Sunday, November 04, 2007

The United States of Ap Meryk; Or Why Are There No Amerikens in Amerike

This story's been around awhile, but I've just studied it in depth for the first time. You were taught in school, of course, that America was named after a Welshman, Richard Amerike (or in Welsh, ap Meryk), who was the patron of a Genoan sailor, Giovanni Cabatto ("John Cabot"), who in1497 sailed from England to what he called "New Found Land." No? Or that the Stars and Stripes of the U.S. flag were based on the coat of arms of the Amerike family? Here's the BBC's version.

What I found interesting is that I could find no one in the United States census records named "Amerike" or "ap Meryk." I found eleven persons named "Meryk" in the immigration records; they were all German or Austrian, except one who was from Poland. I found eight persons named "Meryke"; again, all were German except one who was Polish.

1 comment:

Mark Horton said...

This is a story which seems plausible, though like many stories of that age has weaknesses. It is not so unlikley because he never went to America himself. Having provided much of the finance for some of the earliest trips, it does not seem unreasonable that those landing might name the country in his honor.