The mystery of Sir George Everest

St Andrew's Hove.
Photo by Trevor Chepstow
In memory of my dearly loved husband George Everest.
Photo by Trevor Chepstow
In beloved memory of Lucetta Mary Everest. Died January 10th. 1857, aged 69 years.
Photo by Trevor Chepstow

Surveyor-General of India, George Everest (4th July 1790-1st December 1866) is the man whom the highest mountain in the world was named after, Mount Everest!  George Everest is reputed to have been born ( there is no evidence to support this) in the Manor of Gwernvale at Crickhowell in Powys, in 1790.

A pionerer in mapping
His pioneering mapping work led to a mountain in the Himalayas being declared the highest peak in the world.  Originally named Peak XV of the Himalayas it was re-named ‘Mount Everest’ in his honour. In Tibet it is called ‘Chomolungma’, which means ‘Mother Goddess of the Earth’. Tibetans gave this name long before western scientists had concluded that Everest was the world’s highest mountain.  In Nepal, Everest is called ‘Sagarmatha’ which means ‘Goddess of the sky’.

Relentless in pursuit of accuracy
A military engineer and geodesist, Everest went to India in 1823 to take on a mammoth task – to complete the Great Trigonometrical Survey of the sub-continent which William Lambton had begun in 1806. The survey would take up 25 years of his life and would map a huge area – almost 2,400km from Cape Comorin in the south to the Himalayas in the north. It’s said that Everest was relentless in his pursuit of accuracy and that he made countless adaptations to the surveying equipment, the methods and the calculations involved.

Surveyor General in India
Seven years after he was appointed superintendent of the Great Trigonometrical Survey, George Everest was also made Surveyor General in India. It is known that Everest travelled to the foothills of the Himalayas as part of his work but there is no firm evidence that he actually saw the summit of the mountain which bears his name.

Everest retired in 1843 and returned to live in England, where he became a Fellow of the Royal Society . He was knighted in 1861 and in 1862 he was elected Vice-President of the Royal Geographical Society . On the 17th Nov. 1846, at the age of 56, George Everest married 23 year old Emma Wing. They had six children, two of whom died in early childhood.

Buried in St Andrew’s Hove
George Everest died at 10 Westbourne Street, Paddington, London on the 1st. Dec 1866 and was buried at St. Andrew’s Old Parish Church, Hove on the 8th December. George was interred in the same grave with his two children who died in early childhood. This was also the resting place of George’s sister Lucetta Mary, as well as Thomas Wing, Everest’s Father-in-law who died on the 12th Nov 1850 at Brighton.

It is unknown if George Everest had any connection with Brighton or Hove and if he lived here at any time.  The mystery of why he and his family were buried at St. Andrew’s must remain a mystery!

Comments about this page

  • This doesn’t help regarding the connection with Hove, but the 1851 census has George Everest’s birth place as Greenwich, Kent. There seem to be quite a lot of Everests in Sussex. I hope someone finds the connection. I noticed these graves recently and was intrigued. My sister said “Oh, yes he is the one who discovered the mountain” and I, rather facetiously, replied “Didn’t anyone notice it before?” My sister kindly appreciated my witicism, or pretended to, and said she meant it was named after him as he surveyed it or something. This was confirmed by the vicar. I love seeing information like this. This is a wonderful site.

    By Helen McDiarmid (16/02/2007)

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