Sunday, 24 May 2015

Antigua and Barbuda Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals, I began looking elsewhere. This time to the Caribbean and the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, although the settlements are not quite on the scale of those covered in previous posts. Indeed it is interesting to note the ten largest settlements have a combined population of just 39,160 and over half of those are in the capital of Saint John's. These figures are based on the census of 2012.

Saint John's is, somewhat predictably, after the dedication of its principal place of worship. The white baroque towers of St John's Cathedral dominate the skyline of a city where the two other major contructions are two sporting arenas used almost solely for cricket.

All Saints is another named for its church, although this is by no means on the same scale as St John's as the population here numbered just 3,412 at the last census.

Liberta is began when former slaves bought up small parcels of land from the estate owner, she having fallen into financial problems. Splitting their time between working their own property, the docks and the plantations, their income enabled a community to spring up virtually instantaneously. Very soon this community had its own shops and in 1842, just seven years after their emancipation, the place erected the first written evidence of the name on the sign showing one had just entered "The Village of Liberta" of 'liberty'.

Potter's Village is near the above-mentioned All Saints, itself a settlement famed for its pottery and this is where Potters Village gets its name. That this, the four largest settlement in terms of population, is still a village is down to it being the only other place, other than the above, to have a population in excess of 2,000.

Bolans was named after the Boland estate, John Boland having staked his claim to this place in 1749. By 1872 the estate, by then known as Bolans, had been split into five smaller estates and the village of Bolans existed by the 1850s.

Swetes, sometimes given as Sweet's, was named after the plantation owner in the early eighteenth century, one Main Swete. He arrived in Antigua having travelled from Modbury in South Devon, United Kingdom. He was a member of the House of Assembly by 1715 and died here twenty years later.

Sea View Farm is a settlement which seems to be named rather badly. For one thing the name seems rather odd considering this place has a population of 1,486, although that can be explained through the growth of the settlement over the years, predominatly through the making of pottery for which this area is well known. However no rational explanation can be found for the name of 'Sea View', especially when we consider the other claim to fame here is the village is ostensibly the exact centre of the island of Antigua. However as one can never be more than 6 miles from the sea in Antigua this place was probably named ironically. Sea View was also known as King Village, again because of its pottery.

Piggotts was named after the Piggot family. They came here from Ireland and built the first sugar mill towers on Antigua.

Codrinton is the largest settlement on the island of Barbuda, here the population reached 1,325 in 2012. It is named after the man who founded the place in 1674, Sir Christopher Codrington, whose family took their name from the village of Codrington in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. One part of the town, founded as part of a sugar plantation, is still named Betty's Hope and was named after Sir Christopher's daughter, Elizabeth Codrington.

Parham is the oldest town on Antigua, sharing its name with Parham Hill and Parham Harbour, a natural and well-protected anchorage which made this choice a simple one. Parham was the name of the Wesleyan family who came here by 1701 when a record refers to "Parham, our second town of trade. We have no guns." Today the place is associated with obeah, a religion of sorcery or folk magic found solely in the Caribbean.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

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