Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sir George Everest - Engineer

Today marks the anniversary of the death of Sir George Everest. The Welsh engineer was born in Powys and was heavily involved in mapping the Indian subcontinent between 1818 and 1843. Everest died on this day in 1866.

Everest joined the Royal Artillery in 1818 and became the assistant to Colonel William Lambton, who had started the Great Tigonometrical Survey of India in 1806. When Lambton died in 1823, Everest succeeded him as superintendent of the survey.

Everest retired in 1843 and was kinighted in 1861. He was a Fellow of the Royal Academy and Vice-President of the Royal Geographical Society. His niece, Mary Everest (daughter of his brother Thomas), married the mathmatician George Boole (who worked, died and is buried in Cork, Ireland) and was herself a noted educator.

In 1865, Peak XV was renamed in his honour (despite his objections) as Mount Everest. According to the archives of the Royal Geographical Society: after the announcement of Peak XV as the highest mountain in the world, Andrew Waugh, Everest's successor, wrote: " is a mountain most probably the highest in the world without any local name that I can discover...", so he proposed " perpetuate the memory of that illustrious master of geographical research...Everest."

Many people thought it should take local names such as Chomolungma (Tibetan) or Devadhunka (Nepali). After much debate, the Royal Geographical Society in London officially adopted the name Mount Everest in 1865.

Incidentally, Everest always pronounced his name EVE-Rest, so we usually pronounce the name of the highest mountain in the world incorrectly.


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