Scottish Place Names
- Wellington, New Zealand
For comparability with other cities around the world, Greater Wellington has been defined as the entire urban area embracing the cities of Wellington, Hutt, Upper Hutt and Porirua. Of the names of the 175 suburbs in the Greater Wellington area that have been identified to date, 39 (22.3%) 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 21 of them (12.0%) appear to be unique to Scotland or are readily identifiable with places in Scotland that are based on the same names.
Picture of Wellington via Wikipedia.
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:
- Clouston Park - Clouston is a village west of Finstown on Mainland, Orkney Islands. Clouston is also a Scottish family name first found in the Orkney Islands.
- Elderslea -a suburb of Glasgow in Renfrewshire is called Elderslie, derived from Old English for 'elder tree clearing'. Elder is a Scottish family name first recorded in the Edinburgh area. The Elder family is a sept of Clan Mackintosh. No explanation has been found for the name of this neighbourhood in Upper Hutt.
- Glendale (Highland). The name simply means 'valley'. The unusual feature of this name is that it is a tautology - 'valley' features twice, first in Gaelic (gleann) then in Norse (dalr).
- Glenside (Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and Stirling). Dymock (1994, p. 39) states that this neighbourhood was so named "because the land resembled a Scottish glen."
- Gracefield (Dumfries & Galloway and Perth & Kinross).
- Highland Park - possibly recalling the Highlands of Scotland.
- Homedale - Home/Hume is a Scottish family name from Berwickshire, going back to the 12th century. It is possible, though, that this could simply be a made-up name.
- Kelburn (North Ayrshire). That's Kelburn Castle, home of the Earl of Glasgow, in the illustration here. An article in Wikipedia provides the following explanation of the origin of the name: "It is widely believed that the suburb was named after David Boyle, Lord Kelburne, Governor-General of New Zealand between 1892-1897. At some point in time the 'e' was dropped due to the confusion with the suburb of Kilbirnie, leaving the modern suburb name as 'Kelburn'." Lord Kelburne was the 7th Earl of Glasgow. It is perhaps significant, therefore, that part of the main road through Kelburn is called Glasgow Street. In an article on Wellington Places (Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand) a slightly different explanation is given: "Kelburn is built on the former 'Upland Farm' and is named after Viscount Kelburn, the son of a former governor, Lord Glasgow." In either case the origin of the name of the suburb is ultimately attributable to the village of Kelburn on the coast of North Ayrshire immediately south of Largs.
- Kilbirnie - Like Kelburn (see above), this suburb was named for a town in North Ayrshire. In Scotland the two towns are situated about 10 kilometres (6 miles) apart. The two Wellington suburbs are about 5 kilometres (3 miles) apart, with Kilbirnie lying to the south east and Kelburn to the north west of Wellington's central business district. The article on Wellington Places in the Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand gives the following account: "Named after a Scottish town by the farmer James Coutts Crawford, Kilbirnie fills the middle section of the ridge that runs from Roseneath to the south coast. Kilbirnie remained part of Crawford's extensive estate until the 1870s when it was sold for housing."
- Lyall Bay - Lyall is a Scottish family name, a sept of the Sinclairs. Black (1996), the authority on Scottish family names, cites Lyal, Lyall, Lyell from the Old English 'Liulf' and states that Scottish records of the name go back to 1329. The Wellington suburb was indeed named for a Scotsman, Dr. David Lyall (Dymock, 1994, p. 67). David Lyall (1817-1895), Royal Navy medical officer and naturalist, was born in Kincardineshire. He was selected as Surgeon and Naturalist to accompany Captain Stokes aboard the HMS Acheron during the 1848-51 survey of the coast of New Zealand (Hooker, 1895).
- Melrose (Scottish Borders). This Scottish name has proved to be universally popular (it can be found in at least 23 cities around the world), probably because of its associations with Sir Walter Scott whose residence, Abbotsford, is near Melrose in Scotland. The picture here is of Melrose Abbey.
- Mount Cook - Cook is a Scottish as well as an English name. The Scottish Cooks are a sept of the Stewarts; their ancestral lands were on the Isle of Bute. The suburb was named after Captain James Cook, the famous circumnavigator. Captain Cook was born at Marton (now a suburb of Middlesbrough), North Yorkshire, but his father was a day labourer from Ednam, near Kelso in the Scottish Borders. Although Captain Cook was an Englishman, his surname was Scottish through his father, which results in an indirectly Scottish origin of the name of the suburb. Richard Hough (1995), in his biography of Captain Cook, quotes a Victorian biographer as stating: "If we were to have chosen an ancestry which in those days would have given a boy the best chance of success, it would have been difficult to choose a better stock on both sides - on the one hand the Scotch patience, intelligence, and industry, and on the other hand the Yorkshire independence and self-reliance." (Hough, pp. 3-4).
- Roseneath - Rosneath in Argyll & Bute can also be spelled Roseneath. There is also a street, a terrace and a place in Edinburgh's Marchmont district called Roseneath. No information has been found on the origin of the name of the Wellington suburb, which was subdivided in 1886. A Scottish origin nevertheless seems highly plausible.
- Seatoun and Seatoun Heights - there is a place in Angus called Seatoun. Wellington's premier seaside suburb was developed by James Coutts Crawford in 1879, and was named for property owned by the Crawford family in the former Scottish county of Forfarshire (now part of Angus). James Crawford was also responsible for naming the neighbouring suburb of Miramar (Spanish or Portuguese for 'behold the sea') and the suburb of Kilbirnie (see above) a little to the west.
- Strathaven (South Lanarkshire).
- Strathmore and Strathmore Park - there are places in Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll & Bute, Highland and Perth & Kinross called Strathmore, which means 'great valley' in Gaelic. Strathmore is also a noble Scottish title. Glamis Castle (seen here) is the home of the Earl of Strathmore - the 14th Earl was the father of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who married the future King George VI and later became Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The Wellington suburbs definitely appear to have been named for the Earl of Strathmore, or his daughter. This is evident from the names of many of the streets in Strathmore and Strathmore Park that bear the names of estates and titles associated with the Earl (Bowes Crescent, Glamis Avenue, Kinghorne Street, Lyons Crescent, Sidlaw Street, Strathmore Avenue and Tannadyce Street have definite associations).
- Taitville - Tait is a Scottish and English family name from the Scottish Borders. Tait was originally a Saxon nickname, as well as a Norse proper name meaning 'glad' or 'cheerful'. The Wellington suburb was apparently named after Mr Robert Tait, property owner who named some of the streets after characters appearing in the works of Sir Walter Scott (Wellington Suburbia - www.angelfire.com). It is not known whether Robert Tait was actually Scottish.
- Wallaceville - there is a Wallacetown in South Ayrshire and a Wallacehall in Dumfries & Galloway based on the Scottish surname of Wallace. One of Scotland's most famous Wallaces is Sir William Wallace, the thirteenth century patriot who championed Scotland's independence when this was under threat by King Edward I of England's expansionist policy. Wallace means 'Welshman', a Saxon term for 'foreigner' that was applied by the Saxons to the descendants of the Celtic-speaking Ancient Britons in Wales, Cornwall, Cumbria and Strathclyde.
- Westhaven (Aberdeenshire and Angus, both spelt West Haven).
Some of the following localities may also prove on further investigation to have a link with Scotland. However, these names are also associated with other parts of the British Isles and one in particular may have a Maori origin:
- Broadmeadows (Dumfries & Galloway and three places in Scottish Borders) also in northern and central England. It is interesting to note that most of the streets in this suburb reflect the theme for street names in neighbouring Khandallah and Rangoon Heights, i.e., names associated with British India. This street naming theme also extends to suburbs further south (Cashmere, Te Kainga and parts of Ngaio).
- Fairfield (Clackmannanshire, Shetland Islands and Stirling) but is even more commonly found throughout England and is also found in Ireland.
- Greenacres (Scottish Borders) but far more common in England.
- Moa Point - there is a Moa and Moa Ness in the Orkney Islands, the only occurrence of the name in the British Isles. It is far more likely, however, that the name refers to the moa, the Maori word for the dinornis, an extinct New Zealand flightless bird similar in size to the ostrich.
- Wadestown (Wade Bridge in Highland and Wades Bridge and The Wade Stone in Perth & Kinross) but Wade is found more frequently in English place names. Wade's Bridge in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, is seen here. This suburb was actually named for John Wade, an auctioneer in Wellington's early history (Dymock, 1994, p. 143). Further information on the origins of the name is provided in the website for Wadestown: "The development of Wadestown began in 1840 when two speculators, John Wade and James Watt, bought up land to develop into some forty country sections. Harbour Section 1, which later became Wadestown was part of Wade's vision. His vision was a settlement for workers." (Wadestown History Web site). Since Wade is an English surname, a connection with Scotland seems unlikely. Wade's partner Watt, on the other hand, has a Scottish name. Streets recalling both pioneers can be found in the modern suburb.
- Wilton (Scottish Borders; also Wilton Burn and Wiltonburn Hill in the same area) but Wilton is far more commonly used throughout England. This suburb bears the surname of an 1850s landowner and blacksmith (Dymock, 1994, p. 157). The entry on Wilton in the Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand provides some further information on the source of the name: "Situated in an area Maori called Otari, it is named after Job Wilton, who farmed Otari in the 19th century." Most of the streets in this suburb are named for counties in England, Scotland and Wales, the sole Scottish representative being Lanark Way.
A final category of suburban names comprises places that can be found in Scotland but which, in Wellington's case, definitely or most probably have no connection with Scotland.
- Belmont (Scottish Borders, Shetland Islands and South Ayrshire) also found in England, Ireland and Wales and was an extremely popular choice of name in all English-speaking countries during the nineteenth century. Its origin is ultimately French - 'beautiful mountain'. In the Wikipedia article on Belmont it is stated that the name was given to this Hutt City suburb "on account of a hill (456m) in the shape of a bell overlooking the area." If this explanation is indeed correct then it is highly unlikely that the name has any connection with Scotland.
- Kingston (Angus, City of Glasgow, East Lothian, Moray and Renfrewshire) also all over southern England and in Ireland and Wales. Since all the streets in this suburb have Canadian names, it is a reasonable assumption that the suburb's name refers to Kingston, Ontario. The graphic here is of the Kingston Bridge in Glasgow, Scotland.
- Lambton (Highland) also Lambton in Sunderland, northern England. According to the Wikipedia article on Lambton Quay, this central Wellington suburb was named after John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, the first chairman of directors of the New Zealand Company. The connection is therefore English and not Scottish.
- Mana (there is a Mana Berg in the Shetland Islands) also Mana Butts in Devon. The name is neither Scottish nor English, however. According to Dymock (1994, p. 70), the name has a Maori origin: "From nearby Mana Island, shortened from Te Mana-o-Kupe-ki-Aotearoa, 'The ability of Kupe to find New Zealand'."
- Mitchelltown – although there are many places in Scotland with Mitchell as part of their name (Mitchell Hall in East Lothian, a Mitchell Hill in Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders, Mitchellhill in Aberdeenshire and Mitchellslacks in Dumfries & Galloway) and the Scottish Mitchells are sufficiently numerous for there to be a family tartan (seen here), the Wellington suburb has no connection with Scotland. Mitchelltown was founded by Henry Mitchell, who constructed small cottages for workers (mainly watersiders and casual labourers) in the 1870s (Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Wellington Places). Henry Mitchell came with his family from Halifax in Yorkshire. Together with his brother William, and another brother, Henry made a lot of money as land developers while William Mitchell started the Royal Tiger Tavern (information received on 8 February 2009 from Geoffrey P. Scaramelli, a descendant of William Mitchell). The connection is therefore English rather than Scottish.
- Rona Bay - there are places called Rona in the Western Isles and The Rona in the Shetland Islands. The following explanation given in the Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand suggests an Italian origin of the name: "This bay was originally known as Brown's Bay. In 1892 it was renamed Russo Bay after Italian immigrants Bartolo and Italia Russo settled there. They started several enterprises, including fishing, horticulture and a hotel. Relatives from their home of Stromboli (an island near Sicily) also migrated, and the bay became a thriving fishing village. Rona was the name of Russo's boat." It does not necessarily follow that Rona is an Italian name, but this seems quite probable.
- Newtown (Aberdeenshire, Argyll & Bute, Falkirk, Highland and Shetland Islands) though far more common in England, and is also found in Ireland, Wales and the Isle of Man. The name of this suburb appears to be purely descriptive. According to the web page on Newtown in the Wellington City Libraries website, the suburb was named by a Mr Moodie "who built a hotel here when the area was still considered to be on the outskirts of the city, and said he hoped a 'new town' would grow up around it."
- Trentham (Highland) also Trentham in Staffordshire, England, which is better known and thus a more likely source of the name. "In 1841 John Barton purchased a large area beside the Hutt River. He named it Trentham after his childhood home in England." (Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Wellington Places).
- Waterloo (Aberdeenshire, Highland, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross and Shetland Islands) also fifteen places in England, Ireland and Wales. The name commemorates the defeat of Napoleon by the Duke of Wellington in 1815 in the famous battle near the Belgian village of Waterloo (Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Wellington Places) - see also Wellington below. Most of the streets in this suburb are named for battle sites and military commanders, a Scottish representative being Haig Street, named presumably for Edinburgh-born General Douglas Haig (1861-1928), Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in France between 1915 and 1918.
- Wellington (Aberdeenshire; also Wellington House in Midlothian) though far more commonly found in England. New Zealand's capital city was named, of course, for the British military hero and Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, of Battle of Waterloo fame - that's his statue in Glasgow (see also Waterloo above). The Duke gave his support to the New Zealand Company (of which Sir William Hutt was a founder member) which had been set up to promote the colonisation of New Zealand. The city was founded in 1840.
Further evidence of significant Scottish influence on the development of New Zealand's capital city can be found in the names of streets and roads, parks and reserves, mountains and coastal features throughout the metropolitan area. Well-known streets and roads include Blair Street (Te Aro), Coutts Street (Kilbirnie), Crawford Road (Kilbirnie), Eskdale Road (Papakowhai), Fergusson Drive (Upper Hutt), Glasgow Street (Kelburn), Glenmore Street (Northland), Grant Road (Thorndon), Ironside Road (Johnsonville), Lauderdale Road (Papakowhai/Paremata), Lorne Street (Te Aro), MacDonald Crescent (Te Aro), McLeod Street (Upper Hutt), Nairn Street (Te Aro/Brooklyn), Paterson Street (Mount Victoria), Pirie Street (Mount Victoria), Roxburgh Street (Mount Victoria), Stewart Drive (Paparangi), Tweed Road (Papakowhai) and Wallace Street (Mount Cook). Many other minor roads, streets, groves and lanes, both in the city centre and the suburbs, also bear Scottish names. The suburb of Papakowhai in Porirua has a particularly large concentration of Scottish street names, numbering nearly 30 in total.
Parks and Reserves include the following:
- Wellington City: Anderson Park (Thorndon), Ben Burn Park (Karori), Cummings Park (Ngaio), Dorrie Leslie Park (Houghton Bay), Duncan Park (Lindenvale), E. Wilson Park (Johnsonville), Elliott Park (Brooklyn), Ian Galloway Park (Northland/Karori), J. Walker Park (Johnsonville), Kelburn Park (Kelburn), Kilbirnie Park (Kilbirnie), MacAlister Park (Newtown), Martin Luckie Park (Berhampore), Melrose Park (Melrose), Nairn Street Park (Brooklyn/Mount Cook), Seatoun Park (Seatoun) and Sinclair Park (Houghton Bay).
- Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt: Bell Park (Gracefield), Doris Nicholson Park (Maoribank), Duncraig Park (Silverstream), Dunns Park (Silverstream), Francis Bell Reserve (Lowry Bay), Frank Cameron Park (Korokoro), Fraser Park (Taita/Avalon), Hugh Sinclair Park (Wainuiomata), McEwan Park (Ava), McLeod Park (Elderslea) and Mitchell Park (Boulcott).
- Porirua: Airlie Road Reserve (Karehana Bay) and Stuart Park (Titahi Bay).
Examples of other geographic features with Scottish-sounding names are Johnstons Hill, Mount Cameron, Mount Crawford, McKerrow, Point Gordon and Sinclair Head.
New Zealand was of course a major destination for Scottish settlers, resulting in many Scottish place names in most of its cities and surrounding countryside. Wellington is no exception in this regard. For an account of the contribution of Scottish settlers to New Zealand society see the article in the Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
- Black, George F. (1996). The Surnames of Scotland (Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh).
- Dymock, Gil (compiler) (1994). AA Concise Dictionary of New Zealand Place Names (Moa Beckett Publishers Ltd, Auckland).
- Hooker, J.D. (1895). Obituary of David Lyall. Journal of Botany, 33, pp. 209-211, reprinted in Botanical Electronic News, No. 129, March 11 1996) - see Botanical Electronic News for an account of David Lyall's career.
- Hough, Richard (1995). Captain James Cook: A Biography (Hodder and Stoughton, London).
- Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Wellington Places.
- Wellington and Region Handy Map, 2002 (Hema Maps).
- Wellington City, Hutt City and Porirua City official websites.
- Wellington City Libraries website.
- Wellington & Surrounds Street Directory, 2005 (Gregory's, Universal Publishers Pty Ltd, Macquarie Park, NSW, Australia).
- Websites, place name gazetteers and published Ordnance Survey maps of British and Irish cities, towns, villages and counties.
© Ian Kendall
Melbourne, Australia, October 2004
Revised March 2008
If you wish to contact Ian about his research, his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
News & Views>
All Features Index>
Search This Site>
Scottish Pictorial Calendar>
Places to Visit>