The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, 7 January 2011

Mahomet Weyonomon

The thing about travelling around London by Tube is that you don't always get a sense of where things are in relation to each other above ground. So when I went to Borough Market to buy some Mexican ingredients*, I found myself wondering what the big church next door was. It was only when I read the sign on the gate that I realised it was Southwark Cathedral.

Southwark Cathedral doesn't get nearly as much press as St Paul's, but it's well worth exploring. Among the interesting things I found there was this memorial in the shape of a ridged mound, dedicated to Mahomet Weyonomon, whom I'd never heard of before. A plaque explained that he was a chief of the Mohegan people in Connecticut, and came to England in 1735 to ask George II for his tribe's land back. He was denied a meeting with the king, and not long after he arrived in London, he contracted smallpox and died. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the cathedral grounds; this monument was only dedicated in 2006 (apparently it represents the Mohegan tradition of naming a boulder after a dead chief).

I expected there to be a lot of information about Mahomet on the Internet, but there isn't much at all. A Wikipedia stub and a BBC report on the memorial's dedication are about as good as it gets; even the Mohegans' official site** doesn't mention him.

I'm particularly curious about how he came to have the name Mahomet. Is it a coincidence that this is also a variant name for Muhammad, or had his tribe had contact with Muslims?

* By the way, I highly recommend the Cool Chile Co.'s stall to any fellow Londoners wanting to cook Mexican food at home.

** Be warned that clicking the "Contact Us" link at the top of the Mohegan home page will redirect you to a porn site. I don't know if they were hacked, or if they let a domain expire or something. The rest of their site seems to work OK.

1 comment:

teegee said...

I am so glad not to be the only person to have discovered Southwark Cathedral and enjoyed it. It has been many years, perhaps in 1970, but it has its own character, and I liked visiting a different part of London.