Someone said all history is biography and this note offers an introduction to Falklands history using the studies in the Dictionary of Falklands Biography. It is determinedly Falklands–centric: numerous very distinguished figures who did not directly affect the course of Falklands history (such as Charles Darwin) are omitted. Each DFB entry is given in bold type, followed by the name of the author in brackets.
The early centuries of Falklands history are well covered by the entry on First Discoverers (Graham Pascoe). The first settlement, Port Louis, was founded by Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (Ann Savours) in 1764, the year before Admiral Byron claimed Port Egmont for Britain. Port Louis was sold to the Spaniards in 1767. A succession of Spanish commandants followed until the Islands were relinquished by Spain in 1811.
Louis Vernet (Peter Pepper) established a settlement at Port Louis in 1826, which was attacked by the US Navy in 1830, garrisoned by the government in Buenos Aires in 1832, and taken over by the Royal Navy in 1833. The first British governor, Richard Moody (David Tatham) arrived in 1842, established a regular administration and supervised the move of the capital to Stanley.
Samuel Lafone (Bill Featherstone) bought substantial acres from the British government and established the base on which the Falkland Islands Company (FIC) was founded. Meanwhile the adventurous career of the American sea-captain W H Smyley (David Tatham) offers a counterpoint to the consolidation of British administration, harking back to the maritime roots of Falklands society.
F E Cobb (Frank Mitchell) was the most successful of the early managers of the FIC, ensuring profitability. Dean Brandon (Gervaise Murphy) was the outstanding Anglican clergyman of the late C19, with a remarkable social conscience.
In the early C20 Governor William Allardyce (Stephen Palmer) supervised the establishment of the whaling stations in South Georgia and wrote the first environmental regulations for that industry. Admiral Sturdee (Frank Mitchell) commanded the fleet which saved the Falklands from German occupation in 1914.
After World War II Governor Miles Clifford (Frank Mitchell) introduced numerous reforms, including the air service. Governor Cosmo Haskard (autobiography) had to face the shift in British policy in the 1960s as Argentine pressure increased. Lord Shackleton (George Jellicoe) assessed the Islands’ economy in 1976 and concluded that the colony was viable. Terry Peck (autobiography) was chief of police during the various Argentine incursions of the 1960s and 1970s and played a heroic role during the occupation of 1982.
This is my selection of a dozen of the interesting characters who feature in the DFB, listed in chronological order.
The history of South Georgia overlaps with that of the Falklands, but the key figures are: