British Peerage a Source for Township Names

British Peerage a Source for Township Names. It is interesting to check the origin of the names bestowed on pioneer places such as towns, townships and counties.


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Here are the origins of the names of some Bruce County townships. 

The township of Lindsay, located on the Bruce Peninsula, was named by Viscount Bury in honour of his mother's family, who held the Earldom of Lindsay. The history of the Earldom of Lindsay is interesting, considering the fact that two Bruce Peninsula townships received their names from this English peerage. 

Henri Bethune of Edinburgh married a cousin of Sir Coutts Trotter, the sixth Earl of Albemarle’s father-in-law. His grandson, Sir Henry Bethune, married Miss Coutts Trotter, the daughter of John Trotter. Their son, Sir John Trotter Bethune, laid claim to the Earldom of Lindsay before a committee of the British House of Commons. This petition was due in part to the fact that his family had somehow changed their name from Lindsay to Bethune. Viscount Bury used these family names when he bestowed names upon the townships of Lindsay and Albemarle. 

Albemarle has a tie to Grey County. Viscount Bury, whose name was William Coutts Keppel, was also the seventh Earl of Albemarle. The Grey County township of Keppel is named in honour of Viscount Bury. 

Eastnor Township was named in honour of John Somers Cocks, Earl of Somers, Viscount Eastnor of Eastnor Castle, County Hereford who married Caroline Harriet, youngest daughter of Philip Yorke, the Earl of Hardwicke. This marriage linked the Viscount of Eastnor to the wife of the Governor of Upper Canada. It was because of the influence of the Governor, Sir Edmund Head that Eastnor was given the honour of having a township named after him. 

Kincardine Township takes its name from Kincardineshire, or The Mearns, as it is also known. Kincardineshire is a small maritime county on the east coast of Scotland. There is a legend that the story of the pursuit and death of Macbeth actually took place near Kincardine-O'Neil and not Perth which is the more commonly held theory. 

It seems that most of the townships of this region were named after families or communities in the British Isles. However, three Bruce County townships owe their names to more Canadian sources. Saugeen Township is a native word meaning "mouth of the river". Brant Township is named after Joseph Brant, a Mohawk chief, who fought on the side of the British in the American Revolutionary War. 

Brant, whose Mohawk name was Thayendanegea, was born near the Ohio River in 1742 and died near the present-day city of Burlington Ontario. Brant was more than a warrior. In 1786 he travelled to England in order to collect financial support for the building and maintenance of a church in Brantford, Ontario. He also translated the Gospel according to St. Mark and the book of Common Prayer into the Mohawk language. 

A third township, Huron, derived its name from the Great Lake which it borders. Early French travellers called the Wyandotte people, Hurons, which was derived from the word French “hure,” for wild bore. The French arrived at this name because of the way in which the Wyandotte's styled their hair. 

The source of community names is an interesting pursuit and the illustrations given with regard to some of the townships of Bruce County substantiate this claim. 

The information used in this article came from files in the Grey County Archives and the images were gathered from other sources.

A version of this article first appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times on December 8, 2000.

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