The Island of South Georgia is said to have been first sighted in 1675 by Anthony de la Roché, a London merchant, and was named Roche Island on a number of early maps. It was sighted by a commercial Spanish ship named León operating out of Saint-Malo on 28 June or 29 June 1756.
Commercial sealing was conducted on the island between 1786 and 1913. During that period 131 sealing visits are recorded, eight of which ended when the vessel was wrecked. Modern industrial sealing associated with whaling stations was carried out between 1909 and 1964. Sealing era relics include iron trypots, hut ruins, graves and inscriptions.
On 19 March 1982, a group of Argentinians arrived at Leith Harbour and raised the Argentine flag on the island. On 3 April, the second day of the Falklands War, Argentine naval forces formally annexed the island. South Georgia was retaken by British forces on 25 April during Operation Paraquet.