Cornelius Drebbel

Cornelius Drebbel, “nothing but Drebbel”.

Longtime readers of our blog may already be familiar with many of our Funny Name Theories, built upon our mighty knowledge on the power of hilarious names. Regular readers may also have noticed that a lot of people named Cornelius feature in our blog. This has led us to formulate a new piece of theory suggesting that if you’re called Cornelius, you’re probably most of the way there to a funny name.

Cornelius Drebbel, born Cornelis Jacobzsoon Drebbel, is all of the way there. He, like most good Corneli, hailed from Holland, the promised land of the mighty species of European Cornelius (cornelis europeaus). They have been known to nest all over the world, prescribing absurd amounts of tea, large bushels of cash, and endless Neil Diamond cd’s to unsuspecting civilians everywhere.

This particular specimen of the Cornelius tribe, the finely named Drebbel, has gone down into history books for building the world’s first navigable submarine. He did so in 1620 while working for the English Royal Navy. He even took King James I for a little cruise under the Thames in his oar-powered leather-covered wood submarine. I was unable to confirm whether or not the sub was yellow.

Drebbel lived during a golden age of amusingly named Dutchmen. In university he counted the great Cornelis Corneliszoon among his professors and worked with spectacle maker Hans Lippershey. I saw “spectacle maker” in the sense that he made eyeglasses. He wasn’t a huge drama queen who made a spectacle of himself at every turn. Or maybe he was, but not professionally.

Feel free to post your interpretations of what this submarine reminds you of below the line.

Like all good engineers, he also invented other things during his life. Unlike most submarine builders, Drebbel counted a chicken incubator among those inventions. He is also widely credited as the inventor of a microscope with two convex lenses. I don’t really know what that means but it sounds quite nice and impressive, and was apparently used by Federico Cesi to illustrate Apiarium, his “famous” book on bees. The things you learn on the internet.

I hope you have enjoyed this highbrow exploration of obscure European history, dubious biological classification, and off-handed chicken incubator references. Please do return for the next Cornelius piece – I’m sure there will be many more. We can only hope they all talk about chicken incubation.


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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13 Responses to Cornelius Drebbel

  1. Bumba says:

    Don’t worry. It wasn’t so highbrow. However, you get extra points for elucidating the plural of Cornelius as Corneli (although Cornelii might also be an acceptable alternate, since it avoids the inevitable confusion with creamy Italian pastries)

  2. Dave says:

    Do you think we should develop a new Funny Names Theory? The Cornelius Confabulation – or something like that? It sounds like something we could put forth as a scientifically valid idea.

  3. Dave says:

    The submarine… I’m thinking trilobites:

    More so, though, I’m thinking that doesn’t look particularly sub-marine.

    P.S. Why do they say he invented the first “navigable” submarine? Were there submarines before that you couldn’t navigate. Questions of the ages…

    • Arto says:

      It doesn’t look that submarine indeed, but then again, if you’re going to paint a submarine from the shore, you’re probably not going to paint anything more than water unless you take some liberties. Or maybe it was pictured before it went under. It does look a bit trilobitey…good call.

  4. Pingback: Ricky van Wolfswinkel « The Blog of Funny Names

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  6. Latrice says:

    Now I feel studip. That’s cleared it up for me

  7. Pingback: Cornelius Galore – The Best of Dutch Names from Duck to Kok | The Blog of Funny Names

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