Jamaica Place Name Origins

ABOUKIR, in Saint Ann, was probably named in honor of the British victory over the French in the Battle of the Nile (1798) which was fought in Egypt’s Aboukir Bay.

ALBERT TOWN – in Trelawny, was originally known as “Santa Hill” for the large number of Santa Maria trees (Calophyllum calaba) growing in the area, but was renamed in the 1800s for Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria.

ANGELS, in Saint Catherine, was Los Angeles (“The Angels”) of the Spaniards. The last stop of the first railway line in Jamaica was at Angels when it opened in 1845.

BLACK HILL, in Portland, is the site of an extinct volcano.

BLUEFIELDS, in Westmoreland, sometimes “Blewfields”, was named for the Dutch pirate Abraham Blauvelt, or Bleeveldt, who plied the waters of Central America in the mid-1600s. He is most noted for his time in Honduras and the area around what is now called Bluefields, Nicaragua but, in 1644, when working as a privateer, he commanded his own ship and successfully raided Spanish ships from his base at Bluefields in southwest Jamaica and sold the cargo and prizes to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (New York).

BOG WALK, in Saint Catherine, was originally the Boca d’ agua (water’s mouth) of the Spanish, and was corrupted to Bog Walk by the English after their occupation of the island in 1655.

BLOODY BAY, in Hanover, is said to derive from the killing of whales there

BREADNUT BOTTOM, in Clarendon, is named for the abundance of breadnut trees in the area

CALABAR, a mile from Rio Bueno in the parish of Trelawny (at the border of Saint Ann), was established by the Jamaica Baptist Union in 1839. It was named after the former slave port of Calabar in Nigeria, one of the two major ports of embarkation for the thousands of enslaved Africans who were brought to Jamaica in the 18th century from southeast Africa. Some of these enslaved Africans settled on lands in the hills overlooking the port of Rio Bueno and named it Calabar, apparently because the physical features of the bay at Rio Bueno reminded them of the old Calabar they had left behind in Africa. Calabar was the original home of the well-known all-male Calabar High School, which was moved to Red Hills Road in Saint Andrew.

CATHERINE’S PEAK, part of the Blue Mountains in Portland, is named for Catherine Long, the wife of Jamaica Governor, Henry Moore. She is believed to have been the first woman to scale the 5,050-foot high peak.

CHEW MAGNA, in Saint Elizabeth, near Balaclava, was named by the Roberts Family after a place in Keynsham, England from which they came

CORN PUSS GAP, in Saint Thomas, is named for a legend about a hiker who got lost in the hills, caught a cat, “corned” it and ate it there.

DUPPY GATE is in Saint Andrew. (Duppy is a Jamaican ghost.) Legend has it that the gate is haunted by the ghost of an officer from the days when the West India Regiments occupied the base. Soldiers have reported visits from a mysterious officer dressed in period uniform with a sword slapping against his leg, who would suddenly vanish as they were ready to report.

GOLD MINE, in Clarendon: The Spanish are said to have washed gold there

HELL BELOW is the name given to a dangerous corner near Dunn’s River where there is a deep plunge into the sea.

ME-NO-SEN-YOU-NO-COME, in the Cockpit country of Saint Elizabeth, has a pretty clear meaning – don’t call us, we’ll call you! The Maroons in exclusive communities like Accompong were apparently not very welcoming toward unexpected visitors.

MORANT BAY, MORANT POINT, PORT MORANT, in Saint Thomas, take their names from the family of Spanish Jews, Morante, who accompanied Diego Columbus (Christopher’s brother) when he was appointed Governor of Jamaica. The great ‘Hato de Morante’, a huge estate that covered about 15 miles and is listed on Spanish maps dating back to the 1500s.

NUN’S PEN, in Saint Andrew, was also known as “Islington” and “Moringa Park”. It was once owned by a Haitian refugee named Henri D’Aquin. Two of his daughters were determined to become nuns even though he wanted them to marry. He decided to give the land to the Roman Catholic Church and since then it has been known as “Nuns Pen”

ORACABESSA in St. Mary, formerly Auracabcza from Aura, air or breeze; and Cabeza, head or high land. Others derive it from Oro Cabeza, the golden head

PORUS was founded 1840 by Baptist missionary James Phillippo as a free village for ex-slaves following emancipation, his sixth village. It was originally called Vale Lionel after the then Governor of Jamaica, Sir Lionel Smith, but was soon renamed Porus.

QUICK STEP, in Trelawny, comes from the 18th century when British soldiers were fighting with Maroons

SHOE MYSELF GATE, in Saint Elizabeth, derives from the fact that, when someone in town who was not accustomed to wearing shoes got a new pair, they would carry the shoes over their shoulders until they reached their destination. At the gate, they would “shoe themselves”.

TAN-AN-SEE, in Trelawny, means “stand and see” referring to the view of the beautiful open land. There is a cliff here overlooking the landscape.

TOLL GATE, in Clarendon, derives its name from an old toll gate that stood there. A reminder of the toll roads erected in the 1850s in an apparent attempt to stop the movement of newly emancipated slaves until the required fee was paid.

WAIT-A-BIT, in Trelawny, derives its name from the Wait-a-bit thorn, believed to have been brought to Jamaica by African enslaved persons. The thorn was very hardy and was often used in Africa in hedges against wild animals.