Sir Cloudesley Shovell

Fashion icon of his time Sir Cloudesley Shovell, showcasing his Bon Jovi hair and amazing pants, while leaning on a non-symbolic cannon. Now that’s a portrait.

If you’ve been reading the Funny Names Blog, you may know that merely having an amusing name isn’t always enough to become a true funny name legend. It will greatly work to your advantage if you also led an impossibly interesting life, came into contact with other amusingly named people, and preferably were born in a town called Cockthorpe.

Happily, Sir Cloudesley Shovell ticks all these boxes. He was indeed born in Cockthorpe, England in 1650. A distant relative, Sir Christopher Myngs, was an admiral at the British navy at the time, and young Cloudesley went off to sea at the age of 14 as a cabin boy.

In the next four decades he steadily climbed the ranks at the Royal Navy. He was commended for his efforts in battling pirates, becoming Johnny Depp’s worst enemy. He gained more responsibility quickly, serving on HMS Plymouth, as captain of HMS Sapphire, and during a particularly triumphant spell, aboard HMS Prince (which was later renamed “the Vessel Formerly Known as HMS Prince”). His career reached its peak as the Commander-in-Chief of the British fleet in the early 1700s.

Of course, all good things come to an end, and so it was with Sir Cloudesley’s life. He is quite sadly perhaps best remembered for the manner of his death. His ship, HMS Association, struck some rocks near the Isles of Scilly in 1707, and went down within minutes, along with three other ships in his fleet, killing maybe as many as 2000 sailors.

Many legends were born over the exact manner of his death, as his body was found some seven miles from the site of the shipwreck. Legend has it, he survived the crash, made it to shore at the Islands, only to be murdered by a young woman who wanted the priceless ring on his finger. As great a story as that would make, it is probably untrue. It is more likely that he managed to get on a boat (apparently bringing his dog with him), and drowned trying to reach shore. Nothing Scilly about that.

Sir Shovell was interred at Westminster Abbey, where the sure-to-be-covered-here-in-the-future Grinling Gibbons sculpted a large monument in his memory. It is unknown whether he used a shovel to do so.

About Arto

Co-founder of the Funny Names Blog, Hawaiian shirt enthusiast, and holder of a funny name himself with too many vowels for any sensible person. Currently residing in San Diego, California, scouring through obscure documents on a hunt for more funny names.
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11 Responses to Sir Cloudesley Shovell

  1. beatrix mana says:

    Very interesting history. Your stories are always full of facts. Thank you for working hard for us bloggers.

  2. unfetteredbs says:

    I second Beatrix Mana… you have an awesome blog filled with fun interesting facts but really, I love the silly names you find.

    • Arto says:

      Thank you kindly! The lives can be interesting, and mostly are, but what it really comes down to is the scilly names.

    • Dave says:

      Thank you! It really is our pleasure. It’s a great break from our busy lives, and satisfies our never-ending intellectual curiosity in a way that reading random Wikipedia articles was never able to 🙂 And most importantly, it gets us in touch with a smart, funny, and appreciative audience who shares our interests – or at least one of them 🙂

  3. rhijulbec says:

    Thanks to you, gentlemen, for the great names but also thanks to these people’s parents for the silly names, what? This one is very funny indeed. A bit of an ignomious end, but who’s to say? Only interesting people have legends about their lives or deaths, right?.

    • Dave says:

      Absolutely! Hopefully at some point in my life (or death), I’ll finally become deserving of a funny name and they’ll be writing about me too… Given that my name is still “Dave,” apparently I have a long way to go… 🙂

  4. I am wondering if you know what happened to sir Cloudesley Shovell’s ring because i hear it was priceless and it got turned into a locket but i am not to sure.

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