A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FALKLAND ISLANDS 

Part 1 - The Discovery of the Falkland Islands

The First Sightings

The Falkland Islands were first sighted by English navigator John Davis of 'Desire' in 1592.  They were then identified by another English navigator Sir Richard Hawkins in 1594 who named them 'Hawkins Maydenlande' after himself and Queen Elizabeth.  In 1598 Dutch navigator Sebalde de Weert of 'Geloof' named them 'the Sebaldes'.  

In 1684 British explorers John Cook, William Dampier and Ambrose Cowley reached the Falkland Islands in 'Bachelor's Delight'.  William Dampier subsequently published accurate bearings for the Islands.  Ambrose Cowley published a different version which gave rise to the legend of 'Pepys Island' named after Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist and Secretary to the Admiralty.  In 1696 William Dampier returned to circumnavigate the Islands.

The First Landings

The first recorded landing on the Falkland Islands occurred in 1690, and was made at Bold Cove near Port Howard on West Falkland to replenish the water supplies of British ship 'Welfare' commanded by John Strong, who named the stretch of water between West and East Falkland 'Falkland Sound' after Lord Falkland, who was a financial supporter of Strong's voyage, Treasurer to the Navy and shortly to become First Lord of the Admiralty.  

The discovery by Captain Strong of a large, fox-like animal, which he named the warrah, raises the possibility that the Falkland Islands had previously been discovered by Indians from South America who brought a domesticated fox with them for hunting purposes.  Early colonists hunted the warrah to extinction (the last was killed at Shallow Bay in 1876) because of its predations on sheep and lambs.

In 1701 Frenchman Jacques Gouin de Beauchesne discovered and named Beauchene Island, the most southerly island in the Falklands archipelago.  The name 'Falkland's Land' was given to the whole archipelago in 1708 by Captain Woode Rogers, an English privateer who was later made Governor of Jamaica.  Rogers sailed round the Islands in his two ships 'The Duke of Bristol' and 'The Duchess of Bristol' but owing to the wind he was unable to land.

In 1740 Lord Anson visited the Falkland Islands and recommended to the British Government that they be used as a base for further exploration of the Pacific Ocean.  He drew up a plan to explore the Islands and surrounding seas in the hope of discovering the (mythical) Pepys Island.

 

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