Scottish Place Names
- East London, South Africa

Of the names of the 124 suburbs in the East London-Mdantsane-Gonubie area, 20 (16.1%) can be found in Scotland or are based on Scottish family names. Of course, some of the names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well, but at least 12 of them (9.7%) are unique to Scotland, or are readily identifiable with places in Scotland that are based on the same names.

There are 11 metropolitan areas in South Africa with a population of half a million or more. Of these, East London shares the distinction, along with Port Elizabeth, of having the highest proportion of suburban names with Scottish connections. The picture here of East London Town Hall is via Wikipedia.

Official suburbs and other localities with names that are definitely or most probably of Scottish origin are:

It is possible that some of the following suburbs and neighbourhoods may also have a direct or indirect Scottish connection, but these names are more commonly associated with other parts of the British Isles:

A final category of suburban names comprises places that can be found in Scotland, or that are based on Scottish family names but which, in East London's case, definitely or most probably have no connection with Scotland.

Streets and roads with Scottish names can be found throughout the city and suburbs, perhaps the most significant being Argyle Street in the Central Business District. This street was named in 1877 "to commemorate the recent arrival of a party of Scottish settlers. There is a street of similar name in Glasgow -- a variation on the spelling Argyll which is a county in Scotland." ( It may interest South African readers to learn that, as far as can be ascertained, East London is the only city in South Africa that has no suburbs with Afrikaans or Cape Dutch names. Founded by the British in 1847, in a part of South Africa that had never been colonised by the Dutch, East London proved to be a natural 'magnet' for British (including Scots) immigrants and traders. The city initially developed along lines very similar to cities in Australia and New Zealand that were established around the same time (e.g., Adelaide, Melbourne, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin) but on a smaller scale. The other sizeable group of pioneers in nineteenth century East London and its hinterland were the Germans. Acknowledgments:

© Ian Kendall
Melbourne, Australia, November 2004.
Revised December 2011.

If you wish to contact Ian about his research, his e-mail address is

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