Scottish Place Names
- Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
For comparability with other cities around the world, Hamilton has been defined as embracing most of the recently enlarged City of Hamilton, but excluding the predominantly rural areas in the west and far south of the municipality. The area included within this definition extends from Waterdown in the north and Copetown and Alberton in the west, to the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport and Woodburn in the south and Grimsby (a separate town) in the east. Of the names of the 188 communities and neighbourhoods that have been identified to date in Hamilton, 54 (28.7%) can be found in Scotland or are based on Scottish family names or Scottish words. Of course, some of the names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well but at least 33 of them (17.6%) are unique to Scotland or are readily identifiable with places in Scotland that are based on the same names. Hamilton itself is a Scottish place name as well as a family name.
Judging purely by its place names, Hamilton can justifiably claim to be one of the most 'Scottish' of all the Canadian cities, rivalling Winnipeg and Calgary in this regard. Hamilton's place names certainly illustrate the far-reaching effects of the Scottish diaspora, whether through direct immigration from Scotland or through migration from other parts of North America by people with Scots ancestry.
Picture of United Empire Loyalist Statue, Hamilton via Wikimedia.
Communities 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:
- Ainslie Wood, Ainsley Wood East, Ainsley Wood North and Ainsley Wood West - Ainslie is a Scottish surname, which apparently comes from Annesley in Nottinghamshire, central England. It is also a fairly common first name in Scotland.
- Balfour (Aberdeenshire, Angus, Fife and Orkney Islands). This neighbourhood was named after James Balfour (1854-1917), architect (Wikipedia article on Hamilton Neighbourhoods, retrieved in January 2009). James Balfour was born in Hamilton (Ontario) and studied architecture in Edinburgh. Balfour is a Scottish family name, derived from the barony in Fife, and was first recorded in 1304.
- Braeheid Survey - although there is no place in Scotland by this name, a braeheid (pronounced "bray-heed") is a Scots term meaning 'the area at the head or top of the hill', being derived from the Scots words 'heid o' the brae'.
- Buchanan (Buchanan Castle - pictured here - and Buchanan Smithy, both in Stirling). Buchanan is an ancient Scottish family name, dating back to the eleventh century. The origin of the name is Gaelic - Both-Chanain ('Canon's Seat'). This neighbourhood was named for Isaac Buchanan, businessman and politician (Wikipedia article on Hamilton Neighbourhoods, retrieved in January 2009). Isaac Buchanan (1810-1883) was born in Glasgow. His original estate, the Auchmar Estate, still stands at the corner of Fennell Avenue West and West 5th Street and has been declared a Hamilton Heritage site (Wikipedia article on Isaac Buchanan, retrieved in January 2009).
- Carluke (South Lanarkshire).
- Christie's Corners - there is a Christielands in Dumfries & Galloway and a Christie's Hole in the Shetland Islands. This Scottish family name is also found just over the border, for example, Christies Bog in Northumberland and Christie Wood in North Yorkshire.
- Copetown - there is a Copelaw Gair and Copeswood in Dumfries & Galloway, as well as several places in northern England where Cope is an element in the name. Cope is an English family name, first found in Leicestershire, and supposedly refers to a clerical cape or cloak, or the name may have an even earlier derivation from the Old Pictish word for a cooper, 'coupar'. However, the origin of the name of this semi-rural community in the west of the City of Hamilton has a definite connection with Scotland. The community was named for William Cope (1719-1813) who fled Scotland after the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 and settled in New York State. Several decades later the loyalist Cope family fled to Fort Niagara after the American War of Independence and eventually settled on land grants in the Wentworth County area, where Copetown is situated today. William Cope was most probably born in Scotland; his young bride Phoebe Ellsworth was definitely Scottish (information supplied by the Reverend Dr Allan F. Cope, a descendant of William Cope).
- Crerar - Although there are no places in Scotland with this name, Crerar is a Scottish surname derived from the occupation of miller's sifter or sievewright. Crerar is a small sept of Clan Mackintosh, at one time numerous in Strathspey and Loch Tayside. The name of this neighbourhood honours Henry Duncan Graham 'Harry' Crerar (1888-1965), a Canadian general in World War II (Wikipedia articles on Hamilton Neighbourhoods, and Harry Crerar, retrieved in January 2009).
- Duff's Corners - there is a Duff's Hill and Duff House in Aberdeenshire and Duff's Loch in Dumfries & Galloway. The Duffs are a sept of Clan MacDuff. According to the Wikipedia article on Hamilton Neighbourhoods retrieved in January 2009, this neighbourhood was named for an early landowner, Scots-born Lockhart Duff, (1793-1858).
- Dundas (Dundas Castle, Loch and Mains in the City of Edinburgh; also Port Dundas in Glasgow). Dundas Castle in Edinburgh is considered to be one of Scotland's most romantic wedding venues. This Hamilton community - formerly a Town in its own right until 2001 - was named in honour of a Scotsman, Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville and Baron Dunira, who was Secretary of State for the (British) Home Department in 1797. The graphic here is of Viscount Melville on top of a column (modelled after Trajan's in Rome) which is located in the centre of St Andrew Square in Edinburgh's New Town.
- Durand - Although not found as an element in place names in Scotland (or anywhere else in the British Isles), Durand is an ancient Scottish personal name dating back to the 12th century. The name is not commonly found today. This Hamilton neighbourhood was actually named for a prominent early businessman and politician, James Durand (1775-1833) who was born in Abergavenny, Wales, his father being a British army officer. The connection is therefore more properly a Welsh rather than a Scottish one though its ultimate origin is Scottish.
- Falkirk East and Falkirk West - Falkirk is a town in central Scotland and is the administrative seat of the unitary authority carved out of the former county of Stirlingshire in 1997. Callendar House in Falkirk (pictured here) is now a heritage museum.
- Gibson - although there do not appear to be any places in Scotland called Gibson, this is a Scottish family name from Galloway. As a place name, Gibson occurs quite commonly in northern England, e.g., Gibson Knott in Cumbria, Gibson's Cave in County Durham and Gibson's farm in Lancashire. The origin of the name of the Hamilton neighbourhood is definitely Scottish, however. The name is a tribute to a Hamiltonian, Sir John Morison Gibson, (1842-1929), who was Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1908 to 1914. Sir John Morison Gibson was the son of Scottish immigrants and was born in Toronto (Wikipedia articles on Hamilton Neighbourhoods and John Morison Gibson, retrieved January 2009).
- Gilkson - there is a Gilkerscleuch Mains in South Lanarkshire and Gilkhorn in Aberdeenshire. Gilkson may also be a corrupted form of Gilkerson or Gilkison, Scottish surnames derived from Gilchriston, the Anglicised form of Macgilchrist.
- Glenwood Heights - there is a Glenwood in Aberdeenshire. Glenwood is also a fairly common name for neighbourhoods in other Canadian and American cities.
- Gourley - there is a Gourlay's Burn in Stirling. While Black (1996), the authority on Scottish family names, says the name probably originates from a place in England, Gourley/Gourlay has been a surname in Scotland since the 12th century. Gourley is also used as a first name. One wonders whether the name of this neighbourhood honours Robert Gourlay, an associate of George Hamilton.
- Hamilton, Hamilton Beach and West Hamilton - Hamilton is an important town in Lanarkshire, in the Greater Glasgow area. These neighbourhoods are all named for George Hamilton (1788-1836), a businessman, militia officer and politician who laid out a township in 1815 after the war with the United States. Hamilton's father was born in Scotland. The name Hamilton has been associated with Scotland since the thirteenth century, having been taken there from either Leicestershire or Northumberland in England by Walter Fitz Gilbert (Sir Walter de Hameldone). According to the Penguin Dictionary of British Place Names (2003), Hamilton in Old English means 'farmstead in broken country'. Hamilton is one of the most frequently recurring Scottish place names around the English-speaking world. The illustration shows the mausoleum of the Hamilton family in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire.
- Highland Park - possibly recalling the Highlands of Scotland.
- Homeside - there are no places anywhere in the British Isles with this name. However, Home/Hume is a Scottish family name and several streets in this Hamilton neighbourhood have Scottish names, which raises the possibility that there may be a connection with Scotland.
- Inch Park - there are places called Inch in Aberdeenshire, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife and Highland, plus hundreds of other places across Scotland with Inch as an element in the name, for example, The Inch (City of Edinburgh), Inchinnan (Renfrewshire), Inchkinloch (Highland), Inchrory (Moray), Inchture (Perth & Kinross) and Whiteinch (Glasgow City). Towns and villages called Inch can also be found just across the border in Cumbria as well as in three Irish counties. The name is derived from the Celtic word for an island or a water meadow (Gaelic 'innis'; Irish 'inis'; Welsh 'ynys'; Cornish 'enys'). There is indeed a Scottish connection since the Hamilton neighbourhood was named after Adam Inch (1857-1933), dairy farmer and politician, who was born at Coulterhaugh, Scotland (Wikipedia articles on Hamilton Neighbourhoods and Adam Inch, retrieved January 2009).
- Lawfield (East Lothian, Fife and Midlothian; also Lawfield Dam and Farm in Renfrewshire).
- Leckie Park - there is a Leckie both in Highland and Stirling; also Leckie Burn (Stirling) and Leckiebank (Fife). The Hamilton neighbourhood was named after Campbell Leckie (1848-1925), railway engineer, who was born in Glasgow (Wikipedia articles on Hamilton Neighbourhoods and Campbell Leckie, retrieved January 2009).
- McQuesten - The name of this neighbourhood honours Dr Calvin McQuesten (1801-1885), owner of Whitehern and founder of McQuesten & Co iron foundry, the first such foundry in Hamilton. His great-grandfather, William, emigrated from Argyllshire, Scotland in 1730, settling in New England. The connection with Scotland is therefore fairly remote.
- Perth Park - presumably named for the historic city of Perth in central Scotland, the Scottish capital until 1437. The picture shows the river Tay and Tay Street in Perth.
- St Clair - in Scotland, this name is associated with the family name Sinclair. This surname was derived from St Clare in Normandy, northern France during the 13th century.
- Strathcona - named after Lord Strathcona (Donald Alexander Smith, born in Forres, Scotland, in 1820), a pioneer of the Hudson's Bay Company and the Canadian Pacific Railway.
- Tweedside - probably recalling the river Tweed, which originates near Craiginaid in southern Scotland and which forms the boundary with England for much of the last 10 miles of its course before reaching the North Sea at Berwick-upon-Tweed. There is a hotel called Tweedside at Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders. The illustration below is of the river Tweed at Peebles in the Scottish Borders.
As in other cities around the world, not all of the above place names are necessarily based directly on their namesakes in Scotland. The connection with Scotland may be more indirect in some instances, for example, honouring individuals whose ancestry may have been Scottish. This is clearly the case with place names in Hamilton, since most of them commemorate individuals whose family names are Scottish rather than actual places in Scotland.
Some of the following localities may also prove on further investigation to have a definite Scottish connection but these names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well:
- Allison - As a place name, Allison occurs only in England. As a family name, however, its origin is both English and Scottish (www.answers.com). According to Black (1996), the name is probably from "son of Ellis", though other sources suggest that it may have been derived from Alister or Alexander (Black prefers the first explanation). The earliest record of the name in Scotland is Patrick Alissone from Berwick who signed the Ragman Rolls in 1296. The Scottish Allisons now have their own family tartan.
- Barnstown - there are places called Barns in Aberdeenshire, the Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Falkirk and Perth & Kinross, as well as two places just over the border in Cumbria. In addition, there are many other places in Scotland with Barns as an element in the name (e.g., Barnside in the Scottish Borders and Barns Law, Barnslee and Barnsmuir in Fife) but this is also the case in England. Black (1996) makes no mention of Barn or Barns as a Scottish family name with the result that the Hamilton neighbourhood is more likely to have an English rather than a Scottish connection.
- Bonnington (Angus, Scottish Borders, City of Edinburgh, East Lothian and Perth & Kinross; also Bonnington Smiddy in Angus, Bonnington House and Mains in Edinburgh and Bonnington Linn and Mains in South Lanarkshire). However, there is also a Bonnington in the English county of Kent.
- Brock Gardens - Brock features in many Scottish place names, some examples being Brock Burn in East Renfrewshire, Brock Hill in Dumfries & Galloway and Brockholes in Aberdeenshire. Brock occurs even more commonly in English place names. The origin of the name of this Hamilton neighbourhood is neither Scottish nor English, however, since it honours Sir Isaac Brock (1769-1812), British Major-General and Canadian hero of the War of 1812 with the USA, who was born on Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
- Broughton East and Broughton West - there is a Broughton in the Scottish Borders, City of Edinburgh and Orkney Islands; also Broughton Skeog (Dumfries & Galloway) and Broughtonknowe (Scottish Borders) but Broughton is even more common throughout England and is also found in Wales.
- Gilbert - there is a Gilberts Rig in Dumfries & Galloway, Gilberts Bridge in Perth & Kinross and Gilbertfield in South Lanarkshire, though Gilbert occurs more commonly in English place names. Gilbert is also a Scottish family name - a sept of Clan Buchanan.
- Glenview (Argyll & Bute). However, there is also a luxury hotel in County Wicklow, Ireland called Glenview, and other references to this name are also likely to be found in Ireland.
- Greenford (Aberdeenshire and Angus) but more likely to refer to the suburb in Ealing, Greater London.
- Greenhill (Aberdeenshire, Argyll & Bute, Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, Falkirk, Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Perth & Kinross, Stirling and South Lanarkshire) but the name is used just as frequently in England and is also found in Wales.
- Greenside Acres - there are places called Greenside in the City of Edinburgh, East Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, Fife, Moray, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Shetland Islands but the name also occurs fairly frequently in England, sometimes spelt Green Side. On the other hand, the name of this neighbourhood may be purely descriptive of its proximity to the Hamilton Golf & Country Club, though three of its nine streets bear Scottish names (Cameron Drive, Douglas Road and Wilson Street West).
- Hill Park (Argyll & Bute; also Glasgow City and Moray, both spelt Hillpark) also in England.
- Hunter Estates - Hunter occurs in many place names throughout Scotland. The list includes Aberdeenshire (Hunter's Hill and Lodge), Angus (Hunter's Path and Hunters Hill), Argyll & Bute (Hunter's Quay), Scottish Borders (Hunter Hill and Huntershall), Dumfries & Galloway (Hunter House, Hunter's Gate, Hunterheck), East Ayrshire (Hunter's Meadow, Hunterston), North Ayrshire (Hunterston, Hunterston House, Hunterston Sands), Perth & Kinross (Hunterhall) and South Lanarkshire (Hunterlees). Hunter is found even more commonly throughout England but the surname Hunter is found frequently enough in Scotland for there to be a clan tartan (seen here).
- Huntington (Scottish Borders and East Lothian) also found all over England.
- Kennedy - there is a Kennedy's Cairn and Kennedy's Corner in Dumfries & Galloway and Kennedy's Pass in South Ayrshire, Galloway being the original territorial base of the Kennedy family. Kennedy is an ancient Scottish family name (that's their tartan illustrated here), though there are many Irishmen with this name as well. The origin of the name is Gaelic, 'ceannaideach' (ugly head).
- Lake Grayside - there are many places in both Scotland and England that feature the family name Gray. Gray is a surname from the English/Scottish borderlands and is considered to be both a Scottish and a Northumbrian name.
- Mount Hope - Hope is an element in numerous Scottish place names, for example Hopetoun House in West Lothian and Hopefield in East Lothian. Hope is also a noble Scottish family name, the family being descended from John de Hope who probably came to Scotland from France in the 16th century with Magdalen de Valois, the wife of King James V. However, Hope is also considered to be an English family name from Derbyshire and many place names in England have Hope as part of their name.
- Oakhill (Aberdeenshire) but more common in England and is also found on the Isle of Man.
- Red Hill (Aberdeenshire) also all over England.
- Rockcliffe Survey- there is a Rockcliffe in Dumfries & Galloway as well as in three English counties.
- Sandhill (Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and South Ayrshire) but also found in four English counties.
- Trinity (Angus and City of Edinburgh) also in Devon and the Channel Islands.
The strong Scottish influence on the development of this city is further attested by the names of several parks and other landmarks. Community parks with Scottish sounding names include Bobby Kerr Park (Berrisfield), Bruce Park (Centremount), Colquhoun Park (Westcliffe), Dr William Bethune Park (Ryckmans Corners), Dundurn Park (Strathcona), Glendale Park (Corman), Highland Gardens Park (Kirkendall), McLaren Park (Beasley), McQuesten Park (Rushdale), Montgomery Park (Bartonville), Patrick Burns Park (Parkview East), Sam Manson Park (Kentley), Scott Park (Stipeley), Strachan Street Park (North End), Watson Park (Stoney Creek) and William McCulloch Park (Gilbert). In addition, there are several other parks with Scottish names but these bear the names of the neighbourhoods in which they are situated and have thus already been mentioned (e.g., Inch Park, Perth Park). Other place names with a strong Scottish flavour include:
- Dundurn Castle (Dundurn in Perth & Kinross) - the stately residence of Sir Allan Napier McNab (Prime Minister of the United Province of Canada between 1845 and 1856) which was completed in 1835,
- McMaster University (1887) and McMaster Museum of Art (though this could also be Irish) and
- the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport - named after John Carr Munro, one of Hamilton's leading citizens.
The countryside to the immediate south and west of the suburban area also contains several towns and villages with Scottish names, including Kirkwall and Sinclairville (rural communities within the municipality of the City of Hamilton) and, of course, the town of Caledonia on the Grand River, about 25 kilometres (18 miles) south of downtown Hamilton. Well over ninety per cent of the streets in Caledonia have Scottish names, its main thoroughfares being Argyle Street, Caithness Street, Haddington Street, Stirling Street, and Wigton Street-McKenzie Road. The Edinburgh Square Heritage and Cultural Centre is located in the old Town Hall on the corner of Argyle and Caithness Streets. In addition, the City of Burlington, located a short distance to the north of downtown Hamilton on the far side of Hamilton Harbour, is often considered to be a suburb of Hamilton. Neighbourhoods in Burlington that have Scottish, or Scottish-sounding names include Glenwood Park, McDonald Court and Strathcona Gardens.
- Hamilton City Map, 2004 (MapArt Publishing, Oshawa).
- City of Hamilton official website.
- Wikipedia Article on Hamilton Neighbourhoods.
- Dictionary of Canadian Biography .
- Black, George F. (1996). The Surnames of Scotland. (Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh).
- Scarlett, James D. (1975). The Tartans of the Scottish Clans. (Collins, Glasgow and London).
- Room, Adrian (2003). The Penguin Dictionary of British Place Names. (Penguin Books, London).
- The House of Names heraldic website.
- Reverend Dr Allan F. Cope, Trinity Lutheran Church, San Antonio, Texas, for information on Copeland.
- Collins Gem Scots Dictionary (1995). (HarperCollins Publishers, Glasgow).
- Websites, place name gazetteers and published Ordnance Survey maps of British and Irish cities, towns, villages and counties.
© Ian Kendall
Melbourne, Australia, April 2005
Revised January, 2009.
If you wish to contact Ian about his research, his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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