I recently found out that the famous explorer, Stanley (he of “Dr Livingstone, I presume” fame) had chosen his name as a tribute to the man who unofficially adopted him, which is fair enough. It was just a shame that his adopted father’s surname was STANLEY.
But it gets worse, his choices for his christian names were HENRY (also after his ‘father’) and MORTON! Could there be a worse name to choose from a Ricardian perspective? His original name was John Rowlands, a much better name in my opinion. But let us give him the benefit of the doubt – surely this unfortunate choice of name must have been a sad coincidence?
But hold on, there are a few more coincidences at work here – I have read a little about his life and I found out he was born a bastard… in Wales! This is beginning to sound rather familiar – we all know another Welshman, of bastard stock, called Henry. And guess what!? Henry VII and Henry Morton Stanley were both born on the same date – 28th January!! Neither were brought up by their mother for most of their childhood. Both crossed the sea to find a better life for themselves – Henry VII to England and Henry Morton Stanley to America.
Stanley later explored Africa, notably the Congo, but he was seen by some as unnecessarily cruel and admitted himself that he was thought of as ‘hard’. The Rev. J. P. Farler met with African porters who had been part of one of Stanley’s expedition and wrote the following: “Stanley’s followers give dreadful accounts to their friends of the killing of inoffensive natives, stealing their ivory and goods, selling their captives, and so on.”
Henry VII was also seen as a hard man, he also killed inoffensive people (eg Edward, Earl of Warwick) and he also stole from ordinary people (harsh taxes/Morton’s fork).
Do you see the resemblance between their pictures? No? OK, maybe that’s pushing it a bit too far!
If you want to read more about Henry Morton Stanley click here
Image credits: H M Stanley: See page (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHenry_Morton_Stanley.jpg) for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Henry VII: By Unknown; NPG attributes to unknown artist, others suggest by Michel Sittow. (Uploaded by en:User:Isis and en:User:Andre Engels) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons