Friday 3 April 2020

Urban Legends about Shipwrecks

BLACK PEOPLE IN GEORGIA Descend from Africans who swam ashore when a slave ship foundered.

CHINESE VILLAGE IN MONTEREY The inhabitants descend from survivors of a shipwreck.

CROFT CASTLE The famous chestnut avenue was grown from nuts salvaged from the wrecked ships of the Spanish Armada.

DARK-SKINNED IRISH PEOPLE The inhabitants of Ireland and Cornwall are dark because they are the descendants of shipwrecked Spaniards from the Armada or Phoenician tin-traders. This explains the “Black Irish”.

ETON COLLEGE The school benches are made from wood salvaged from the wrecked ships of the Spanish Armada.

FAIRISLE JERSEYS The patterns were brought to the island by shipwrecked sailors from the Spanish Armada. (A Spanish ship was wrecked on the island, but the patterns are probably from Scandinavia. It is well-documented that the Spanish sailors were rescued by the islanders, looked after, and sent home.)

FAIR-SKINNED PAKISTANIS Descend from Alexander the Great’s army. (The DNA evidence does not bear this out.)

JEWS IN INDIA Descend from passengers who swam ashore after a shipwreck. (There is a well-trodden trade route from the Middle East to India.)

LEWIS CHESSMEN buried in a sand-dune by a shipwrecked merchant to avoid taxes.

MELUNGEONS These dark-skinned Appalachian Mountain inhabitants descend from shipwrecked Portuguese sailors. (Their origins are mysterious.)

POTATOES Washed ashore on the West Coast of Ireland from a Spanish Armada shipwreck.

WOLVES The wolf shot and stuffed in Scotland in 1848, long after the beasts became extinct in the UK, may have swum ashore from a shipwreck.

Survivors of the Armada were rounded up as prisoners of war and repatriated. In Ireland, there were few survivors, and many were executed, though some escaped to Scotland and eventually reached home. Irish and Scottish people are known for their red hair (they are closely related), but some Irish, Scottish and Welsh people have black hair – there’s no need to look for the “Spanish ancestor” from your family folklore.

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