The Yates Family

On 15th January 1842, Lt-Governor Richard Moody arrived at Port Louis on the brig Hebe with a detachment of Royal Sappers and Miners.  Among these men were Privates James Biggs and Thomas Yates and their families who still have descendants in the Islands today.  Some of these descendants gathered on the football pitch (the location of their camp when they began the move from Port Louis to Stanley) and were invited to 'contribute a leaf' to the family tree by way of a fingerprint.  A book was also signed and each member given a keepsake.  

The Biggs family during the 150th anniversary in 1992.  

The historic heart of Stanley

The Biggs Family

The HDM would like to thank all who helped with this exhibition, in particular Father Wisdom and St Mary’s Church, Tansy Bishop of the Jane Cameron National Archives, Colleen Biggs and Rolie Summers.

Private Thomas Yates of Liverpool, his wife Margaret and their three children arrived in 1842 with Governor Moody.  Thomas was a bricklayer by trade.  By 1848 he was listed as a sergeant in the Militia Force of the Falkland Islands.

The family initially lived at Port Louis and had a very successful garden which was located in the valley from the settlement that bears their name (Yates Valley).  Their garden was surrounded by a gorse hedge which is still visible today.

In 1857 Thomas bought land in Stanley and built Lois Cottage (21 John Street).  It is thought that Thomas helped build some of the stone cottages found in Stanley today. 

Thomas and Margaret went on to have another 6 children in the Falklands.  Out of their 9 children, 7 of them died from illnesses such as putrid throat and all under the age of 15 yrs. 

Thomas died in 1867 at the age of 56 of softening of the brain and is buried in Stanley.  Margaret died in 1902 at the age of 89.  

Private James Biggs, his wife Margaret and their four children arrived in 1842 with Governor Moody.  James Biggs of the Royal Corps of Sappers and Miners had been stationed in Gibraltar where he met and married his wife. James Biggs had previously served under Lt Moody before volunteering to accompany Moody to the Falkland Islands. Two more children were born to James and Margaret in the Falkland Islands.

The family initially lived at Port Louis and when the seat of Government was moved to Stanley William Biggs, their eldest son, and then the youngest member of staff at Government House at age 14, raised the flag at the new capital.

In 1848 James Biggs, following 24 years of service, and with the retirement of Moody as governor, bought his discharge and became a pensioner settler in the Falkland Islands. James Biggs was killed in a accidental shooting incident in 1853

William Biggs married Margaret Fleming, daughter of an Irish military pensioner and they had 12 children, many of whose descendants are still in the Islands today. William died aged 81 and was referred to in the Church Magazine as “the father of the Colony”. He was a shipwright and carpenter for both the Government and in later years the Falkland Islands Company.  William also carried out investigations and repairs on ships by diving and following acquisition of a camera developed many of his own glass plate negatives. Two of his sons carried on this skill and other sons were carpenters.  William died in 1913.