Formerly called the Ellice Islands, Tuvalu came under British jurisdiction in 1877 and was made part of the British Protectorate of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in 1892.
In 1890 the British High Commissioner for the Western Pacific based in Fiji recommended the acquisition of the Gilberts by Britain, not only to forestall possible action by Germany, which in 1891 itself urged Britain to declare a Protectorate to forestall the USA, but also to control the recruitment of labour, the sale of guns and liquor and to end the growing turbulence within the group. In 1892 the British Government, realizing by now that failure to declare a Protectorate would probably lead to acquisition by Germany, despite an 1886 agreement with that country, or by America which was not a party to the agreement, ordered the Commander-in-Chief, H.M.Ships, Australia, to send a warship to the Gilberts to declare a Protectorate. Captain Davis, R.N. of H.M.S. Royalist was sent to carry out this task.
Captain Davis had been ordered to visit the Ellice Islands but not to declare a Protectorate there. He reported that the 'Kings' of each island had asked for a Protectorate to be declared and Captain Gibson R.N. of H.M.S. Curacao was thereupon ordered to the Ellice Islands in 1892, and on each he declared a Protectorate between the 9th and the 16th October. On 10 November 1915, the group became the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.