Islands of Refreshment

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"Jonathan Lambert" redirects here. For the actor, see Jonathan Lambert (actor).
Islands of Refreshment
Status Historical
Capital Reception
Official languages English
Organizational structure Monarchy
 •  Leader Jonathan Lambert
 •  Declared February 4, 1811 
Area claimed
 •  Total 207 km2
80 sq mi
Membership 4 (1811)
Purported currency Spanish dollar

Islands of Refreshment was the name given to Tristan da Cunha by its self-proclaimed ruler, Jonathan Lambert, in 1811.

Jonathan Lambert

At this time American whalers frequented the neighboring waters and, on December 27, 1810, the Boston ship the Baltic put ashore an American named Jonathan Lambert "late of Salem, mariner and citizen thereof" along with one Thomas Currie or Tomasso Corri in his employ, and a man named Williams. These three were the first permanent inhabitants of Tristan, and they were soon joined by Andrew Millet.

Lambert declared himself sovereign and sole possessor of the island group "grounding my right and claim on the rational and sure ground of absolute occupancy".[1] He renamed the main island "Island of Refreshment", Inaccessible Island "Pintard Island" and Nightingale Island "Lovel Island". Lambert's sovereignty was short-lived, as he, Williams and Millet were drowned while out fishing on May 17, 1812. Currie was joined, however, by two other men and they busied themselves in growing vegetables, wheat and oats, and in breeding pigs.[2]

War having broken out in 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom, the islands were largely used as a base by American cruisers sent to prey on British merchant ships. This and other considerations urged by Lord Charles Henry Somerset, then-governor of Cape Colony in South Africa, led the British government to authorize the islands being taken possession of as dependencies of the Cape. The formal proclamation of annexation was made on August 14, 1816. This is reported to have primarily been a measure to ensure that the French would not be able to use the islands as a base for a rescue operation to free the deposed Napoleon I of France from his prison on Saint Helena.


  1. ^ Boston Gazette, July 18, 1811
  2. ^ "Tristan d'Acunha, etc.: Jonathan Lambert, late Sovereign thereof". Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. 4 (21): 280–285. Dec 1818.