E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
An island inhabited by the Gaillardets (French, gaillard, gay people), rich and free, till, being shown one day the popes image, they exclaimed, A fig for the pope! where-upon the whole island was put to the sword. Its name was then changed to Popefigland, and the people were called Popefigs.