Scottish Place Names
- Wilmington, Delaware, USA

For comparability with other cities around the world, Greater Wilmington has been defined as the entire urban area extending from the Pennsylvania state line in the north to the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal in the south, and taking in the Elkton area in neighbouring Maryland. Of the names of the 714 communities and neighbourhoods in the Wilmington-Newark-Glasgow-Elkton metropolitan area that have been identified to date, 126 (17.7%) are based, in whole or in part, on place names that can be found in Scotland, on Scottish family names, or on Scottish words. Of course, many of the names are associated with other parts of the British Isles as well but at least 50 (7.0%) of these appear to have an exclusive link with Scotland.

Communities, neighbourhoods, districts and outlying suburbs 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:

Some of the following localities may also prove on further investigation to have a link with Scotland. However, most of these names are also associated with other parts of the British Isles while one or two are associated with places on the European continent:

A third category of local names comprises places that definitely exist in Scotland, but there is nothing obviously "Scottish" about them. In these instances, the likelihood that the Greater Wilmington counterpart was named for Scotland is greatly reduced because these names are far more commonly associated with other parts of the British Isles. Many of the names of these localities are probably purely descriptive - coined to appeal to home buyers - and several may simply have been borrowed from other places in America.

Dunlinden Acres and Robscott Manor also have a Scottish ring to them but no such places exist anywhere in the British Isles. Dunlinden is probably a made-up name, using the Gaelic term for a 'fortress or 'hill fort' (or the Old English term for a 'hill') together with an Old English word for 'lime trees'. Robscott could simply be based on the name of someone called Robert Scott. Scott is of course a Scottish family name, though the inclusion of 'Manor' in this neighbourhood's name gives Robscott Manor a decidedly 'English air'.

It is not surprising to find several Scottish place names in this part of the USA. A large number of 'Scots-Irish' (i.e., ethnic Scots from the Irish province of Ulster) settled in Delaware and adjacent parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland during the 1720s, many of whom later moved south and west into what was then Indian territory, earning themselves the reputation of being tough pioneers. According to the authors of the best seller "The Story of English", it has been calculated that by 1776 (the year of American Independence) one in seven colonists was Scots-Irish. In Philadelphia, the proportion was said to be even higher - around one in three.


© Ian Kendall
Melbourne, Australia, October 2005
Revised August 2008

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

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