MALO Saint

fl 650 from Wales (also France)

British and Breton evangelist, was born in Wales at a time when the Celtic inhabitants of Britain had taken refuge there under pressure from Anglo-Saxon invaders. Many of these Britons then fled to Brittany in western France and Malo was one of them. He was known as the apostle of the Bretons and relics of his life were gathered at a small peninsula on the north coast of Brittany near a Gallo-Roman city named Alet, which was also the seat of a bishopric. In 1145 the bishop's see was moved about a mile further north to the new city of St Malo de l'Ile (St Malo of the Island).

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the port of St Malo became a centre of maritime trade and exploration. Jacques Cartier, born in the town, sailed from there between 1534 and 1542 on his voyages of exploration in Canada and sailors from St Malo established themselves in the Newfoundland cod fishery, catching the fish and delivering them to the Spanish and Italian ports in the Mediterranean. During the seventeenth century the people of St Malo developed their maritime trade and in 1664 they associated themselves with the (French) East India Company founded by Colbert.

The peak of St Malo's importance came at the end of the seventeenth century and the start of the eighteenth thanks to the trade with Peru via Cape Horn. Armed frigates carried cargos for sale in Peru in exchange for silver - a trade which was forbidden by the government in Madrid, but to which the colonial authorities turned a blind eye. On his return from the first voyage to the South Seas, the Malouin sea captain, Jacques Gouin de BEAUCHESNE discovered the island which bears his name south of the Falklands group on 19 January 1701. On 14 October 1705, a squadron commanded by another Malouin, Julien Eon de Carman, discovered other islands (including Sea Lion Island) south of East Falkland (which he did not discern). These he called the Danycan Islands, after the Malouin ship-builder and merchant Noël Danycan de l'Epine who had sponsored this and many other expeditions.

In 1712 an alliance between France and Spain reasserted the ban on trade with Spanish America and a French decree of January 1712 forbade it. In 1716 the French crown sent a squadron to enforce the ban and in 1717 six French trading vessels were captured. St Malo's brief heyday of South Seas trade came to an end. But the town's name became attached to the Islands, thanks to a map produced by another French explorer, Amédée-François FRÉZIER, who had visited and surveyed them in 1712-13. Frézier's map of 1716 described the Islands as the Isles Nouvelles, and in the map's title this was expanded to (in translation):'New Islands discovered by the vessels from St Malo since 1700 of which the western part is still unknown'.

The royal geographer, Guillaume Delisle, shortened this in his maps of 1722 and 1724, to Isles Malouines and the name stuck. It was adopted by the Spaniards as Islas Maluinas and early in the nineteenth century the name became Malvinas. In the late eighteenth century the name was anglicised by the whalers as The Maloons - the Grand Maloon was West Falkland and Spanish Maloon, the East Falkland.


Phillipe Petout & David Tatham