The United Kingdom mounted an invasion of the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas) on January 2, 1833, after the destruction of the Argentine Puerto Louis settlement by the American corvette Lexington (December 28, 1831) in response to the Argentine governor Luis Vernet having seized U.S. fishing boats. This incident served the Foreign Office to reassert its sovereignty claim over the islands. The Argentine Buenos Aires government commissioned Major Esteban Mestivier as the new Governor of the Islands, to set up a penal colony, but when he arrived at the settlement on November 15, 1832 his soldiers mutinied and killed him.
Under the command of Captain James Onslow, brig-sloop HMS Clio, previously stationed at Rio de Janeiro, reached Port Egmont on December 20, 1832. It was later joined by HMS Tyne.
Onslow arrived at Puerto Soledad on January 2, 1833. Lt. Col. José María Pinedo, commander of the Argentine schooner Sarandí, who had quelled the rebellion and was in charge of the settlement, sent an officer to the British ship. He was presented a written request to replace the Argentine flag with the British one, and leave the location. Pinedo entertained plans for resisting the invasion, but finally desisted because of his obvious numerical inferiority and the want of enough nationals among his crew. The British forces disembarked at 9 am of January 3 and promptly switched the flags, delivering the Argentine one to Pinedo, who left on January 5.
HMS Beagle arrived on 15 March 1833. Charles Darwin commented that
After the possession of these miserable islands had been contested by France, Spain, and England, they were left uninhabited. The government of Buenos Aires then sold them to a private individual, but likewise used them, as old Spain had done before, for a penal settlement. England claimed her right and seized them. The Englishman who was left in charge of the flag was consequently murdered. A British officer was next sent, unsupported by any power: and when we arrived, we found him in charge of a population, of which rather more than half were runaway rebels and murderers. (The Voyage of the Beagle.)
The United Kingdom has held the territory ever since, but for a two months period after the 1982 invasion, during the Falklands War.
The events of the invasion took place 24 years after the last British invasions of the Río de la Plata, when the British Crown attempted to take control of Buenos Aires and thus, over the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata.