Saturday, December 20, 2014

19-22, All the Others

Number Six in a Series on Countries Named after Peeps

Well, it has been a long time. Here are the last four peeps who have given their names to current countries:

19. Saud ibn Muhammad ibn Migrin c.1680-1740?
Emir of Al-Diriyah and father of Muhammad ibn Saud, who was the founder of the first Saudi state.


20. Thomas Gilbert c.1750-1820?
21. John Marshall 1748-1819
These gentlemen were the captains of two vessels belonging to the East India Company that were chartered to bring convicts to Australia in the First Fleet. Gilbert was captain of the Charlotte and Marshall of the Scarborough. Once they had gotten rid of their cargo of ne’erdowells, they sailed off for Canton to pick up some tea for the journey back to England. And I guess because no one had ever had any particular reason to sail as quickly as they could manage from Australia to China before, they ended up cutting through an expanse of ocean that no European vessel had been recorded going through before. This expanse of ocean had some previously undiscovered islands, which they humbly named the ‘Kingsmill Islands’ and ‘Lord Mulgrove’s Range’, but they ended up being called, respectively, the Gilbert Islands and the Marshall Islands. Apparently thanks to the enthusiastic renaming efforts of the Russian explorer Adam Johann von Krusenstern (see below).
This is Adam Johann von Krusenstern, in a break between renaming islands
Who also, it seems, renamed the Hervey Islands after Captain James Cook.

The language of the Gilbert Islands, like Hawaiian, doesn’t have an ‘L’ sound or a ‘G’ sound, so ‘Gilberts’ is written ‘Kiribati’.

You might remember it as the country that used to straddle the international date line, which was shifted so that the whole country could be the same day at the same time. It has 100,000 people spread over three time zones and is all atolls no more than a few metres above sea level.

Then there are the Marshall Islands, which also have a great flag – it was one of my son’s favourites when he was very small and very keen on flags - and the unenviable distinction of being the site of all kinds of nuclear weapons tests.

So those are the only two countries named after Englishmen. There isn’t much information about Thomas Gilbert on the interwebz, but John Marshall would be a good subject for a series of historical novels. He was born in Ramsgate on the 15th of February, 1748, and was sent to sea as an apprentice at the age of 10, spending most of the next sixty years at sea. As well as taking part in the First and Second Fleets, he fought the dastardly rebel colonists of North America in their rebellion and was severely wounded fighting a French privateer in the Napoleonic wars.

When I was born, both of these countries would not have counted on this list, being colonies, but there was a much more populous country named after a third Englishman, which has since taken its place in the dustbin of history.

22. Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco (24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830)
Who started this series. Bolivia is named after him, and of course the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. I have just ended up linking to Wikipedia mostly, anyways, so you can use your own initiative to look him up.

I don't know who these people are. But they are looking very festively Bolivarian.

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