Place Names in Jamaica.

The National Library of Jamaica has various interesting stuff on its website, notably including Place Names in Jamaica; I would treat the etymologies with a grain of salt, but they’re fun to read:

“Danks” in Clarendon, was the name given to a property Sir Henry Morgan deeded to his German wife, who said, “danke”, meaning “thanks”.

“Save Rent” in Westmoreland, is not a pot for cheap living; the name is a corruption of that of a French colonist, M. Saverent, as “Shotover” in Portland, is a corruption of the French Chateau Vert.

ACCOMPONG (Maroon settlement) is in St. Elizabeth. This name is said to be derived from the Ashanti word, Nyamekopon, which means “the lone one, the warrior”. This name was also given to one of the brothers of Captain Cudjoe, the second Maroon leader. ACCOMPONG was established in 1739, and the compound is in the charge of a colonel, the army rank being honourable. The colonel appoints a major, several captains, and a council. This council functions like an open meeting. (see MAROOON TOWN).

Thanks, Bathrobe!


  1. Siganus Sutor says

    What about names of Crimean origin? Names from Crimea were given to a number of places around the British Empire and you can for instance find places called “Balaclava” in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Mauritius, and Jamaica —,_Jamaica

  2. AJP Crown says

    Never mind Balaclava; Alma is where it’s at, Sig. There’s Mauritius Alma and Paris Alma, and on the street where my daughter Alma was living in Chiswick and the 1890-ish houses were named after Crimean battles, a London Alma.

  3. AJP Crown says

    SAVANNA-LA-MAR, chief town and shipping port in Westmoreland, was the Sabana-de-la-mar (“the plain by the sea”) of the Spaniards. During English occupation of the island, the “de” was dropped, and the name became Savanna-la-mar, sometimes abbreviated Sav-la-mar.

    I remember this one, I’ve even been there. It’s nearly always called Sav-la-mar but written ‘Savanna’.

  4. And while we’re at it, Sebastopol, CA.

  5. AJP, there seems to be an Alma in Jamaica too, north of Savanna-la-mar. I don’t know if there’s a link with the place, but an “Alma gang” was dismantled two years ago and its members condemned to 40 years in prison.

    Rodger, there are Sebastopols in other exotic places as well, but in California there was also an Alma, a ghost town nowadays —

  6. Gudde’s California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names:

    Sebastopol … [Sonoma Co.] is the sole survivor of five Sebastopols, all named in or soon after 1854, when the siege of the Russian seaport by the British and French … excited the whole world. The town in Napa Co. is now Yountville; those in Tulare, Sacramento, and Nevada Cos. no longer exist. The town in Sonoma Co. was founded by H. P. Morris in 1853 as Pine Grove according to tradition, the name was changed at the time of the Crimean War because of a local fight in which one party found its “Sebastopol” in the general store.

    Alma … [Santa Clara Co.] is shown in 1876 on the turnpike from which a branch road runs to the New Almaden Mine (Historical Atlas Map of Santa Clara County, p. 65). Another story is that the town was named for a local prostitute. The post office which had been established under the name Lexington on June 6, 1861, was changed to Alma on Dec. 2, 1873.

    I don’t know what “Another story” means, since no previous story is given.

  7. The California one is often pronounced ‘Sebastopool’, by the way.

  8. Siganus Sutor says

    Hat, I suppose the first story about the name of the Californian place is linked to the “New Almaden Mine”.

  9. There was extensive discussion of placenames related to the Crimean War in Crimean Words

  10. David Eddyshaw says

    Nyamekopon is readily recognisable as Onyamekopon/Onyankopon, which means “God” in Twi.

    “Lone one, the warrior” , my eye. Straight from aren’t-all-these-exotic-foreigners-terribly-mystical school. Almost makes you sympathise with Edward Said.

    Cudjo, though, is a perfectly cromulent Akan name, rendered into our wonderful English spelling system.

    It would be my name if I’d had the foresight to be born Ashanti.

  11. David Eddyshaw says

    Akompong is a very, very common Akan family name. That will be the real origin.

  12. at, I suppose the first story about the name of the Californian place is linked to the “New Almaden Mine”.

    D’oh! Thanks, I don’t know why I didn’t notice that.

  13. David Eddyshaw says

    “Warrior” in Twi is in fact “ɔkofo”

    Unfortunately my knowledge of Twi is about up to asking “Do you speak Twi?”, after which I am helpless if the answer is “Yes.”

    In the Dagbani language of the Ashantis’ northern neighbours and traditional enemies the Dagomba, the word for “Ashanti” is “Kambunsi”, singular “Kambunga”, which (as it happens) is also the name of the Dagomba traditional warrior caste. There is an explanation for this, though: the warriors in question actually originally were Ashanti; the Ashanti were early adopters of firearms in the area, and the Dagomba adopted a detachment of Ashanti musketeers as their warrior clan on the principle of “if you can’t beat them, join them.”

    I’m afraid I have no idea of where the Kambun- stem comes from though, and whether it is derived from Twi. Local folk etymologies of the word are unflattering (political correctness has made few inroads into West Africa as yet.)

  14. There is a Port Alma at the south side of the Fitzroy River delta, south of Rockhampton in Queensland. It’s next to a Balaclava Island.

  15. Similar oddball effects account for a few of the fifty-odd Navajo clans: they have names indicating that their matrilineal ancestors were Ute, Mescalero Apache, and even Mexican.


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