The Ecuadorian Question

I’ve been thinking about my ancestry a bit recently.

It’s something of a topic du jour, what with the suggestion that ACT Senator Katy Gallagher might be Ecuadorian because her British mother was born there in 1943, or Barnaby Joyce’s statement that he considered himself to be a “fifth generation Australian.” This is presumably on his mother’s side unless his father’s forebears went to NZ from Australia.

Still, “fifth generation” – that’s impressive, isn’t it?  It means – well what does it mean?  Leaving indigenous people aside, if your grandparents all came here from somewhere else and your parents were born here, who is the first generation, and are you the second or the third?

The answer appears on the basis of a little internet research to be the latter, and I’m hazarding a guess that, where ancestors came here in different generations counting back, the claim is made on the basis of the earliest generation and hence biggest number.


2 Responses to “The Ecuadorian Question”

  1. Andrew Says:

    Only back to about 1850 for me. Maternal side were Huguenots and paternal and half his were half Swiss/Italian. I think my father’s father family, which I know nothing about, were very early immigrants. Doesn’t matter too much. While of interest, we all gather under the Australian banner.

    It is a good point about who is the first generation. I assume it is generally the one who arrived here but I think it should be the generation born here.

  2. marcellous Says:


    If a generation of forebears came after WWII and naturalized, they could fairly be counted the first generation, but that doesn’t hold for earlier immigrants.

    In the nineteenth century they tended to draw the distinction at whether you were born here, as in the “Australian Natives’ Association” though (Wikipedia here) that association’s “membership was restricted to white men born in Australia.”

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