|Jamaica’s Unusual Place Names Pt 1|
Sometimes place-names tell their own stories. And Jamaica’s towns, districts, rivers and streets have some really interesting ones – some are misleading, some are derived from family names, and some don’t mean what you think they mean!
Often the names denoted a geographic feature or landmark (Above Rocks, Red Ground, Blue Mountains, Corner Shop), or were named after the original landowners (Tommy Bush, Sanguinetti), or were named for the homelands of immigrants who settled there (Dublin Castle, Irish Town, Egypt, Bengal, Skibo, Aberdeen). Some have Arawak names (Jamaica, Liguanea), or Spanish (Oracabessa, Ocho Rios, Rio Grande), or British (Somerset, High Gate).
Many of Jamaica’s place names are humorous (Jackass Alley, Beverly Hills); others describe the distance from somewhere else (Three Mile, Four Mile, Six Mile, Seven Mile, Nine Mile and Eleven Mile)! Some are Biblical (Bethlehem, Siloah, Mount Horeb) and some reflect the abundance of a plant or animal in the area (Annotto Bay, Cashew, Hog Hole, Breadnut Bottom, and Soursop Turn).
But many of the names are just purely Jamaican! Jamaicans enjoy naming things and they call it as they see it, so these place-names might describe an incident that happened there or a particular feeling or sentiment they wanted to convey (Rest-and-Be-Thankful, Me-No-Call-You-No-Come, Bad Times, Broke Neck Gully, Half Way Tree, Putogether Corner, Dump, Shambles, Rat Trap, Poor Mans Corner, Sally’s Delight, Betty’s Hope, Thankful Hill, Boldness, Good Design, Excellent Town, Happy Retreat, Heart Ease, Friendship and Welcome). Yes, those are all the names of real places in Jamaica!
ADMIRAL MOUNTAIN, near Newcastle, was used by British Admiral Lord Nelson as his country residence while stationed in Jamaica at what is now known as Fort Charles from 1777-79.
ALLIGATOR POND, in Saint Elizabeth: The name is said by locals to derive from the shape of the mountain range, which when seen from the beach, has bumps which look like an alligator's back.
ALLSIDES is so-named because its boundary extends from Trelawny into Manchester; it was on "all sides" of the boundaries.
ALPS, in Trelawny, is situated on a major geological fault which crosses the limestone plateau and which marks the western end of the Cockpit Country. The abrupt landscape and the winding road presumably reminded the British colonists of the European Alps.
ANNOTTO BAY, in Saint Mary, got its name from the presence of annotto trees, important for dye and food coloring, and once an important export.
ARAWAK, in Saint Ann, was named because of Arawak (Taino) remains found there.
ARTHURS SEAT is in Clarendon and Saint Ann. Arthurs Seat is an extinct volcano in the center of Edinburgh, Scotland, so Jamaica’s Arthurs Seat was undoubtedly named by former Scottish settlers and landowners.
AUCHTEMBEDDIE, a north Manchester village, is of German origin. Whether it is named for a person or a place in Germany is unknown.
BALLYHOLLY, in Mandeville, is named after a place in Ireland.
BANGOR RIDGE, in Portland, was named after Bangor, Wales.
BATH, in Saint Thomas, was named after its mineral springs (bath).
BOG WALK, in Saint Catherine, was originally the Boca d’ agua (water’s mouth) of the Spanish, and was corrupted to Bog Walk by the English after their occupation of the island in 1655.
BREADNUT BOTTOM, in Clarendon, is named for the abundance of breadnut trees in the area.
BULL BAY, in Saint Andrew, got its name during the time of the buccaneers or “cow killers”. Once known as Cow Bay, the name is a testament to the island's connection to the time when buccaneers roamed the island hunting for wild cattle.
BULL HEAD, in Clarendon, was named for the bull head shape of the 3,600-foot mountain that stands as the parish's highest point.
CANOE VALLEY, in Saint Elizabeth, got its name because, for many years, canoes were made from the trees there.
CHAPELTON, in Clarendon, was first known as “Chapel Town”, as the village took its name from the church.
CHEW MAGNA, in Saint Elizabeth, near Balaclava, was named by the Roberts Family after a place in Keynsham, England from which they came.
CINNAMON HILL, near Rose Hall in Saint James, got its name because cinnamon trees once grew there.
DOLPHIN'S HEAD, in Hanover, is said to be named because, when looked at from east to west, the 1,789-foot mountain resembles a dolphin's nose, face and fins.
FAR ENOUGH, in Clarendon, comes from the phrase "far enough from courts and kings," which is credited to a Scottish landowner.
FAT HOG QUARTER, in Hanover, was named because a large number of hogs used to populate the area.
FLAGAMAN, in St. Elizabeth, reportedly was named by a British Admiral Ebanks who settled above Great Bay, in an area then called Pedro Plains, and renamed it after his ship, the "Flagaman Escania".
FLOG MAN, in Manchester, was named because a man was severely flogged here. Usually punishment could be applied outside the law to wrongdoers.
FRIENDSHIP, in Westmoreland, was the site of a Scottish Missionary Society conference in 1837.
GIMME ME BIT, in Clarendon, is actually a bird, the Antillean Nighthawk, named for the call it makes.
GOLD MINE, in Clarendon: The Spanish are said to have washed gold there.
GOSHEN, Saint Elizabeth, was named after a place in Egypt, listed in the Bible as meaning the "best of the land".
GRATEFUL HILL, in Saint Catherine, was named by Baptist missionaries in gratitude for having been granted land by an English squire to establish a church.
GUTHRIE’S DEFILE, in Saint Elizabeth, was named after an officer of the Jamaica Militia, Colonel Guthrie. He was instrumental in formulating the Peace Treaty with the Maroons in the 18th century.
GUTTERS, in Saint Elizabeth, got its appropriate name from the heavy rains that flow through the town from three directions, making it almost impassable.
GUYS HILL, in Saint Catherine, was named for the first landowner, Richard Guy, who is said to have taken part in the 1655 Penn and Venables expedition that captured Jamaica for the British.
HALF-WAY-TREE, in Saint Andrew, was originally Half-Way-Tree Pen, owned by the Hotchkyn family for 130 years. It is claimed that Half-Way-Tree was named for a cotton tree which was at the junction of four roads. The tree is said to have existed there from before the conquest of the island (1655) and until 1866 it was halfway between two places: Greenwich, a British soldier base, and a fort in Spanish Town. The soldiers always rested at this spot before proceeding to the fort. There are written references to Half-Way-Tree going back to 1696.
HORSE GUARDS. This place name is found in many parishes and originates from the time that Cromwell ruled Jamaica and used his regiment, the Horse Guards, to protect it. The name stuck to the places where they were barracked.
|< Prev||Next >|