The Top 10: places with more famous places named after them

From Auckland to York, the places that are (sometimes only slightly) less well known than the places to which they have given their name

John Rentoul
Saturday 11 August 2018 10:32
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New York was named after the Duke of York
New York was named after the Duke of York

This list was suggested by Beth Desmond, who mentioned the first three.

1. York. New York was named after the Duke of York, later James II and VII, but his duchy was named after the northern English city. Toronto was also named York from 1793 to 1834, after a different Duke of York, pointed out David Herdson.

2. Falkland, Fife. The strait between the islands in the South Atlantic was named in honour of Viscount Falkland, the treasurer of the Navy, when the British arrived in 1690. The name was later applied to the islands on either side.

3. Richmond, Yorkshire. A double entry: the town in North Yorkshire later represented in parliament by Leon Brittan and William Hague was there before Richmond, Surrey (now Greater London), which is more famous and was named by Henry VII in honour of his earldom of the original Richmond. Even more famous is Richmond, Virginia, named after Richmond, Surrey. Thanks to Jonathan Isaby.

4. Calgary, Isle of Mull, and the fourth largest city in Canada. Originally named Fort Brisebois, it was renamed Fort Calgary in 1876 by Colonel James Macleod, who emigrated in childhood from Scotland. Nominated by Peter A Russell.

5. Boston, Lincolnshire, and its counterpart in Massachusetts. Several prominent colonists came from the original, apparently. Nominated by Jonathan Isaby and many others.

6. Melbourne, from Derbyshire to Australia via British prime minister Lord Melbourne. Thanks to Geoffrey Mamdani.

7. Perth, Scotland, and Perth, Australia, the most remote city of its size (two million) in the world. So named in 1829 because Sir George Murray, secretary of state for war and the colonies, was MP for Perthshire. Nominated by James Farrar, Simon Alvey and Murray McCann.

8. Baltimore, County Longford, Ireland. The city in Maryland with the cheap Washington airport is named after Lord Baltimore, a 17th century Irish peer. It is an anglicisation of the Irish name Baile an Tí Mhóir, meaning “town of the big house”. The Baltimore in County Longford has ceased to exist, but there is confusingly another town of the same name in County Cork. Thanks to Ian Hardy.

9. Gotham, Nottinghamshire. And Gotham City, via Irving Washington and DC Comics. Several nominations, including from Andrew R. Well, I didn’t exclude fictional famous places.

10. West Auckland, County Durham (village west of Bishop Auckland). William Hobson, the governor of New Zealand (named after Zeeland in the Netherlands by Abel Tasman, the Dutch explorer, who saw it in 1642 before the British did), chose the area as his capital in 1840, and named it after the Earl of Auckland, who was governor-general of India. The capital was moved to Wellington (named after the town in Somerset via the Duke, victor of Waterloo) 25 years later. Thanks to Fren the Geordie.

No room, then, for Washington, County Durham, now part of Sunderland. William de Wessyngton, lord of the manor there, later spelt his name differently and was a forebear of the first US president, after whom the capital was named (see Hamilton for more details).

Simon Wilder wins the “there is always one” prize this week, with Paris, Texas. There are plenty of places that are less famous than the places they are named after. I once picked tobacco on farms near London, Ontario.

I thought Roger Evans’s nomination of Maryland, the state in the US, named after the part of east London with a station on the Southend line, might win the “sometimes there are two” award, but it turns out that Maryland in London is named after Maryland in the US, where a local made his fortune in the 17th century, which is even more interesting.

Next week: Birth Names of Famous People, such as Cassius Clay

Coming soon: Numerical Nicknames of Politicians, such as John “Two Jags” Prescott

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to top10@independent.co.uk

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