal usurpation of this harbour and coasts, and leave my master in the free possession of his dominions. I abstain from any other manner of proceeding, till I have acquainted his Catholic Majesty with the disagreeable affair, and receive his royal orders concerning it.”
Hunt replies; “ .. I am to acquaint you, that these islands belong to his Britannic Majesty, my master, by right of first discovery; and it is with his most gracious pleasure that I am here, with directions to protect them to the utmost of my power, and to remonstrate against the subjects of any other power making a settlement on any of the said islands. I do therefore, in his name, warn you and exhort you, and all under your command, to evacuate them.”
March 2nd, the two Spanish vessels leave, having made sketches of the forifications.
“As far as I was able to find out, the wooden tower has some small campaign cannons and embrasures to direct them where necessary, and the same for rifles, it commands the Battery and Watering-place, where it is possible to disembark; although this pigeon-loft can be demolished with a few cannon shots.”
March 4th, Marine Lieut. Thomas Coleman bemoans his situation in a letter; “I have a sergeant drummer and ten; my brother officer a corporal and eight, with which we are to defend a blockhouse that has not a gun in it, or a loophole cut, but from top to bottom is filled as full as it can hold with naval stores.”
March 7th, in accordance with their General Orders to report any encounters, HMS Florida leaves for England with Capt. Hunt.
Captain Farmer of the frigate Swift, and Captain Maltby of the Favourite, remain at the settlement.
March 13th, the Swift is wrecked off Port Desire while fetching wood. The crew survive and return to Port Egmont in a cutter.
March 27th, Don Fernando de Rubalcava arrives back in Buenos Aires to inform Bucareli of events. The Governor orders 5 vessels to be prepared for a return to Port Egmont.
May 2nd, Governor Bucareli sends a meesage to the Spanish Court outlining his actions aboard the Concepcion.
May 6th, the frigates Santa Bárbara (Jose Diaz Veanez), Santa Catalina (Fernando Rubalcava), and Santa Rosa (Fransisco Gil de Taboada y Lemos), with the three decked xebec Andaluz (Domingo Perletto), sail from Buenos Aires.
On June 3rd, Capt. Hunt arrives in Plymouth and informs the Admiralty of the Spanish demand that he evacuate Port Egmont. Inaccurate rumours circulate in London, which the Admiralty immediately deny.
June 4th, the Spanish frigate Industria, commanded by Commodore Juan Ignacio de Madariaga, anchors at Port Egmont claiming to need water. Captain William Maltby, in the Favourite, requires the vessel to leave, but his demand is ignored.
June 7th, the Industria is joined by the other 4 ships. In addition to the ships crews, there is now a Spanish force of some 1400 marines armed with 27 cannon, 4 mortars and 200 bombs opposing the small English garrison with four 12-pound cannon, a wooden blockhouse and its single remaining frigate.
Captain Farmer orders the remains of the crew from the Swift to the shore defences, while Captain Maltby brings the Favourite in as close as he can. Two of the Spanish vessels fire at the Favourite as she manoeuvres, but miss.
Maltby protests as no hostilities have been declared; ” His answer was, they were not fired at the Favourite, but as signals to him.”
June 8th, Madariaga writes to Maltby, “Finding myself with incomparable and superior forces to the frigate you command, and attending to the good harmony that reigns between our respective Sovereigns, and considering the Humanity that should be used to people that are defenceless, as you are, I intimate to you a first, a second and a third time, to quit this port. Your acting contrary, will oblige me to proceed to hostilities against you, in which action you will be rendered incapable of proceeding on your voyage. If you do not take this timely notice, you will oblige me to treat you in a different manner although in my esteem you will always be the same…”
The Commodore also writes to Capt. Farmer; “ .. Finding myself with incomparable superior forces of troops, train of artillery, utensils, ammunition and all the rest corresponding, for to reduce a regular fortification, with 1,400 men for disembarking, for which 526 are of choice regular troops, as you may see, I see myself obliged in this case to intimate to you, according to the orders of my court, that you should quit that began establishment; for, if you do not execute it amicably, I will oblige you by force, and you will be answerable for all the ill results of the action and measures I shall take…”
The British Captains respond to the effect that, having taken on the water he said he wanted, Madariaga should depart; “ .. from this port and all the islands called Falkland’s…”
June 9th, the Spanish commander writes a letter to both British Captains; “Nobody ought to make an establishment, and much less to fortify themselves, in these islands, ports and coasts of Magellan, without the permission of His Catholic Majesty, my respectable sovereign; and as you have not that permission, you ought to abandon and quit this bay, batteries on shore, and the settlement which you have begun. If you will give me authentic proof that you will quickly and with good will do this, I will put with peace and quietness my troops on shore, and yours will be treated with all the consideration and attention that corresponds to the good harmony that subsists between our Sovereigns; and I will permit thatyou may carry with you all that you have got on shore, and belongs to you lawfully; and what you cannot carry, or won’t carry, I will give you a receipt, that upon this subject the two courts interested may settle the affair. But if, contrary to all expectation, you should be determined to maintain your new Establishment, I will avail myself of the forces under my command, to make you quit the place with the fire of my guns and musquets, and you will be the cause of your own ruin and the fatal consequences of the warm attack that I shall make both by sea and land, in order to obtain by force the accomplishment of my orders, if from this intimation should not result the effect I desire. Before I begin to fire, I admonish you for once, twice, and more times, that with good will you may quit this place, the territory and bay, where I find you introduced against the will of their proper owner, which is my royal master, although with less notice I have a just cause to begin my operations… … if you not in fifteen minutes after this letter shall have been delivered into your hands, by my officer, give a categorical and favourable answer to my intent, I will begin the operations..”
Capt. Maltby responds; “I have received your letters of the 8th and 9th, … wherein you intimate, that in pursuance of your orders, you will oblige me (if I do not peaceably) to retire from this port and islands, by the power of your superior force… The time that you have allowed me to give a categorical answer, though very short, will not have the effect in altering my determined resolution in defending and supporting the honour of the British flag to the utmost in my power.”
The British Officers are invited to inspect the Spanish troops which they do, and can see the superiority of the opposing force. Undeterred, Captain Maltby, with 50 crew and two cannon, reinforce the blockhouse during the night as the battery sited there has sunk into the mud and the cannon cannot be aimed.
June 10th, Spanish forces land to the north of the settlement and march towards it. One Spanish frigate sends boats directly towards the shore covered by fire from the ships, all of which pass over the blockhouse. “Our people fired some shot, but seeing the impossibility of defending the settlement, and the Spaniards having now broke through all the limits of peace and amity, even to the actual committal of hostilities, so that their conduct was neither capable of being denied, or explained away; our officers, as they had judiciously led them to this explicit avowal, and supported the honour of their own country as far as the means in their hands would admit of, with the same propriety preferred saving the valuable lives of their people, and leaving the injury to be redressed by their country … They accordingly hung out a flag of truce, and demanded articles of capitulation.”
Articles of Capitulation are drawn up setting out the terms of the surrender. Madriaga has the Favourite’s rudder removed to prevent her departure on the premise that an inventory needs to be completed before the English leave, although the real reason is ensure that Madrid is informed of the action before London.
In July, Adrien-Louis de Bonnières, comte de Guines is appointed French Ambassador to the Court in London.
July 14th, the British garrison leaves Port Egmont, having been given a receipt for goods seized by the Spanish authorities. The inventory notes 20 gardens under cultivation. The British settlement is now replaced by a Spanish one commanded by infantry Lieut. Juan Serrato. He has one sergeant, two corporals and 17 men under his command. Also a chaplain, doctor, baker and 6 convicts; “to tend the large vegetable gardens..”
The Royal Court in Madrid, having heard rumours that the English also have a settlement on the islands of Chiloe, off the Chilean coast, order the Viceroy of Lima to drive out any Englishmen found there.
August 10th, Madrid receives notice of the intended action from Bucareli via the Concepcion.
August 14th, Captain Braithwaite on HMS Liverpool, at anchor in Cadiz Bay, also hears the news that a Spanish squadron had sailed from the Rio de la Plata towards Port Egmont. He immediately writes to the Admiralty.
August 20th, Spanish Minister Grimaldi writes to inform his Ambassador in Paris that the Court of Madrid intend to get the news of what has happened to London in the hope of avoiding a violent reaction from the English. Grimaldi also informs Ambassador Masserano in London, urging him to avoid another war.
On August 22nd, James Harris, Secretary to the Embassy in Madrid, sends news of Madariaga’s attack to London; ”My Lord. The following fact was brought from Buenos Ayres to Cadiz, by the St. Nicholas de Barry, setting forth, that in consequence of two of his Catholick Majesty’s vessels having touched at Port Egmont in the month of January, and finding it occupied by the English, who not only refused to evacuate the place, but even denied them admittance, a squadron of five frigates, with three hundred man of the regiment of Majorca, and the old battalion of Buenos Ayres, were destined to sail from thence the 6th of May last … with orders to dislodge the English establishment there.”
August 28th, French Minister Choiseul promises the Spanish Court, French support; “I have said a word to the king in the evening and I can assure you is that the Catholic king can count on all occasions and in any event on the king’s cousin.”
September 6th, the St. Catherine arrives in the Bay of Cadiz carrying news of the English expulsion from Port Egmont.
On September 9th, Lord Rochford, now Northern Secretary, consults with King George III.
In Paris, the Austrian Ambassador Count Mercy- Argenteau reports meeting with both the Spanish Ambassador, and Choiseul, to counsel moderation; “I don’t doubt that the duc de Choiseul had believed that a war would strengthen his position and make his ministry indispensable.” [Burley 1982]
September 10th, a Cabinet Meeting of the King’s Ministers is held in London. Instructions are sent to the Admiralty to prepare the fleet.
Reports from the St. Catherine reach the Spanish Court.
Minister Grimaldi writes to Paris; “The way in which the English were expelled from Port Egmont leaves me little or no expectancy to arrange this matter without a war, because it is not the honor of the Crown, or its interests to restore the English in Port Egmont. A thing which we will never agree.”
Carlos III of Spain declares that he does not fear a war with England.
September 12th, Mr. Harris, in Madrid, is sent instructions by Lord Viscount Weymouth; ”The Spanish Ambassador here having informed me, that he had good reason to believe his Catholick Majesty’s Governor of Buenos Ayres has taken it upon him to make use of force, in order to dispossess the English of their settlement at Port Egmont in Falkland’s Islands; adding, that he was directed to make this communication, to prevent the bad consequences which might arise … I told His Excellency, … that I knew his Majesty’s instructions to the officer who made the settlement at Port Egmont, and to those who have succeeded him in that command, were, to warn the subjects of other powers (if any such were found there) to withdraw themselves from thence; .. I therefore asked His Excellency if he was ordered to disavow the conduct of Mons. Bucarelli? His answer was, that he had no instructions from his Court on that head, and could give no answer to that question, without hearing again from Madrid… you will immediately await upon Monsieur Grimaldi, … and to ask, whether his Catholick Majesty by disavowing a measure which his Ambassador here acknowledges not to have been authorised by his particular instructions, and by restoring things to the precise state in which they stood before M. Bucarelli undertook this rash expedition, will put it into his majesty’s power to suspend those preparations, which, under the present circumstances, his honor will not permit him to postpone.”
On September 13th, the Admiralty orders the preparation of sixteen ‘guardships’.
Secretary Harris writes to Weymouth; “On the sixth of this month about noon arrived in the Bay of Cadiz the St. Catherine, one of the frigates which is supposed to have been on the expedition to Port Egmont, and the tenth this news was brought here express. As no one has been suffered to go on board or even remain alongside her, it is difficult to know from which of the two places she last came; it is however most probable from the latter, and that she brings the news of the good success of the expedition…”
September 19th, press warrants from the Admiralty are dispatched to Portsmouth, for the manning of the fleet. 22 more ships are ordered. On hearing the news, the Stock Market falls.
On September 20th, press gangs strip the merchant ships in Portsmouth of all useful hands before doing the same in the town.
September 21st, the Hon. Robert Walpole, chargé d’affaires in Paris, reports that France appears keen to avoid a conflict. Lord Rochford does not believe the report and instructs Walpole to gather intelligence on ship building in Toulon, and to investigate a reported military build up in Corsica.
Bertrand de Frances, the French chargé d’affaires in London, reports events directly to the French Minister, Étienne-François, duc de Choiseul.
On September 22nd, the Favourite arrives and anchors at Motherbank, near Plymouth. Messages are sent to the Admiralty in London.
September 24th, on receipt of his instructions, Harris immediately requests an interview with Grimaldi.
September 26th, Choiseul writes to the French Ambassador in Madrid urging the Spanish to play for time; “… we have eight thousand sailors fishing in Newfoundland who return at the end of October … we must acquiesce I think, in the English proposals, but after, if you want the war in Spain, to get into the discussion of the right to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, then … I can assure the King of Spain we will be ready…”
September 28th, Mr. Harris writes to Lord Weymouth; “ .. Mr. Grimaldi answered me in very vague terms concerning the expedition and its success; that we had reason to foresee such an event would happen, since their disapprobation of our establishment on Falkland Island was notorious, and that it had often been the subject of discussions; that, however, he was sorry, exceedingly sorry, it had taken place, and that the moment they heard it was intended, they had despatched a vessel from Corrunna to prevent it, which unfortunately arrived too late; that still he could not blame the conduct of Mons. Bucharelli, as it was founded on the established laws of America…”
On the same day, messages are sent out to the English colonies in North America and the West Indies informing the Governors and military commanders of the attack on Port Egmont and the need to guard against further attacks by Spanish forces.
At the beginning of October, Lord Rochford orders the Admiralty to ready the fleet for war.
October 4th, Horace Walpole writes; “England that lives in the north of Europe, and Spain that dwells in the South, are vehemently angry with one another about a morsel of rock that lies somewhere at the very bottom of America, for modern nations are too neighbourly to quarrel about anything that lies so near them as in the same quarter of the globe..”
October 5th, Harris informs Weymouth; “ I have great reason to believe that His Catholic Majesty is inclined, personally, to come to an accommodation with us at almost any rate …”
October 10th, acting on instructions from Madrid, the Spanish Ambassador, proposes a convention, ” … in which he is to disavow any particular orders given to Mons. Bucarelli, upon this occasion, at the same time that he is to acknowledge, that he acted agreeably to his general instructions, and to his oath, as governor. He is further to stipulate the restitution of Falkland Islands, without injury to his Catholic Majesty’s right to those lands, and he expects that his majesty is to disavow the menace of Captain Hunt…”
October 11th, Harris writes to Lord Weymouth; “Having good reason to believe that the ministry here were about to send orders to the several ports to arm such ships as they could, I yesterday waited on M. Grimaldi and easily perceived from his conversation that my conjectures were not ill-founded. He told me His Catholic Majesty was brought to this extremity by our armaments still being continued and that although he would avoid war and was ready to sacrifice anything but his honour to preserve peace, yet his Kingdom was not so reduced as to suffer himself to be menaced.”
On October 17th, the Admiralty reports that 30 ships of the line are being prepared for active service. Lord Weymouth enquires whether the number could be increased. The Admiralty respond that 10 more ships may be available by the end of the month.
On the same day, Weymouth writes to the chargé d’affaires in Madrid and Paris, and informs them that the proposal suggested by Prince Masserano is unacceptable to the British Crown. Britain demands the disavowal of Bucarelli and the restoration of Port Egmont without further discussion or conditions. The actions of Captain Hunt are not to be criticised.
“… when the King’s moderation condescended to demand of the Court of Madrid to disavow the proceedings of the Governor of Buenos Ayres and to restore things precisely to that situation in which they stood before the rash and unwarrantable undertaking of the Governor as the smallest reparation for the injury received that he could possibly accept, His Majesty thought there was nothing left for discussion except the mode of carrying that disavowal and that restitution into execution. … His Majesty adheres invariably to his first, demand and that without entering into the insurmountable objection to the matter of this proposed convention the manner alone is totally inadmissible, for His Majesty cannot accept under a convention that satisfaction to which he has so just a title without entering into any engagements in order to procure it, that the idea of his becoming a contracting party upon this occasion is entirely foreign to the case, for having received an injury and demanded the most moderate reparation of that injury, his honor will permit him to accept, that reparation loses its value if it is to be conditional and to be obtained by any stipulation whatsoever on the part of His Majesty.”
October 18th, Harris receives intelligence that Spanish troops were collecting in Murcia, Andalusia and Galicia; “General O’Reilly who is in the highest favour seems to direct all these military operations.”
October 25th, Weymouth’s despatch arrives at Madrid.
October 29th, Minister Grimaldi speaks to Harris; “ … I wish to God, … I knew what you expect; I thought we had done so much that there remained nothing for us to do. … We have allowed ourselves to be in the wrong; we have offered the most ample reparation; surely it is very hard, in the point wherein we are insulted (meaning the menace of Captain Hunt) you will not listen to our solicitations, although they are such as you might acquiesce in without the least diminution of the satisfaction we give you.”
November 7th, James Harris is summoned, once again, to see Grimaldi, and is told that their Ambassador in London has been given new instructions; ” … 1st. his catholic Majesty’s desire of coming to an amicable accommodation and of preserving peace. 2nd. that his Catholic Majesty is disposed to give every reasonable satisfaction to the insult his majesty thinks he has suffered by his subjects being dislodged from Port Egmont. And thirdly that his Catholic Majesty is moreover ready to come into any method regarding the manner of giving this satisfaction, as appears most eligible to his majesty; that, however, at the same time as he agrees to these three articles, he expects, first that as he has gone so far as to save the honour of his Majesty, that his Majesty would also contribute to the saving his, …..”
Prince Masserano submits two draft declarations, both of which include a reciprocal rejection of their officers’ actions. Lord Weymouth declines as any disavowal may compromise Britain’s sovereignty claim.
Harris reports to Weymouth that the Spanish Court have issued orders for the fitting out of 32 vessels to be divided into 3 squadrons.
November 13th, the King, in his speech on the State Opening of Parliament, says; “By the act of the Governor of Buenos Ayres, in seizing by force one of my possessions, the honour of my crown, and the security of my people’s rights, were become deeply affected. Under these circumstances, I did not fail to make an immediate demand, from the court of Spain, of such satisfaction as I had a right to expect for the injury I had received. I directed also the necessary preparations to be made, without loss of time, for enabling me to do myself justice, in case my requisition to the court of Spain should fail of procuring it for me;…”
November 22nd, in the Lords, William Pitt, Earl Chatham speaks about the Falklands; “… I object to our negotiating at all, in our present circumstances. We are not in that situation in which a great and powerful nation is permitted to negotiate. A foreign power has forcibly robbed his Majesty of a part of his dominions. Is the island restored? Are you replaced in statu quo? If that had been done, it might then, perhaps, have been justifiable to treat with the aggressor upon the satisfaction he ought to make for the insult offered to the Crown of England. But will you descend so low? Will you so shamefully betray the King’s honor, as to make it matter of negotiation whether his Majesty’s possessions shall be restored to him or not? … I beg your Lordship’s attention, and I hope I shall be understood, when I repeat, that the court of Spain’s having disavowed the act of their governor is an absolute, a palpable falsehood. Let me ask, my Lords, when the first communication was made by the court of Madrid of their being apprised of the taking of Falkland’s Island, was it accompanied with an offer of instant restitution, of immediate satisfaction, and the punishment of the Spanish governor? If it was not, they have adopted the act as their own, and the very mention of a disavowal is an impudent insult offered to the King’s dignity. The King of Spain disowns the thief, while he leaves him unpunished, and profits by the theft. In vulgar English, he is the receiver of stolen goods, and ought to be treated accordingly….
If I am not mistaken, we have been in possession of these islands since the year 1764 or 1765.
Will the ministry assert, that in all that time, the Spanish court have never once claimed them? That their right to them has never been urged, or mentioned to the ministry? If it has, the act of the governor of Buenos Ayres is plainly the consequence of our refusal to acknowledge and submit to the Spanish claims.
For five years they negociate; when that fails, they take the islands by force. …”
Lord Gower responds; “.. by his own acknowledgment, our right to Falkland’s island was litigated from the first: he forgets that the Spaniards often applied to our ministry upon this very subject, and that of consequence our pretensions to the exclusive possession, are neither so ancient nor so clear, as the noble Lord would insinuate; I am not saying that this justifies the capture of the island, but I must nevertheless insist, that it is a reasonable plea for our negociating with Spain.”
November 23rd, the Spanish Ambassador has three inconclusive meetings with Lord Weymouth, who instructs Harris; “As Prince Masseran continues to hold a language which gives very little reason to expect just satisfaction for the insult committed in the midst of profound peace, and the most friendly declarations of the Court of Madrid, … you may take such method as you shall think most adviseable, to apprise, as privately as possible, the lieutenant governor of Gibraltar of this uncertain state of affairs, and of letting him know that, general Cornwallis, and other officers, belonging to that garrison, are ordered to their posts, and are to embark immediately. You will also apprise his Majesty’s consuls at Cadiz, Alicante and in other ports of Spain, of the danger of a rupture, that they may take such precautions, with regard to their papers and effects as shall appear to them prudent …”
King George III writes to Lord North; “I saw Lord Weymouth on his coming from the Spanish Ambassador; the projet produced differed but little from that of Wednesday. Lord Weymouth has renewed the demand of the Governor of Buenos Ayres being disavowed, and the island restored unattended by any discussion on the right. Prince Masserano said he saw we meant war, but on going said he would draw up another projet, which Lord Weymouth declared he could not accept unless agreeable to the demand. Lord Weymouth wished I would name an Admiral for the Mediterranean squadron and give orders for augmenting the army; the former I thought ought to be proposed first at a Cabinet meeting, the latter I thought ought to be deferred until Monday, by which time we should know whether the Ambassador has powers to conclude in a manner suitable to our just demands.”
November 24th, all land officers are ordered to report to their posts.
November 25th, Lord North asks Parliament to increase the navy from 16,000 to 40,000 seamen.
November 26th, Harris informs Weymouth; “The little share the Court of France takes in this present dispute and the imperious manner in which it has treated this nation has rendered its alliance more odious than ever to the Spaniards. They use no bounds in decrying the French and the friendship of the French,.. “
November 27th, Lord Harcourt in Paris notes; “The duc de Choiseul’s very existence as a Minister depends on this affair.”
November 28th, knowing that the French charge d’affaires, Bertrand de Frances, has an appointment, King George writes to Lord North; “ .. I have but little hopes of any change in the conduct of the Court of Spain, yet I shall be very anxious to learn what shall pass between you and Mr. Frances; therefore , if he leaves you by ten, I wish you would call on me; if not, that you will send me a line, for every feeling of humanity, as well as the knowledge of the distress war must occasion, makes me desirous of preventing it if it can be accomplished, provided the honour of this country is preserved.”
“.. Frances had a long interview with Lord North, … The refusal of Weymouth, the official primarily charged with the negotiation, to entertain further proposals, had led the Comte de Guines, … to send Frances to North, hoping by this roundabout method to influence the ministry to make a settlement. …Frances was charged with a message from de Guines to Lord North in which the French Ambassador expressed his surprise that Lord Weymouth had rejected all of Masserano’s proposals, and particularly his latter offer, which was very reasonable, as these proposals gave England what she wanted in the form desired. The only conclusion to be drawn was that England desired war for an unworthy object. … De Guines added, through Frances, that although he had no particular instructions from his king he was so anxious to avoid war that he was making the direct appeal to North to preserve peace on the basis that Spain would give the satisfaction demanded if England would fix a time for an evacuation stipulated for in a counter-declaration or convention simply to assure such evacuation. North’s reply to this did not promise any weakness in the British position, for he stated that the ministry desired complete satisfaction without any convention, … He (Frances) then asked whether or not England would abandon the Gran malvinas after they had taken possession. He was led to ask this because North had said several times before that he could not comprehend why the Spanish court had no confidence in them. The answer of North was important because the subsequent discussions pivoted about his suggestion. He said that he could not speak officially (ministerialment) on this matter but if Frances would promise that this conversation would not be made public he would say in confidence that they did not desire to keep the island, that it was worth nothing to them and if Spain would give the satisfaction demanded they would certainly evacuate.” [Goebel 1927]
[ A contentious claim as Francis is put forward as the only source for this and Lord North subsequently denied making any promise to evacuate Egmont. cf “British Foreign Policy and the Falkland Islands Crisis 1770-71” G. Rice, 2010. Goebel actually produces no evidence in support of this interpretation of the interview although he does note (p.309) that the ‘promise‘ was unofficial.]
The King’s Cabinet of Ministers resolve to recommend war if Spain fails to accept its demands.
November 29th, Lord Rochford meets with Prince Masserano. Rochford pointedly opens the meeting by emphasising Britain’s claim to the Falkland Islands. Rochford tells the Prince that the British will be prepared to discuss the legal issue of Spain’s claim once restitution had been made. Masserano responds that there would have to be a mutual abandonment first or that Spain’s position will be compromised. Rochford ends the meeting by suggesting that war seems inevitable.
After the Prince leaves, Bertrand de Frances arrives for his own meeting with Rochford.
[ Goebel (1927 p.310) states that Rochford provided Frances with a similar promise to that given by Lord North and that, therefore, the proposed evacuation had Government approval. Even Goebel recognises that this does not fit well with the conversation that had just taken place with Masserano however, describing the discrepancy as ‘strange’. His source appears to be a letter from Masserano to Grimaldi dated December 3rd. Todate, I have been unable to find this letter.]
November 30th, at a Cabinet meeting, Ministers’ agree that any restitution has to be both ‘public’ and ‘complete’.
December 1st, at an informal meeting between Bertrand de Frances and Lord North, the British Minister confirms that there can be no discussion over “right”, but only on “satisfaction.”
December 3rd, Lord North is visited yet again by the French chargé d’affaires. North opens by emphasising the unofficial nature of the conversation but then repeats that the Falklands did not suit England and that they were not interested in keeping them because of the expense.
December 4th, the Royal Navy fleet is ordered to rendezvous at Spithead. Lord Weymouth asks the Admiralty to equip a further 15 ships of the line.
On December 5th, with official negotiations at a stand-still, Lord Weymouth seeks the King’s permission break off diplomatic relations by the recall of Secretary Harris from Madrid.
December 6th, Lord Rochford writes to the King detailing the preparedness of the naval force. King George writes back expressing reservations about Weymouth’s proposal to sever diplomatic relations with Spain while there is still a possibility of negotiations achieving a settlement.
On the same day Grimaldi informs Ambassador Masserano that the Spanish Court is willing to drop their demand that Hunt’s action be subject to criticism and that they will be willing to let the British return to Port Egmont but also that some agreement must be reached on a future reciprocal evacuation of the Islands.
Grimaldi also writes to Choiseul asking what help Spain can expect from France in the event of war.
In Paris, Choiseul is informed by the King’s Council that there is no money available for the Navy.
December 7th, in a Cabinet meeting, Lord Rochford reminds the King of the unpaid Manilla Ransom.
December 8th, the British Ambassador to the Court of the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, writes to Rochford; “Prince Kaunitz, and afterwards the Emperor himself, expressed to me their uneasiness lest the disputes between England and Spain should kindle a general flame.”
December 10th, Choiseul writes directly to Masserano suggesting that the Ambassador propose a convention in which the Catholic King, “forgot and took no notice” of the actions leading up to June 10th and allowed the English garrison to return to the Islands without prejudice to the rights of Spain.
He then sends a message to Grimaldi apologising for his temerity in putting a proposal directly to the Spanish Ambassador in London, but pointing out that while the archipelago may belong to Spain, a war would belong to both Spain and France.
December 13th, chargé d’affaires, Bertrand de Frances, puts the suggestion to the Spanish Ambassador who refuses to accept it without explicit instructions from Madrid.
December 14th, Frances writes to Choiseul describing the internal divisions within the British cabinet; their distrust of any French involvement and the warlike character of Weymouth.
December 15th, Frances and Lord North meet again, before a Cabinet meeting of British Ministers. King George writes to Lord North; “I am extremely desirous of being informed what Mr. Frances has to communicate, and therefore shall be desirous of seeing you at any convenient time this evening, … I should rather imagine Lord Weymouth will decline [to] be one at the conference.”
In the interview, Bertrand de Frances proposes an accord combining a mixture of the disavowal of Bucareli, the restitution of Egmont to British forces and some reservation of a Spanish right to sovereignty. Lord North refuses to recognise any Spanish right to the Islands but does agree to put the proposal to the Cabinet.
At the Cabinet meeting, Lord Weymouth puts forward four propositions; including the withdrawal of Harris from Madrid. These are rejected by the King’s Cabinet leading to Weymouth’s prompt resignation.
December 17th, the Spanish Ambassador is given permission to demand his passports if the situation did not improve.
Harris writes to Weymouth; “Grimaldi, I am convinced, will strain every nerve to accommodate affairs not either from conviction or from a pacific disposition but because France wishes it and because he receives repeated instances from M. de Choiseul to effect it. Nevertheless I fear the restless and ambitious temper of M. D’Aranda who has on the one hand represented to the king that the honour of the Spanish nation would be exposed by acceding to our propositions and on the other has painted the state of both its army and finances in the most flattering (and I may venture to add) false colours and at the same time has artfully insinuated that we are by no means in a similar condition. I fear these arguments will have more weight than they ought and will greatly obstruct if not totally prevent an amiable conclusion.”
December 19th, after consideration, Ministers reject Frances’ proposals. Lord Weymouth’s resignation is made public, and Lord Rochford adds Weymouth’s Southern Department to his own.
Choiseul, now aware of Grimaldi’s letter of the 6th, writes back to Madrid saying that the question of right would not be taken up by the British and that the only way to avoid war is to make the demanded declaration of restitution and trust the British to deal with the legal issue after. He suggests that a reservation, even in writing, may be acceptable to London.
Prince Masseran also writes to Minister Grimaldi, suggesting that the Spanish Court rely on Lord North’s vague assurances, rather than on Choiseul’s proposal which does not include a commitment by the British to evacuate the Islands.
December 20th, Frances meets Lord North for further talks. North declares positively that if peace is dependent upon a declaration of rights by Spain, then war is inevitable. [Frances to Choiseul December 22nd, 1770 n. 66 (Aff. Etr. Angleterre 494)]
D’Ossun, the French Ambassador in Madrid, informs Choiseul that he believes that the Spanish King is inclined to make war for all his outward protestations of a desire for peace.
December 21st, a letter is received by the British Government from Ambassador Masserano; “ .. conceived in very strong and decisive terms.”
Lord Rochford immediately sends instructions to Secretary Harris to leave Madrid, severing diplomatic relations; “ All negotiations having been for some time at an end between Lord Weymouth or myself and the Spanish ambassador, to whom His Catholic Majesty thought fit to commit his answer to the King’s demands, which answer was found totally inadmissible, and it being inconsistent with His Majesty’s honour to make any further proposal to the Court of Spain, I am to signify to you the King’s pleasure that your longer stay at Madrid appearing entirely unnecessary, you prepare to return home with all convenient speed.”
“ .. such was the crisis to which this matter of punctilio wrought itself, that on the 15th of December, His majesty’s Secretary of State did not think he could safely remain in office conducting that negotiation, unless it was brought to some point, precise and definite. … What passed between that day and the 21st, which induced the Cabinet to reconsider those (Weymouth’s) propositions, the papers on your table do not inform you: and yet it is certain that something very material must have passed, because, on that day, the 21st, one of these proposals was adopted – Mr. Harris, your Minister at Madrid, was recalled… as far as respects Great Britain, war was determined on the 21st of December.” [Gov. Pownall speech to Parliament 1771]
December 22nd, Carlos III writes to his cousin pointing out that he knows of the French King’s desire to maintain peace and that, in order to accommodate such, he had overlooked an infinity of injustices and taken the greatest care to prevent quarrels from occurring, but that this approach seems to have made the English ministry more difficult. He maintains that the English will only be satisfied when Spain and France are humiliated and asks whether France can reconsider and accelerate preparations for war.
December 23rd, King Louis has a meeting with Minister Choiseul. When told that war with England appears inevitable, the King exclaims; “I had told you I did not want war.”
December 24th, Choiseul is dismissed. Louis immediately sends a letter to Carlos declaring his resolution to maintain pacific relations with England.
‘Here the King of France interfered. He declared positively against a war. In consequence of this interposition, the King of Spain sent fresh instructions to Prince Maserano; of which the following is the purport, viz. “The King of Spain condescends, out of regard for his loving brother, the King of France, to relinquish Falkland’s Island; but at the same time protests against any claim the English may set up to the right.”
December 25th, a letter from Bertrand de Frances arrives in Paris – addressed to Choiseul; “Frances declared that English feeling was strong against the war, that North was bent on peace as his only chance of keeping in office, and that Weymouth had been forced to resign because of his attitude of hostility to Spain.”
December 26th, King George, unaware as yet of Choiseul’s disgrace, writes to Lord North; “I cannot refrain from communicating to you a letter which I have received from the Duke de Choiseul to the French Charges des Affaires at Hamburgh, as it confirms my opinion that we shall not have such offers from the Court of Spain as can enable me to preserve to my subjects the blessing of peace.”
December 27th, not yet in receipt of the French King’s letter, Carlos calls a Council of his Ministers.
“At that council, an ultimate proposition, of a tenor and spirit which had already been refused by the Court of London, was fixed upon; and the final resolution of the council was, that if that ultimatum was rejected, war must be the immediate result.”
King Louis’ letter of the 24th finally arrives at the Spanish Court.
December 31st, intelligence is received by Rochford that; ” … war with England was agreed on between the courts of France and Spain in the beginning of last year, in consequence of which agreement orders were some time after sent to the Governor of Buenos Ayres to take the Island of Falkland in order to irritate the English to declare war,”
1771 – January, a fleet of 26 ships lies off Spithead under the command of Rear-Admiral Matthew Buckle.
January 1st, a 12 year old boy is taken into the navy by the patronage of his Mother’s brother, Captain Maurice Suckling. Horatio Nelson is accepted as a midshipman.
January 2nd, news of the Spanish Ministers’ decision of the 27th arrives in Paris.
“.. the Duke de Choiseul being then dismissed, these dispatches came directly into the French King’s own hands. He saw that the ultimatum contained in them, was of a nature that would not be received or complied with by the Court of London, and that it could lead only to an open rupture. He therefore … wrote back to the King of Spain, stating to him the necessity of peace, from the impossibility of France’s entering at present into war..”
January 3rd, Lord Rochford informs Prince Masserano of Harris’ recall instructions. Masserano is offended by the action and accuses Rochford of bad faith.
January 4th, Harris’ recall order arrives in Madrid. He notifies the other British Consuls and representatives at the Spanish ports by courier but does not immediately inform the Spanish Court in order to give time for his messages to reach the Consuls.
On receipt of the letter from Louis dated January 2nd, Carlos’ hopes of war collapse. He replies asking that Louis; “… take the whole matter into his own hands, and to act as if it were his own case, “.. remembering only that he had the honour of the Spanish Monarch in his charge.”
January 10th, Louis XV informs Masserano that he is now mediating. Concerned at how close to war they have come, Louis also writes to his Ambassador in London, the Count de Guines; “The recall of Harris is a circumstance which seems to announce the real disposition of the English for an early war, … if any of the events which you have anticipated should take place in regard to the Prince de Masserano, it is my will that you and M. Frances should conform exactly to the course of conduct which he may follow, either to remain in England or to withdraw simultaneously with him.”
January 11th, recruiting parties are sent to Leinster, Munster and Connaught to find men for the forces.
January 13th, Harris informs the Spanish Minister of his recall orders. He also informs London of the attitude of the Spanish; “People here are more disgusted than ever with the French alliance and in their conversation put no bounds to their manner of decrying it.”
January 14th, King Louis’ letters arrive in London. Masserano; “.. notwithstanding every deference to, and the most profound respect and reverence for, his Christian Majesty, yet finds himself in a predicament of resisting those directions of the King of France: first, as they were contrary to, or at least incongruous with, the prior instructions which he had received from his own Court: next, as he might have reason to apprehend that … these full powers might be revoked by the Spanish Court, when they came to be informed of the recall of Mr. Harris: and lastly, that as the negotiation between him and the British Secretary of State was broken off … he could not negotiate upon any terms.”
January 18th, Lord Rochford sends instructions to Harris to return to Madrid.
“Lord Rochford’s letter … gives as a reason for this, that his Majesty, from the information he had received, had reason to believe that Prince Masserano had orders to make fresh proposals.”
Ambassador Masserano is persuaded that the French King has full authority to negotiate on Madrid’s behalf after receiving instructions from Grimaldi.
January 22nd, the Spanish Ambassador presents a Declaration to Lord Rochford. In Spanish the document includes the sentence; “.. shall not prejudice the anterior rights of His Catholic Majesty to the islands..”
Rochford insists that this is changed to; “.. cannot nor ought any wise to affect the question of the prior right of sovereignty of the Malouine islands, otherwise called Falkland Islands.”
The Declaration is changed.
His Britannick Majesty having complained of the violence which was committed on the 10th of June, 1770, at the island commonly called Great Malouine, and by the English Falkland’s Island, in obliging, by force, the commander and subjects of his Britannik Majesty to evacuate the port by them called Egmont; a step offensive to the honour of his crown; – the Prince de Maserano, Ambassador Extraordinary of his Catholick Majesty, has received orders to declare, and declares, that his Catholick Majesty, considering the desire with which he is animated for peace, and for the maintenance of good harmony with his Britannick Majesty, and reflecting that this event might interrupt it, has seen with displeasure this expedition tending to disturb it; and in the persuasion in which he is of the reciprocity of sentiments of his Britannick Majesty, and of its being far from his intention to authorise any thing that might disturb the good understanding between the two Courts, his Catholick Majesty does disavow the said violent enterprize, – and, in consequence, the Prince de Maserano declares, that his Catholick Majesty engages to give immediate orders, that things shall be restored in the Great Malouine at the port called Egmont, precisely to the state in which they were before the 10th of June, 1770: For which purpose his Catholick Majesty will give orders to one of his Officers, to deliver up to the Officer authorised by his Britannick Majesty the port and fort called Egmont, with all the artillery, stores, and effects of his Britannick Majesty and his subjects which were at that place the day above named, agreeable to the inventory which has been made of them.”
“ The Prince of Masseran declares, at the same time, in the name of the King his master, that the engagement of his said Catholic Majesty, to restore to his British Majesty the possession of the port and fort called Egmont, cannot nor ought any wise to affect the question of the prior right of sovereignty of the Malouine islands, otherwise called Falkland Islands.”
“In witness whereof, I the under-written Ambassador Extraordinary have signed the present declaration with my usual signature, and caused it to be sealed with our arms. London, the 22nd day of January, 1771.
(L.S.) (Signé) “LE PRINCE DE MASSERAN.”
King George orders Lord Rochford to accept the Spanish document which he does.
“His Catholick Majesty having authorised the Prince of Maserano, his Ambassador Extraordinary, to offer, in his Majesty’s name, to the King of Great Britain, a satisfaction for the injury done to his Britannick Majesty by dispossessing him of the port and fort of Port Egmont; and the said Ambassador having this day signed a declaration, which he has just delivered to me, expressing therein, that his Catholick Majesty, being desirous to restore the good harmony and friendship which before subsisted between the two Crowns, does disavow the expedition against Port Egmont, in which force has been used against his Britannick Majesty’s possessions, commander and subjects; and does also engage, that all things shall be immediately restored to the precise situation in which they stood before the 10th of June 1770; and his Catholick Majesty shall give orders, in consequence, to one of his Officers to deliver up to the Officer authorised by his Britannick Majesty, the port and fort of Port Egmont, and also all his Britannick Majesty’s artillery, stores and effects, as well as those of his subjects, according to the inventory which has been made of them. And the said Ambassador having moreover engaged, in his Catholick majesty’s name, that what is contained in the said declaration shall be carried into effect by his said Catholick Majesty, and that duplicates of his Catholick Majesty’s orders to his officers shall be delivered into the hands of one of his Britannick Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State within six weeks; his said Britannick majesty, in order to shew the same friendly disposition on his part, has authorised me to declare, that he will look upon the said declaration of the Prince de Maserano, together with the full performance of the said engagement on the part of his Catholick Majesty, as a satisfaction for the injury done to the Crown of Great Britain. In witness whereof, I the under-written, one of his Britannick Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State, have signed these presents with my usual signature, and caused them to be sealed with our arms. London, the 22nd day of January, 1771.
(L.S.) (Signé) “ROCHFORD.”
In London, at 4pm, Lieut. Colonel Barre writes to William Pitt, Earl of Chatham; “My Lord, I take the pen up in a hurry to acquaint your Lordship, that I am returned from the House of Commons, where Lord North informed us, that Prince Masserano had this morning presented a declaration, signed by the King of Spain, which His Majesty has accepted of, and which would be laid before the House on Friday next. No day is fixed upon for the consideration of it; but we have moved for a call of the House on this day fortnight. The terms, as I am informed, are not very honourable – The disgrace of Bucarelli; the island to be put in our possession; and it is whispered, that there is a secret article to save the rights and pretensions in that country of the crown of Spain; which seems to promise our abandoning the spot silently, upon some future day.”
At 5pm, John Calcraft writes to Earl Chatham; “ .. Lord Sandwich gave notice to their Lordships, that this declaration would be laid before them on Friday. Poor Lord Lyttelton does not seem to be in very high spirits. He desires me to tell your Lordship, this is the best peace ever made for England; other people say the most disgraceful: my Lord’s information is, that the ministers have got every thing they ever asked. I have been told there were violent disputes in the cabinet, when they met to settle this convention; but I have seen no private friends as yet,..”
Chatham notes; “ … a Declaration was signed by the Spanish Ambassador under French orders, and a French indemnification, for the restitution of Falkland’s Islands to His Britannic Majesty; but the important condition upon which this Declaration was obtained was not mentioned in the Declaration. This condition was: that the British forces should evacuate the Falkland Islands as soon as convenient after they had been put in possession of Port and Fort Egmont; and the British Ministry engaged, as a pledge of their sincerity to keep that promise that they should be the first to disarm.”
January 23rd, Richmond informs Chatham;“.. Lord Rochford, in the House of Lords, said that the Spanish Ambassador, by order of the King his master, had presented a declaration relative to the disputes about Falkland’s Island, which the King had ordered him to accept, and to lay it before the House on Friday next.”
January 25th, the Declaration and Acceptance are laid before Parliament by Lord North.
“The expedition is disavowed, and the island is restored. The Spaniards have stipulated that the grant of possession shall not preclude the question of prior right; a question which we shall probably make no haste to discuss, and a right of which no formal resignation was ever required. ”
January 29th, the Declaration and Acceptance are published in the London Gazette.
February 4th, Lord North lays correspondence relative to the crisis before Parliament.
Edmund Burke MP, political theorist and philosopher, describes the agreement as as being as; “worthless as a Birmingham button.”
“ Colonel Barre … called the Spanish Declaration scandalous and infamous; dishonorable to the Crown,and disgraceful to the nation.”
In the House of Lords two questions are moved by Earl Chatham, for the opinion of the judges.
“1.Whether, in consideration of law, the imperial crown of this realm can hold any territories or possessions thereunto belonging, otherwise than in sovereignty?
2.Whether the declaration, or instrument for restitution of the port or fort called Egmont, to be made by the Catholic King to his Majesty, under a reservation of a disputed right of sovereignty expressed in the very declaration or instrument stipulating such restitution, can be accepted or carried into execution without derogating from the maxim of law before referred to, touching the inherent and essential dignity of the crown of Great Britain ?”
However, Lord Mansfield refuses to refer the questions to the judges, asserting that the answers are, “self-evident”. A motion in support of the referral is defeated.
February 5th, Lord Camden writes to Chatham; “I spent the whole evening last night in considering the law point of your Lordship’s questions… I am .. extremely concerned at your Lordship’s hasty introduction of the business yesterday; … I cannot satisfy myself that the reservation of the question of right, in the King of Spain’s declaration, does in anywise touch the King of Great Britain’s right of sovereignty. That becomes absolute jure coronae from the moment the restitution takes place. Nor does it seem to me the King’s title is abridged or limited; inasmuch as the reservation neither denies the right on one side nor asserts it on the other. The question remains as it stood before the hostility; the King of Spain declaring only that he ought not to be precluded from his former claim by this act of possessory restitution.”
February 7th, orders are issued in Madrid for the restitution; “It being agreed between the King and his Britannic Majesty, by a Convention signed in London on the 22d of January last past, by the Prince of Masserano and the Earl of Rochford, that the Great Malouine, called by the English Falkland, should be immediately replaced in the precise situation in which it was before it was evacuated by them on the 10th June last year; I signify to you, by the King’s order, that, as soon as the person commissioned by the Court of London, shall present himself to you with this, you order the delivery of the Port de la Cruzada or Egmont, and its fort and dependencies, to be effected, as also of all the artillery, ammunition and effects, that were found there, belonging to his Britannic Majesty and his subjects, according to the inventories signed by George Farmer and William Maltby, Esqs., on the 11th July of the said year, at the time of their quitting the same, of which I send you the enclosed copies, authenticated under my hand; and that, as soon as the one and the other shall be effected with the due formalities, you cause to retire immediately the officer and other subjects of the King which may be there. God preserve you many years. Pardo, 7th February 1771. The BALIO FRAY, DON JULIAN DE ARRIAGA. “To Don Felipe Ruiz Puente.”
February 8th, Harris receives his instructions to return. Having taken time to pack up all his household, he has only reached Algoa, 20 miles from Madrid. He finds a fast horse.
February 9th, Mr. Harris arrives back at Madrid and immediately seeks an appointment with Minister Grimaldi; who refuses to recognise him without the production of new credentials.
On February 13th, the agreement is considered by the Commons. During the debate, MP William Dowdeswell asks when the Manila Ransom will be paid. Governor Pownall sums up his own speech; “… this business ends in an inconclusive Spanish convention, dictated by French arbitration; in which the disavowal becomes an additional injury; and the restitution a snare, which lays a train for future war: …”
February 14th, in the Lords, 18 Peers sign a ‘Dissentient’ decrying the result; “ … Because the declaration, by which his Majesty is to obtain possession of Port Egmont, contains a reservation or condition of the question of a claim of prior right of sovereignty in the Catholic King to the whole of Falkland’s Islands, being the first time such a claim has ever authentically appeared in any public instrument jointly concluded by the two courts. No explanation of the principles of this claim has been required, although there is just reason to believe that these principles will equally extend to restrain the liberty and confine the extent of British navigation. No counter-claim has been made on the part of his Majesty, to the right of sovereignty, in any part of the said island ceded to him; any assertion whatsoever, of his Majesty’s right of sovereignty, has been studiously avoided, from the beginning to the accomplishment of this unhappy transaction; which, after the expense of millions, settles no contest, asserts no rights, exacts no reparation, affords no security, but stands as a monument of reproach to the wisdom of the national councils, of dishonour to the essential dignity of his Majesty’s crown, and of disgrace to the… untainted honour of the British flag.”
On the same day, Harris reports from Madrid, “They keep the declaration here as secret as possible. I do not find any to whom they have shown it, except those to whom they are obliged to communicate it. They also report that we have given a verbal assurance to evacuate Falkland’s Island in the space of two months”
February 21st, Lord Rochford and Prince Masserano meet. Rochford informs Masserano that, the point of honour having been met, he is prepared to listen to proposals. Masserano responds that he has no instructions to make proposals.
“On the 22d of January 1771, the Prince of Masserano, the Spanish Ambassador, settled, with the Ministers of His Britannic Majesty, the essential point of this negociation, the decision of which restored to England, the possession of the Falkland Islands. … From this moment, the peace seemed assured; since this agreement of the three powers, upon the essential point, demonstrated their pacific views. But it was necessary, in order to stifle every seed of dispute, to agree to disarm respectively: and that Spain, who perhaps would have wished for a reciprocal abandonment of Falklands Islands, should rely (for the future evacuation of these islands by England, about to resume possession of them) on the little interest that power would have to preserve them.“ [ Memorial of the Count de Guines, the French Ambassador to the Court of London; against Messieurs Tort and Roger, formerly his secretaries, and against Mr. Delpech. London 1777.]
Bertrand de Frances speaks to Lord North on the issue of an evacuation of the Falklands by the British and the means by which the two powers should disarm to a level where peace can be assured. North speaks extensively about the latter point but seems confused as to the suggested evacuation.
“In the matter of the right to the Malvinas, however, Frances asked how the ministry proposed to carry out its word and preserve peace, North inquired what he meant by the question of right.” [Goebel 1927]
February 22nd, Harris is promoted temporarily to Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Spain, until such time Lord Grantham can arrive and take over the embassy.
February 28th, the Spanish Ambassador speaks to Lord Rochford about mutual disarmament and asks when the promises of the ministry regarding the Falklands will be carried into effect. Rochford responds that his Government is only sending a single frigate, a sloop and a store-ship to Port Egmont and that once they had taken possession the affair would be regarded as being at an end.
Masserano complains that the matter would only be at an end when the island was abandoned. Rochford tells him that disarmament and the Falklands are two different issues; and the question of right had not yet been touched upon.
March 1st , Rochford speaks to chargé d’affaires Bertrand de Frances, suggesting a conference to discuss disarming; and he raises the issue of restitution, saying that the ceremony must take place at Port Egmont, not at Puerto Soledad as proposed; so as not to suggest any recognition of Spanish right. Frances says that Masserano’s only interest is an evacuation of the Falklands and that although both Bourbon courts wished to disarm, neither will do so until the question of right is settled.
Fresh rumours of war circulate and the stock market falls.
“Possession of the Falkland Islands having been restored to England, the decisive questions between France, Spain, and that power, in the months of March and April 1771, which the public were ignorant of, and which must have fixed a rise or fall in the funds, were, 1. If Spain should consent to disarm, and to follow in this point, the example which England had proposed to give. 2. If Spain should rely for the evacuation of Falkland Islands by England, on the little interest that power could find in keeping them. The speculations of the English bankers at these periods, were not founded on the true objects of these two political questions; but solely, on the assurance Tort gave them in my name, that France and Spain would not disarm first; and as these bankers were at the same time of opinion, that England would not set the example of disarming, they concluded, that from hence disagreeable consequences and difficulties would arise, which would bring on a war, or at least, a considerable fall of the stocks… ” [Count de Guiness 1777]
March 4th, the French and Spanish Ambassadors go to see Lord Rochford; “ .. and demanded that a day should be fixed for settling the question of prior right to Falkland Island. Lord Rochford refused to name any day. ..”
March 5th, Rochford tells Masserano that he is ready to treat on the matter of right; but that any evacuation in the manner suggested by Spain will not involve a loss of right and that Britain may return at any time. Masserano demands to know when his hopes of British abandonment may be realised. When Rochford declines to answer, the Prince says; ”If that is so then even these are lost forever.”
March 7th, a messenger arrives in London with an order for the Spanish Ambassador to make a positive demand for the formal cession of the Falkland Islands to the King of Spain.
March 8th, Frances is told that the British Ministers will not discuss any mutual evacuation before restitution has taken place. Lord Rochford informs Harris; ”His Majesty has been pleased to order the Juno frigate of thirty-two guns, the Hound sloop, and Florida store-ship, to be prepared to go to Port Egmont, in order to receive the possession from the Spanish commander there; and as I have spoken so fully to Prince Maserano on the manner of its being executed, it is needless for me to say any more to you upon it. I think it right to acquaint you, that the Spanish ambassador pressed me to have some hopes given him of our agreeing to a mutual abandoning of Falkland’s Islands, to which I replied, that it was impossible for me to enter on that subject with him, as the restitution must precede every discourse relating to those islands. You will endeavour, on all occasions, to inculcate the absurdity of Spain having any apprehensions, from the state in which Port Egmont was before its capture, or the force now sent out, of his Majesty’s intending to make use of it for the annoyance of their settlements in the South Sea, … nothing can be farther from the King’s inclination, who sincerely desires to preserve peace between the two nations.”
March 11th, again, the French and Spanish Ambassadors go to see Rochford; “.. and not only made the same demand as before, but added, that they were further instructed to demand, that a day should be fixed for restoring Falkland’s island agreeable to promise. Lord Rochford peremptorily refused to enter into any negotiation upon the subject.”
March 14th, a heated discussion takes place between Rochford and Masserano, during which Rochford questions the ‘impertinence’ of Spain and Masserano responds; “ No more impertinent than the English pretension to something that belongs to Spain.” Lord Rochford retaliates; “ Be assured, that even if we go to war over it, it will be a big war and by no treaty of peace will we cede the island.”
March 15th, Lord Rochford sends instructions to the Admiralty; “ ….Your lordships will direct Captain Stott to behave with the greatest prudence and civility towards the Spanish commander and the subjects of his Catholic Majesty, carefully avoiding any thing that might give occasion to disputes or animosity, and strictly restraining the crews of the ships under his command in this respect; but if, at or after the restitution to be made, the Spanish commander should make any protest against his Majesty’s right to Port Egmont, or Falkland’s Islands, it is his Majesty’s pleasure that the commander of his ships should answer the same by a counter-protest, in proper terms, of his Majesty’s right to the whole of the said islands, and against the right of his Catholic Majesty to any part of the same.”
March 17th, the Admiralty’s agent-victualler at Portsmouth is instructed to; “ .. buy an assortment of live cattle, such as cows, pigs, sheep, &c., to be put on board the Juno frigate, which are to be landed at Falkland’s island, in order, if possible, to obtain a breed of those species at that place.” [ Hardly consistent with a secret promise to abandon the Falklands within months.]
March 19th, Lord North receives a despatch from Lord Harcourt, Britain’s Ambassador to Paris; “ .. with an account, that the King of France had written a letter to the King of Spain, wherein he assured the catholic King, that “he was ashamed of the conduct of the court of London; that he was ready and willing to co-operate with the King of Spain, in whatever future measures should be judged expedient; that he put himself entirely under the direction and wisdom of the Catholic King; and only begged, that, in their future operations, that monarch would have an eye to the present situation of France.”
The Scots Magazine reports; “On the 8th or 10th of April the courier is expected to arrive from Madrid. He is to take Versailles in his way to London; so that on his arrival here, the great event will be determined, and we shall then know whether peace or war with France and Spain is to take place or not this year.”
March 25th, Grimaldi writes to Masserano; “ With reference to the evacuation of Gran Malvina we shall see whether they wish there to give credit by their own acts that their most sacred promises can be relied on.”
March 28th, both Spain and France agree to disarm.
April 1st, in the Scots Magazine; “ … there is not the most distant probability of any rupture at present between the courts of Great Britain and Madrid, Prince Masserano having signed all the necessary documents for the surrender of Falkland’s Island to the crown of Great Britain, the day before Capt. Stott’s, and the other two King’s ships, sailed for that island.”
April 2nd, Capt. Stott and the Juno sail from England.
April 8th, the Count de Guines receives news from Madrid; “ .. the dispatch of the 4th of April, which arrived at London on the 7th or 8th, as positively announced to me, that Spain was determined to rely on his Britannic Majesty and his ministry, for the evacuation of Falkland Islands.”
April 12th, Ambassador Masserano writes to Minister Grimaldi, in Madrid, warning that the British insist that they have made no promise to evacuate.
April 23rd, Lord Rochford instructs the Admiralty to reduce the men, “.. to be employed in His Majesty’s service at sea to 25,000, the French and Spanish Ambassadors having, in the name of their respective courts, declared their readiness to disarm to their peace establishment at the same time as His Majesty.”
September 13th, British forces return to Port Egmont. Capt. John Burr of HMS Hound is given the role of Military Administrator at Port Egmont.
September 14th, the storeship HMS Florida returns to Port Egmont.
September 16th, Lieut. Don Francisco de Orduna makes formal restitution to Capt. Stott.
“The terms of the declaration to which Spain was forced to agree in 1771 ostensibly left the question of sovereignty in the same position in which it that matter had existed before M. Bucareli’s expedition, but in the nature of things the ceremonial restoration of the British colony to Port Egmont strengthened the de facto position of the British in the Islands.” [Brown 1922]
October 27th, the goods and materials removed from Port Egmont by the Spanish in 1770 are returned to the settlement.
November 4th, Governor Don Xavier Antonio Muñoz, at Soledad, informs his Viceroy in Lima that the British are making preparations for the defence of Port Egmont.
November 14th, HMS Florida leaves for Ascension Island.
December 9th, Captain Stott arrives back at Plymouth and reports the handover to the Admiralty; “I must beg leave to refer their lordships to the letter I had the honour of writing you from Rio de Janeiro, the 30th of July last, for the occurrences of my voyage to that time; from whence I sailed, with his Majesty’s ships under my command, the next day, and arrived at Port Egmont the evening of the 13th of September following. The next morning, seeing Spanish colours flying, and troops on shore, at the settlement formerly held by the English, I sent a lieutenant to know if any officer was there on behalf of his Catholic Majesty, empowered to make restitution of possession to me, agreeably to the orders of his Court for that purpose, duplicates of which I had to deliver him: I was answered, that the commanding officer, Don Francisco de Orduna, a lieutenant of the royal artillery of Spain, was furnished with full powers, and ready to effect the restitution. He soon after came on board the Juno to me, when I delivered him his Catholic Majesty’s orders. We then examined into the situation of the settlement and stores, adjusted the form of the restitution and reception of the possession—instruments for which were settled, executed, and reciprocally delivered (that which I received from the Spanish officer, and a copy of what I gave him, are here enclosed). On Monday, the 16th of September, I landed, followed by a party of marines, and was received by the Spanish officer, who formally restored me the possession; on which I caused his Majesty’s colours to be hoisted and the marines to fire three volleys, and the Juno five guns, and was congratulated, as were the officers with me, by the Spanish officer, with great cordiality on the occasion. The next day Don Francisco, with all the troops and subjects of the King of Spain, departed in a schooner which they had with them. I have only to add, that this transaction was effected with the greatest appearance of good faith, without the least claim or reserve being made by the Spanish officer in behalf of his Court.”
December 11th, details of the restitution are announced; “ On Monday 16th September Capt. Stott landed, followed by Party of Marines, and was received by the Spanish Officer, who formally restored him Falklands Island, Port Egmont, its Fort and other Dependencies, giving him the same Possession as His Majesty had before the 10th of June 1770.”
[The cartoon shown here was published in December, 1771’s edition of The Political Register, and is entitled ‘Lord North at the Spanish Ambassadors’. The caption quotes Shakespeare – “Thus we could buy your friendship and treat you with tender, loving kindness’. The picture shows Lord North bowing and holding a paper with ‘Faulkland Islands’ written on it.]
1772 – January 2nd , Grantham, now in Madrid, writes to Rochford, “I have received the honour of your lordship’s despatch, containing the agreeable intelligence of the restitution of Port Egmont and its dependencies, with the due formalities. On receiving this notice I waited on the Marquis de Grimaldi, to assure him of his Majesty’s satisfaction at the good faith and punctuality observed in this transaction. M. de Grimaldi seemed aware of the intention of my visit, and was almost beforehand with me in communicating notice of this event’s being known in England. He seemed well pleased at the conclusion of this affair, but entered no further into conversation…”
January 21st, King george III, in his speech on the Opening of the 5th Session of the 13th parliament, announces “The performance of the engagement of the king of Spain, in the restitution of Port Egmont and Falkland’s Island, and the repeated assurances that I have received of the pacific disposition of that court, as well as of other powers, promises to my subjects the continuance of peace …”
February 24th, the Admiralty inform Rochford that the estimated costs of Port Egmont are £3,552 per annum.
February 25th, Lord Rochford responds; “Having laid before the King their letter of yesterday with the estimate of the annual expenses of maintaining such a force at Falkland’s Island as remains there at present, asks them for any plan they may have to suggest by which the possession of the Island and the port and fort of Port Egmont may be constantly and effectually kept up at a less expense to Government.”
February 26th, the Admiralty write to Lord Rochford; “We are at a loss to suggest any plan by which the possession of the port and fort of Port Egmont and the islands of Falkland may be constantly and effectually kept up even at any expense; but we are of opinion that a smaller number of men than those now employed will equally maintain a mark of possession and that the present number would be no security to the place in case of a rupture with a foreign power.”
February 28th, Lieut. Clayton arrives in HM Bark Endeavour to take over command of the garrison from Capt. Burr.
March 6th, Rochford informs Grantham in Madrid, “It may be of use to inform your Excellency, that his Majesty has determined to reduce the force employed at Falkland’s Island to a small sloop with about fifty men, and twenty-five marines on shore, which will answer the end of keeping the possession: and, at the same time, ought to make the court of Spain very easy as to our having any intention of making it a settlement of annoyance to them.”
March 20th, the Viceroy of Peru, His Excellency Don Manuel de Amat, writes to the Secretary of the Indies in Madrid; “ … as to the matter of an English settlement in these Seas or their vicinity; of which I make no doubt, and never have doubted since I communicated my opinion to that effect some years ago. This, indeed, has received increasing corroboration day by day from my own observation and from intelligence received. The only thing that would have caused me to waver in this opinion would have been the honest and sincere abandonment by England of the Malvinas islands, because I have never been able to understand nor never will believe that these can offer a suitable field for any regular plantation, or considerable fortification, unless for the sole purpose of using the advantage of their situation as a port of call for vessels to refresh at, when bound to and from the South Sea, and which might in time become as prosperous as that which Holland possesses at the Cape of Good Hope. ..it will make its occupiers complete masters of these seas… The tenacity with which the English persist in retaining their foothold in the Malvinas has served to augment the force of these considerations and,according to the account given by the Governor, Don Xavier Antonio Mufloz, under date the 4th of November, 1771 (which I have by me, quoted in full), they are daily rendering their occupancy more effectual, and more secure.”
May 4th, Endeavour leaves Port Egmont en-route to England.
May 31st, Viceroy Amat writes again to Don Julian de Arriaga in Madrid; “ .. if, as I have .. before mentioned, England should accomplish this project, that nation would infallibly make herself mistress of the whole body of islands in the South Sea, and of the only port of call at present known for entering or leaving it by in the Falklands or Malvinas; where apart from questions of illicit commerce, they would furthermore close the Port to other vessels, and access would remain wholly at the mercy of that nation’s will. ..”
September 4th, HMS Juno arrives at Port Egmont and remains until the 29th.
November 11th, Rochford informs the Admiralty; “His Majesty approves of the manner in which they propose to carry into execution the plan suggested by them in their letter of 26 Feb. last, for maintaining possession of Port Egmont and the Island of Falkland… “
While in Madrid, teniente de navio Francisco Gil de Taboada y Lemos is instructed to take over from Ruiz Puente as Governor at Soledad.
December 1st, HMS Endeavour sails from England for Port Egmont. On board the vessel are the pieces of a shallop, Penguin, together with its commander Samuel Clayton.
1773 – January 27th, while serving at the fort, Domingo Chauri is appointed gobernador interino of Puerto Soledad.
February 28th, HMS Endeavor and HM Shallop Penguin, arrive at Port Egmont with supplies.
February 29th, Lieut. Clayton takes command of the fort from John Burr. The garrison consists of a lieutenant of marines with 23 marines and the Penguin’s crew of a masters mate, 2 midshipmen, 2 surgeon’s mates and 19 seamen.
March 16th, Juan de la Piedra, reporting on Soledad from Montevideo, notes a failure to grow crops; “ .. because although everything is born … the lack of heat prevents progress …”
April 9th, the reassembled Penguin is launched.
April 17th, HMS Hound and HMS Endeavour sail for England.
April 28th, Governor Puente complains that the diet of salted meat with no fresh vegetables is causing scurvy.
May 4th, Francisco Gil de Taboada y Lemos, after consulting with Governor Puente in Montevideo, writes to Minister Arriaga suggesting that the garrison at Soledad be reduced to save money. He proposes that, no settlement being sustainable, that the garrison should comprise the crew of whichever frigate was there and that the commander of the vessel should act as de facto Governor. The frigate to be relieved annually with another ship based at Montevideo for the relay.
August 30th, Gil de Taboada y Lemos is informed that his plan has been approved.
November, the supply ship Nuestra Señora de la Asunción arrives at Soledad.
December 16th, at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston Harbour, American colonists, dressed as ‘Mohawks,’ destroyed 90,000 pounds of tea from four ships moored there – the Dartmouth, William, Eleanor and Beaver. These merchant vessels shipped the produce of whaling to England, and brought tea back to the colonies. Francis Rotch, the 23 year-old scion of the Rotch family of Nantucket Island, is a part owner of the Dartmouth.
1774 – January 5th, Francisco Gil de Taboada y Lemos becomes the Spanish Governor at Puerto Soledad.
In February, the whaling ships Montague and Thomas arrive at Port Egmont while Captain Greenwood in the whaler King George, out of Rhode Island, hunts around the archipelago.
February 11th, the Lord Rochford writes to Ambassador Grantham, in Madrid, about a proposed evacuation of the Falklands, ““ I think it proper to acquaint Your Excellency that Lord North in a Speech some days ago in the House of Commons on the subject of the naval Establishment for this year, mentioned the intention of reducing the naval forces in the East Indies as a material object of diminishing the number of Seamen, and at the same time hinted, as a matter of small consequence, that, in order to avoid the expense of keeping any seamen or marines at Falkland’s Island, they would be brought away, after leaving there the proper marks or signals of possession, and of its belonging to the Crown of Great Britain. As this measure was publicly declared in Parliament it will naturally be reported to the Court of Spain… it is only a private regulation with regard to our own convenience; yet I am inclined to think from what passed formerly on this Subject that they will be rather pleased at this Event, your Lordship may, if they mention it to you, freely avow it without entering into any other Reasoning thereupon. .. it is neither more nor less than a small part of an economical naval regulation… I hope they will not suspect, or suffer themselves to be made to believe that this was done at the request, or to gratify the most distant wish of the French Court, for the real truth is neither more or less than that Lord North is desirous to lessen a small part of an uneconomical naval regulation.”
April 4th, Governor Gil de Taboada y Lemos reports that Port Soledad consists of 44 soldiers, 22 prisoners, 49 other inhabitants – including 3 women and 11 children – resulting from the French settlement, 23 buildings, a hospital and a turf chapel, “in ruins.” He also tells Minister Arriaga that the powder has deteriorated.
April 9th, an Order is sent from the Spanish Court, to the Governor at Buenos Aires and the Commander at Puerto Soledad; “ The Court of London having lately offered to abandon the establishment they have formed in the Great Malvina, and to withdraw from thence the few soldiers and inhabitants they have there, the King decrees me to inform you of the same, in order so that you may in consequence prudently and carefully watch whether the English do actually abandon their said establishment, without forming any other new one in that neighbourhood, and in case of their having done so, you will from time to time assure yourself that they do not return to that place, and your will inform me of the particulars of every thing that takes place there as well now and for the future: All which I have His Majesty commands to communicate to you for your guidance, and until a more complete instruction can be given with respect to all that may relate to the matter. Until further instructions which I shall send you, you are not to exceed the better part of my present order, nor allow any one to visit the said abandoned establishment, except those you may send there in furtherance of the said order.”
April 23rd, HMS Endeavour returns to Port Egmont with an order for Lieut. Clayton to evacuate the settlement and fort; ”But previous to your departure from the Falkland Islands, you are to take the strictest care to erect on the principle parts on the Port, Fort and islands proper Signals and Marks of Possession, and on its belonging to His Majesty.”
April 25th, Lieut. Clayton orders the shallop Penguin to be dismantled.
May 8th, Clayton notes the costs of employing carpenters to dismantle Penguin, in a letter to the Admiralty.
May 20th, King George moors at Port Egmont in poor condition; “The evening before they sailed, another fishing vessel arrived, and, as she had suffered much by bad weather, her crew resolved to stay where they were all wintering as tenants to the dwellings and gardens of their English brethren.”
“May twentieth everything being ready for our departure we took a formal leave of the islands the seamen being ranged in order, and the marines drawn up under arms, while the following inscription, engraved on a piece of lead, was affixed to the door of the blockhouse: ‘Be it known to all nations that the Falkland Islands, with this fort, the storehouses, wharfs, harbors, bays and creeks thereunto belonging are the sole right and property of His Most Sacred Majesty George the Third, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. In witness thereof this plate is set up, and His Britannic Majesty’s colors left flying as a mark of possession by S. W. Clayton, commanding officer at Falkland Islands, A. D. 1774.’ “The Union Jack being then hoisted, the people gave three cheers, and we immediately embarked with the utmost order and satisfaction, waiting only for a fair wind to proceed on our voyage. We took our departure without the least regret.” [Penrose 1775]
Be it known to all the Nations, That Falkland’s Island with this fort, the storehouses, wharfs harbours, bays and creeks thereunto belonging, are the sole right and property of His most Sacred Majesty George III, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. In witness whereof this plate is set up and his British Majesty’s colours left flying as a mark of possession by S. W. Clayton, commanding officer at Falkland’s Island. 1774 A.D.’
Two Union Jacks are hoisted over the fort and on the highest hill overlooking the north entrance to the harbour, while God Save the King is played and, at 3pm, the garrison boards HMS Endeavour which gets under way; “The Union Jack being then hoisted, the people gave three cheers, and we immediately embarked with the utmost order and satisfaction, waiting only for a fair wind to proceed on our voyage. ”
“ .. according o the principles laid down, the abandonment of a territory does not annul the right to it, unless it be spontaneous, and without any intention of returning to it.” [Vernet 1832]
“.. the British Government withdrew its garrison from the Falklands in a manner which carefully preserved its right to reoccupy the whole islands whenever it might so desire. Spain made no protest against this ..” [Berkeley 1908]
May 21st, Endeavour sails; “ .. about four in the afternoon, we took our departure without the least regret.”
“By 1774 it seemed to most country gentlemen that Lord North had achieved what no one else had been able to do since 1763: he had ended the period of war-finance and was well on the way to paying off the burdens left by the last War of Empire.” [Watson 1963]
Ten whaling vessels hunt around the Falkland Islands, including the Montague from Boston, and the Thomas out of Cape Cod.
June 3rd, Governor Gil y Lemos reports that, owing to poor weather conditions, no inspection of Egmont has been possible.
October 15th, Pilot Simon Fernandez Pellón reconnoiters Egmont and sketches the settlement’s layout.
[ AGI Buenos Aires 103 in Philpott 1992. This does not fit well with the Spanish Governor’s instruction of November which indicates that any observations of Egmont at this time were covert rather than overt and came later than October. Aguado (2012) suggests that these reconnaissances were hindered by Spanish attempts to cross unobserved overland. The failure of these observation teams to obtain a clear view is supported by Aguado’s assertion – based on the reports from Soledad – that the British garrison did not actually vacate until 1776. With Clayton’s flags still flying, what the Spanish probably saw were whalers and sealers using the facilities at Egmont.]
“The reports made by officers employed at Port Egmont were of such a discouraging tendency, that no person at that time entertained the least wish to have any further concern with the islands—and for years they were unnoticed—though not forgotten by England. Spain, however, jealous of interference with her colonial possessions, and regarding the Falklands as a vantage-ground, from which those in the south might be suddenly or secretly invaded, maintained a small garrison at the eastern extremity of the Archipelago, where her ships occasionally touched, and from time to time reconnoitered the adjacent ports, in order to ascertain whether any visitors were there.”
November 5th, Spain’s Governor at Soledad issues instructions to Pilot Pellón to continue to observe Port Egmont but using sufficient discretion so as not to attract the attention of any British forces he sees there.