Falkland Islands Discovery – 1594


 Search the library for more like this

With the Falkland Island a newsworthy topic once more we’ve delved into the Ultrapedia archives to see what history holds.  Below is an excerpt from the book History of the British Colonies by Robert Montgomery Martin published in 1835 claiming they were first discovered in 1594 by Sir Richard Hawkins.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

The Falkland Islands Discovery – 1594

THE Falkland islands, between the parallels of 51.10. and 52.30.S and the meridians 58. and 62. W. (contiguous to the Straits of Magellan,) so advantageously situated as a refreshing port for our numerous ships doubling Cape Horn, and as a cruising station for our ships of war in the Pacific, were first discovered by Sir Richard Hawkins during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in the year 1594, or as some think, by Captain Davis, in 1592, an English navigator under Sir Thomas Cavendish; they were subsequently visited by a ship belonging to St. Maloes, from which they were called by the French, ‘the Malouins’ and also subsequently, by the Spaniards, ‘the Malvinas.’ Little, however, was known of them until Commodore Byron, when on a voyage of discovery to the South Seas, visited them in January, [1765], and formally took possession of them for his Majesty Geo. III. under the title of ‘the Falkland Islands,’ though others say this name had been previously given them by an English navigator named Strong, in 1689, who, after being there about fourteen days, described Egmont, on the N.W. coast of the largest island, as being the finest harbour in the world, capacious enough to hold all the navy of England in full security. Geese, ducks, snipes, and other fowl were found in such abundance, that the sailors were quite tired with eating them; and in every part there was a plentiful supply of water.

When the French lost the Canadas, a colony of farmers was transported thither by M. de Bougainville, and about the same time a British colony was established at Port Egmont by Captain McBride; but their right to settle there being disputed by the Spaniards, M. de Bougainville surrendered the possession of his part to the latter in April, [1767].

Great Britain, however, by virtue of her original discovery, claimed the sovereignty, which led to a rupture with Spain in the year [1770], and the point was warmly and strongly contested for a considerable period.

Spain, however, finally conceded our right to the islands. The two largest of the islands are about 70 leagues in circumference, and divided by a channel 12 leagues in length, and from 1 to 3 in breadth. The harbours are large, and well defended by small islands, most happily disposed. The smallest vessels may ride in safety; fresh water is easily to be obtained; there is seldom any thunder or lightning, nor is the weather hot or cold to any extraordinary degree. throughout the year, the nights are in general serene and fair; and, upon the whole, the climate is favourable to the constitution. The depth of the soil in the vallies is more than sufficient for the purpose of ploughing.

Since, [1767], they fell into comparative insignificance; and, for many years past, little notice has been taken of them by our government. Ships of war, on their passage round Cape Horn, have occasionally touched there for supplies of water, etc. and South Sea whalers and other merchant vessels; but the navigation being little known, they have not, until lately, been much frequented, although very nearly in the track of ships homeward-bound from the Pacific. Latterly, however, circumstances arose which induced the last commander-in-chief on the South American station (Sir Thomas Baker), to send down a ship of war for the purpose of reclaiming that possession, which lapse of time seemed to have rendered almost absolutely abandoned. The Buenos Ayrean Government have, however, endeavoured to set up a claim to the islands.

Excerpt from History of the British Colonies by Robert Montgomery Martin published in 1835


Further Reading and External Links

BBC News Magazine on the Falkland Islands 

World Atlas Falkland Islands Facts