The Founding Names of Tristan da Cunha


The population of Tristan da Cunha is somewhat unique for having a well documented genealogy dating back to the original settlers of the early 19th century. The current population of Tristan da Cunha is believed to be descended from just 15 ancestors, 7 females and 8 males who settled on the island between 1816 and 1908. The male founders were all of western European ancestry, originating from Scotland, England, Holland, the USA and Italy.

Seven family names are still in use on Tristan da Cunha today. These are:

  • Glass
  • Green (Groen)
  • Hagan
  • Lavarello
  • Repetto
  • Rogers
  • Swain

This number of names matches with the number of founding fathers with male descendants alive today.

Beyond these known genes, there is evidence of "undocumented ancestors" who likey contributed to the gene pool, but left the island and therefore took their name away too. In a recent research study it was found that the present day pool of Tristan da Cunha's islanders could be traced back as far as five female ancestors. But the research also revealed inconsistencies between the DNA evidence and written records. Historical records document two sister pairs among the island founding females, but the DNA shows only one pair.