A History of the Falkland Islands
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1769 - 1774
1769 – Captain Anthony Hunt, HMS Tamar takes charge as Military Commander at Port Egmont.
In November , Bougainville is granted a life pension of 50,000 livres by the French Government to compensate him for his losses over the failed settlement in the 'Iles Malouines'.31
November 28 th , Captain Hunt requires a Spanish schooner, seen surveying the area, to leave.
November 30 th , a letter arrives from the Spanish Governor of Puerto Soledad; " ... the governor complains, that captain Hunt, when he ordered the schooner to depart, assumed a power to which he could have no pretensions, by sending an imperious message to the Spaniards, in the king of Spain's own dominions...."32
Hunt responds, warning the Spanish from the Island, which he has claimed in honor of the King, as belonging to the English, by right of the first discovery and first settlement.
December 10 th , a Spanish officer brings another letter; " ... the officer, sent by the government of port Solidad, made three protests against captain Hunt, for threatening to fire upon him; for opposing his entrance into port Egmont; and for entering himself into port Solidad.
Capt. Hunt repeats his previous message, adding that his orders were to keep possession.
December 12 th , another message arrives; “..., the governor of port Solidad formally warned captain Hunt to leave port Egmont, and to forbear the navigation of these seas, without permission from the king of Spain.... ''
1770 – January , there is a further exchange of notes and then silence.
February 20 th , two Spanish frigates arrive at Port Egmont seeking fresh water. The Spanish commander writes to Captain Hunt expressing;
".. great astonishment at seeing an English flag flying, and a kind of settlement formed; (and) charged him with a violation of the last peace, and protested against the act in all its parts; at the same time declared that he would abstain from any other manner of proceeding, till he had acquainted his Catholic Majesty with this disagreeable transaction."33
Capt. Hunt requires the Spanish ships to depart, which they do 8 days later, after taking on water.
Disturbed by the encounters, Capt. Hunt sails for England to inform the British Government. Captain Farmer of the frigate Swift, and Captain Maltby of the Favourite, remain at the Port.34
In May, a Spanish fleet sails from Buenos Aires.
June 3 rd , Capt. Hunt arrives in Plymouth35 and informs the Admiralty of the Spanish demand that he evacuate Port Egmont. Inaccurate rumours of what is happening circulate in London, which the Admiralty immediately deny.
June 4 th , the Spanish frigate Industria, commanded by Captain Juan Ignacio de Madariaga, anchors at Port Egmont claiming to need water.
June 8 th , the Industria is joined by 4 other frigates, Santa Bárbara, Santa Catalina, and Santa Rosa, plus the three decked xebec Andaluz. In addition to the seamen, there is now a force of some 1600 marines armed with 27 cannon, 4 mortars and 200 bombs opposing the British garrson.36
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.
Madariaga, declares, in an exchange of letters, that he is acting under the authority of the Governor of the Rio de la Plata, Fransisco de Pula Bucarelli y Ursua, and requires that the British garrison leave;
"Letters were wrote from the Spanish commodore ... to both captains separately, requesting them in the tenderest terms, to consider his great power, and their own defenceless situation; and that they would, by quitting the place, prevent his being under a necessity of proceeding to hostilities, the consequences of which would render them incapable of pursuing their voyage home."37
June 9 th , the Spanish commander again writes to the British Captains. He offers to allow the garrison the liberty of carrying away whatever they were desirous to remove, and promises his receipt for what should be left, that no loss might be suffered. If however; " .. contrary to expectation, they should endeavor to maintain the settlement, he then would proceed to the accomplishment of his orders, and in that case threatened them with an attack by sea and land, and all the consequences of fire and sword.”
The British forces are given 15 minutes to comply.
".. our officers returned; for answer, that words are not always deemed hostilities, and that they could not think that he would, in a time of profound peace, and when the greatest harmony subsisted by his own acknowledgment between the two crowns, attempt to put his threats in execution. That they did not doubt but he was thoroughly convinced, that the King their master was sufficiently capable to demand satisfaction, in all parts of the globe, of any power whatsoever that should offer to insult the British flag. And that therefore, was the time limited even shorter than the fifteen minutes he had allowed, it should make no alteration in their determined resolution, to defend, to the utmost of their power, the charge committed to them."
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 10 th , Spanish forces land to the north of the settlement and march towards it. One frigate sends boats directly towards the shore covered by cannon fire from the other Spanish ships, all of which passes 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."
British forces are detained for a period and then permitted to leave on the Favourite.38
In August , Madrid receives notice of the action.
August 22 nd , James Harris, Secretary to the Embassy in Madrid, sends news of Madariaga's attack to London.
September 9 th , Lord Rochford39 consults with King George III and a Cabinet Meeting of the King's Ministers is held the following day.
Initial diplomatic inquiries with Spain via Ambassador Masserano, prove ambiguous. Mr. Harris in Madrid is instructed to seek an interview with Foreign Minister Grimaldi.
September 13 th , the Admiralty orders the preparation of sixteen 'guardships'.
September 19 th , 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.40
September 20 th , press gangs strip the merchant ships in Portsmouth of all useful hands before doing the same in the town.
September 21 st , 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 duc de Choiseul.41
September 22 nd , the Favourite arrives with Capt. Hunt, and anchors at Motherbank, near Plymouth. Messages are sent to the Admiralty in London.
September 28 th , Mr. Harris writes to Lord Weymouth regarding an interview with the Spanish Minister;
“ .. 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...”42
At the beginning of October , Lord Rochford orders the Admiralty to ready the fleet for war.
News of the British preparations generates irritation, and doubts, in Madrid.
October 5 th , 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 ...”43
October 10 th , 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..."44
Negotiations commence, while military preparations continue.
October 17 th , the Admiralty reports that 30 ships of the line are being prepared for active service. Lord Weymouth enquires whether the number can 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, informing them that the proposal suggested by the Prince of Masseran 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.
October 29 th , 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.”45
November 7 th , 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, as far as it did not interfere with the satisfaction he received....."46
The Prince of Masseran submits two draft declarations, both of which include a reciprocal rejection of their officers' actions. Lord Weymouth declines to accept either, as any disavowal may compromise Britain's sovereignty claim.
November 13 th , 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 of procuring it for me;..."47
In the Lords, Earl Chatham complains about the suggested rejection of Bucarelli's actions by the Spanish Crown;
“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.”48
Earl Chatham also refers to the history of the Islands;
“ 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 acknowledgement, 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 23 rd , the Spanish Ambassador has three meetings with Lord Weymouth, without reaching any agreement.
“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 ...”49
November 24 th , all land officers are ordered to report to their posts.
November 25 th , Lord North asks Parliament to increase the Navy's strength from 16,000 to 40,000 seamen.
November 28 th , the Cabinet of Ministers resolve to recommend war if Spain fails to accept its demands.
On the same day, the French representative, Bertrand de Frances, has a meeting with Lord North.50
November 29 th , Lord Rochford meets with the Prince of Masseran and pointedly opens the meeting by emphasizing Britain's claim to the Falkland Islands.
November 30 th , Ministers' agree that any restitution has to be both 'public' and 'complete'.
December 1 st , the Secretary to the British Embassy in Paris, Robert Walpole, writes to Harris;
“ .. I cannotaccount for such unreasonable behaviour in the Court of Spain, … This obstinacy, in not at once granting what the honour of our nation justly requires, makes me think that Court more in the wrong than what I have all along wished, .. where is the difficulty, .. if the Court of Spain had never given any orders ?”51
December 4 th , Lord Weymouth asks the Admiralty to prepare a further 15 ships of the line.
The British Fleet is ordered to Spithead.
December 5 th , Lord Weymouth seeks the King's permission to recall Mr. Harris from Madrid.
December 7 th , Weymouth, places his proposal to sever diplomatic relations before the Cabinet. The proposal is rejected and, subject to criticism by the Opposition in Parliament, Weymouth resigns over the issue.
Lord Rochford adds Weymouth's Southern Department to his own, in essence becoming Foreign Secretary.
December 14 th , Rochford also proposes the withdrawal of Harris from Madrid.
December 16 th , Lord North again meets with the French chargé d'affaires, who suggests a deal comprising disavowal, restitution and a reservation of Spanish right. Lord North refuses to recognise any Spanish right to the Islands but does agree to put the proposal to the Cabinet.
December 19 th , the Cabinet meets again and rejects the proposals.
December 21 st , Lord Rochford, instructs Harris to leave Madrid, severing diplomatic relations; “ All negotiations having been for some time at an end between Lord Wemouth, or myself, and the SpanishAmbassador... I am now to signify to you the king's pleasure, that your stay at Madrid appearing entirely unnecessary, you prepare to return home with all convenient speed, after taking leave in the usual manner.”52
December 31 s t , information 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,"53
1771 – January , 26 ships are moored off Spithead, commanded by Rear-Admiral Matthew Buckle.54
January 4 th , Mr. Harris receives the recall order from Rochford. Harris notifies the other British Consuls and representatives at the Spanish ports by courier. He does not immediately inform the Spanish Court in order to give time for his reports to reach the Consuls.
January 13 th , Harris informs the Spanish Minister of his recall orders.
Ambassador Masseran receives instructions from Madrid authorising the French Ambassador, M. Francois, to mediate. Masseran refuses to comply until diplomatic relations have been restored.
January 22 nd , Lord Rochford sends instructions to Harris to return to Madrid immediately. The instruction is 'backdated' to the 18 th.
On the same day, the Spanish Ambassador presents a declaration stating that the Spanish King ” disavows the violent enterprise of Buccarelli “ and promises ” to restore the port and fort called Egmont, with all the artillery and stores “.
Lord Rochford accepts, and signs the document.
January 25 th , Rochford writes to Harris; "I enclose to you a copy of the declaration signed on Tuesday last by Prince Maserano, with that of my acceptance of it in his Majesty's name."
“His Britannick Majesty having complained of the violence which was committed on the 10 th 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 10 th 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. ”55
“ 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 22 nd day of January, 1771.
(L.S.) (Signé) “LE PRINCE DE MASSERAN.”
“ 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 10 th 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 22 nd day of January, 1771.
(L.S.) (Signé) “ROCHFORD.”
That same day, the agreement is laid before Parliament by Lord North.
January 29 th , the Declaration and Acceptance are published in the London Gazette.
February 4 th , two questions are moved by Lord Chatham, in the House of Lords, 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 ?"
Lord Mansfield refuses to refer the questions to the judges, asserting that the answers are, "self-evident".56
February 7 th , Madrid sends out orders for the restitution;
“To Don Felipe Ruiz Puente.”
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.
February 8 th , 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 9 th , 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.57
February 13 th , the House of Commons, after much debate, approves the agreement by 271 votes to 157 against.
However, the issue meets opposition in the Lords with 18 Peers of the Realm signing a 'Dissentient' decrying the result; " … an unparalleled and most audacious insult has been offered to the honour of the British flag, by the detention of a ship of war of his Majesty's, for twenty days after the surrender of Port Egmont, and by the indignity of forcibly taking away her rudder...
10.Because in the said declaration the restitution is confined to Port Egmont when Spain herself originally offered to cede Falklands Islands. It is known that she made her forcible attack on pretence of title to the whole, and the restitution ought, therefore, not to have been confined to a part only; ...
11. 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."58
February 14 th , 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”.59
February 22 nd , Mr. Harris is promoted temporarily to Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Spain, until Lord Grantham60 can arrive and take over the embassy.
March 4 th , “ .. the French and Spanish ambassadors went to 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. The Spanish messenger, who brought the ratification and Masserano's instructions to make this demand, set out this evening for Madrid:”61
March 7 th , the messenger arrives back in London with an order for the Prince of Masseran to make a positive demand for the formal cession of the Falkland Islands to the King of Spain.
March 8 th , 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, than which nothing can be farther from the King’s inclination, who sincerely desires to preserve peace between the two nations.”
March 11 th , Prince Masseran sees Rochford and demands a date for the restoration of the Island to the “Crown of Spain.” Rochford refuses to enter in any discussion.
March 15 th , 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 ”.
April 23 rd , 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 13 th , British forces return to Port Egmont.
September 16 th , Lt. Don Francisco de Orduna makes formal restitution to Capt. Stott.
Captain John Burr of HMS Hound, is given the role of Military Administrator at Port Egmont.
December 9 th , Captain Stott arrives back at Plymouth after a journey from Port Egmont lasting 70 days, to report 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.”62
December 11 th , details of the restitution are announced; “ On Monday 16 th 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 10 th of June 1770.”63
In Parliament, a legal opinion from the Lord Chancellor, Charles Pratt, Earl Camden, is sought. He responds;
" The right of sovereignty 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."
Thomas Robinson, 2 nd Baron Grantham, travels to Madrid as British Ambassador to the Spanish Court.
1772 – January 2 nd , Grantham 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 upon it."
January 21 st , the King, in his speech on the Opening of the 5 th Session of the 13 th parliament;
"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 ..."64
February 15 th , the Admiralty notifies Rochford;
"Having received by the Florida store-ship, lately arrived at Spit-head, a letter from Captain Burr, of his Majesty's sloop the Hound, dated at Port Egmont, in Falkland's Islands, the 10th of November last, giving an account that, in the preceding month, two Spanish vessels had arrived there with the artillery, provisions, and stores, which had been taken from thence by the Spaniards, and that he had received the same from a commissary appointed by Don Philip Ruiz Puente, to deliver them up to him; we send your lordship herewith a copy of Captain Burr's said letter, together with a copy of the inventory of the artillery, provisions, and stores, which he had received as aforesaid, for his Majesty's information."65
March 6 th , Rochford informs Grantham;
"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."66
1773 – Lt. Samuel Clayton is appointed the Military Administrator on West Falkland.
1774 – January 5 th , Francisco Gil de Taboada y Lemos takes over as Spanish Governor of a penal colony at Puerto Soledad.
In February , Lord Rochford writes to Ambassador Grantham, about a proposed evacuation of the Falklands;
“ …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; and though there is no necessity of your Excellency’s communicating this notice officially to the Spanish ministers, since it is only a private regulation with regard to our own convenience; …… it is neither more nor less than a small part of an economical naval regulation.”
' Know all the Nations, the Falkland Islands, with its ports, warehouses, landings, natural harbours, land and coves belonging thereto, are of exclusive rights and ownership of his most sacred Majesty George III, King of Great Britain. In testimony whereof, placed this plate and the colours of his British Majesty left flying as a sign of possession by S.W.Clayton, official Commander of the Falkland Islands. 1774 A.D.'
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