FRANK CUNDALL, F.S.A.
Late Secretary and Librarian of the Institute of Jamaica.
PHILIP M. SHERLOCK,
Secretary of the Institute of Jamaica.
THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA.
AGENTS IN LONDON: WEST INDIA COMMITTEE, 14 TRINITY SQUARE
LONDON W. 1.
THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA.
The Institute of Jamaica for the encouragement of Literature, Science
and Art, was constituted during the Governorship of Sir Anthony Musgrave
by Law 22 of 1879. This Law transferred to the Institute the Libraries of the
House of Assembly and of the old Legislative Council, and the Museum of the
defunct Royal Society of Arts apd Agriculture, together with the building in
East Street, Kingston, known as Date Tree Hall.* This building was des-
troyed in the great Earthquake of 1907 and was replaced in 1911 by the present
If you are not yet a member of the Institute of Jamaica, you are very
heartily invited to become a member now. The annual subscription of 5/- en-
titles you to borrow two books at a time from the Library.
Forms of application for membership and further particulars may be ob-
tained on application to the Secretary.
[* Notes on Date Tree Hall and Blundell's Hall will be found at the end of this
I gratefully acknowledge the help that has been received in the revision
of this publication from a number of friends, particularly from the Hon. Noel
B. Livingston, from Miss Perkins and from Messrs. J. L. Pietersz and H. P.
Jacobs. Miss Perkins and Mr. Jacobs have both helped me with extensive
P. M. S.
THIS VOLUME HAS BEEN
BY THE UNIVERSITY OF
Jamaica Place Names
The study of place names is both interesting and important. In new
countries it is usually less useful to the student of history than it is in long-
settled lands; but in Jamaica so many different peoples have left their traces
that the place-names often throw light on the past. Thus, Spanish (and In-
dian) place-names are found where the Spaniards settled in considerable
numbers at some period or other.
It seems most convenient to consider the place-names of Jamaica under
the following heads:-
II-Other Arawak names.
(a) Towns and villages. CA '~
(b) Rivers. A
IV-Corrupted Spanish names.
(c) Early Settlement.
(f) Places named after inhabitants.
(g) Places named after natural features.
(h) Places named at the time of Emancipation.
VI-Jamaica in other lands.
The name Jamaica is itself of great interest.
Some of the early Spanish historians-putting as they frequently did X
for J-wrote the name Xaymaca, but it appears in its present form as early
as 1511 in Peter Martyr's "Decades." He called it Jamaica and Jamica. The
island is unnamed in Juan de la Cosa's map of 1500.
Its first appearance in cartography is on the map made by Bartolommeo
Colombo, Colombus' younger brother, to illustrate the Admiral's fourth voy-
age, where it is spelled Jamaicha. In Cantino's map (1502-04) it appears as
Jamaiqua: in Caneiro as Jamaiqua and in Waldseemiiller's map of 1507 as
Jamaiana. In the so-called Admiral's map of 1507 it appears as Jamaqua: the
name does not appear in Ruysch's map of 1508, but in the Ptolemaeus edition,
Strasburg 1513, it is given as Jamaiqua, and in the Waldseemfiller map of
1516 it is also Jamaiqua.
In the Maggiolo map of 1519 it is Jamaica, but in the Maggiolo map of
1527 it is Jamaicha: in Ribero's "Antilles" of 1529, and in Mercator's map of
1541 it is Jamaica: in Herrara's map of 1601, it goes back to the old form
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
Xamaica, and as late as 1734 in Charlevoix's "L'isle Espagnole," it appear as
Xamayca. Amongst Englishmen who wrote of it from personal knowledge
immediately after the British occupation, Commissioner Butler (1655) wrote
it Gemecoe and Gemegoe. Daniell (1655) calls it Jamico, Gwakin (1657)
wrote it Jammaca, and General Fleetwood (1658) wrote it Jamecah.
Columbus on his return from his first journey was told by the natives
when off Tortuga, that if he sailed in a certain direction two days he would
arrive at Babeque, where he would find gold. Columbus mentions Bebeque
many times in his journals, but he never found it, at least under that name.
The "Historie," of 1571, identifies it with Espanola but this is doubted. Las
Casas thought that it might refer to Jamaica.
In common with most other West Indian native names Jamaica has come
to us through a Spanish source; and the native pronunciation was possibly
something like Hamica. Several derivations have been given of the mean-
ing of the word. The most extraordinary is that which seeks to connect it
with James II. On Moll's map of the island, published early in the eighteenth
century, it is stated that it was first called St. Jago by Columbus who dis-
covered it: but the name was afterwards changed to Jamaica, after James,
Duke of York. In this connection it is somewhat sad to note that not one of
the greater Antilles retained the name given to it by Columbus. Espafola,
Santiago and Juana, went back to their native Hayti, Jamaica and Cuba; and
St. Juan Bautista became Puerto Rico. Of the smaller islands, the names of
Trinidad, Antigua, Dominica, Montserrat and Guadeloupe still remind us of
their great discoverer.
James Knight, in the rough draft of his history of Jamaica (1742), in
the British Museum, gives the following derivation of the word Jamaica:- -
"In the original it was Jamajaco. Jamo in the Indian language is a country,
and Jaco is water."
John Atkins, in his "Voyage to the Guinea, Brazil, and the West Indies"
(1737) says that "Jamaica was altered by King James, it being a compound
of his name and 'ca' an island." He was possibly not far wrong in regard
to the "island." The West Indian word for an island, cai, is supposed to ap-
pear in Lucayos (Bahamas) "Men of the island," in the Caicos Islands, and
also in various cays or keys in the West Indies; it may be a shortened form
of Kaieri, the modern Guiana Arawak word for "island."
Long wrote in 1774 that "It is not improbable that Jamaica is a name of
Indian extraction, perhaps derived from Jamacaru, the Brasilian name of the
prickly-pear, which over-spreads the maritime parts of the south side, where
the aboriginal Indian discoverers of this island might have first landed," but ?
this derivation has found no supporters amongst later writers.
Bryan Edwards, writing in 1793, says "The early Spanish historians wrote
the word Xaymaca. It is said to have signified in the language of the natives,
a country abounding in springs."
Bridges, who as a rule displays a more fertile imagination than Long
without half his t-ustworthiness as a historian, says, writing in 1828, "In the
speech of Florida, Chaiibaan signified water, and makia, wood (Lescarbot
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
7.6. c.6.). The compound sound would approach to Chab-makia; and, har-
monized to the Spanish ear, would be Chamakia, or some such indistinct union
of these two significant expressions, denoting a land covered with wood, and
therefore watered by shaded rivulets, or in other words, fertile." This sug
gested origin has been usually adopted by later writers. Why he sought in
Florida the meaning of words of Jamaica Bridges does not explain. Carib
and Arawak are probably the only two languages which Columbus heard
spoken in the Greater Antilles. Wood, in Arawak, is ada; woods are in Ara-
w&k, konoko, and in Carib eotch; and water is in Arawak winiab (Hillhouse)
or comiaboo (im Thurn), and in Carib tona.
Bryan Edwards points out that Fernando Columbus's "Historie" states
that the Indian name of Antigua, was Jamaica, and he adds, "It is a singular
circumstance that this word which in the language of the larger islands signi-
fied a country abounding in springs should in the dialect of the Charaibs have
been applied to an island that has not a single spring or rivulet of fresh
water in it."
There is no doubt that the name Jamaica is Arawak, as there is a trace
of it in Haiti, while Antigua was probably once occupied by the same section
of Arawaks. However, since the discoverers do not give the meaning of the
name (as they do with the various names of Haiti) it is possible that the
meaning had already been forgotten by the Indians themselves.
II OTHER ARAWAK NAMES.
Apart from the name of the island itself, there are few names of native
origin left. Maima, a native settlement on the north side, may perhaps still
survive in Mammee Bay, Mammee Ridge, Mammee Gully and Mammee, a
fruit. Mamme Bay is a property about a mile east of Christopher's Cove,
not far from an Arawak settlement at Bellevue.
Bryan Edwards, (Vol. 1. p 165.) says:-"This town," (Seville) "we are
informed by Herrera, "was founded on the site of an ancient Indian village
called Maima." He also gives the following note:-"Maima Quasi Mamee.
There is a bay a little to eastward, which is called at this hour Mammee Bay."
There is also Mammee Ridge, a property in the hills above St. Ann's Bay,
which might have been so called from the fact of its overlooking Maima, or
else from the wild fruit tree, Mammee. The engagement between the brothers
Porras and Diego Columbus is said to have taken place at Mammee Ridge.
Nearby is "Johnnie Spring," the site of an Arawak village from which many
stone implements have been obtained. Guanaboa in St. Catherine, may per-
haps be formed from the Cuban Indian word meaning any kind of palm, or
the native Indian word for soursop, guanabana. Guanaboa occurs as the name
of a district in Hayti. The name might mean "house of gold"; in Haitian
Arawak "cauni" is gold, and "boa" is house.
Names resembling Liguanea (the plain on which Kingston stands) are
met with throughout the West Indies; Wareika appears to be Arawak, pos-
sibly the Guarica of Haiti and the Warooka of Guiana; but there is no ear-
ly form of the name, which may have been brought quite recently from
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
III SPANISH NAMES.
Of Spanish names given to towns and villages, St. Jago de la Vega (St.
James of the plain) still survives in custom, although supplanted officially by
Spanish Town. So also do Ocho Rios, and Savanna-la-Mar (the plain by the
sea). Esquivel, named after the first Governor (ab. 1501), soon became Old
Harbour after the British occupation. Oristan, which stood where Bluefields
now is, was named after a town in Sardinia, when subject to the crown of
Spain. Melilla, which was corrupted by the English to Maria (hence Port
Maria) was named after a town on the coast of Barbary, then in the posses-
sion of Spain. Sevilla-Nueva (new Seville) stood a little to the west of where
St. Ann's now is.
Of the Spanish names of rivers, many survive; the principal being Rio
Alto (deep river), Rio Cobre (copper river), Rio Grande, Rio Minho, Rio
Bueno (the good river), Rio Magno (the great river), Rio Nuevo (new river),
Rio D'oro (golden river), Rio Pedro (Peter's River). It is thought that Rio
Pedro may be a corruption of Rio Piedra (Stony River). The Rio Minho is said
to have been named after a river in Portugal, or as Long says in another place,
after some mine in the neighbourhood. It is thought by some that it should
be Rio Mina, the river by the mine. Others are named after rivers in Spain.
IV CORRUPTED SPANISH NAMES.
The first settlers pronounced Rio in the present Jamaica fashion and
latinised Nuevo and Bueno to Novo and Bono, as happened in other parts of
the world with the Spanish and Portuguese words for "new" and "good."
The English also often heard the Spanish "gua" as wa or Kwo; and the Eng-
lish settlers confused g and the hard c.
Generally speaking, the English either spelled a Spanish name in Span-
ish fashion while pronouncing the letters in the English fashion, or tried
to make the name into an English one.
Amongst districts we have Santa Cruz (Holy Cross); as well as Pedro
both in St. Ann and in St. Elizabeth. The former is said to have been named
after Pedro Esquivel, the Spanish Governor. There was, up to a few years
ago a mound of ruined masonry on Dixon Pen in St. Ann which was said to
have been the remains of Pedro Esquivel's country residence. Actually, his
name was Juan Esquivel.
The following derivation of Spanish names in Jamaica is given by
Auracabeza. Aura, air or breeze; Cabeza, head or high land. [This is
now Oracabessa in St. Mary. Others derive it from Oro Cabeza, the golden
It may be an aspirated Arawak name Juracabes of unknown meaning.
Alta Mela. Deep Gap [Alta Mela Savannah, St. James.]
Agua Alta Bahia. Deep Water Bay, corruptly Wag Water. [still known
as Wag Water; probably the name is Arawak, Guayguata.]
Notes by other writers are added between square brackets.
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
Los Angelos. The Angels. [Angels in St. Catherine was the first term-
inus of the railway.]
Rio Bonito. The Pretty River.
Cabo Boni-o. The Pretty Cape. [In St. Catherine.]
Cabarita Punta, Kid or goat point. [In Westmoreland, where there is a
S river of the same name: there is another Cabarita point in Old Harbour Bay,
and a Cabarita Island in Port Maria Harbour.]
Rio de Camarones. Perhaps from Gambaro, a crab, from the abundance
of black crabs hereabouts.
* Cobre Rio. Copper River, or Cobra Port, Snake river. [Still known as
Caborido. Quasi Caba Arido, the dry or withered cape (Part of Health-
Carvil or Caravel Bahia. Caravela signifies a light round kind of a ship
formerly used by the Spaniards.
Diablo Monte. Devil's mount. [Now called Mount Diablo.]
Escondido Puerto. The hidden harbour.
Flora Ria. Flower River.
Fortaleza Punta. Fort Point.
Gallina Punta. Hen Point. [Galina Point is in St. Mary.]
Guada Bocca. Guada, brook of water, boca, mouth.
[Long regards this as Spanish but it may be Arawak Guatiboco or Quathe-
beca, now Vere. The early English name Withyuzood, applied to Vere, may be
a fantastic corruption of the word, which might conceivably mean "the tem-
ple-land of the sworn-brothers"; (guatia, sworn brother; bo, house; cu,
shrine). But Cauta was the name of a great Rock in Haiti and abacoa is a
word found in several Arawak countries, perhaps connected with agua, sea;
is there here a reference to the Round Hill of Vere?]
Hoja Rio. River of leaves, now corruptly called Rio Hoe.]
Jarisse Punta. Cross-bow or arrow, probably refers to some action with
Javareen. Rustic expression, signifying a wild boar.
Lacovia. Quasi Lago-via, or the way by the lake? [A Village in St.
Elizabeth. Country people call this Coby, which shows it is the La Caoba of
the Spaniards. The various places called Chovey and Anchovy have the same
origin. 'Caoba' is "mahogany." The word may be Arawak but this does not
prove that the Arawaks named Lacovia, etc. This beautiful name is the only
improvement on a Spanish name effected by the Enlish. Elsewhere Long
suggests it may be a corruption of La agua via, the waterway, formerly be-
Slonging to the Gladstone family.]
Liguanea. Lia-withe-guana, the name of an animal, probably one fre-
quent in that part of the island. [That part of Lower St. Andrew, bordered
by the Long Mountain, the St. Andrew Mountains and the Red Hills.] In
SLeslie's map the upper reaches of the Yallahs river are marked Negro Liguania.
Moneque, or Monesca Savannah. Savannah of monkeys. [Now confined
to the village of Moneague. This word is Arawak but was perhaps brought
6 JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
by the Spaniards from Cuba where 'manique' still means 'thicket'. Spanish
documents have 'manegua' for 'Moneague.']
Mari bona. Maria-buena, Mary the good. [Maria Buena Bay is in Tre-
Multi-bezon Rio. Multi, many; buzon, conduit.
Macari Bahia. Macari, a tile, such as is made for floors, which the
Spaniards universally used here and probably manufactured them near this
bay, the soil being proper for that purpose.
[Long adds a foot-note to Macari, "Or perhaps it may derive more pro-
perly from the Indian words Macarij (which signifies bitter), and alludes to
the tree commonly called the Majoe, or Macary-bitter which grows in great
abundance along this part of the coast, and with whose leaves, bark and root,
which are all of them extremely bitter, some very notable cures in cases of
inveterate ulcers, the yaws, and venereal distempers, were some years ago
performed by an old negress named Majoe, in commemoration of whom it took
its name." Macary Bay is in Vere. Majoe Bitter, or Macary Bitter (Picram-
nia Antidesnia Sus.), is a shrub about eight feet high, with small whitish
green flowers, and berries first scarlet, then black.]
Mantica Bahia. Butter (now Montego Bay.) From a map with the
Archives of the Indies the locality is shewn as "Montevias" = Hunting places.
As this part abounded formerly with wild hogs, the Spaniards probably made
here what they called hog's butter (lard) for exportation. [In a very old
deed of conveyance of land in St. James a road is marked as leading to Lard
Ocho Rios, or 'Tehi Rios', said to mean eight rivers. [In St. Ann, it was
more commonly called Chareiras in Long's time; and indeed as late as 1841,
William Rob wrote "Ocho Rios, called to this day by the old inhabitants
'Cheireras' its early and appropriate name "the Bay of the Waterfalls", but
has now gone back to Ocho Rios." It is not unlikely that the present form
Ocho Rios and the derivation from eight rivers is wrong, and that the real
name is Chorrdra, a spout. There is a Chorrera River in Cuba, near [Havana.]
Oristan. There is an Oristan some distance inland from Bluefields; near
Bluefields also there was another place called OristAna, on the site of which
were remains of an old fort.
Perexil Insula. Samphire Island; now known as Tower Isle.
Sombrio Rio. Shady river. [Now called the Sambre.]
Yalos. Frosts (whence, perhaps corruptly, Yallahs) the high white cliffs
having the appearance of a frosty covering. [Now called Yallahs. Long
was probably wrong in connecting Yallahs with Yalos. The Hat6 de Ayala
extended from Bull Bay nearly to Morant Bay, and the name is probably a
personal one. Pedro Lopez de Ayala was a celebrated poet and politician in
the fourteenth century; Pedro de Ayala was Spanish envoy to the court of
St. James in 1498; and, curiously, Spain's representative in 1909 at Havana
bore the name, de Ayala. There was a Captain Yhallas, a privateer who
flourished in Jamaica in and about 1671, but the place was not named after
him since the English used the name as early as 1664.]
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
Luidas. Perhaps from Luzida; gay, fine, or from Lluvias=rains? [Llui-
das Vale is in St. Catherine.]
Martha Brea. Martha, a woman's name; Brea, tar; perhaps a nickname
of some Spanish sailor's Dulcinea like the English vulgar appellation Jack
Tar. [Martha Brae village and river are in Trelawny. The same word
occurs in La Brea, the village by the pitch lake at Trinidad. A deed of con-
veyance of land in St. James in 1770 refers to the river Mataberian; one of
the Plat books of St. James also refers to 1,000 acres of land bounded south
and east on "the Rio Matabarian", presumably the Martha Brae. There is a
legend to the effect that Martha Brae was a witch who had the secret of the
4 gold mine of the Spaniards. The river now bearing the name is said to
have changed its course during heavy weather and to have drowned her, at the
same time obliterating the entrance to the mine.
On Leslie's map the Alta Mela (shown as Alta Mesa) and the Camarones
River are shown as tributaries of the Martha Brae (Rio Para Matar).
Bog Walk is supposed to be the Spanish Boca de Agua, for which there
is no early authority. The old English name was Sixteen Mile Walk, and
the Walk of Bog Walk must have been suggested by the older Spanish name,
which may have been bogua, and the same as Bogue. Most Bogues are near
the sea, however, and probably are connected with the Arawak bagua, 'sea'.
The accent and the existence of the "g" suggest Bocagua which is actually
found as Bacagua, the Spanish name for Old House Point. Possibly the mean-
ing is 'house' or territory of the Cagua. The old Arawak name of the Rio
Cobre was Cagua, a name also applied to Passage Fort (corrupted to Cagway
by the English).
Porus is probably called after some well sunk there, or from the porous
nature of the soil, "pitted with holes". In the English edition of Ferdinand
Colombus' "Historie", we read that the Morant Cays were called by Colum-
bus Los Poros because "not finding water in them they dug pits in the sand";
but in the Italian edition (Venice, 1571) they are called "le pozzi" (the pits),
and in the Spanish edition of 1749 they are called "Las Pogas" (the pits). It
is possible that in the case of Porus, as in that of the Morant Cays, there
has been a confusion between Poros and Pogas: and that the town in Manches-
ter should be called Pogas.
The Spaniards called the Black River, el Caovana (the Mahogany River.)
When the English took the island in 1655, they soon began to divide it
up into parishes and the names given to them are of interest:-
St. Catherine was named, it is thought, after Catherine of Portugal the
wife of Charles II, who was king of England when the parish was formed. In
the first act in which it is mentioned the correct spelling of the name is used,
The Parish of Clarendon was named in honour of the celebrated chancel-
lor, Edward Hyde, first earl of Clarendon.
St. James was named after the duke of York, subsequently James II.
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
St. Ann was named after his wife, the eldest daughter of Lord Clarendon.
If Roby is right in this, the correct spelling of the name of the parish would
be St. Anne, as indeed Long and others spell it.
The Parishes of St. George (now part of Portland), St. Andrew, and St.
David (now part of St. Thomas) are derived fom the patron saints of Eng-
land, Scotland and Wales. Roby thinks that the name of St. George might
have received additional appropriateness from the fact that George was the
christian name of the duke of Albemarle, Sir Thomas Modyford's relative
and patron; as also of colonel Nedham, his son-in-law. He also points out
that although St. Thomas was called so before the arrival of Sir Thomas
Modyford, Doyley's immediate successor in the government was Thomas Hick-
man, Lord Windsor, after whom it may have been called. But many of the
parishes in the sister colonies were named after saints, and we need probably
seek no further than the desire to establish church districts in the newly
acquired lands, for the origin of the names of several of Jamaica's parishes.
The Parish of Port Royal obtained its appellation from its port. The
name of the latter was changed from Cagua about three years after the Res-
toration, probably in honour of that event-although a writer during Sir
Charles Lyttelton's governorship (1662-64) says that it was called Port
Royal from the excellency of the harbour.
The Parish of St. Mary was probably so called from the port-the name
also of a timber tree said to have been used for masts. Roby points out that
Modyford's daughter's name was Mary, and it was immediately next to the
parish of St. George, the name of her husband being, as we have seen, George
St. Elizabeth was probably named in honour of Elizabeth, Lady Mody-
ford, the daughter of William Palmer, whose tombstone is in the cathedral.
Vere was named after Vere, daughter of Sir Edward Herbert, attorney
general to Charles I, and first wife of Sir Thomas Lynch, who, with her son,
died on her passage from England to this island in 1683.
St. Thomas-inthe-Vale was probably named after Sir Thomas Lynch.
St. Dorothy, Roby conjectures, received its name in compliment to Dor-
othy Wale, who had probably a large estate there.
Kingston is the common form of King's Town. This was named when
the town was founded after the earthquake of 1692.
Westmoreland obtained its name from being the western-most parish of
the island, while Hanover was named after the English reigning family. The
Assembly wished to confer on the new parish the name of St. Sophia in
honour of the mother of George I, but in this it was over-ridden by the Coun-
The four remaining parishes received their names from Governors in the
island at the date of their formation; Portland, Trelawny, Manchester and
Metcalf (now merged into St. Mary).
When in 1758, the island was divided into three counties, the middle one
was appropriately called Middlesex; the western-most was named after the
most western county in England, Cornwall, and the eastern division was
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
called Surrey, probably because, like Surrey in England, its chief town was
In addition to the parishes above named, the names of former Governors
have been commemorated in the following manner:-
Sir Thomas Modyford (1664-70) in Modyford's Gully at Dry River in St.
Sir Henry Morgan, the buccaneer governor (1675-82) in Morgan's Valley in
The Earl of Carlisle (1678-80) in Carlisle Bay in Vere.
Sir William Beeston (1692-1701) in Beeston Street, Kingston.
Peter Beckford (1702), or some member of his family, in the Beckford
Streets in Kingston, and Spanish Town. Petersfield in Hanover may have
been named after him. It belonged to Francis Beckford of London in 1837.
Peter Heywood (1716-17) in Heywood Street, in Kingston; Fonthill in
St. Ann and Fonthill in St. Elizabeth, after Beckford's Fonthill Abbey in Eng-
Sir Nicholas Lawes (1718-22) in Laws (sic) Street, in Kingston.
Henry, Duke of Portland (1722-26) in the Titchfield lands at Port An-
Edward Trelawny (1738-41) in Trelawny Town, which was so called by
Colonel Guthrie, after he had taken and burnt Cudjoe's settlement, in Feb-
Sir William Trelawny-after whom the Parish of Trelawny was named.
General George Haldane (1759) in Fort Haldane, near Port Maria, now
a ruin. Gray's Charity now stands on this site.
Cromwell in St. Mary, probably after Oliver Cromwell.
William Bowden was member of Assembly for St. Thomas in 1664.
Henry Moore (1760-62) in Moore Town in Portland.
William Henry Lyttleton (1762-66) in Hagley Gap in St. Thomas, named
after Hagley, the home of the Lyttletons in Worcestershire. In "Jamaican
Song and Story" by Walter Jekyll, mention is made that he was told locally
that Hagley Gap was so-called because it was "a hugly place"!
Sir Henry Blake is remembered in Blake Road, Kingston. It is inter-
esting to notice that in 1890 or 1891 the name "John Crow Mountains" was
changed to Blake Mountains.
Roger Hope Elletson (1766-67) in Elletson Road, Kingston.
Sir Basil Keith (1774-77) in Keith Hall in St. Catherine.
Colonel John Dalling (1772-81) in Fort Dalling.
Alexander, Earl of Balcarres (1795-1801) perhaps in Balcarres Hill in
Portland; but Crawford Town was so called before the Earl of Balcarres came
to the island. There was a property in St. Mary called Balcarres which belong-
ed to him.
Lieutenant-General Nugent (1801-1806) in Nugent street, Spanish Town;
in Nugent lane, Kingston; and in Fort Nugent, east of Kingston.
William, duke of Manchester (1808-27) in Mandeville; and in Manchester
Street, Spanish Town; and perhaps Manchester Square, Kingston.
10 JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
Major-General Henry Conran, (1813) in Conran Lane, Spanish Town.
Peter, marquis of Sligo (1834-36) in Sligo Ville in St. Catherine.
Sir Charles Metcalf (1839-42) in Metcalf Ville in St. Ann.
The earl of Elgin (1842-46) in Elgin Street, and Lord Elgin Street, King-
Captain Charles Darling (1857-62) in Darlingford in Portland, and
Darling Street, Kingston.
Sir Anthony Musgrave (1878-83) in Musgrave Avenue, Kingston and Mus-
grave Street, St. Ann's Bay. Lady Musgrave Road in St. Andrew was called
after the Governor's wife.
Sir Henry Norman (1883-89) in Norman Road and Norman Crescent,
and Norman Range, Kingston and in Norman Market, Brown's Town.
Sir Henry Blake (1889-98) in Blake Road and Blake Lane, Kingston, and
John Crow or Blake Mountains, Portland.
The only Colonial Secretary whose name, so far as the writer has been
able to ascertain, has been commemorated is that of Lord Olivier, who was
later Governor of Jamaica, in Olivier Road, Constant Spring; Olivier Park,
Port Antonio; and Olivier Place, Kingston.
The names survive of some of the soldiers of fortune who came out with
Penn and Venables. To name but a few, Colebeck Castle (in St. Catherine);
Long Ville (in Clarendon); Hope (in St. Andrew); Raymonds (in Vere);
Ballard's Valley (in St. Mary); and Ballard's River (in Upper Clarendon);
Halse Hall (in Clarendon); and Barrett Pen (in St. Ann).
Both colonel Colebeck and colonel Long rose to be speakers of the As-
sembly. Colonel Raymond was shot for mutiny. Colonel Ballard was one of
the first Council. Major Halse came on with Penn and Venables from Bar-
bados. Nicholas Lycence, member for St. Thomas 1671-2, gave his name to
Lycence, or as it afterwards became, Lyssons.
Cow Bay, and Bull Bay recall the old days of the "cow killers" or buc-
caneers; the name "cow", being applied by them to all kinds of horned cattle.
Stokes Hall in St. Thomas-in-the-East, recalls the time of Governor
Stokes, who in 1656 settled in that part of the island with a party of Nevis
Surinam quarters, in St. Elizabeth, were settled in 1675 by planters from
Surinam, when that colony was exchanged with the Dutch for New York.
Juan de Bolas, a mountain in Clarendon, recalls the deeds of that leader of
the rebellious negroes, who surrendered to the English soldiers soon after
the conquest of the island: and Runaway Bay, on the north side, saw the last
of the evicted Spaniards.
Cudjoe Town, St. Ann: said to be the birthplace of Captain Cudjoe.
Accompong (in St. Elizabeth) was the name of a captain of rebel Maroons,
who with their chief Cudjoe, was one of those who made terms with Gover-
nor Trelawny in 1738.
Quaw or Quao Hill in St. Thomas is perhaps named after a chief of the
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
Quaco Gully in Trelawny was possibly connected with the Maroon Quaco.
Within recent years a small cannon was found not far from the edge of the
gully, also a spoon of some common metal with the Government arrow branded
Catherine's Peak (often miscalled St. Catherine's Peak) near Newcastle,
was named after Catherine Long (sister of the historian, and wife of Henry
Moore, lieutenant governor) who in 1760 was tthe first lady to ascend that
Culloden and Auchindown, in St. Elizabeth, date from the time of the
arrival of the ill-fated Darien refugees.
Rackham's Cay is named after John Rackham who with George Feather-
stone and Richard Corner was gibbetted on the Cay in 1720.
Freeman's Bay, so called from Colonel Thomas Freeman, who had a
grant of 13091 acres of land in St. Thomas, as appears in the "Survey under
St. Thomas Parish" forwarded by Sir Thomas Modyford to Lord Arlington,
23rd September, 1670.
Passage Fort recalls the time when there was much taking of passage
from Spanish Town to Port-Royal.
Port Henderson, hard by, is named after a former owner, John Hender-
son, Colonel of militia, who was presented at court in February 1784. He died
at his estate in Scotland in 1811. It was founded in opposition to Passage
Fort, as it afforded better accommodation for ships.
Half-Way Tree, was so called as being half-way between Greenwich on
the harbour and Stony Hill, where the barracks were situated.
The chief town of Westmoreland was formerly called Queen's Town (now
Cross Path) and contained a church and many inhabitants, but in 1730 Sa-
vanna-la-Mar (the plain by the sea) rose into fame.
The Cuna-Cuna Pass sounds Spanish, but there is a place with a similar
name in the Ibo country of West Africa.
The common name Mocho is from Moco, the corruption by English
traders of the Andoni word Mboga, applied to the Ibibo of the Niger Delta.
Calabar and Whydaw probably recall times when large numbers of slaves
from those ports were bought by particular estates.
Naggoo Town and Naggoo Head preserve the word Nago, applied by the
Dahomey people to the Egbas of Yoruba-land.
Gordon-Town was formerly the property of a family of that name, but
was not, as some suppose, connected with George William Gordon, of Morant
Dallas Castle (which still survives as a district in St. Andrew) was
owned by a scion of the family of Dallas, in the state of Alabama, whose des-
cendants played their part in Jamaica history.
Kettering was a township founded by William Knibb, the missionary,
and named after the birth-place of himself, and of the Baptist Mission in
Walderston, in Manchester, is named after the Rev. Mr. Walder, its
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
Port Antonio is mentioned in a Chancery suit (Wade vs. Barro) filed
September 25th., 1685. "A shallop or vessel, burthen 40 tuns or thereabouts"
being buildingg there." In Porcacchi's map (1576) it is Anton Porto.
In many old maps of the island, notably Robertson's (published in 1804)
the names of the owners are given, rather than the names of properties, and
in many instances, these proper names exist to this day.
Moses Kellet, who represented Clarendon in the Assembly in 1746-51, was
the owner of Kellets in Clarendon.
Lyssons is possibly named after Nicholas License who had a grant of 264
acres in St. Thomas Parish (p. 111 of Sketch Pedigrees).
Seaford Town, in St. James, is named after Lord Seaford, who there es-
tablished a settlement of German immigrants.
For Beckford Town in Westmoreland, now little more than a name, the
land was given by Richard Beckford one of the family of that name, which
numbered in it some of Jamaica's most wealthy planters.
Joseph Sturge, a wealthy Quaker, who gave a lot of money for land settle-
ment of the slaves, and who was co-author of "The West Indies in 1837," gave
his name to Sturge Town.
John Alexander, a Scotchman, called his estate in St. Ann, in the early
part of the nineteenth century, Alexandria; Drax Hall, St. Ann, was called
after Charles Drax, the founder of the Jamaica College: and the eastern idea
led to the naming of Aboukir, Rosetta, Tobolski and Egypt, some of them
perhaps in honour of Sir Ralph Abercromby, whose birthplace lies near
Towns in Jamaica have not always adopted the names given to them.
When it was proposed, after the destruction of Port Royal in 1692, to fix on a
new port, Old Harbour was selected, and it was decided to call it West Chester,
but the claims of Kingston's site prevailed, and Old Harbour remained Old
Harbour. Claremont was once called Finger Post, while Bamboo was Excellent
When Black River and Port Maria were declared ports of entry they were
re-named Gravesend, and Newport, but their old names have survived.
Manning's Hill in St. Andrew Hills, Manning's Town, Port Maria and
Salt Hill, Morce's Gap, and Hardware Gap, (which should be Hardwar Gap)
in the Blue Mountains, recall the names of former owners:-Edward Man-
ning, who for many years represented Kingston in the Assembly; Daniel Salt,
John Morce, at one time Serjeant-at-Arms of the House of Assembly, and also
Deputy Postmaster General, and John Hardwar, who was Auditor General in
1782. Hardwar Hill is rightly so called in Norie's "West Indian Directory"
(1845). Rackham's Cay recalls the last of the piccaroons.
Of the Forts erected from time to time for the protection of the island,
but few remain:-Fort Charles (at Port Royal), was named after Charles II:
Fort Augusta, possibly after Princess Augusta Sophia, daughter of George III;
most of the others were as we have seen, named after Governors.
Some places are named from animals or vegetables. Of these the best
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
known is John Crow Ridge (called in Long's time Carrion Crow Ridge).
Annotto Bay and Manchioneal Bay were probably so called because of the
quantity of annatto and manchioneal growing there: and Alligator Pond from
the number of crocodiles (often mis-named alligators) found there.
Negril is Spanish; and the names Morant Point, Port Morant, and Morant
Bay, help us to understand the size of the great Spanish estate Morante.
Vera Ma Hollis Savanna in the parish of Clarendon.
This name obviously comes from the Spanish "Los Virmejales" (some-
times spelt "Bermexales")--"the red grounds"-where, in 1657, the last Spanish
governor of Jamaica, Don Cristobal de Ysassi, had a camp. The word is de-
rived from "bermejo", meaning, of a bright reddish colour.
The soil of the Savannah answers to that description.
At the mouth of Old Harbour Bay are great and little Pelican Bays: and
in St. Catherine is Manatee Bay. Under this heading too, come the two depen-
dencies of Jamaica.
The Cayman Islands, some think, are so called from the crocodiles seen
there when first discovered by the Spaniards. Uring, writing in 1749, says,
"Columbus who discovered them called them Las Tortugas on account of the
turtle swarming in their coasts." Some think they received their present
name because Grand Cayman resembles a crocodile in shape. Others again
hold that the Islands are Cayo Mano (Grand Cayman resembling an out-
stretched hand): Cayo Braco (Cayman Brac resembling a handless arm):
and Cayo Chico (Little Cayman). Henry Whistler, who came out with Ven-
ables in 1655, alludes to one of them as Kie of Mamus, but he evidently was no
authority on nomenclature being a man of but little education.
There can be little doubt, however, that the Brac of Cayman Brac is iden-
tical with the obsolete Anglo-Saxon word "brack", a cliff, crag or rock.
To-day the Turk's head cactus (melocactus communis), to which the
Turks Islands owe their name, is seldom seen in Grand Turk, but is plentiful
at the Caicos.
Long, after ridiculing the tale copied by many writers that the rain drops
which fall at Magotty turn into magots, goes on to suggest the derivation of
"maga (an enchantress) and oteo watching on a high place; alluding probably
to the pinnacle of Mount Diablo, over which the thunder clouds so frequently
break, as together with its horrid aspect, to make it seem a proper residence
for a witch, under patronage of the devil, to whom the mountain was dedi-
Long was referring to a Magotty under Mt. Diablo. There are no less
than three places with the name, which shows that the word cannot be Eng-
lish at all, and that it must be a fairly faithful form of some Spanish word
which in turn was probably Jamaican Arawak.
Of names given to natural features, there are numbers in Jamaica; -
the Blue Mountains; the Red Hills; the Great, White, Swift, Dry, and Milk
Rivers; Green Island; Dry Harbour; Dry Mountains; the Round Hill (in
Vere). God Almighty's Cut Stones is the name given to a pile of laminated
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
rock in St. Ann. "Hell Below" is a rather dangerous corner near Dunn's
River where there is a deep fall to the sea. There are many examples of such
names as these.
The Y. S. River is, Long tells us, so called from the Gallic word Y. S.
which signifies crooked or winding.
Another authority says the name of the property was Wyess, and its
commercial marks for shipping purposes was Y. S.
This is very likely since several estates used the first and last letters, or
any two or three as a shipping mark; e.g. Goschen used "G.N." "G.O.N." and
"N.G." for different grades of produce. It is interesting to remember that
Whitehorn was the owner of Llandovery and the estate still uses his initials
over the letter L as their brand-mark.
Labour-in-vain Savannah in St. Elizabeth is a name perfectly descriptive
of its nature.
The struggle for and the success of Emancipation, have left their names
on many a free negro settlement. Such are:-Clarkson Ville, Sturge Town,
Wilberforce, Buxton, Liberty Hill and others.
Some names are typical of the simple faith and language of the negro,
such as Wait-a-bit and Come-see. "Shoe-myself Gate", now more often called
"Show myself", on the road between Coultart Grove and Bonneville is so called
from its having been the custom of the people going to Church to stop there
to put on their shoes. Dolf Willarde has transferred this gate to another part
of the island in "Mafoota".
"Buck-Up". A sharp angle where two roads join in St. Ann.
"Lawyer's Hill". A steep and dangerous hill on the road to Cave Valley,
"Rest-and-be-Thankful", a peasant's place in St. Ann.
"Break-neck Corner" or "Dead-Man Corner" on road near Moneague. Ac-
cidents were frequent here until the road was improved.
"Job's Hill", St. Ann. A difficult climb, the reward being one of the
finest views in the parish.
"Dandy Gate", a fine gateway at Orange Valley.
"Blow Fire," a steep fern-clad hill a few miles from St. Ann's Bay,
which often takes fire mysteriously. The cause is attributed to Duppies!
"Duppy Spring". On the road to New Ground, St. Ann.
"Nancy Gully", St. Mary. Probably Anancy Gully.
"Whisper" or "Wesper", also "Webster" a large over-hanging cliff on
"Tingleys" in the Dry Harbour Mts., the site of a settlement of runaway
slaves, who murdered an old owner of Alexandria at this spot. Me-no-sen-you-
no-come in Trelawny must have been named by folk of recluse habits. Others
are not euphonious-Fat Hog Quarter, Running Gut (which Lawrence Archer,
in his "Monumental Inscriptions of the British West Indies" thinks may pro-
bably be a corruption by some seafaring man of Harangutta, a branch of the
Ganges), Starve Gut Bay; and one rather wonders whether they are not vulgar
corruptions of different designations. We find, however, similar names in the
JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
other Islands:-Dos d'Ane in Dominica; and Mal d'Estomac in Trinidad On the
other hand Kick-em-Jenny, the rock between St. Vincent and Grenada, is said
to have been originally called Cay qu'on gene-the islet that bothers one, from
the roughness of the neighboring sea.
Many names of townships and properties have been translated from the
old country-Oxford, Ipswich, Cambridge, Newmarket, and the like,-and the
number of Bellevues, Belvideres, Contents, Richmonds, speaks little for the in-
ventive faculties of those who named them.
A fair number of streets of Kingston have personal names. To those
name, after Governors we have already made reference.
There was a Thomas Allman, clerk to the Agent Victuallers at Jamaica,
who was wanted for forgery and embezzling 1,283, in 1743; but Allman Town,
which came into existence soon after Emancipation, was named after George
Allman, who was either an officer in the Army or the son of one. *
Barry Street reminds us of colonel Samuel Barry, who was one of the first
Council named in 1661, and owned the land on which Kingston was built. The
land called Colonel Barry's Hog Crawle was sold to Beeston, who had it laid
out in lots for the building of Kingston.
Byndloss Lane bears the name of a family which in the seventeenth and
early eighteenth century supplied seven members to the Assembly-the earliest
being Colonel Robert Byndloss, member for Cagua in 1663.
Barnes Gully recalls Joseph Barnes, mayor, custos and representative in
the Assembly of Kingston, who died in 1829.
Bowrey Road reminds us of a recent island chemist, from whose property
the road was formed.
Hibbert Street also recalls a family closely connected with Jamaica in the
eighteenth and nineteenth century, one member of which built Head-Quarters
House, formerly known as Hibbert-House.
Marescaux Road, north of Kingston, reminds us of a manager of the Co-
Geffrard Place is named after an exiled President of Haiti.
Orange and Hanover Streets refer to reigning houses of England.
It is probable that Pechon Street was named after major John Bonnet
Pechon, who was assistant engineer on the military staff in 1809, and later
island engineer. He died in 1815.
Princess Street is a corruption of Prince's Street, as it was called in
Beeston's time. It is called Rue du Prince on a French translation of Lilly's
Sutton Street was probably named after colonel Thomas Sutton, who was
speaker of the Assembly at the time of the earthquake of 1692.
Temple Lane in Kingston, as well as Temple Hall in St. Andrew, was
named after Susanna Temple, daughter of Thomas Temple of Franckton, the
fourth wife of Sir Nicholas Lawes, sister of "la belle Temple" of de Gram-
mont, the wife of Sir Charles Lyttelton.
Whence Tower Street obtained its name is not known. One might assume
This. and other information. kindly supplied by G. F. Judah.
16 JAMAICA PLACE NAMES
that it was named after John Towers, who was member of Assembly for
Clarendon in 1688, but for the fact that is appears in early records as Tower.
The following has been suggested as the origin. In the early days of Kingston
the town had a rector but no church. The rector lived in Tower Street. It is
thought that the rector's house may have been used as a church and may have
had a tower and bell.
Wildman Street is named after James Wildman, a member of the Council,
in 1786, and later fellow member of parliament for Hindon with Monk Lewis,
another Jamaica proprietor.
Though they apparently omitted to dedicate their parish church to a 1
patron saint, the people of Kingston named five of their lanes after the
In Spanish Town, in addition to the streets mentioned in the list of gov-
ernors, the origin of Adelaide Street (after the Queen of that name), William
Street (after the Prince who was later king), Brunswick Street, (after the
Duke of Brunswick), Nelson Lane and Wellington Street is obvious.
Canning Lane and Melbourne Lane tell of two English prime ministers. In
Cochrane Lane we have probably a reminiscence of Sir Alexander Cochrane
who was admiral on the Jamaica Station in 1814-15. Ellis Street tells of the
family of Lord Seaford who had properties in the island, the original Ellis
having come over in Venables' army. The first Lord Seaford was born in
Barrett Street recalls a family long resident in the island on the north-
side. Richard Barrett was speaker of the Assembly in 1830.
VI JAMAICA IN OTHER LANDS.
Of its trade with the outside world Jamaica has evidences in Jamaica Bay,
in Acklin's Island, Bahamas; in Jamaica (as old at least as 1699), Long
Island; in Jamaica Plain near Boston; in Jamaica Street in Glasgow, Jamaica
Street in Greenock, and formerly in the Jamaica coffee house in London.
The Jamaica coffee house was in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill, which runs
out of Cornhill to the west of St. Michael's Church. This alley is famous as
having contained the first coffee house established in London. The Jamaica
coffee house is kept in memory there by the Jamaica wine house which ad-
joins the office of a wine merchant. (E. J. Roe & Co.) and by Jamaica build-
ings. Like all city alleys, the place has been entirely rebuilt.
Jamaica Street, one of the busiest streets in Glasgow, leading to Jamaica
Bridge over the Clyde, was named in 1763, and its name was doubtless sug-
gested by the business connection. There are other evidences in Glasgow cf
West Indian trade in St. Vincent Street, Tobago Street, and the "Havannah"
(street); but the name of Kingston Dock has no connection with Kingston,
BLUNDELL HALL AND DATE TREE HALL. ,"n
There were at the lower end of East Street, two important old houses,
Blundell Hall and Date Tree Hall. In Historic Jamaica, Frank Cundall says.
"Both had been in former days Boarding Houses, and for some years Blundell
Hall was under the proprietorship of Mary Seacole, a native of Jamaica, well
known for her kindness to the sick and wounded of the British soldiers in the
Crimea, where she filled the position of sutler, having failed to obtain that of
nurse". Anthony Trollop stayed at Blundell Hall and found that "the land-
lady in whose custody I had placed myself was a sister of good Mrs. Seacole.
'My sister wanted to go to India', said my landlady, 'with the Army, you know.
But Queen Victoria would not let her; her life was too precious'. So that Mrs.
Seacole was a prophet, even in her own country".
Date 'P, TTni11 sn nampd after two large date trees on the premises, was
for sc 'airbrother. In
Janua the Date Tree,
by th how "a scion
of the Falmouth Post
of Fr .ed from Haiti,
lande since Mrs. Sea-
cole's enraged at the
though s of sex, said:
THIS VOLUME HAS BEEN
BY THE UNIVERSITY OF
The following Publications are on sale at the Institute of Jamaica:
List of the Decapod Crustacca of Jamaica
By M ary J. Rathbun ................................................................
The Meteorology of Jamaica
By M axwell H all, M .A ............................... ..........................
The Mosquitoes or Culicidae of Jamaica
By F. V. Theobald, M.A., and M. Grabham, M.A., M.B.
Classified List of Books in the General Library of the Institute
Catalogue of Portraits in the Jamaica History Gallery
By Frank Cundall ........................................... ................
Jamaica's Part in the Great War
By Frank Cundall ........................................... ................
Jamaica Negro Proverbs and Sayings
By Izett Anderson & Frank Cundall, 2nd Edition ..........
Chronological Outlines of Jamaica History
By Frank Cundall ................................ ..................
Brief Guide to the Library, Museum, and History Gallery of
the Institute of Jamaica
By Frank Cundall ............. ....................................
Brief History of the Parish Church of St. Andrew
B y Frank Cundall ...................... .................................. ......
A History of Printing in Jamaica 1717-1834
By Frank Cundall .............................................................
Collection of Fishes from Jamaica
B y R i ero .............................................. ..........................
Governors of Jamaica in the Seventeenth Century, with illus-
trations and Maps
By Frank Cundall ............................... ..................... ......
Governors of Jamaica in the 1st Half of the 18th Century
By Frank Cundall .................................................... .........
Letters to Jane
E d. by G M o ley .............................. .................................
Place Names of Jamaica (revised)
By Frank Cundall .......................... ...... ............
The Aborigines of Jamaica (Revised)
By Frank Cundall (in the Press) ..................................
Lady Nugent's Journal
Ed. By Frank Cundall (in the Press) .................................