Scottish Place Names
- Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Of the names of the 60 suburbs in the Townsville-Thuringoa area, 13 (21.7%) can be found in Scotland. Some of the names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well, but most of them (15.0%) 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.
There are 13 metropolitan areas in Australia with a population of 125,000 or more. Of these, Townsville appears to have the second highest proportion of suburban names with Scottish connections, slightly behind Canberra and a little ahead of Hobart and Melbourne. The role that Scotsmen played in establishing and developing this tropical city in northern Queensland is further attested by the names of several main roads, both in the city centre and in the suburbs. Examples include Angus Smith Drive, Dalrymple Road, Glendale Drive, Hamilton Street, Macarthur Drive, McIlwraith Street, Murray Street, Ross River Road, Stuart Drive and Sturt Street.
Official suburbs and other localities 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:
- Aitkenvale - there are places called Aitkenhead in Clackmannanshire, North Lanarkshire and South Ayrshire. Although there is also an Aitken Wood south of the border in Lancashire, Aitken is a Scottish surname, the family being associated with Clan Gordon. The Townsville suburb was named after Thomas Aitken, a nineteenth century property speculator.
- Annandale (Dumfries & Galloway).
- Black River - this suburb takes its name from the river which in turn was named for Edinburgh-born John Melton Black (1830-1919), co-founder of Townsville, together with Northumberland-born Robert Towns.
- Cluden (Dumfries & Galloway). This suburb derives its name from a property used by James Gordon (1822-1904), Townsville's Sub-Collector of Customs in the 1860s. The property was most likely named after Cluden Water, a stream near Gordon's birthplace in Dumfries.
- Douglas (South Lanarkshire). This Scottish surname also occurs as part of the name in numerous other places throughout Scotland and is found in England, Ireland and on the Isle of Man as well. The Townsville suburb honours Robert Johnstone Douglas (1883-1972), a Supreme Court Judge between 1923 and 1953, whose ancestry was Scottish (see Shaping Queensland - Legal Families: The Douglas, Lilley & Macrossan, families & their contribution to Law Politics & Society).
- Kelso (Scottish Borders). The suburb was named after a pioneer settler, whose surname only has been recorded.
- Murray - Murray is one of the best known Scottish family names, derived from the name of the area (Moray) in which the Pictish founder of the clan was granted land. Examples of places in Scotland based on this name include Murray's Hill (Perth & Kinross), Murrayfield (Edinburgh), Murraythwaite (Dumfries & Galloway) and many others. The name has also travelled to England, e.g. Murray's Rock in Devon and is claimed as an Irish name as well. According to the Queensland Government Place Names website, the suburb was "named after Lieutenant Colonel Henry William Murray VC, CMG, DSO and Bar, DCM & Croix de Guerre (1880-1966) soldier and grazier, prominent World War I figure and CO 26th Battalion, Australian Military Forces 1939-42".
- Roseneath (Argyll & Bute, spelt Rosneath). The illustration shows Loch Long from Rosneath Peninsula.
- Stuart - a Scottish family name; there is a Stuartfield in Aberdeenshire based on this name. The name of the Townsville suburb was derived from the railway station name, originally Ayr Junction (1902) then Stewarts Creek (1938) and finally Stuart (1939). According to the Queensland Government Place Names website, Stewarts Creek "was most probably a mistaken spelling of the name of Clarendon Stuart (1833-1912) first District Surveyor (1865)."
Other suburbs with names that can be found in Scotland but that are not unique to Scotland are:
- Castle Hill (Aberdeenshire, Angus, Dumfries & Galloway, Highland, Moray, North Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire) also all over England and Wales.
- North Ward - although there is a hill in the Shetland Islands called North Ward Hill, the name of this Townsville suburb has no connection with Scotland since it was derived from the city's original subdivision into civic wards.
- Rosslea - although there is a place in County Fermanagh, Ireland by this name, there is a possibility that this Townsville suburb may have a Scottish connection, depending on whether or not William Alfred Ross, Townsville's first publican, had Scottish (as opposed to English or Irish) ancestry. The name of the suburb was coined from Ross's name together with the Old English word 'lea' (grass meadow).
- West End (South Lanarkshire) also in England, and Wales. There is no apparent relationship between Scotland and the name of this suburb, especially since the suburb is situated to the immediate west of the CBD, the name therefore being purely descriptive on the suburb's geographical location.
- Scarlett, James D. (1975). The Tartans of the Scottish Clans. (Collins, Glasgow and London).
- The State of Queensland (Department of Natural Resources and Mines) Official Website.
- Townsville and Region, 2002 (Brisbane, HEMA Maps Pty Ltd).
- Websites, place name gazetteers and published Ordnance Survey maps of British and Irish cities, towns, villages and counties.
© Ian Kendall
Melbourne, Australia, August 2005
If you wish to contact Ian about his research, his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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