Scottish Place Names
- Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Of the names of the 156 suburbs that have been identified to date in the Greater Bulawayo area, 38 (24.4%) can be found in Scotland or are based on Scottish family names. Of course, many of the names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well, but at least 15 of them (9.6%) are unique to Scotland, are based on Scottish family names or are readily identifiable with places in Scotland that are based on the same names.
It may surprise some readers to find Scottish names in this southern African city. This is a legacy of the days when Zimbabwe was known as Southern Rhodesia, the bulk of whose European population was British. A sizeable proportion of these settlers would have been Scots. The founder of the city of Bulawayo was in fact a Scotsman, Leander Starr Jameson (1853-1917), who was Cecil John Rhodes' right-hand man. It should be remembered that several explorers of 'Darkest Africa' were Scotsmen too, including the missionary-explorer David Livingstone (1813-1873), whose discoveries paved the way for later British colonisation of central Africa.
Suburbs and neighbourhoods with names that occur only in Scotland and not elsewhere in the British Isles, and/or are definitely or most probably of Scottish origin are:
- Barbourfields - there is a place called Barbour in Argyll & Bute. Barbour is a Scottish family name, though it was apparently first recorded on the English side of the border, in Cumbria and Northumberland. The father of Scottish vernacular poetry, John Barbour (1320-1395), is best remembered for his epic poem "The Brus" telling the story of King Robert I. The origin of the name is occupational (a cutter of hair as well as an extractor of teeth during the Middle Ages). According to the Bulawayo City Suburb Names website, the suburb was named after a former Mayor, H. R. Barbour who, "during the colonial era, was greatly interested in the welfare of the indigenous people."
- Burnside (two places in Angus and one place in each of Fife, Moray, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian). Burn is a Scottish and northern English word for a stream.
- Douglasdale (the valley in South Lanarkshire in which Douglas and Douglas Castle are located). The Douglas family, descendants of William de Duglas (late 12th Century) was one of the most powerful in Scotland.
- Glencoe (Highland - see illustration) - this name is etched into the Scottish psyche as the bleak glen in the Highlands where, in 1692, a party of MacDonald men, women and children was treacherously massacred by the Campbells, who were acting under government orders.
- Glengarry (Aberdeenshire and Highland). The "Glengarry" bonnet is an oblong woollen cap, popular amongst pipe bands.
- Hume Park - there is a Hume in the Scottish Borders, as well as Humehall, Hume Castle, Hume Craigs, Hume Mill and Hume Orchard; also Humesett and Humeston in Ayrshire. Hume/Home is a Lowland Scottish family name.
- Kelvin, Kelvin East, Kelvin North and Kelvin West - these suburbs were apparently named in reference to a suburb of Glasgow, which in turn takes its name from the river Kelvin, a tributary of the river Clyde.
- Lochview - there is a Lochview in North Lanarkshire as well as many guesthouses and hotels in Scotland with this descriptive name ('view of the loch'). According to the Bulawayo City Suburb Names website, the suburb was named in reference to Lakeside Dam.
- Montrose (Angus). The distinctive Steeple of Montrose Old Church shown here is a "signature" of the town. One of the reasons for the popularity of the name Montrose throughout the English-speaking world may have to do with Sir Walter Scott's novel 'The Legend of Montrose', published in 1819. Or it may be a reference to the brilliant soldier James Graham, the first Marquis of Montrose, who achieved a series of victories in his campaign in Scotland on behalf of King Charles I.
- Morningside (Dumfries & Galloway, City of Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire and Perth & Kinross).
- Paddonhurst - Paddon is a Scottish family name first recorded in Dumfries-shire. The suburb was named after a pioneer, Major Cecil Paddon, O.B.E. (Bulawayo City Suburb Names).
- Southdale (Shetland Islands).
Other suburbs and neighbourhoods with names that can be found in Scotland but that are not unique to Scotland and are therefore far less likely to have a Scottish connection are:
- Barham Green - there is a village in Fife called Barham but the name is encountered more commonly in England. This suburb was apparently named after two people who were intimately involved in its establishment: Mrs M.E. Barham, a former Bulawayo City Councillor who later became an Alderman and the Reverend Rufus Green (Bulawayo City Suburb Names). Since Barham and Green are both English family names, a connection with Scotland seems unlikely.
- Beacon Hill (Dumfries & Galloway) but the name is far more common throughout England and is also found in Wales. The origin of the name of this suburb, which is also known as Beryl Drive, appears to be purely descriptive of the fact that the beacon on the summit of the hill marks the highest point in the city and suburbs (Bulawayo City Suburb Names).
- Bellevue (Dumfries & Galloway, Highland, Orkney Islands and Perth & Kinross) also in England, Ireland and Wales, sometimes spelt Belle Vue. The origin of this universally popular place name is ultimately French - 'beautiful view'. The suburb takes its name from that of an early estate in the area (Bulawayo City Suburb Names).
- Belmont and Belmont East - there are several places in Scotland called Belmont (in the Scottish Borders, Shetland Islands and South Ayrshire). Since Belmont was an extremely popular choice of name in all English-speaking countries during the nineteenth century, it is also widely found in England, Ireland and Wales and other countries. Like Bellevue, its origin is French - 'beautiful mountain, or 'beautiful hill'. These suburbs were actually named after a former Bulawayo City Engineer, Mr. Kinmont (Bulawayo City Suburb Names). Kinmont is a Scottish family name from Fifeshire, which suggests a possible Scottish link. However, the fact that most of the streets in these suburbs bear English names may indicate that Mr Kinmont was English, particularly since there are places called Kinmont Beck and Kinmont Buck Barrow in the northern English county of Cumbria.
- Greenhill (Aberdeenshire, Argyll & Bute, Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, Falkirk, Highland, Moray, North Lanarkshire, Orkney Islands, Perth & Kinross, Stirling and South Lanarkshire) but also fairly widely found in England and to a lesser extent in Wales. Moreover, there are many places in both Scotland and England called Green Hill (the Scottish list includes places in Aberdeenshire, Angus, Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, Fife, Moray, North Ayrshire, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire) but Green Hill occurs even more commonly throughout England. It is nevertheless interesting to note that most of the streets in Greenhill have Scottish names.
- Hillside, Hillside East and Hillside South - Places called Hillside can be found in Aberdeenshire, Angus, City of Edinburgh, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife, Inverclyde, Moray, Orkney Islands, Perth & Kinross, Shetland Islands and South Lanarkshire, but are found just as commonly in England, sometimes spelled Hill Side, and also in Wales. Nearly all the streets in Hillside have names from all four constituent parts of the British Isles, Scottish examples being Bute, Caithness and Banff.
- Kingsdale (Fife and Orkney Islands) but it is also the name of a place in North Yorkshire, England.
- Montgomery - although Montgomery/Montgomerie is a Scottish surname (of Norman origin - the family crest is illustrated here), and is also the name of a town and former county in mid-Wales (again of Norman origin), the name of this suburb has no connection with either Scotland or Wales. Instead, it honours Field-Marshall Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (Bulawayo City Suburb Names).
- Northgate (Aberdeenshire) also in four English counties.
- Newton and Newton West - there are many places in Scotland called Newton, in Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll & Bute, Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife, Highland, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Midlothian, Moray, Orkney Islands, Perth & Kinross, Shetland Islands, Stirling, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian and Western Isles. There are also many other places such as Newton Mearns in East Renfrewshire, Newton of Ardtoe in Highland, Newton of Balcormo in Fife, etc. Newton is just as commonly found throughout England and, to a lesser extent, Wales. There are in fact very few counties in the whole of Great Britain which do not have at least one Newton. Surprisingly, the name is not used in Ireland. These suburbs appear to have been named for an estate in the area (Bulawayo City Suburb Names).
- Northlinn / North Lynne - there is a suburb of Aberdeen City spelt North Linn. It is not clear, however, whether the correct spelling of this Bulawayo suburb is Northlinn or North Lynne, which could make the name either Scottish or English.
- Queenspark, Queenspark East and Queenspark West - there is a Queen's Park in Glasgow (that's the view of Glasgow from Queen's Park seen here), but the name is found more commonly in England. Street names in Queenspark appear to be a mix of names from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, some Scottish examples being Cromarty, Sutherland and Shetland. According to the Bulawayo City Suburb Names website, these suburbs were named for royalty, three of its main roads honouring British queens: Victoria, Alexandra and Elizabeth.
- Riverside (Stirling) and Riverside North and Riverside South by association, but the descriptive name Riverside is also found in England and Wales. The names of these suburbs were apparently derived from that of an early estate in the area, which in turn had been named in relation to the Little Umguza River (Bulawayo City Suburb Names).
- Sunnyside (Aberdeenshire, City of Glasgow, Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, Fife, Perth & Kinross, North Ayrshire, Orkney Islands, Scottish Borders, South Lanarkshire) also in England but not as commonly as in Scotland which probably says something about the premium placed on sunshine in Scotland! There is no record of the reason for the name of this suburb, which was apparently chosen from a list of suggested names (Bulawayo City Suburb Names). Sunnyside was a very popular choice of name during the 19th and early 20th centuries and can be found in at least 30 cities around the world.
- Woodlands (Aberdeenshire, Argyll & Bute, Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife, Highland, Perth & Kinross and South Lanarkshire) also all over England and is found in Ireland and Wales as well. The street names in this suburb all end in 'wood', with one or two sounding quite Scottish, e.g., Glenwood and Humewood but these names were possibly manufactured to sound rustic. Like Sunnyside (see above), the name of this suburb was chosen from a list of suggested names (Bulawayo City Suburb Names). The name can be found in at least 20 cities around the world, mainly in England, South Africa and Canada.
Hardly any suburbs appear to have been renamed since Zimbabwe became independent in the 1980s. Place name changes in and around Bulawayo seem to have been restricted to street names in the city centre and one or two suburban main roads. A map of the Bulawayo CBD in 1974 shows several streets with Scottish names (Jameson, Fife, Abercorn and Wilson) only one of which (Fife Street) has not been renamed. Jameson Street, for instance, originally named for Edinburgh-born Sir Leander Starr Jameson ('Dr. Jim'), now honours Herbert Chitepo. Chitepo, who was assassinated in Lusaka in 1975, was the first African in the colony of Southern Rhodesia to qualify as a barrister and was the first Chairman of ZANU during Zimbabwe's armed struggle for majority African rule. It has proved to be difficult for the author of this article to obtain a detailed, up-to-date map of Greater Bulawayo showing the names and locations of its outer suburbs. Any assistance in this regard from Zimbabwean readers would be greatly appreciated. See e-mail address below.
- Road Atlas: Africa (1st Edition), 2000. (MapStudio, Cape Town).
- Bulawayo City Suburb Names
- Website on Neighbourhoods in Bulawayo for a list of many of the suburbs.
- Scarlett, James D. (1975). The Tartans of the Scottish Clans. (Collins, Glasgow and London).
- The House of Names Heraldic Website.
- Websites, placename gazetteers and published Ordnance Survey maps of British and Irish cities, towns, villages and counties.
© Ian Kendall
Melbourne, Australia, April 2006
(Revised October 2007)
If you wish to contact Ian about his research, his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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