Wednesday, December 9, 2009
When I started to write Regencies, I looked at maps to familiarize myself with the places where my characters lived. Even a cursory examination revealed that many English place names were duplicated in the United States, especially in the areas the English settled.
The English were the first Europeans to arrive in the northeastern United States, where I live, and they named the area New England after the home country. As they built cities and towns, they named them after the places they had left behind.
Examples abound. After New England, the most familiar names are New York, New Hampshire, and New Jersey, named for the British counties of York, Hampshire and Jersey. Manchester and Peterborough are in New Hampshire, and Warwick is in Rhode Island. Massachusetts has Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex counties.
Some names were so popular the settlers reused them. Both Connecticut and Massachusetts have Middlesex counties. The city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, lies in northern New England, and Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in the south. Connecticut contains the city of Bristol, and Bristol County is part of Massachusetts. The city of Worcester, Massachusetts, lies in Worcester County. There are two Oxfords in Massachusetts, one in Bristol County and one in Worcester County.
Boston, Lincolnshire, lent its name to Boston, Massachusetts. The Charles River, named for King Charles I, separates Boston from Cambridge. About fifteen miles west of Boston is the Town of Lincoln. Travel another fifteen miles west to reach the City of Marlborough. Alas, Marlborough, Massachusetts, has no Duke.
Other English place names in Massachusetts include (in no particular order): Waltham, Sudbury, Bedford, Dover, Shrewsbury, Truro, Gloucester, Chelmsford, Tewksbury (not quite a match, the English town is spelled Tewkesbury), Falmouth, Taunton, Bridgewater and Chelsea.
As far as place names go, I've only scratched the surface. When I look at the maps again, I know I'll find even more.
Thank you all,