Acadians Colonize Malouines
known today as the Falkland Islands

At the beginning of 1763, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a distinguished French military officer and explorer, requested and obtained French governmental authorization to establish a colony on the Falklands at personal expense. Louis XV also authorized the Acadians in France to participate in the proposed colonization venture, noting that they would continue to receive their daily dole (6 sols) throughout the duration of the expedition.

Only two Acadian families expressed interest. By the time Bougainville sailed from St. Malo, France on September 15, 1763, he had two ships the Aigle and the Sphinx with only nine Acadians on board. On February 3, 1764, they laned at East Falkland Island and on March 17, 1764, they quickly set about establishing Fort Saint-Louis, a post on Berkely Sound. On April 5, 1764, Bougainville took possession of the islands, which he christened Malouines in honor of St. Malo, in the name of Louis SV. The successful establishment of this colony and the simultaneous collapse of the Guiana colonization effort, caused the Acadians in France to see Bougainville's venture in a new light.

Map

In April 1765, eighty additional settlers, all Acadians from St. Malo, arrived increasing the population to 150. A third group of Acadians numbering seventy-nine colonists, most of whom were Acadians arrived in 1766.

Of course, the locations of these islands once again caused a stir in Britain and Spain. They both believed that this could be a potentially strategic naval base. To solidify British claims to the island, Commodore John Byron, landed on the East Falkland Island on January 11, 1765, and claimed the island for Britain. Apparently unaware of the existence of Fort-Louis, Byron notified King George III that he had taken possession of unoccupied territory. On December 4, 1766, Captain John McBride was sent to set up an outpost in Port Egmont. Realizing there was a French settlement, he ordered the colonists to evacuate the island or face a military invasion.

Meanwhile, Spain was also laying claim to the Falklands. On April 1, Bougainville was there to transfer the colony to Spain. Some ninety-five individuals remained and the others embarked on the Spanish frigates which sailed for Montevideo on the 27th. At this point, the Acadians temporarily fade from the documentary record. The fate of those who sailed on the Spanish ships is unknown. Did they continue on to France once via Montevideo? Were they forced to remain temporarily in the Uruguayan port? Nor is the fate of the few Acadians remaining on the Falklands clearly set out. It is certain, however, that the life of the Acadians remaining on the island was difficult. Colonel Catani, commander of the Spanish garrison stationed on the islands, complained of the wretched condition of the "huts" in which the settlers lived, while Felipe Ruiz Puente, first Spanish governor of the Falklands, informed his superiors that corn would not grow and that gardens could be made to produce only with great difficulty, etc. Cattle prospered but few cattle had been introduced by Bougainville, forcing the colonists to seal hunting on a limited basis. Publications on the Acadian experience in the Falklands note only that an undetermined number of Acadians made their way back to France in a "more or less miserable state." Ministerial correspondence in France's Archives Nationales records the arrival of at least three groups of Acadian stragglers from the south Atlantic - in July 1769; June 1771; and Mary 1775.

Excellent information about the French in Malouine at: http://pages.quicksilver.net.nz/jcr/~boug2.html


Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home
2004 - Present



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