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The man who inspired America?
Replica of The Matthew THIS STORY LAST UPDATED:
30 April 2002 1204 BST

A Bristol custom's officer is being heralded as the man after whom America was named, in a new book.
Richard Amerike provided funds and wood to build John Cabot's ship, The Matthew
:: This story
> See also:

BBC History: The Naming of America
Rodney Broome says 'Amerike', as the continent was known in the 1500s, was not inspired by Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, as previously thought.

Instead he claims the country was named after Richard Amerike - the sponsor of John Cabot's voyage to the New World.

Amerike was a wealthy Welsh landowner and merchant trader who lived with his family in Long Ashton.

Statue of John Cabot in Bristol Docks
Did Cabot name the country after Amerike?
In 1486 he was made King's Customs' Officer and was encouraged by Henry VII to send his ships on voyages of discovery.

Broome's book, Amerike, The Briton Who Gave America its Name, suggests that America was named by John Cabot in 1496 - years before Vespucci's voyage.

According to Broome, the Bristol-based explorer was assisted by Amerike as part of his job as King's Customs' Officer and named the country after him out of gratitude.

Peter Macdonald, writing on the BBC History website, says Amerike donated more money than anyone else to funding the construction of Cabot's ship, the Matthew.

Also, he adds, as no wood was readily available nearby, oaks from Amerike's family estate in Wales were cut down and transported to Bristol to make his ship.

Secret maps

In his book, Broome goes on to reveal his discovery of papers in the archives at Westminster Abbey which suggest Vespucci and Columbus secretly used Cabot's maps on their voyage to find a trade route.

"As their fame grew and Cabot's declined, the misconception grew that it was they who had named the new land," said Rodney Broome.

Rodney Broome is Bristol born and bred but moved to the States in 1966.

He has written several books about how America got its name including 'Terra Incognita' in which he suggests that Richard Amerike shipped salt to Newfoundland and the Bristol sailors named the area after him in 1481.
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