JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post Part of the series on the History of Anticipation
The wonderfully-named Thomas ap Catesby Jones (the “ap” evidently a Welsh patronymic indicating “Thomas, son of Catesby”) was a Commodore in the U.S. Navy in 1842 when a Short Series of Unfortunate Events occurred. Jones (1790-1858), a War of 1812 veteran, commanded a group of three naval vessels (including his frigate the USS United States and two sloops of war) from Lima Peru to upper California after understanding that the U.S. Was at war with Mexico and that there was a fear that the Brits were on their way to take over the middle-western coastline. So off he went, arriving at Monterey1 in October 1842, about four years ahead of the war. He settled off the cost and demanded the surrender of the Mexican gallery there, which consisted of about 60 soldiers in an old fort. The Mexicans, outnumbered and no doubt confused, surrendered the port the next day. The day after that, Jones received word that he had jumped the gun, somewhat, and withdrew from Monterey, with his apologies. From there, he went off to chase the British away from Hawaii, and somewhere in this course of events transports the deserter Herman Melville back to the U.S.
I cannot leave this without mentioning that Jones' nephew was named Catesby ap Roger Jones (1821-1877).
1. A good source of information on this action: Taking Possession of Monterey. Message from the President of the United States in rely to the resolution of the House of representatives...calling for information in relation to the taking possession of Monterey by Commodore Thomas Ap Catesby Jones. February 22, 1843. House of representatives Executive Document Number 166, 27thCongress, 3rd session. 9X6”, 117pp. Howes M 740aa. Cowan 317