The island of the Macreons. Great Britain. The word is Greek, and means long-lived. Rabelais describes the persecutions of the reformers as a terrible storm at sea, in which Pantagruel and his fleet were tempest-tossed, but contrived to enter one of the harbours of Great Britain, an island called “Long life,” because no one was put to death there for his religious opinions. This island was full of antique ruins, relics of decayed popery and ancient superstitions.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894