Scottish Place Names Around the World
- Fife to Oban

George Square, Glasgow

George Square, Glasgow.

Follow the links at the end of the page to go to the pages covering Aberdeen to Elgin and Orkney - Stirling.

For Scottish-related names found as suburbs in a number of locations around the world, see the Index Page.

The "Kingdom of Fife" was never really a "kingdom" although the ancient capital of Scotland was once in Dunfermline.
There is a "Fife" in USA (Georgia, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington). The Fife in Texas has a population of 24!

Glasgow is Scotland's largest city and was at one time described as "the second city of the Empire". There is a Glasgow also in Guiana, Jamaica and USA (Alabama (2), California, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, Ohio (2), Oregon, Pennsylvania (2), Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia,). And there is a New Glasgow in Canada (Nova Scotia).

Glencoe in north Argyllshire is a wild, bleak place but it will forever be remembered as the location of the massacre in February 1692 when, acting on government orders - "You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the MacDonalds of Glencoe and put all to the sword under seventy..." a regiment of soldiers killed 38 MacDonalds after being billeted amongst them for a few days.
There is a Glencoe in Canada (Nova Scotia, Ontario and New Brunswick), Australia (New South Wales), South Africa (right next door to Dundee in KwaZulu/Natal) and USA (Illinois, Oklahoma, Minnesota).

Gretna Green is just over the border from England and became famous (notorious?) as a place for young romantics to get married. Not because it is particularly attractive but because Scots law allowed couples to get married, without parental consent, at a younger age than in England. A tradition of being married by the local blacksmith stemmed from a Joseph Paisley who carried out such ceremonies from 1791-1814.
There is a Gretna in Louisiana (so named because an early justice of the peace carried out marriages 24 hours a day without the need for a legal certificate) and Nebraska, USA (off Interstate 80, southwest of Omaha). The Gretrna in Manitoba, Canada was so named by the Canadian Pacific Railroad because it was just over the border from USA. There is also a Gretna in Tasmania.

Hamilton is the county town (seat of local government) in Lanarkshire, south of Glasgow. At one time it was called "Cadzow" and the local castle still has that name. James II authorised the name change in favour of the first Lord Hamilton.
There is a Hamilton in Australia (New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria), Bermuda (the capital), Canada (Ontario), New Zealand (North Island), Sierra Leone and USA (Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, North Virginia, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington). There is also a Hamilton Hill in Western Australia and in the South African city of Bloemfontein there is a large industrial township of Hamilton.

Houston in Texas shares its name with a town in Renfrewshire, Scotland. However, the Texas version got its name from General Sam Houston who fought for the independence of Texas from Mexico. There are other Houstons in Canada (British Columbia) and USA (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware (2), Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi (2), Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee).

The Royal Burgh of Inverness is regarded as the capital of the Highlands. Inverness also occurs in Canada (Cape Breton Island and Quebec) and USA (Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Montana). There is also an Inverness in California - just north of San Francisco in Marin County and also in Australia (Queensland).

Situated at a ford at the confluence of the rivers Tweed and Teviot in the Scottish Borders, Kelso has had a turbulent history. It was frequently burnt to the ground but its medieval abbey still survives as a ruin. In 1460 James III was crowned at Kelso Abbey after his father had died at the siege of Roxburgh. It is now a pretty market town, with an elegant cobbled square in its centre.

There is also a Kelso in Australia (Tasmania and New South Wales and a suburb of Townsville in Queensland), Canada (Ontario and Saskatchewan), New Zealand (South Island, 50 miles from Dunedin) and USA (Arizona, California, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Washington). There is also a Kelso and a Kelso Beach on the south coast of KwaZulu/Natal fairly close to Scottburgh.

The royal burgh of Lanark (population less than 9,000) was once the county town of Lanarkshire (a role now taken over by Hamilton). Lanark Lannimer Day - the inspection of the town's boundaries - and boisterous "Whuppity Scourie" are still celebrated. Lanark is also found in Australia (Western), Canada (Manitoba, Ontario) and USA (Florida, Illinois, West Virginia).

Leith, on the shores of the Firth of Forth, is the port for Edinburgh. The name can also be found in Canada (Ontario), Australia (Tasmania), USA (Alabama, Arkansas, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and South Georgia). There is also a Leith Valley in New Zealand. One of the suburbs of Dunedin, New Zealand is called Glenleith.

Unlike many of the neighbouring towns in Fife, Leslie was not involved in coal mining and its inhabitants concentrated on flax and bleaching instead. Notable buildings include Strathendry Castle, where the young Adam Smith was at one stage briefly kidnapped by gypsies.
There is a Leslie also in Australia (Queensland), South Africa (Mpumalanga) and USA (Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin) although in some cases the name may have been derived from the first name "Leslie". One of Ottawa's suburbs is called Leslie Park.

Lothian / Midlothian
Sometimes referred to as "The Lothians", Midlothian, East Lothian and West Lothian are administrative regions around Edinburgh. The name comes from a legendary British King Loth or Lot. The name of Lothian is said to derive from the Brythonic Celtic name "Lleuddiniawn" (in modernised spelling). In the 7th century, Lothian came under the control of the northern part of the Angle Kingdom of Northumbria but their grip on Lothian was weakened following the battle of Nechtansmere in which they were defeated by the Picts. In 1018 AD Lothian was annexed by the Kingdom of Scotland. There is a Lothian in Maryland and a Midlothian in Virginia (south-west of Richmond) and in Texas and Illinois USA.

The Border town of Melrose had a monastery in the 7th century, founded by St Aiden but by the 12th century it was derelict. King David I encouraged Cistercian monks to go there and they founded Melrose Abbey in 1136. However, being in the Borders, it was destroyed in the 1385 by Richard II from England. It was rebuilt but destroyed again in 1545.
Other places named Melrose around the world are at Australia (South and Western), Canada (Nova Scotia), USA (Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Wisconsin) and a Melrose Park in Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. There is a Melrose Place in Los Angeles and there is (was?) a "Melrose Place" on American TV! Not a bit like Melrose, New Mexico where the US Air Force has a bombing range! And a suburb of Wellington, New Zealand is also named Melrose while Melrose forms part of a number of suburban names such as Melrose Arch, Estate and North, all in Johannesburg, Melrose Park (Adelaide and Sydney in Australia and Chicago and Houston in the States) and Melrose Highlands (Boston).

Montrose in Angus has an exceptionally wide main street with many 18th and 19th century buildings. James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose may have been born here or in Old Montrose, away from the tidal basin beside the present town. Montrose's name is not derived from either a "mont" (hill) or a rose but from the gaelic description of " a moor on a peninsula".
There is a Montrose also in Australia (Queensland and Victoria), South Africa (Orange Free State) and USA (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia). There are also the picturesque Montrose Falls in Mpumalanga province, South Africa west of Nelspruit.

Now the main town of Argyll, Oban was a village with a population of only 1700 by the middle of the 19th century. But the advent of the railways and steamships turned Oban into the "Charing Cross of the Highlands". The tourist trade is still important but it is also the main port to the Hebrides. The skyline above the town is dominated by a building looking like a replica of the Colosseum in Rome. Built by a local banker, John Stuart McCaig, to help alleviate local unemployment, it is now known as "McCaig's Folly". It was never completed.
There is an Oban in Australia (New South Wales), Canada (Saskatchewan), New Zealand (Stewart Island) and USA (California). There is also an Oban in Nigeria, Chad, Congo, Cameroon, South Africa (one of a string of towns in Mpumalanga that all bear Scottish names, the others being Leslie, Kinross and Leven, all within 25 kilometres (15 miles) of one another) and even in Japan. But some of these are no doubt based on local languages - any connection with Oban, Scotland is unlikely!

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