These days the islands of the Seychelles are mostly known by Brits as a gorgeous place to go on holiday. So it’s perhaps appropriate that we have invaded them in a comparatively gentle and rather leisurely way.
The French were the first European power to focus on the Seychelles. In the eighteenth century, the French intendant of nearby Mauritius took an interest in the idea of growing spices here. The intendant’s name was, strange but true, Pierre Poivre or ‘Peter Pepper’. In 1794, irritated by French raids on our shipping, we turned up in force. Commodore Henry Newcome arrived with three ships and gave the locals an hour to surrender. Which they duly did. That accomplished, in a rather leisurely manner, we didn’t do much more to impose our rule.
In 1801, a French frigate carrying prisoners sent into exile by Napoleon turned up, and then HMS Sybille arrived and captured it. After brief negotiations with the locals, things were smoothed over and the modus vivendi continued. Later that year, there was a battle between the French ship La Flêche and the British ship Victor, which the Victor won – appropriately, having a name like that. And still the Seychelles’ semi-capitulated status continued.
Finally, in April 1811, after the capture of Mauritius, one Captain Beaver arrived at the islands on board HMS Nisus to solemnify British rule. He left behind Royal Marine Lieutenant Bartholomew Sullivan, who tried to combat slave trading with varying degrees of success. And British rule was more extensively imposed. The Seychelles became independent in 1976.