Sunday, 28 June 2015

Place Names of the Bahamas 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 thought it time I cast my net a little wider. This time a look at the Bahamas and some of the largest settlements found on this nation comprisiing more than 700 islands.

Nassau was originally known as Charles Town, named to honour the English king, but after being destroyed by fire in 1684 it was rebuilt and renamed. Again it was an English king who proved the inspiration, this time William III, who was of the Dutch-German House of Orange-Nassau. The name of Nassau is derived from the German town and is also used in the names of ships, of buildings and a kind of bet used in golf. The latter comes from the Nassau Country Club on Long Island and is essentially three bets in one: matchplay over the first nine holes (or front nine), the second nine holes (or back nine), and over all eighteen holes.

Freeport is, as the name suggests, a free trade zone established by the government in 1955.

West End is aptly named as it is the further west of the islands, indeed it is just 50 miles from the coast of the United States of America. It is also known as Settlement Point.

Marsh Harbour is another name of obvious origin, the waterfront still the main attraction for tourists.

Andros takes the name of the island. Originally known as Espiritu Santu by the Spanish, this was known as Andrews Island under early British Colonial rule, with the present name thought to be named after Sir Edmund Andros, Commander of Her Majesty's Forces in Barbados in 1672 and later governor of New York, then Massachusetts, and finally New England.

Spanish Wells was perfectly named as the last stopping place for Spansih vessels heading home, where they replenished their fresh water supplies.

Matthew Town was named after Bahamian Governor George Matthew, who held the position from 1844 to 1849.

Other place name which are self-explanatory but well-worth mentioning are High Rock, Rock Sound, Snug Corner and Pirates Well. Duncan Town on Ragged Island is the 25th most populous settlement on the islands and Albert Town on Crooked Island following at 26th. At the census of 2009 Duncan Town boasted 63 individuals and Albert Town just 23.

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

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