How Big Was The Drumpf Family? A Trip To Germany May Hold All The Answers

Even if you aren't a regular Last Week Tonight viewer, you have probably seen John Oliver's 22-minute takedown of everyone's least-favorite presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Oliver uncovered a detail from a biography on Trump that makes the New York candidate sound a little less presidential and a lot more hypocritical for targeting immigrants the way he does. Namely, the old form of his family name: "Drumpf." So how many Drumpfs were there in the family?

It all depends on when exactly the name was changed. On his show, Oliver didn't get into how the family has gone by at least some version of "Trump" for possibly 300 years or more — long before the GOP presidential frontrunner's grandfather came to the United States. Lots immigrants at that time changed their names to fit in with their English-speaking neighbors, but that doesn't seem to be the case for the Trumps.

Oliver got his information from a biography on Trump written by Gwenda Blair. In The Trumps: Three Generations That Built An Empire, Blair wrote that the name change happened in the 17th century. The only Drumpf she mentioned was Hans Drumpf, an itinerant lawyer who moved to the German town of Kallstadt in 1608. Soon after he arrived, the Thirty Years' War engulfed the region in violence, and the town was burned to the ground at least five times.

The chaos allowed the Drumpf family to establish itself — about 40 percent of the population died during this time, so there was significantly less competition. By the end of the century, Blair wrote, a winegrower named John Philip Trump was a taxpayer in good standing. She explained that the family changed their name over the course of the war. By this time, they were part of the village's local elite — although not rich by any means.

So it would seem there's just one Drumpf that we know about for sure. There might be a little more to the story, though, than what is told in the biography. Even though Blair referred to the rest of the Trumps with the modern-day spelling, that doesn't match what is potentially the record of Trump's grandfather arriving in New York City.

On a list of immigrant arrivals in New York in 1885 — the year Trump's grandfather arrived at age 16 — there is a man listed by the name of "Friedr Trumpf." Trump's grandfather was born as Friedrich before anglicizing his name to Frederick. That opens the door to more speculation on when exactly the Drumpfs became the Trumps, and if there were more iterations in between.