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Tristan d'Acunha is one of five islands in the Tristan d'Acunha Archipelago of the South Atlantic Ocean. It was discovered in 1506 (not 1530 as Matkin mistakenly relates) by a Portuguese explorer of the same name. The main settlement is named Edinburgh, and some of the place names are unusually explanatory, including 'Pigbite,' 'Down-where-the-minister-land-his-things' and 'Ridge-where-the-goat-jump-off.' Challenger calls at Tristan d'Acunha and describes the settlers they encounter there.

At 4PM yesterday morning (sic) the Peak of Tristan d'Acunha, hove in sight being a mass of snow & ice, rising 8,300 feet above the level of the sea....The island was discovered in, I believe, the year 1530, by a Portuguese Navigator named Tristan da Canta; but owing to its isolated position in the midst of an unsheltered and stormy ocean, no one ever thought of settling on it until the year 1812—a few English, Scotch, & American families settled there, & have themselves and their children remained ever since.

The inhabitants are very primitive & sociable in their habits, living almost like one family. The profits derived from bartering &c with ships are placed in a common fund, & equally divided among the children when they are sent out int he world to shift for themselves. The island will not support many, and as the population gets too numerous, some of the children are sent away to the Cape in passing vessels. Only 3 men of war have been here during the last 8 years, the last one in 1867, was the "Galatea" under the Duke of Edinburgh, she took some of the children to the Cape & her Captain baptized all the children, & married what eligible couples there were, for no clergyman resides there.

 

Captain Nares is happy to conduct all the usual services and ceremonies afforded these isolated settlers, but balks at an unusual request by the settlement's leadership.

As soon as we anchored the whole male population came off in their boats, bringing with them potatoes, albatrosses eggs, &c. They were dressed in various costumes, & all wore sealskin shoes, and wove worsted stockings; they were a fine healthy looking lot of men, some of them born on the island, & never having once left it. The women had a gipsy looking appearance, several of them were Creoles from the Cape, & S. Helena, but the native born children were very handsome. There are no marriageable couples—or our Captain would have conducted the ceremony, for as many as wished. The chief man went by the name of Mr. Green, he is over 60, and has his mother living with him—aged 91—to whom he wanted our Captain to give a passage to the Cape, at the old lady's request, but he declined fearing that she might die on the way.

 

Preparing to depart Tristan dAcunha, they first hear rumors of voyagers stranded somewhere in this remote archipelago:

The present season is early spring here, but the snow is plentiful on the hill tops; the time is almost the same as in England, but we gain 16 minutes per day when under sail, as our course is due East. The men here report that on one of the other islands, 22 miles from here, there are two German seamen, who have lived there two years. We are are just leaving Tristan, to sound &c, round the other 2 islands, & may hear or see someting of the "German Crusoes".