This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Tristan da Cunha (Dependency of Saint Helena)

Last modified: 2002-10-26 by zeljko heimer
Keywords: tristan da cunha | saint helena | atlantic ocean |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Flag of Tristan da Cunha] [State Flag] 1:2
by Graham Bartram, 20 October 2002
Flag adopted 20 October 2002, coat of arms adopted 20 October 2002.

Dependency of Tristan da Cunha consists of four islands or island groups:
  • Tristan da Cunha
  • Inaccessible Island
  • Nightingale Islands
  • Gough Island

See also:

Tristan da Cunha in 21st century

Today, 20th October 2002, is the date of record for the new flags of Tristan da Cunha. You might think that Sunday is a bit of an odd day to introduce a new flag, but if you live on an island whose only physical contact with the rest of the world is by ocean-going ship, then sailing schedules mean more than days of the week!
The flags are described in the proclamation:


The Blue Ensign of Her Majesty¹s fleet defaced in the fly by the full Armorial Ensigns of the Territory, as granted by Royal Warrant of Her Majesty the Queen, that is to say, for Arms, Per Fess Azure and Argent between four yellow-nosed Albatrosses volant outwards in lozenge the two in base reversed a Lozenge embowed inwards all counterchanged and for the Crest upon a Helm Within a Naval Crown Or a Cap Azure thereon a Tristan da Cunha Longboat Argent the gunnel bow stern and rudder Azure the booms and mast Or and for the Supporters On either side a Tristan da Cunha Spiny Lobster Or together with this Motto Our Faith is our Strength, as the same are in the painting hereunto annexed more plainly depicted. This flag to be used on land and at sea as a courtesy ensign.


The Union Flag defaced with a white disc edged with a gold ring under a garland of laurel and tied with a blue bow at the base. On the disc the full Armorial Ensigns of the Territory, as given above, this being the flag of an officer administering a government. The same are in the painting hereunto annexed more plainly depicted. This flag to be used in the presence of the Administrator, or acting Administrator, on land and at sea.

The Blue Ensign shows the arms in full detail, as they would look if printed. A slightly simplified colour scheme exists for appliquéing the badge, which omits much of the shading.

As you can see from the wording of the proclamation the Blue Ensign is specifically made the courtesy ensign for Tristan da Cunha; now that the badge has been defined, we now need to obtain a separate warrant from the MoD to allow vessels belonging to, or chartered by, the Government of Tristan da Cunha to fly the defaced Blue Ensign. At present Tristan does not have a shipping register of its own so does not need a defaced Red Ensign.

[Flag of the Administrator of Tristan da Cunha]
by Graham Bartram, 20 October 2002

The Administrator's flag can be used on land and at sea, as a distinguishing flag. Unusually it's not limited to Tristan, which reflects the position of Tristan as a dependency of Saint Helena, where the Administrator can also use his flag, and even more uniquely at Tristan House in Cape Town, the mainland office/residence of Tristan in South Africa.

The design of the Blue Ensign follows the modern pattern for British Overseas Territories, but during the design phase several different design elements were proposed, including potato plants and wavy white lines, but in the end the Island Council chose the standard design.

Graham Bartram, 20 October 2002

Tristan da Cunha in 20th century

[Flag of St. Helena as used in Tristan da Cunha in 20th century]
by Blas Delgado Ortiz, 11 September 2000

Tristan da Cunha is a dependency of St. Helena. Prior to adoption of current flag in 2002, the correct flags were the Union Flag and the St. Helena flag. By tradition they put both flags on the same pole, with the Union Flag uppermost (much like some Americans do with the Stars & Stripes and State flag).
Graham Bartram, 7 February 1998

Tristan da Cunha in 19th century

[Lambert's flag of Tristan da Cuhna 1811]
by Zeljko Heimer, 7 February 2002

A republic was proclaimed in Tristan da Cunha by the American Jonathan Lambert around 1811.
Description of the flags is in a Dutch vexillological Bulletin (I don't know the number or title, but near 1969 or 1970). Unfortunately I'm unable to understand the description. I think that the flag is currently in the Public Record Office Museum of London.
According to my own sources some american filibusters settled the island in 1810. In 1812, during the anglo-american war the british decided on annexion, but this did not take effect until 1816 when Hudson Lowe, Cape governor, send a ship, for fear that the island was not used as base by Napoleon's partisans, aiming for the release of the ex-Emperor. Five officers and 36 senior officers and soldiers take posession of the island on 28 November 1816. The group settled the island until November 1817 when everyone was evacuated, but corporal William Glass remained on the island with his wife and two sons, and two other men. Later some seaman joined the family. In 1827 five black women from Saint Helena arrived on the island, and later more black woman. Between 1817 and his death in 1853 Glass governed the territory. The next leader was the seaman Cotton, and later the dutchman Green.
A naval accident in 1885 left the island with only woman and children (and 4 men).
Later (in 1906) it suffered a epidemy. The British offered to bring the people to Cape of Good Hope, but the islanders selected to remain on the island. The population was increased in the following years.
Jaume Olle, 2 June 1997

Regarding the reference to "Hudson Lowe, Cape Governor" in 1812, it seems that the name Hudson Lowe does not appear on the complete list of governors and acting governors of the Cape from 1652 to 1910 that I have. The list for the period in question goes:
1807: Du Pré Alexander, Earl of Caledon, Governor
1811: Acting Governor Lieutenant-General Henry George Grey (July-September)
1811: Governor Lieutenant-General Sir John Francis Cradock (in office until 1813)
Gen Grey was again Acting Governor in 1813 until the arrival of Lord Charles Somerset, who was Governor until about 1822 or later.
This is not to say that there was not an official at the Cape named Hudson Lowe, but I am currently unable to check my usual reference works in the local library.
Heraldic blazon might be the best way to describe the flag pattern: White, a saltire per pale blue and red, pierced of the field.
Mike Oettle, 4 January 2002

I've had a query from someone regarding a flag of William Lambert's that he designed for Tristan de Cunha. My query has this description of Lambert's flag, which was published in an unidentified newspaper:

'The flag is formed of four diamonds, transversely from corner to corner, and five half-diamonds placed in the centre, on the top, bottom and both sides. The 2 upper and 2 lower diamonds are blue next the staff or hallyard, and red on the outermost side, the centre white, the four half-diamonds bear the letter W.'

David Cohen, 29 October 1999

On 27 Dec 1810 the "Baltic" from Boston (Mass), captain Lovel, put three men on the shore of Tristan da Cunha, the Italian Tomaso Corri (or Thomas Currey) from Livorno; an American named Williams, who signed as Andrew Millet and another American, Jonathan Lambert from Salem, Mass, who took charge. Lambert pronounced himself sovereign of Tristan da Cunha and a proclamation was printed in the Boston Gazette of 18 July 1811. In that proclamation he adopted a flag for the islands and a white flag as the ensign for the merchant fleet of the islands.
Description of the flag, separate in the Boston Gazette of 18 July 1811: five lozenges standing on their points, and four half lozenges to the sides top and bottom. The two lozenges to the hoist were blue, the middle one white, the other two red. The four half lozenges contained the letter W.
In the Public Record Office Museum in London a flag is mentioned as the flag of Lambert, which differs from the flag described above.
Lambert and Williams and another American perished at sea on 17 May 1812, after which Corri lived as a Robinson Crusoe on the island; on 5 and 6 March the captain of the "Semiramis" met Corri and presented him with the Union Jack.
From: Tristan da Cunha 1506-1950, Geschiedenis van een Volkplanting, by Jan Brander, 1952.
Jarig Bakker, 2 December 2000

In a book called "L'Etat c'est moi" by Bruno Fuligni [ful97] there's a paragraph about the history of Jonathan Lambert. It is said that "he called Tristan da Cunha "Island of Rest", pronounced himself emperor, and adopted a *green* flag, with 5 diamonds and 4 half-diamonds, which were blue and red. Then, he sent a communique to the Boston Gazette."
Olivier Touzeau, 3 December 2000

Tristan da Cunha Flag on Stamps

On 30 September 1985 Tristan da Cunha issued a four-stamp set illustrating the flags used on the island.

[Stamp 10 p 1985 Lambert's Flag] [Stamp 15 p 1985 21st Lt Dragoons' Guidon] [Stamp 25 p 1985 White Ensign] [Stamp 60 p 1985 Union Jack]
stamps posted by Mike Oettle, 2 January 2002

10p: Jonathan Lambert and the flag he devised for the "Isles of Refreshment" in 1811.

15p: The guidon of the 21st Light Dragoons, which garrisoned Fort Malcolm in 1816 and 1817.

25p: The White Ensign, used on the island initially in 1816, when it was officially HMS Falmouth, then from 1942 to '44, when it was HMS Job 9, and from 1944 to '46, when the island was HMS Atlantic Isle.

60p: The Union Jack, used continuously on the island since 1816.

Enlarged detail of the guidon of the 21st Light Dragoons:

[Guidon of the 21st Light Dragoons]

CHANNELS :: Compare Country infoCountry guide & StudyFlagsMapsSightseeingTravel WarningsHotel Directory DESTINATIONS :: AsiaAfricaCaribbean Middle EastNorth AmericaSouth AmericaCentral AmericaOceania PacificEuropePolar Regions UTILITIES :: WeatherWorld TimeISD CodesTravel Links Link Exchange
DestinationsMonuments WONDERS :: AncientModernNatural | Privacy Policy