The Naming of America

By Crystal Conde Premium

Were you taught that Amerigo Vespucci is the namesake of America? You’re not alone. It’s common knowledge that the Italian explorer sailed to the land we call home and gave his name to the newly found lands.

British writer Peter Macdonald, however, doesn’t buy the notion that America is named after Vespucci. Macdonald contends a Welsh merchant named Richard Amerike is America’s true namesake. In a piece for the BBC, Macdonald writes that Amerike gave a large amount of money to John Cabot’s 15th-century voyage to the Western Hemisphere. Cabot sailed from Bristol, England, which was also Amerike’s home and business headquarters. Amerike donated oak trees from his estate to construct Cabot’s ships and provided Cabot’s family with a home while the explorer sailed west. In exchange for his generosity, Amerike requested that Cabot name any newly discovered lands after him. Macdonald also notes that the merchant’s coat of arms and the US flag are similar. Are you convinced America was named after Richard Amerike? If you need more persuasion, check out Macdonald’s story online <>. 

From the February 2003 issue of Family Tree Magazine